By Eve Goodkind
Health and Fitness for Soldiers
It’s important for everyone to stay fit and healthy; but for soldiers, it’s essential to have a high level of physical fitness in order to perform at the optimum level. The rise in obesity in the United States has sparked renewed interest in physical fitness, leading to more studies on the effects of exercise.
Experts agree that a proper exercise program carried out on a regular basis can not only help you keep fit and stay at a healthy weight, but can also improve your mental health, quality of life and productivity. Being a soldier is all about becoming the best person you can be and physical fitness is an integral part of that. Read on to discover what you need to do to prepare for being a soldier.
What is Fitness?
There’s more to fitness than physical exercise. It’s also important to ensure you keep healthy in other ways such as insuring that you have healthy teeth and eyes and that any medical problems are dealt with. Military experts define fitness as the ability to effectively function in training, physical work and other activities whilst still having enough energy reserves to deal with arising emergencies. To increase your fitness level before embarking on Basic Combat Training, you should focus on the following:
Increasing your heart rate for prolonged periods is the only way to give your heart the exercise it needs. To improve your cardio fitness swimming, biking or running.
Endurance and Strength
Endurance and strength are important for soldiers on the battlefield today. Use resistance training to increase your strength and insurance, such as weights or exercise bands.
The more flexible you are the less prone to injury you will be, which helps with tasks like rappelling, running, parachuting, climbing and so on.
There’s more to fitness than physical exercise. It’s also important to ensure you keep healthy in other ways such as insuring that you have healthy teeth and eyes and that any medical problems are dealt with.
Nutrition and Hydration
The food you at is as important a factor in keeping fit as the exercise you carry out. Developing good habits and maintaining a healthy diet will help you perform to your full potential. As a soldier, you’ll be provided with the healthy and nutritious meals you need, but it’s a good idea to get into the habit of healthy eating as soon as possible. It’s also essential to keep hydrated and drink plenty of water when you exercise and throughout your day.
Water - Being hydrated is an integral part of any fitness regime, especially if you’re in hotter climates. As a rule of thumb you should be drinking 75% of your body weight in ounces every day.
Food - To maintain a healthy weight you need to consume less calories than you burn off, but it’s also important to avoid high fat and high sugar foods as they’re highly calorific and have little nutritional value. To give yourself energy throughout the day eat a wide variety of foods that includes fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates and dairy produce. Look for foods which are high in fibre to aid digestion and encourage a healthy bowel.
Keeping Safe When Exercising
When exercising there are several safety considerations you need to take into account to avoid injury so make sure you do it right. Whenever you exercise, always:
- Warm up before and cool down after exercising
- Don’t exceed the prescribed sets and repetitions in your exercise program. It’s more important to do it right than execute sloppy repetitions.
- Carry out your exercise in the given order. If you miss a day then pick up with your next day’s schedule.
- If possible exercise with a partner, this will help you stay motivated and keep safe.
- When you exercise hard, injuries happen, but don’t aggravate them by continuing with exercise. Give your body time to heal or you could make the injury much worse.
- Before you begin any program you should talk to a physician and undertake a routine physical exam.
The majority of exercise related injuries are completely avoidable. One of the most common ways that injury can be caused by over exercising, whilst the most common running injuries can occur to feet, ankles and legs. In order to give yourself the best chance of avoiding injury, always wear the proper attire, including the correct footwear, warm up and cool down and give yourself time to recover between bouts of exercise.