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‘Disruptive renovation’: Airman fitness vital amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Department of Health and Human Service’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends at least 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity per week and two sessions of strength training per week. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

The Department of Health and Human Service’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends at least 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity per week and two sessions of strength training per week. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts many aspects of our daily lives, staying fit is something Airmen can and should continue to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, regular physical activity can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Also, moderately intense physical activity is associated with better immune function.

“Staying fit is not only crucial for Airman readiness, but is also vital in reducing our risk of illness like COVID-19,” said Col. Thomas Moore, chief, Air Force Health Promotion Branch. “Now more than ever, it is important for Airmen to maintain physical fitness, in addition to good nutrition and adequate sleep.”

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends at least 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity per week or 75 minutes of high intense activity per week.

With current social distancing recommendations, working from home, and other limitations aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, it can be difficult to maintain a fitness routine. To help Airmen and their families, the Air Force Health Promotion Branch team collected suggestions on how Airmen can still engage in physical activity.

“There are many physical activities Airmen can still engage in, both indoor and outdoor,” said Lt. Col. Saunya Bright, deputy chief, Air Force Health Promotion Branch. “You can take a jog around your neighborhood while also remaining at least six feet away from others, use home cardio machines, or walk briskly around your house a few times a day. You can also engage in strength training at home with things like squats, lunges and push-ups.”

Bright also explains that these exercises do not have to be done all once, and can be tailored to fit the shifted routines many Airmen may be facing.

“Since many Airmen might feel ‘stuck’ at home, it may be helpful to spread your workout throughout the day,” said Bright. “For example, you can do an aerobic workout in the morning, then strength training in the afternoon. Or you could do two shorter cardio sessions instead of a single, longer one.”

The Health Promotion Branch’s Facebook page also has links to at-home workouts and other tips to stay fit. Additionally, Airmen can rely on virtual resources such as online classes and fitness smart phone applications. Military One Source also has resources and workouts that can be done at home, including a mobile coach to help members stay on track with their fitness goals and at-home workouts.

Health promotion coordinators at Air Force bases are also reaching out to their populations to provide additional resources. For example, Airmen at Incirlik Air Base’s fitness center have been sharing workout challenges and guided workouts on their social media platforms.

“Many of us may be feeling stressed because of the current COVID-19 pandemic and how it has upended many facets of our daily lives,” said Moore. “Staying fit and maintaining good nutrition are simple yet vital things we can all do to keep us both mentally and physically healthy.”

Moore also suggests making the most of the disruption Airmen may be experiencing and using the time to build healthy habits that could continue when normal schedules return.

“Our Air Force Surgeon General, [Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg], has championed ‘Disruptive Innovation,’ or radical ideas that could lead to significant improvements in our operations,” said Moore. “I would like to challenge our Airmen to use this time of disruption to engage in ‘Disruptive Renovation.’ Don’t just do what you can to get through these challenging times, but use it as an opportunity to move in a healthier direction. Set a goal to come back to work healthier in at least one way.”

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