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New MDS Program helps Airmen get in shape

An Airman from the 62nd Medical Squadron, wearing his Garmin Connect fitness monitor, conducts push-ups Jan. 7, 2016, at the McChord Fitness Center, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. The 90-day BE WELL Health Improvement Program, which utilizes this device and has helped 125 Airmen so far, works to improve the scores on their fitness tests and to help those who are struggling to maintain fitness standards. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Katie Jackson)

An Airman from the 62nd Medical Squadron, wearing his Garmin Connect fitness monitor, conducts push-ups Jan. 7, 2016, at the McChord Fitness Center, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. The 90-day BE WELL Health Improvement Program, which utilizes this device and has helped 125 Airmen so far, works to improve the scores on their fitness tests and to help those who are struggling to maintain fitness standards. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Katie Jackson)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Fitness and activity trackers, such as Fitbits and Garmin Connects, have been becoming very popular among those in the fitness industry, and have become a useful tool for individuals trying to lose weight.

These trackers have capabilities which include tracking physical activity and steps, heart rate, quality and quantity of sleep and provide tools to track food and water consumption.

To utilize these tools in conjunction with a health improvement program to help Airmen who are not successful on their fitness examinations, Dr. Danielle Knutson, 62nd Medical Squadron health promotion coordinator, brought this program to McChord Field.

"This program helps support the Air Force Health Promotion Mission: health promotion will coordinate, evaluate, and promote installation-specific, evidence-based interventions that support healthy behavior change to optimize health and resilience in Air Force communities," said Knutson.

The program, led by Knutson, began in September 2014. So far, 125 Airmen at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., have participated in the 90-day program, which is currently able to support 75 participants at one time.

"This program shows great potential. I'm currently conducting a literature review on activity trackers and behavior aspects to conduct a research project to help add to the gap in the research that is needed on activity trackers and their capabilities of helping individuals achieve their health and wellness goals," said Knutson.

Currently the program is only offered to Airmen who have not been successful on their fitness tests and Airmen who are struggling to maintain fitness standards.

Airmen who are unsuccessful on their fitness tests are directed to sign up, and struggling Airmen may request to sign up through their Unit Fitness Program Manager and commander for the mandatory BE WELL Health Improvement Program.

One of these Airmen, Airman 1st Class Martavia Martin, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron C-17 crew chief, has been very successful in achieving his fitness goals, thanks to this program.

"My goal was to lose five inches off my waist and I ended up losing six and a half inches," said Martin.

In addition to losing six and a half inches off his abdominal circumference measurement, he has lost more than 28 pounds, has successfully completed a fitness test and would recommend the program to others struggling with their personal fitness.

"It keeps me active and moving a lot more. Whenever I see the red light [on my device], I know that I've been sitting too long," said Martin.

The physical fitness of each member of a unit is important when supporting a mission. In addition to Knutson, Martin's unit has encouraged him throughout his journey.

"My supervision and chain of command has had my back throughout the entire process. A lot of them gave me advice on different diets and workouts. They made it easier for me to go to PT," explains Martin. "They worked out with me and showed me different programs. They told me about their downfalls and the things that didn't work for them."

"Other squadrons and units are taking advantage of this technology and that is outstanding," said Knutson. "My advice is to utilize a person who can keep the fitness challenges fun and exciting but also utilize the JBLM services such as Performance Triad, Jensen Health and Wellness Center, 62nd MDS Health Promotions, BHOP, and Madigan Nutrition Clinic to help support the members' health and wellness goals."

For more information on this program at McChord Field, contact Dr. Danielle Knutson, 62nd Medical Squadron health promotion coordinator, at 982-6947.

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