Health & Safety

July 6, 2012

Fitness is only one component of total health

By Dr. Todd Fore
Executive Director, Air Force Personnel, Services and Manpower

(AFNS) — If asked about their health, many Airmen would point to their physical condition or recent fitness test as an indicator. Being healthy is about more than just passing a fitness test.

Physical fitness is one component of total health, and contributes to mental and social health. Learning to balance all the components of a healthy life is what makes Airmen truly fit.


Be Mentally Fit

Physical fitness absolutely improves your mental well-being. Who couldn’t use a little less stress in their lives? Or more energy? Or better quality sleep? Studies show that physical activity accomplishes that and more by increasing serotonin levels in the brain.

Serotonin is known as the “feel good” hormone and is associated with low anxiety and depression levels, and promotes relaxation. Studies show additional by-products of physical activity are increased confidence, improved self-esteem and enhanced cognitive abilities including concentration, memory and learning. Overall, physical activity improves mental awareness and improves mood.


Be Socially Fit

The benefits extend to our social health. Physical activity gives us a venue to bond with others through shared experiences and strengthens our relationships. Physical activities allow us to be involved in the community, by joining sports teams or running groups and supporting charity organizations. Fitness also allows us to engage with like minded individuals.

As Airmen, we can extend the wingman concept to physical activity. Find a fit wingman who can help you increase accountability and motivation for fitness activities.


Be Physically Fit

In our high ops-tempo culture, complete with force reductions and deployments, physical fitness is a must to complete our wartime mission. The Air Force expects all Airmen to be fit to fight, which requires we meet minimum fitness standards, but it is exceeding the standards that will make you fit to lead the fight. The benefits of physical fitness extend far beyond our duties as Airmen.

Embracing a fit lifestyle yields results in all areas of our lives. Studies have shown that regular physical activity increases energy, combats depression, helps relieve stress, improves quality of sleep and staves off bad health conditions and disease. Essentially exercise makes you strong – strong in body as well as in mind.

Ultimately it is every Airman’s responsibility to balance the components of health to ensure complete well-being. Instead of focusing on simply passing your next fitness test, evolve the way you think about what it means to be fit. Make fitness a priority in your life. Make conscious decisions everyday to balance the components of total health – physical, mental and social. Only then can you be the best Airman who is fit to lead the fight.

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