Keep moving

  • Published
  • By Col. Richard Batzer
  • Area Dental Laboratory director
The four pillars of comprehensive fitness illustrate how people can maintain a healthy balance in their lives and a sense of belonging. All attributes in a person's life fit within the areas of the mental, physical, social and spiritual pillars. How an individual thinks, feels, gets along with others, deals with stress and acts in general is reflected by how well they maintain a balance among these four pillars. Physical fitness is probably the most obvious of the four pillars of comprehensive fitness, but for many people, it is the biggest obstacle on the path to a healthy lifestyle. Finding the time to take care of ourselves physically is perpetually a challenge, particularly in the face of busy daily schedules punctuated by both work and family stressors.

Our physical health is perhaps the most important gift that has been given to us next to the breath of life. Most all of us at some point in our lives take it for granted that we will live a long, happy and prosperous life. However, physical wellness does not come without concerted, regular effort and must be continually worked at.

Three years ago I was preparing to make a permanent change of station here from Lackland AFB. Less than a week before I planned to drive from San Antonio to Colorado Springs, I experienced a very serious and sudden medical complication. I had incurred a brain bleed of unknown cause which landed me in the intensive care unit of Brooke Army Medical Center for nearly two weeks. After recovering to a more stable condition, I underwent six hours of brain surgery at Wilford Hall Medical Center to correct the cause of the injury. Three days after surgery, I was released from the hospital to spend another 10 days in Texas recovering to the point where I could be cleared to fly safely to Colorado. I returned to work (on half days) less than three weeks after my successful surgery.

My Air Force neurosurgeon was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I recovered from my injury. He attributed both my ability to survive the injury and to return to duty so rapidly to my excellent physical condition prior to the medical crisis. I had completed two half marathons in the year prior to the event, and just three days before doomsday, I had embarked on a short 30 mile bike ride in the Texas summer heat.

So - why has the Air Force put such strong emphasis on the physical pillar? I believe there are at least two reasons. First, if something bad should happen to us unexpectedly, we can survive, recover and return rapidly to perform the duties that the Air Force counts on us to do. Second, if we should be tasked to deploy to some hostile environment, we can survive and operate in an effective manner to accomplish the job that must to be done to defend this great country.

The well documented benefits of regular exercise, proper diet and adequate rest are numerous and known to most everyone. Being healthy is the most important thing you can do for yourself and your family. Your physical health should be a top priority no matter what else is going on in your life. It really is not that difficult, but it does require a high dose of dedication, determination and discipline. Establishing a culture of discipline and ensuring personnel readiness for the future fight....aren't they components of our 21st Space Wing priorities?

Achieving physical wellness means more than just passing physical fitness assessments. I urge everyone to get into the best possible physical condition that you can be in at all times. As in my case, it may literally be the difference between being able to survive or not survive a serious medical complication. Your family, your wingman, your Air Force and your country are counting on you. We must never forget that the most important assets of our Air Force are not our equipment, but our people. As the Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark Welsh III has emphasized, we all comprise the world's greatest Air Force--powered by Airmen.

So, keep moving and make diligent efforts to dominate your physical fitness high ground. Everyone can do something to improve their physical wellness. By setting incremental and achievable fitness goals we all can do better. I assure you that you will never regret it.