Physical wellness - the cornerstone of resiliency

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Burke
  • 21st Medical Group commander
Two weeks ago, Team Pete engaged in a tactical pause to focus on resiliency. This pause was directed by our Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Norton Schwartz, and was in response to an alarming spike in Total Force suicides. He essentially directed all Air Force units to take a timeout 'Resiliency Day' over the course of a two-week period in January to catch our breath and address this issue.

Sadly, the Air Force experienced another two suspected suicides during this timeframe.

The focus of this commentary is not on suicide awareness but rather on resiliency -- and how we can all do better.

So what is resiliency? Resiliency is unfortunately becoming an overused and somewhat misunderstood term. To answer the question, "what is resiliency," I'll first share what I believe it isn't.

Resiliency is not our ability to rid our lives of problems and stressors. Rather, resiliency is our ability to cope with and overcome them. Learning to "dominate" resiliency will coach us all to develop healthy life-skills, reduce self-defeating behaviors and take better care of ourselves and each other.

The Comprehensive Airman Fitness program was created to assist us in the development of resiliency. Although aimed at improving our individual resiliency, I profess CAF is best practiced as a "team-sport" where we all participate and learn from one another. Learning positive behaviors and lifestyles will go a long way in helping us all make safer/smarter decisions in life and prepare us to thrive when life pitches us that curve ball.

CAF is comprised of four pillars: Physical, Social, Mental and Spiritual. The 21st Space Wing embraces the CAF program and maintains a holistic focus on all pillars in our everyday lives. We will further showcase a specific pillar each quarter in 2012. First out of the chute in 2012 is the physical pillar.

The physical pillar focuses on the performance of physical activities: aerobic/endurance fitness, strength/flexibility training and proper nutrition. Research has proven a positive correlation between physical fitness and health, life expectancy/quality of life and daily performance across a wide-range of activities. Our 21st Space Wing Health and Wellness Center is your source for innovative physical programs -- they'll motivate you on the best ways to get and stay fit.

The HAWC offers a variety of how-to exercise classes for the beginner to advanced training for the endurance athlete. "Exercise 101" is the perfect class for those looking to start a new fitness regimen. For the more advanced athlete, "Domination Boot Camp" incorporates an endurance athlete training program with circuit training. Bridging the gap between these two courses are the "Interval 102" and "Resistance Training 103" programs. Interval 102 will teach you how to apply interval training to build your VO2/anaerobic threshold to improve your run time. Resistance Training 103 focuses on building strength and endurance. These programs are taught by an exercise physiologist and are guaranteed to make you sweat!

The HAWC also offers a variety of lifestyle programs and courses that promote the physical pillar. These include Tobacco Cessation, Heart Health, monthly cooking demonstrations and Lighten Up Weight Loss. The Lighten Up Weight Loss program is a six-week weight loss/management and lifestyle improvement workshop where past participants have lost, on average, an awesome 2-3 pounds per week.

The HAWC further innovatively fuses physical fitness with technology. In 2011, they added a BOD POD to their fitness arsenal. The BOD POD provides an easy, accurate body composition analysis and can help you track fat-to-muscle transition. The HAWC can also help you determine your VO2 (your body's ability to use/process oxygen under exertion) to help you determine your safe/optimal training zone. Lastly, the HAWC is in the final steps of preparation to launch a new program for gait analysis which will help you assess your running form and make adjustments to improve performance as well as assist with proper shoe choice.

The CAF physical pillar of wellness is directly linked to resiliency, but most importantly it's tied to our overall physical wellness. I urge you all to consider a lifestyle that includes physical fitness -- take the HAWC up on one or a few of their programs. Together, let's get and stay fit -- it's the only way we can "Support the Current" while "Leading into the Future Fight."