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The Wright kind of wellness: Physical

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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Bryan Hernandez, 88th Security Forces Squadron patrolman, participates in the bench press event as part of the Powerlifting Competition held at Wright Field Fitness Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, November 15, 2014. Eight power lifters competed in the competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wesley Farnsworth / Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Bryan Hernandez, 88th Security Forces Squadron patrolman, participates in the bench press event as part of the Powerlifting Competition held at Wright Field Fitness Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, November 15, 2014. Eight power lifters competed in the competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wesley Farnsworth / Released)

Runners take off at the start of the 2019 Air Force Marathon 10k run at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Sept. 21, 2019. More than 12,700 runners and 2,600 volunteers from all 50 states and 15 different countries came out to run in the races 23rd year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wesley Farnsworth)

Runners take off at the start of the 2019 Air Force Marathon 10k run at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Sept. 21, 2019. More than 12,700 runners and 2,600 volunteers from all 50 states and 15 different countries came out to run in the races 23rd year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wesley Farnsworth)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Self-wellness is important because it not only addresses health but actively improves areas of a life such as physical, mental, social and spiritual.

Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Jason Shaffer, wing command chief, hosted a video on Airmen wellness Aug. 2 as part of the “Let’s Get it Wright” initiative.

They discussed the importance of all four wellness domains and how each one plays a major role in personnel taking care of themselves and the mission.

The physical domain not only covers fitness, but an individual’s health as well.

“Physical fitness plays a pivotal role in your everyday life,” said Philip Donald, recreation assistant for the 88th Force Support Squadron. “If you feel good, then that allows you to work better, socialize more and avoid the feeling of being sluggish.”

Without the right amount of physical fitness, work performance isn’t the only thing that can be affected, Donald added.   

“Without having physical activity, it makes it difficult to keep up with your children,” said Heather Hogge, also an 88 FSS recreation assistant. “It makes it difficult to get on the ground, play with your kids, grandkids or anybody else for that matter.”

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is home to many fitness and sports programs for all Airmen. It also hosts the annual Air Force Marathon, one of the nation’s largest running events.

“Choosing a goal is incredibly important in life when you want to be consistent,” said Brandon Hough, Air Force Marathon race director. “Signing up for the Air Force Marathon gives you that perfect goal.

“With numerous distances, one can aspire to finish, including the Tailwind Trot Kids’ 1K, 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon, marathon relay and our ‘Fly-Fight-Win Challenge.’ By signing up and committing yourself to the event, you will be inspired to train and work toward accomplishing your goal.”

Hough went on to elaborate what physical fitness means to him and why it is about more than just staying fit.

“It teaches us how to overcome adversity, how to challenge ourselves, how to work consistently toward and accomplish a goal, and often is a space in which we can collect and process our thoughts,” he said. “Carving out a half-hour or more multiple days a week to take care of your body and mind is essential to our health and success as individuals.”

More importantly, physical fitness can lead to better health. Nutrition is also one of the main things to consider for keeping your body healthy.

“Nutrition is the fuel we put in our tank,” said Capt. Ashleigh Brewer, a dietitian and commander of the 88th Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron’s Nutritional Medicine Flight. “How you fuel your body matters, and what you put in is what you are going to get out in terms of how your body is able to perform.

“It does not mean that everything you eat has to be perfect, but you want to get the most benefit out of what you are putting in your body. You need a variety of nutrients to fuel your daily activities and mission requirements.”

Brewer provided some nutritional tips that each person should consider.

  • Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits throughout the day. Aim for at least 5 servings.
  • Choose lean proteins like chicken or fish. Incorporate plant-based proteins such as beans or legumes a few times each week.
  • Pick whole grains whenever possible. Some examples are brown rice, whole wheat bread and quinoa.
  • Stay hydrated and avoid excess calories by drinking water instead of soda or juice.
  • Limit processed foods like chips, crackers and sweets. Instead, plan ahead and pack healthy snacks to get you through your day.

Having good nutrition is another way for the body to build immunity, Brewer added.

“If your nutrition is not ideal, you can be more susceptible to illnesses such as the flu or COVID-19,” she said.

Without good nutrition, Brewer said some negative side effects would result in —

  • Short term: Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, slow response time, more susceptibility to illnesses
  • Long term: Weight gain, poor-quality sleep and increased risk for chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease

“I would encourage baby steps,” Brewer said. “Sometimes, we feel we need to either perfectly stick to our meal plans, or just give it up altogether.

“Start with the small goals and then work your way up. By doing it this way, you can boost your confidence and keep working toward larger goals and an overall healthy lifestyle.”

These tips are important to consider not only for life outside the installation, but as an Airmen, too. Airmen have to be ready to support the mission, both physically and mentally, at any moment.

“Regardless of how physically demanding your job is, good nutrition is still important to your performance,” Brewer said. “Being appropriately fueled can help everyone focus, concentrate and produce great results, whether on a computer or on the flightline.”

To watch leadership’s “Let’s Get it Wright” discussion of wellness, visit www.facebook.com/WPAFB/videos/601966714540546/.

This is the first in a four-part series on wellness for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base personnel. Leaders recently highlighted four domains within the “Let’s Get it Wright” initiative: physical, mental, social and spiritual. It will feature information from specialists across the installation.