Eight hours of sleep a night, 10,000 steps a day and eight servings of fruit and vegetables daily.
That’s the prescription the Army is using to improve the health of the force. At a brief July 14 on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Soldiers from Fort Myer’s Headquarters Command Battalion learned about the Army’s comprehensive plan to improve readiness and increase resilience through public health initiatives and leadership engagement.
Capt. Vanessa Bonner, a physical therapist at Andrew Rader U.S. Army Health Clinic on the joint base, presented the brief in her role as Performance Triad champion for Fort Myer and Fort McNair. More than 25 Soldiers attended the session, which was held in Bldg. 417 on the Fort Myer portion of the joint base.
“The Performance Triad is about incorporating good, healthy activities, sleep and nutrition into your lifestyle now, which will create professional Soldier-athletes and healthy Army Families that are ready and resilient,” she explained.
The Performance Triad complements the Department of Defense’s Operation Live Well, the Army’s Ready and Resilient campaign and the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness program, Bonner said.
“The Performance Triad is the Surgeon General’s answer to help create ready and resilient Army Soldiers and Army Families,” she said.
Bonner said the purpose of the brief, which ran about 30 minutes, was to provide information about what the Performance Triad is and how attendees, as commanders and leaders of Soldiers, can promote the health care initiative.
“In 2012, we had more Soldiers in the Army seek medical care for injuries than any other medical condition,” she continued. Musculoskeletal injuries accounted for 11 million limited duty days across the Army that same year.
“Most of these injuries are due to repetitive overuse,” Bonner explained, adding that poor nutrition can also play a role in recurring musculoskeletal injuries such as ankle and knee sprains.
“When it comes to injuries and people who are unhealthy, diet should be one of the first things you look at,” said Bonner. “Anyone heard the term ‘garbage in, garbage out?’ You’re not going to be healthy on a diet of Doritos and Mountain Dew.”
Bonner said the average American is sedentary, walking just 5,000 steps and sitting for eight hours daily. She also noted that 1,850 Soldiers were discharged from the Army for being overweight in 2012.
“Soldiers need to be educated,” she explained. “They need to know when to refuel and how much to refuel. They need to know about hydration.”
She also said Army medicine is making a cultural shift from being reactive and treating sickness and injuries as they occur to becoming more proactive in order to prevent health problems from occurring.
Technology plays a vital role in that cultural shift and the Performance Triad, Bonner said. Websites such as Army Fit (https:armyfit.army.mil), the recently released Performance Triad app for cellular phones, personal readiness devices worn on the wrist that track activity levels and the amount of sleep a person gets each night can provide just the motivation that some need to achieve a healthier lifestyle.
Bonner urged her audience to challenge their Soldiers to get and stay healthy as part of the Performance Triad.
“There’s a multitude of ways that units can do this, depending upon what their mission dictates and what they’re allowed to do. It’s a great way to motivate people,” she said.
For more information on the Performance Triad, contact Bonner at 703-696-3443 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.armymedicine.mil/pages/performance-triad.aspx.