Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

COVID-19 presents challenges to heart health, physical fitness

Image of Four military personnel, wearing masks, running on a track. U.S. Coast Guard recruits from company Romeo-199 participate in a Jan. 8 run program on the track at U.S. Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May, New Jersey, as part of their modified training schedule due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Photo by Navy Seaman Josalyn Brown.)

Recommended Content:

Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health Toolkit | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Heart Health

A healthy heart is a prerequisite for a fully trained combatant or a fit beneficiary. Without a healthy heart, a soldier cannot expect to complete tasks such as loading 155 mm rounds onto a bustle rack, or a beneficiary may huff and puff going up stairs.

"A heart at rest stays at rest, while a heart in motion stays in motion, to paraphrase the old axiom," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. (Dr.) Olamide Oladipo, chief of cardiology at the Navy Medical Center-San Diego (NMC-SD).

Due to on-again, off-againshutdowns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the overall health of both military personnel and beneficiaries has taken a hit over the last year, he noted. A more sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and, therefore, death.

One way the military is addressing this issue is through the Aging Warrior study, which intends to look at cardiovascular risks in men 40 and older and women 52–55 with one risk factor for cardiac disease, such as hypertension, Oladipo explained. Following a CT scan, study participants will receive preventative medication or other interventions if they show early signs of cardiac atherosclerosis (a narrowing or blockage of the heart vessels).

As to fitness, NMC-SD has “adopted more of a holistic approach; we treat the whole person” among active-duty personnel and beneficiaries, said Melissa Palacios, a nurse and head of the Health and Wellness Department at NMC-SD’s Naval Medical Readiness Training Command. “We’re looking at concomitant diagnoses that affect a person’s heart health,” such as diabetes, sleep apnea, obesity, stress, PTSD.

“We do this though more virtual classes, group-based exercise programming, fitness trackers and apps that help with heart rate monitoring, food intake, medication, and sleep hygiene, for example,” she said, also noting the negative impact COVID-19 has had on the base’s effectiveness in physical training and meeting beneficiaries’ fitness needs.

“Getting moving can have a profound impact on lowering blood pressure, strengthening muscles, controlling weight, lowering stress, and reducing inflammation, therefore decreasing risk for heart disease,” Palacios said. “We encourage our active-duty members and beneficiaries to not only participate in aerobic activities such a swimming, dancing, cycling, brisk walking or cycling but also in identifying opportunities in their everyday lives to intentionally become more physically active such as taking the stairs.”

The ideas behind fitness training also have changed in the Army. At Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri, unit physical training “used to be very focused on the Army Physical Fitness Test events (pushups, sit-ups, and running),” said Army Maj. Brett Dougherty, director, Physical Performance Service Line, General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital. “However, over the last few years, that focus has slowly changed to incorporate more resistance training, specifically functional lifting, and that change accelerated with the introduction of the Army Combat Fitness Test that looks at the body more functionally.”

Functional lifting are exercises that help troops perform everyday activities more easily, such as changing heavy tires.

The Army follows the October 2020 FM 7-22 guidance on fitness and physical performance, which includes five domains of combat physical fitness: muscular strength, muscular endurance, aerobic endurance, explosive power, and anaerobic endurance. The guidance lays out exercises, stretches, progressions, and sample schedules of how to train for Army fitness tests and overall fitness. It includes aerobic exercise, strength and resistance training, agility, flexibility, and balance.

FM 7-22 also gives guidance on nutrition, sleep hygiene, mental wellness, and the overall well-being of soldiers, all factors integral to overall heart health.

Physical fitness is therefore much more than laps run, push-ups done, crunches crunched. It’s a holistic framework of both physical and mental fitness that means being able to exercise while avoiding injury and enjoying a longer life span. And, when it comes to physical fitness, a healthy heart is paramount.

You also may be interested in...

Battalion Hosts Critical Medical Training

Article Around MHS
8/24/2022
Military personnel in combat training exercise

Allied Forces North Battalion conducted a week-long Combat Lifesaver Course July 25-29.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Education & Training | Building Partner Capacity and Interoperability | Global Health Security Agenda

Consolidated Department of Defense Coronavirus Disease 2019 Force Health Protection Guidance

Policy

Consolidates and updates the Department’s guidance regarding vaccination verification, vaccination status, COVID-19 testing, surveillance and screening testing, personnel protection on-site mask requirements, (e.g., DHA military medical treatment facilities, meetings, travel), and the protection of personally identifiable information.

COVID-19 Moderna Vaccine

Publication
8/17/2022

Moderna and mRNA vaccines are available. Moderna includes two doses, 28 days apart.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines | Types of COVID-19 Vaccines | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

COVID-19 Pfizer Vaccine

Publication
8/17/2022

Pfizer mRNA vaccines are available. Pfizer includes two doses, 21 days apart.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines | Types of COVID-19 Vaccines | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

COVID-19 Moderna and Pfizer Vaccines

Publication
8/17/2022

Moderna and Pfizer mRNA vaccines are available. Moderna includes two doses, 28 days apart. Pfizer includes two doses, 21 days apart. Remember to mark your calendar and schedule time for your second dose

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines | Types of COVID-19 Vaccines | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Learn the Most Recent Age Requirements for COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters

Article
8/10/2022
A man fist bumps a child.

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to get your vaccines and booster shots.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Telemedicine Privilege by Proxy Expands Access to MHS Care

Article
8/10/2022
Infographic featuring Lt Col Legault

MHS has Telemedicine Privilege by Proxy: A fast, efficient process that enables providers to file one application and get permission to virtually treat patients anywhere in the MHS.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Telehealth Program

Yoga Shield: Building Mental and Physical Resiliency

Article
8/9/2022
Airman teaches yoga to a variety of Airmen in Springfield, Ohio, so they learn mental and physical resiliency.

Airman teaches yoga to decrease stress, enhance resiliency

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness

Whole Health System Approach to Long COVID

Publication
8/1/2022

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Health Administration is leading an effort to equip health care providers with a Veteran-centered Whole Health System approach to caring for Veterans with Long COVID, also known as post-COVID-19 conditions.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus

How Performance Nutrition Can Help You Maintain Readiness

Article
7/29/2022
A person serving himself a salad

Performance nutrition is a major key to force readiness.

Recommended Content:

Performance Nutrition: Fuel Your Body and Mind | Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

Yoga Shield: Building Mental and Physical Resiliency

Article Around MHS
7/27/2022
Military personnel doing yoga

More than 30 Airmen assigned to the Ohio National Guard’s 178th Wing and the Iowa National Guard’s 132nd Wing began a week-long, 60-hour yoga training program July 18 at the 178th Wing in Springfield, Ohio.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Psychological Fitness

Mind-Body Mental Fitness

Article Around MHS
7/27/2022
Mountain view

The lifestyle of active duty service members and their families comes with unique stressors that can often be compounded by living overseas. What most people don’t realize is that stress is a normal part of life. The feelings of stress are just indicators that something in our life needs attention, and even presents a possibility for positive change and growth.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Physical Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Stress | Mental Health is Health Care

Teddy Roosevelt, Navy Medicine, and the Birth of Physical Readiness

Article Around MHS
7/25/2022
Military personnel in exercise drill on deck of Navy ship

Today’s U.S. Navy espouses a “culture of fitness,” and “physical readiness,” but this was not always the case. In the early 1900s, many including the president himself, Theodore Roosevelt, were appalled by the lack of physical conditioning in the Navy.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Physical Fitness

August Performance Triad Month

Article Around MHS
7/21/2022
Color graphic depicting aspects of wellness.

As part of its August “P3 for All” campaign, the U.S. Army Public Health Center is encouraging all Army leaders, soldiers, family members and soldiers for life to embrace the synergy of sleep, activity and nutrition, the core components of the Performance Triad, along with the important elements of mental readiness and spiritual readiness.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Sleep

The Need for Speed Requires Intense Training

Article
7/18/2022
 Military personnel conducts routine ops in US 3rd Fleet

Tom Cruise has nothing on real military pilots and their training.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Education & Training | Physical Fitness
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 33
Refine your search
Last Updated: April 28, 2021

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.