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Civilians’ wellness in health-conscious military

White female sitting in a chair with her arms stretched wide as she shows how to stretch out your back and shoulders.

Alex Keller, Civilian Health Promotion Services’ health promotion specialist, shows a stretch that people can do in their chairs to help maintain a healthy back, during a CHPS class May 3, 2018, at the Little Rock Air Force Base Fitness Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tammy L. Reed.)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

As a civilian employee working on Little Rock Air Force Base, I’m surrounded by health-conscious Airmen who exercise at least three times a week. Unlike me, they don’t seem to struggle with eating right and drinking water instead of doughnuts and gallons of sugary soda.

 

I’m probably 40 pounds overweight. I huff and puff when I walk up the stairs, and don’t sleep well for most of the week. 

 

After receiving two emails about the Civilian Health Promotion Services Wellness Outreach, I signed up for The Importance of Sleep, Building a Healthy Core, and Physical Health Triangle, to get tips on living a healthier life and to see what CHPS had to offer during this annual event.

 

I was a prime candidate for the health classes taught by CHPS’ contractors at the base fitness center May 3, 2018, and the additional wellness screening. The classes, cholesterol and other screenings and helpful resources were free, which also added to their appeal for me.

 

After four nights of insomnia, I found it highly ironic that I struggled to stay awake during the sleep class. To avoid the constant head bobs, I intently focused on the instructor who taught such things as what sleep is, the benefits of sleep, how to get better sleep, and that there’s a direct correlation between weight gain and lack of sleep. The latter gave me hope that my ever-increasing weight would magically stop, if only I could sleep. 

 

When common sense kicked in, I realized my overeating and lack of exercise contributed to my steadily increasing waistline. So, I paid particular attention to the information imparted during the next two classes. In these classes, I learned what can happen to your health if you have a weak core (pelvis, hips, lower back and abdomen muscles), and then the class provided exercises to strengthen those muscles.

 

The importance of sleep was reiterated using the health triangle of sleep, good nutrition and physical activity. The instructor briefed the class on healthy eating basics with www.choosemyplate.gov and weight management. She also emphasized the benefits and importance of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week with strength training at least twice a week.

 

These classes and screenings were packed with health tips and insights into our personal wellbeing. The resources people often pay top dollar for were all available to me free.

 

Many people don’t use these resources because their schedules or work load may not allow them to step away from the office. Knowing how valuable this information is to me, I wanted to find out if information provided in the classes could be made available otherwise.

 

Currently, CHPS covers all the bases in Air Force Materiel Command, and they are looking to expand to Air Mobility Command, thus the visit to Little Rock Air Force Base. AMC civilian employees and even active-duty members can use CHPS resources throughout the year by signing into their website, https://www.afmcwellness.com/, a site supporting an Air Force initiative to enhance civilian support services.

 

The resources involved a health risk assessment, then interactive health trackers, health and wellness resources and work-life services. If I actually use it, these might help me become like one of those health-conscious Airmen I work with.

 

I believe that becoming a healthier person will truly help me have a better life. I appreciate the free health resources provided through CHPS and the Air Force for civilian employees. If you need help like me, or more information about the program, contact CHPS at 801-586-9593, or HAF.SG.CHPSsupport@us.af.mil