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NEWS | June 11, 2013

Dimensions of wellness: Physical fitness

By Airman 1st Class Victoria H. Taylor 633rd Air Base Wing

Editor's note: This story is a part of a series about the different aspects of wellness.

Every thought we think, attitude or belief we hold or decision we make fits into the framework of four different pillars of wellness: spiritual, physical, social and mental wellness. Wellness is a demeanor and by its nature, it moves us toward a more proactive, responsible and healthy existence.

Physical fitness is a dimension of wellness and an essential part of the military lifestyle. Exercising and healthy eating habits are necessary in a daily routine, and having good physical fitness is not only important to pass military fitness assessments, but also so Service members can always be mission ready.

The 633rd Air Base Wing Safety Office designated June as healthy weight awareness month and encourages healthy eating habits and regular exercise to keep physically fit.

According to the National Wellness Institute, the physical dimension of wellness entails personal responsibility and care for your body, explaining the importance of learning diet and nutrition plans while combining good exercise habits to help build strength, flexibility and endurance.

The Safety Office stresses excessive weight can cause health problems, including heart disease, high-blood pressure, diabetes and chronic back pain, and it can also make the summer heat and humidity much more uncomfortable. These philosophies are echoed by unit personal training leaders.

"Your waistline starts in the kitchen," said Staff Sgt. Christina Backus, 1st Maintenance Squadron physical training leader. "Reading labels and knowing what ingredients you put into your body is very important, and will help to improve your physical fitness."

For Backus, the physical wellness of Airmen is important, and providing them the confidence they need to succeed and master the obstacles in front of them is a personal goal of hers.

"I have my troops make achievable and measureable goals," she said. "I give my Airmen moral support, and let them know that small victories count."

To help reach these goals, Backus also refers her Airmen to the Joint Base Langley-Eustis Health and Wellness Center for nutritional advice and helpful courses.

"Juggling family, work and fitness can be stressful and some areas can be neglected. When fitness becomes one of those areas, we are here to help," said Ann Jennings, HAWC fitness specialist.

The HAWC is dedicated to helping Service members and their families stay physically fit and incorporate healthy lifestyles. The HAWC provides classes and workouts to help Airmen succeed physically, including running clinics, PT success courses, BOD POD assessments which measure body fat and many others.

The HAWC, however, is not the only program that provides activities to encourage a healthy well-being. Activities around base operated through the Air Combat Command fitness center, such as fun runs and multiple 5k runs throughout the year, are ways to develop good habits with fellow health enthusiasts.

Fort Eustis also hosts different intramural sports throughout the year and two long distance runs including a 10k and a half marathon to help stay active.

"JBLE is a great environment that promotes and supports a high-quality standard of living for fitness," said Jennings.

Exercise and healthy eating habits play an important role in achieving and maintaining good health. The military is hinged on physical wellness, which works together with the other pillars to lead Service members to a mission-ready force.