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National Fitness Month: Being physically fit is good for overall health

PHOENIX SKY HARBOR AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE -- Editor's Note: Since 1983, May has been observed as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. In recognition, the following is part two of a three-part series of physical fitness and the importance of being fit in a deployed environment.

Being physically fit while deployed is important for the same reason it is important while at home station -- for your overall health and for stress management. With respect to a deployed environment, the type of exercise you can do depends on what equipment or facilities are available. You may not have access to facilities for weight training or cardio. You need a mix of both. You will still have to pass your fitness assessment so if you only weight train, you will struggle with the run. You don't study history to take a math test. If you need to run to pass your test, then you will need to do a cardio workout.

Everyone has the same amount of time and it is your choice what to do with it. When deployed, you may work longer hours. It is never an easy fix but you need to work it in. I typically got up at 4:15 a.m. so I could be at my desk at 6 a.m. and I find it harder to get motivated at the end of a long day. Most of the people in my deployed unit liked working out at 4:30 p.m. You should do whatever you can to work around your job or the mission.

It has been my experience that because fitness is a requirement of the job, Air Force leadership supports fitness activities by allowing time even in the deployed environment. Deployed environments on a joint operational base could be an advantage because Army and Marines often prioritize fitness higher than the Air Force. It is more ingrained in their day-to-day operations.

Eating healthy while deployed is all about choices and discipline. The healthy food is there but so are the ice cream and cookies.

There are a million different combinations of workouts and diet plans that you can use. The best thing you can do is to try different things and figure out what works best for you. It needs to be something that you can incorporate into your life. It is not going to be a quick fix so you need to develop habits that you will be able to stick with and you will see results.