Preventive Health Month and Maintaining Mission Readiness

Practicing good health is a decision that has to be made every day. Since August is Preventive Health Month, now is a good time to start developing healthy habits. For service members, it is especially important to maintain good health for mission readiness. Our military has to be ready to answer the call 24/7, and this starts with a focus on health and fitness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Americans use preventive services about 50 percent less than recommended. Each year, chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes are responsible for seven of every 10 deaths among Americans. However, by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, consistently visiting a primary care physician and having regular health screenings, these chronic diseases can be largely prevented.

Service members can follow these six steps to help avoid preventable diseases and conditions, and also keep their minds and bodies ready for their military missions and tasks.

  1. Know your family’s medical history.
    If available, your family’s medical history can play a vital role in your doctor’s recommendations when it comes to preventive care. Knowing the medical conditions of your parents and siblings can offer insights into what health issues run in your family, which can indicate genetic predispositions to possible conditions that could occur later in life. Alerting your doctor to rarer genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis, can help him or her determine if certain health tests are necessary. If you are deemed a high risk for a certain condition, a doctor can recommend preventive measures and create a plan to minimize risk and improve your well-being.
  2. Visit your doctor regularly.
    Even if you feel great, the U.S. Army Medical Department says it’s important to have a regular checkup with your doctor. Appropriate screenings for diseases can also identify risk factors for disease. For men, Military Health recommends focusing on preventive measures for heart disease, prostate cancer and colon cancer. While women and men have many similar health issues, women can be affected differently. Women have some unique health conditions to be aware of, including breast diseases, reproductive health and uterine diseases.
  3. Maintain an active lifestyle.
    Service members are tasked with performing at the level of elite athletes, which is only attainable by maintaining consistent physical fitness and activity. Training your body before your mission will help prevent avoidable injuries, maintain your mission readiness and improve your general health. Real Warriors recommends a well-rounded approach to your fitness to address health and performance-related fitness, including endurance, flexibility, strength, mobility and power.
  4. Choose a healthy diet.
    It’s impossible to achieve peak performance in your military training without a proper diet. By focusing on your nutrition, service members can increase energy and endurance, shorten recovery time and improve focus and concentration. Especially on missions, service members have to create a strategy that will allow them to get the food and nutrients required to complete their tasks. While at home or deployed, check out these helpful nutrition tips as a daily guide.
  5. Receive proper immunizations.
    Vaccines have saved more lives throughout the world than any other medical invention, including antibiotics or surgery, according to the Department of Defense. Since the days of George Washington, vaccines have kept service members healthy, and healthy service members are able to complete their missions. You may think immunizations aren’t necessary for adults, but immunizations are a lifelong process. In fact, new military recruits are vaccinated against various diseases during basic training or officer accession training. You can learn more about the vaccines received while in the military here.
  6. Get enough sleep.
    In training and on missions, a lack of sleep impairs the abilities of service members essential to success, such as determining threat levels and coordinating tactics. Learning and practicing good sleep habits before, during and after deployment, is critical for optimal sleep. (Approximately eight hours of sleep is a good number to aim for.) Also, without enough sleep, muscles cannot properly repair after exercise. has a helpful list of ways to assist with sleep and achieve the results that good sleep provides.

If you think it’s too late to put any of these habits into place. You can start making healthy choices today and change your life. For more tips and tools that will help you adopt or maintain a healthy lifestyle, visit Military Health’s Operation Live Well site.

Posted on August 7 2017 in Blog

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