The Enlisted Perspective; Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force
  • Rodney McKinley
The 21st Century Air Force is truly expeditionary, so it is imperative we are all prepared to meet mission challenges. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is often the first step to accomplishing this goal. A healthy lifestyle not only boosts energy levels, endurance, and reduces stress in every day duties; it can potentially save an Airman's life in a deployed environment. Improving life routines will also help Airmen achieve and maintain Air Force fitness standards and enhance their quality of life.

Achieving a healthy lifestyle has a great deal to do with total physical fitness to include aerobic, strength, and flexibility training. It also includes eating well to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and avoiding destructive behaviors like using tobacco and drinking alcohol excessively.

Making healthy eating choices is a critical component to staying fit and decreasing meal portion sizes help to avoid weight creep and unhealthy fat reserves. Eating right, coupled with physical activity, helps aintain proper weight and decreases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and many injuries.

Tobacco use in any form damages an Airman's health. Smoking causes shortness of breath, decreases lung capacity and energy levels, and damages blood vessels -- all very counter-productive to a healthy lifestyle. Second-hand smoke harms the health of everyone around -- including family and friends. In a deployed environment, tobacco use may impact safety and the mission through impaired night vision, slowed response time and impaired wound healing.

Drinking alcohol in excessive amounts can also degrade a fit warrior force. If Airmen choose to drink alcohol, moderation is key. Responsible drinking minimizes a negative effect on an Airmen's personal and professional life.

Sharing healthy lifestyle activities with family and friends can be great fun and extends the benefits to those within an Airman's circle of influence. Preparing tasty, healthy meals together, going for walks, bicycling or playing organized sports adds to the quality of time spent with family and friends. Participating in physical exercise activities with co-workers adds an outstanding opportunity for team and morale-building and helps Wingmen meet their goals.

Health and fitness professionals at our Health and Wellness Centers, Fitness Centers, and Medical Treatment Facilities are uniquely qualified to assist Airmen and their family's quest for better health. I encourage everyone to take advantage of their support and expert guidance. Striving to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle is a worthy goal.