WASHINGTON — The Army is promoting healthy lifestyle choices to improve the readiness and resilience of Soldiers, and the health and well-being of Army Families, said the Army’s surgeon general.
Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho, commanding general, United States Army Medical Command, said simple lifestyle changes in three key areas -— nutrition, activity and sleep — can vastly improve the health of the force and the nation.
“By focusing on these three elements, we can improve health beyond our healthcare clinics and our military treatment facilities,” she said.
Horoho spoke at the 2013 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition, Oct. 22, in Washington, D.C.
The general highlighted the Army’s pilot Performance Triad program that focuses on Soldiers making healthier choices to improve health, readiness and wellness.
The Performance Triad, she said, is about helping Soldiers be better Soldiers, better spouses and better people.
“For the first time, we’re going to look at these interventions — activity, nutrition, and sleep — through the unique lens of your brain, both the conscious and subconscious,” she said.
The triad, part of the Army’s Ready and Resilient Campaign, advocates a culture shift by encouraging Soldiers to develop a mindset that drives them to optimize their health in order to improve their performance and resilience.
“If we collectively decide that we can embrace these changes, then we can move our Army from being focused on disease and illness in our Families, in our units, and our military treatment facilities,” Horoho said.
The pilot program launched at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., in September, with other pilots also taking place at Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Bragg.
The nation is facing a health crisis, because Americans make poor health decisions, Horoho said. Many are skipping exercise, eating poorly, or failing to get enough sleep.
“This could be the first generation of children in the United States that lives less than their parents,” she said. “Nine out of 10 Americans — nine out of 10 of us in the room — will die of some preventable illness, whether its heart disease, diabetes, stroke or cancer.”
The general said the average American sits or lies down for 21 hours each day. Only one in four Americans is eligible for military service because of health or legal issues.
Changes need to be embraced, as the health of the nation and the Army is at stake, she said.
“If we don’t make those changes, we will not be able to respond to the nation’s call and preserve the freedoms that we enjoy each and every day,” she said.
“Sleep is the single most important thing, because it has such a huge impact on our ability to make decisions and our overall health,” Horoho said.
She recommends staying active throughout the day including 30 minutes of activity in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon; eating calories, instead of consuming them in sugary drinks; having caffeine only in the morning; and getting seven, uninterrupted hours of sleep.
“I believe that we can do this and I believe we have to do this as a nation,” she said.