Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

COVID-19 presents challenges to heart health, physical fitness

Four military personnel, wearing masks, running on a track U.S. Coast Guard recruits from company Romeo-199 participate in a Jan. 8 run program on the track at U.S. Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May, New Jersey, as part of their modified training schedule due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Photo by Navy Seaman Josalyn Brown.)

Recommended Content:

Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health Toolkit | Coronavirus | Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Heart Health

A healthy heart is a prerequisite for a fully trained combatant or a fit beneficiary. Without a healthy heart, a soldier cannot expect to complete tasks such as loading 155 mm rounds onto a bustle rack, or a beneficiary may huff and puff going up stairs.

"A heart at rest stays at rest, while a heart in motion stays in motion, to paraphrase the old axiom," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. (Dr.) Olamide Oladipo, chief of cardiology at the Navy Medical Center-San Diego (NMC-SD).

Due to on-again, off-againshutdowns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the overall health of both military personnel and beneficiaries has taken a hit over the last year, he noted. A more sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and, therefore, death.

One way the military is addressing this issue is through the Aging Warrior study, which intends to look at cardiovascular risks in men 40 and older and women 52–55 with one risk factor for cardiac disease, such as hypertension, Oladipo explained. Following a CT scan, study participants will receive preventative medication or other interventions if they show early signs of cardiac atherosclerosis (a narrowing or blockage of the heart vessels).

As to fitness, NMC-SD has “adopted more of a holistic approach; we treat the whole person” among active-duty personnel and beneficiaries, said Melissa Palacios, a nurse and head of the Health and Wellness Department at NMC-SD’s Naval Medical Readiness Training Command. “We’re looking at concomitant diagnoses that affect a person’s heart health,” such as diabetes, sleep apnea, obesity, stress, PTSD.

“We do this though more virtual classes, group-based exercise programming, fitness trackers and apps that help with heart rate monitoring, food intake, medication, and sleep hygiene, for example,” she said, also noting the negative impact COVID-19 has had on the base’s effectiveness in physical training and meeting beneficiaries’ fitness needs.

“Getting moving can have a profound impact on lowering blood pressure, strengthening muscles, controlling weight, lowering stress, and reducing inflammation, therefore decreasing risk for heart disease,” Palacios said. “We encourage our active-duty members and beneficiaries to not only participate in aerobic activities such a swimming, dancing, cycling, brisk walking or cycling but also in identifying opportunities in their everyday lives to intentionally become more physically active such as taking the stairs.”

The ideas behind fitness training also have changed in the Army. At Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri, unit physical training “used to be very focused on the Army Physical Fitness Test events (pushups, sit-ups, and running),” said Army Maj. Brett Dougherty, director, Physical Performance Service Line, General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital. “However, over the last few years, that focus has slowly changed to incorporate more resistance training, specifically functional lifting, and that change accelerated with the introduction of the Army Combat Fitness Test that looks at the body more functionally.”

Functional lifting are exercises that help troops perform everyday activities more easily, such as changing heavy tires.

The Army follows the October 2020 FM 7-22 guidance on fitness and physical performance, which includes five domains of combat physical fitness: muscular strength, muscular endurance, aerobic endurance, explosive power, and anaerobic endurance. The guidance lays out exercises, stretches, progressions, and sample schedules of how to train for Army fitness tests and overall fitness. It includes aerobic exercise, strength and resistance training, agility, flexibility, and balance.

FM 7-22 also gives guidance on nutrition, sleep hygiene, mental wellness, and the overall well-being of soldiers, all factors integral to overall heart health.

Physical fitness is therefore much more than laps run, push-ups done, crunches crunched. It’s a holistic framework of both physical and mental fitness that means being able to exercise while avoiding injury and enjoying a longer life span. And, when it comes to physical fitness, a healthy heart is paramount.

You also may be interested in...

Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry User Guide for Service Members

Publication
6/1/2021

The following guide is designed to help service members navigate the complete registry process. It describes the registry requirements; provides an in-depth, step-by-step guide for accessing, registering, and completing the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry questionnaire; and provides instructions for scheduling the optional, in-person medical exam.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry | Environmental Exposures

Based on data, MHS experts encourage vaccines for adolescents

Article
6/1/2021
Sister and brother smiling at each other

With the Pfizer vaccine approved for youth ages 12 to 15, MHS adolescents are lining up to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Children's Health | Vaccine Eligibility

VAX Facts: Which Vaccine is Right for Me?

Video
5/28/2021
DHA Seal

Dr. LC Collins talks about the importance of getting the first vaccine available to you. Don't hold out for a certain brand; they're all safe and effective.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

VAX Facts: Breastfeeding after the COVID-19 Vaccine

Video
5/28/2021
DHA Seal

Dr. LC Collins encourages people who are breastfeeding to get the vaccine. Since the vaccine doesn't contain live virus, you can't pass COVID to your baby.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

What is an mRNA vaccine?

Video
5/28/2021
DHA Seal

Dr. LC Collins explains how mRNA vaccines work to protect you from COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

VAX Facts: Do I Need the Vaccine if I Had COVID?

Video
5/28/2021
DHA Seal

Dr. LC Collins talks about the importance of getting vaccinated even if you already had COVID. We're not sure how long natural immunity lasts, so getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Are mRNA vaccines safe?

Video
5/28/2021
DHA Seal

Dr. LC Collins explains the years of research and ongoing monitoring to show how mRNA vaccines are safe and effective.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

“Shots in arms” – OPT planned & coordinated to meet COVID-19 mission

Article
5/28/2021
Military personnel sitting around a table talking

The Department of Defense’s COVID-19 Operational Planning Team has been the quiet force behind the DOD’s vaccination effort since November.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Vaccination Card Second Shot

Infographic
5/27/2021
Graphic saying that keeping track of your vaccination card is important. Includes a helpful tips section, a link to www.tricare.mil/covidvaccine, and what to do when you didn’t get your vaccination card or don’t have a copy. The TRICARE logo is on the bottom right of the page.

Keep track of your vaccination card. Tips include keeping your card on you and taking a picture of it as a backup copy.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Costs and Documentation | Coronavirus

Adolescents ages 12 and older eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations

Article
5/27/2021
Son of military personnel receiving his COVID-19 vaccine

Pfizer vaccine now authorized for children 12 and older.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

Town Hall May 26 2021

Video
5/26/2021
Town Hall May 26 2021

RADM Anne Swap will discuss the National Capital Region's response to COVID-19

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | National Capital Region Market

Ask the Doc: Fitness Freaking Out

Article
5/26/2021
Integrating healthy snacks like fruit into kid’s diets will teach them healthy eating habits. September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sabrina Fine)

Dear Doc: It seems like every time I go to the commissary, my daughter, 6, and son, 7, tend to gravitate toward the sugary cereals and frozen pizzas, and always want candy bars and sodas at the checkout. As far as I know, and as has been proven by their regularly scheduled check-ups, they are both in great health. The mother in me wants to give them what they want, but the former college athlete and current fitness freak in me is afraid that this might become a problem. For me, eating healthy has become a normal part of my life, and I've come to enjoy things that are healthy and taste good. Aside from tricking them, what can I do to get my kids to eat (and enjoy) more healthy foods? — Fitness Freaking Out

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Ask The Doc

COVID-19 Town Hall with RADM Anne M. Swap

Article
5/24/2021
MHS and Military OneSource NCR COVID-19 Town Hall with Rear Admiral Anne M. Swap, Director, National Capital Medical Directorate, Wednesday, May 26 at 11:50 a.m. ET

The purpose of this event is to inform National Capital Region (NCR) beneficiaries of DHA’s efforts with battling coronavirus (COVID-19) and encourage them to not delay care.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | MHS and Military OneSource To Your Health

Adirim, Place laud DHA response to COVID-19 in briefing

Article
5/21/2021
Defense Health Agency Director Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place speaking at a press conference

Dr. Terry Adirim, acting assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, and Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, director of the Defense Health Agency, provided a COVID-19 update during a Pentagon press briefing.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

Sailors continue to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Article
5/20/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask receiving the COVID-19 vaccine

Sailors continue to voluntarily receive one of the three available COVID-19 vaccines.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts
<< < ... 6 7 8 9 10  ... > >> 
Showing results 76 - 90 Page 6 of 42

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.