Commander's Corner: A New Year's Wish: Health and fitness for all

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, New Mexico -- Congratulations to the 377th Services Squadron for your nomination for the Eugene L. Eubank (Small Unit) Award! This operation will represent the Materiel Command in the upcoming Air Force competition recognizing the best Services operations in the Air Force. Once again, a part of Team Kirtland is being singled out for continued excellence.

You are what makes our Air Force family so all encompassingly supportive and cared for. The fine people in services do not wait to be told that a need exists. It is through their constant monitoring, and seeking feedback that has them taking the initiative to provide for the ever-changing needs of our service members and their families.

From supporting our increasing numbers of deployed airmen and their families to creatively addressing the comfort, moral support and physical care of each Team Kirtland Member, services is there, always seeking new and better ways to serve the needs of the base population.

Increasingly, programs specifically targeting our physical care are expanding in focus and offerings, reflecting a trend in our nation and all branches of service. To put it bluntly, we're getting fatter. The good news is that we already have in place some great programs which address those servicemembers who do not meet the fitness criteria when they take their annual fitness test.

The bad news is that there are still too many of us who need to get into better shape, and not just those of us who expect to be deployed or otherwise physically challenged as part of our job. There are physical challenges here for all of us. Stress, increased responsibility and the winter weather all combine to wear us down. Being physically fit is the best defense against all ailments, including stress-related problems.

The experts say that getting fit and staying fit can increase your lifespan, and make those years enjoyable by allowing you to do the things you enjoy well past retirement age. The problem for most of us, they say, is making time for regular exercise. I won't lecture you about the marvelous opportunities we have here to be active in so many ways. I expect you've already heard that. The point is, we all need to make the commitment to improve our condition. The experts also say that if you make an actual appointment in your calendar to get some exercise, you are more likely to follow through. Also important is that you find something that you enjoy doing. The options here are plentiful:

· Swimming

· Jogging

· Bicycling

· Fitness Classes, including martial arts and aerobics

· Climbing Gym/wall

· Trips with Outdoor Recreation

· Health Counseling

The Lighten Up Program through the Health and Wellness Center begins on Jan 9, from 1-2 p.m. The eight-week program teaches nutrition, weight management, exercise and lifestyle practices which will keep you in the habit of living a healthy life.

Those of us who are parents need to set the example for our children as well. The awful truth is that children and adolescents are the fastest growing group of obese people in our country. Stopping this trend begins at home with the parents modeling the kind of behavior and lifestyle choices that will result in lifelong healthy habits.

It's the New Year! What better time to start? Let's all look forward to a fitter force in 2008. Happy New Year!