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Healthy Soldiers Work It Three Ways

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Not long ago, Army health officials did an experiment. At an on-post dining facility, the salad bar was moved 10 feet closer to the entrance, and the dessert bar was moved 10 feet farther away.

The result: Soldiers ate 22 percent more salad and 17 percent less dessert.

That experiment captures the intent of an effort to enhance individual health readiness through the “Performance Triad.” This program, introduced last year and still rolling out, aims to improve physical and emotional health and fitness with a three-pronged approach focusing on sleep, physical activity and nutrition.

“In Army medicine, we believe readiness starts at home,” Col. Deydre S. Teyhen, director of the system for health and performance triad in the health and wellness directorate of the office of the Army Surgeon General, said recently during a Hot Topic on Army Installation Management. The forum was sponsored by the Association of the U.S. Army’s Institute of Land Warfare.

While there are 525,600 minutes in a year, soldiers spend an average of only 100 minutes a year actually seeking care within a military medical facility, Teyhen said. “So if Army medicine wants to partner on readiness and we believe readiness starts at home, we have to get outside those 100 minutes and really influence the 525,500 minutes where you live, love and labor.”

That’s where the Performance Triad comes in. “It’s our big program to work on individual personal health readiness … where we try to show you how to improve sleep, activity and nutrition, to get after physical, cognitive, and emotional health and fitness,” Teyhen said.

“As you go through the six-month Performance Triad challenge, each week there are three different targets you can pick,” Teyhen said. “There are videos embedded in each one. You can read a bit about it, watch a video about it, and select your target.”

The challenges are relatively simple “because we want to decrease the barrier to what makes you actually … change behaviors,” she said. “You can’t read about health and become healthier, you have to change your behaviors.”

Despite the seeming simplicity of the challenges, “if you do them for a week or two, you should notice a difference in your health.”

An online app containing training materials is available here.