DoD Resources for Physical Health, Wellness, Nutrition and Injury Prevention and Recovery

(U.S. Army/Pfc. Veejay Ermita)

Are you a member of the U.S. military or considering military service? If so, you may wonder about the physical demands of serving. Fortunately, the Department of Defense (DoD) Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP) and Human Performance Resources (HPRC) provide reliable and scientifically backed information on military members' health, wellness, nutrition and fitness.

Within the DoD, the Defense Health Agency has realized the need for science-based human performance information to be readily available to military leaders and service members. This spurred creation of the HPRC in 2010 to translate and disseminate timely, accurate human performance optimization information to commanders, service members, medical personnel and researchers. The information from HPRC is peer-reviewed, evidence-based and developed to meet the unique needs of service members and their families.

The HPRC translates research about physical and mental performance, nutrition and fitness into practical information for warfighters and their families. The HPRC website includes articles and videos on various health, wellness, nutrition and physical fitness topics, including injury prevention (including heat-related issues) and Rehab, Refit, Return to Duty worksheets, guides, and other free and open materials.

There is also an excellent resource for nutrition as well. Eating healthy is the foundation of overall health and wellness. Finding education about nutrient-dense foods can be overwhelming. On the site and within the program Go For Green, the reader finds these foods are low in added sugars, saturated fats and sodium, but still provide your body with the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients it needs. The Go For Green initiative is a research and training resource, with access to recipes and food planning options for any health and fitness goal.

CHAMP is doing important work around performance in high-heat and humid environments with its Warrior Heat- and Exertion-Related Events Collaborative (WHEC). Its lab is one of very few heat testing labs dedicated to military service members in the United States. During hot and humid summer months with military bases in southern states, the need for an educational source for leaders and military members could not be more significant.

Is Your Supplement Safe and Allowed in the Military?

Another section of the research and education is focused on dietary supplementation. Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) is invaluable for learning about popular and prohibited dietary supplements.

If you are curious whether the vitamins or supplements you take are safe and effective, use the OPSS scorecard to check your supplement. Supplementation is prevalent within American society and the military as well. These tools to educate you on the difference between supplement facts and nutrition facts are just the beginning of the learning curve available to service members and the public.

If you are considering intensive military training, supplements are banned during selection training, such as SEAL training, mainly for safety concerns. Supplements as benign as caffeine can have deadly effects on users, depending on the physical exertion and dosing levels.

Exercise is important to staying healthy and fit for your entire service career. Having the tools and resources readily available is the goal of HPRC by CHAMP and the Department of Defense.

Regular exercise can help reduce stress, improve sleep, boost mood and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week. This includes running, biking, swimming, flexibility/mobility and strength training.

In many of the articles and videos, you will find recipes for good nutrition and workouts from weightlifting to yoga programs. By focusing on your physical fitness, you also prioritize mental health and wellness. Meditation, yoga and breathing exercises are prime examples of the training options available. These activities can help you manage stress, cope better with difficult situations and develop mental resilience.

By using the Human Performance Resources by CHAMP, you can stay informed about the physical demands of military service and ensure you have the knowledge to perform at your best in any climate or job situation.

You'll have access to reliable information and resources to make informed decisions about your health, wellness, nutrition and fitness in a variety of climates as well. The HPRC is an invaluable resource for military members and those considering military service.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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