Human weapons system needs healthy lifestyle to perform

  • Published
  • By Co. Jeffrey Swartz
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Our 56th Fighter Wing people are the best of the best. We do whatever it takes to complete our mission to train the world's greatest F-16 fighter pilots and maintainers,
while deploying mission ready warfighters. Doing our job to the Air Force's high standards is tough on the world's most complex, expensive and irreplaceable assets -- you and your family. 

Each and every one of you is a human weapons system and is unique. Just like a plane or car, we have moving parts that wear down over time and are subject to breakage and accidents. However, unlike an airplane or a car, and because no two people are alike -- repairing, removing or replacing your parts is a complex process, if it can be done at all. 

So, what's the status of your human weapons system? What can you do to maintain and maximize you and your family's performance? The best thing you can do is to take care of your heart. Your heart is your body's engine. If it goes, you're gone. 

Heart disease is the No. 1 health problem in America. The American Heart Association lists six major risk factors that you can modify, treat or control by changing your lifestyle or taking medicine. They are tobacco smoke, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity and overweight and diabetes. All these risk factors are interrelated. Smoking, a poor diet and physical inactivity can lead to increased weight, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Add the contributing factors of stress and excessive alcohol use, and you're asking for heart trouble. 

Air Force Instruction 10-248, Fitness Program, gives us guidance on physical activity to attain and maintain ideal weight and physical health. Fortunately, most of our active duty Air Force members are young and healthy. 

Unfortunately, more than 26 percent of active-duty members at Luke are smokers, with the majority in the 18 to 25 age range. Smoking is addictive and expensive and it significantly increases your risk of lung and oral cancer at any age. Secondhand smoke puts your family at an increased health risk. According to the AHA, cigarette smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the United States. It accounts for nearly 440,000 deaths each year, of which more than 135,000 are due to smoking-related cardiovascular diseases. Cigarette smokers are two to three times more likely to die from coronary heart disease than nonsmokers. So please, if you don't smoke, don't start. If you do smoke, seriously consider quitting today. 

The 56th Medical Group and the base wellness center staff are available to help you meet your diet, fitness, medical, dental and smoking cessation goals. Lead the way as an Airman. Your family, friends and loved ones follow your lead when it comes to health issues. We're dedicated to help you improve your human weapons system performance when you make the choice to do so. The right choices today will improve your performance for years to come. 

For more information, call your healthcare provider at (623) 856-2273 or the wellness center at (623) 856-3830