Behind the Scenes

Exercise as Medicine

This article in USA Today got me thinking. It talks about a military investigation into why commanders sent soldiers from Fort Wainwright, AK, back to Iraq after doctors recommended that they lay low and recuperate from existing wounds. It cites Army statistics that found 16 percent of soldiers are non-deployable this year, many of those because of health problems.

A companion piece to the article also stated that “between 2006 and 2008, bad backs, strained knees and other ailments increased from 1.4 million cases in the overall military to 1.9 million, according to Defense Department records.”

It makes me wonder whether better physical fitness training could have prevented some of the non-combat injuries.

Granted the obesity epidemic is making it harder for the military to find good soldiers in the first place, but you'd think the Army would want healthy soldiers on the battlefront rather than sending in people with major medical issues. The Army even said it would add wellness training to its fitness training last year to try and reduce suicide rates, which are soaring as the number of repeated deployments goes up for soldiers.

It feels like the government and military are slowly starting to figure out what the fitness industry has known for years – exercise really is the best medicine.

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