Marine Fitness Program Aims to Reduce Stress

Semper Fit, the fitness program of the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), is partnering with the branch’s DSTRESS phone line to offer fitness-based solutions to stress issues faced by some Marines.

The DSTRESS Line, implemented as a pilot program in 2010, provides 24-hour, anonymous counseling, says Col. Grant Olbrich, the program’s manager. The line, which is staffed by veteran Marines and licensed counselors trained in USMC culture, is available to current and veteran Marines, attached sailors and their families.

“Physical fitness is a fundamental element of resilience and readiness, and counselors may refer callers to Semper Fit programs and other resources that support this aspect of their overall well-being,” Olbrich says of the partnership.

Semper Fit also posts stories about the role fitness plays in stress reduction on the DSTRESS Facebook page.

“Stress can produce chemicals in the body causing tension, anxiety, irritability and can even cause physical illness,” says Maj. Robert Chapell, Semper Fit operations officer. “Engaging in physical activity can counteract these chemicals and help manage them. Taking part in regular physical activity releases endorphins that improve mood and increase self-confidence.”

Chapell says Semper Fit fitness programs also provide stress-management solutions that go beyond physiology, as they offer opportunities to connect with others through personal training sessions and group exercise.

Semper Fit also is piloting a new High Intensity Tactical Training (HITT) program. Although the HITT program’s primary goal is to prepare Marines for the physical rigors of combat through functional training exercises, Chapell says an ancillary goal is to alleviate stress by ensuring Marines are physically ready to perform.

Both the DSTRESS and HITT programs are expected to be rolled out USMC-wide in 2012.

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