Helping Family Members With Special Needs Meet Their Fitness Goals

Men in wheelchairs playing basketball

Getting in shape, eating better and exercising regularly helps us lower stress, improve self-esteem and our general well-being. Individuals with special needs share these same goals and can achieve their health and fitness goals with the help of an adaptive fitness and nutrition plan. Here are some tips to help family members with a disability meet their fitness goals:

  • Meet with a doctor or health care professional to develop a program that combines safety considerations with realistic goals. Fitness comes in all forms, and a doctor can recommend modifications for physical activities and traditional exercises to make activities more inclusive. Always follow up on a regular basis with any suggestions or concerns or to adjust the program if necessary.
  • Eat a healthy diet. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has useful information and motivational messages to keep the whole family on the path to healthy eating. If your family member has special dietary restrictions, coordinate with the doctor or nutritionist to develop a plan. The Food and Drug Administration’s “Food Allergies: What You Need to Know” can help you identify common food allergies, learn the symptoms of an allergic reaction and understand food labels to avoid potential allergens.

Take advantage of the tools and resources to track progress to achieve fitness goals.

Supporting Your New Recruit’s Preparation for Basic Training or Boot Camp

Two men working out outdoors

The myth that nothing will get a person into shape faster than boot camp is just that – a myth. The truth is, the hard work of getting fit starts long before basic training begins.

Preparing for initial military training is a recruit’s responsibility, but friends and family play an important role. Encouraging good nutrition and passing along tips for overall well-being are ways to support your loved one as they embark on a military career.

If your service member is well beyond basic training, consider sharing the information here with somebody whose loved one has recently enlisted.

Let your recruit know you’re on board

Your new recruit likely has a fitness plan from the recruiter. Set aside time to talk about a workout schedule as well as the overall goals.

Ask how you can help, especially if the fitness plan will require big changes in your loved one’s life. Your support can be as simple as helping your new recruit stay accountable to goals, such as waking up in time to make it to the gym, or as involved as joining in as a workout buddy.

Preventing injury

An injury can derail your recruit’s efforts to get in shape. But most injuries can be prevented with a few precautions. Your loved one may be balancing a lot right now as they prepare for basic training. A few examples of things to focus on include:

  • Using proper footwear. Shoes should fit well and be comfortable. Replace running shoes when they become worn.
  • Wearing appropriate workout clothing. Choose light, breathable material. Dress in layers during cold weather. Make sure clothing has reflective material for exercising when visibility is low.
  • Taking time to warm up and cool down during workout sessions.
  • Staying hydrated. It’s a good idea to drink two glasses of water 30 minutes to an hour before each workout.
  • Not overdoing it. Many injuries are caused by overusing muscles through too many sets and repetitions.
  • Avoiding outdoor exercise when it’s extremely hot or cold. Heat exhaustion and hypothermia are dangerous conditions that may require hospitalization.

Meeting nutritional needs

It takes more than regular workouts to build strength and stamina. Good nutrition and adequate rest are essential as well. Eating right means:

  • Avoiding fast food and other processed foods
  • Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Eliminating sugary beverages
  • Choosing lean proteins
  • Eating whole grains
  • Drinking eight to 10 glasses of water per day

Your recruit may already follow a healthy diet. But if not, and your recruit is still living at home, work together to plan out a shopping list that meets their healthy eating goals. Look for nutritious recipes to try. You can find recipes on the ChooseMyPlate website from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Commit to healthy eating as a family. The rewards will be more energy and overall well-being for everyone.

The importance of sleep

Sleep is central to overall health. It helps the body fight off infection and improves learning. Most adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep each night. If your recruit doesn’t have good sleep habits, now is the time to change that. A good night’s rest will power your recruit through those days of basic training. Here are a few tips to pass along:

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule. That means going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each day. Avoid sleeping in.
  • Finish workouts at least two to three hours before bedtime to be relaxed enough to fall asleep.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Both can interfere with a deep, restful sleep.
  • Sleep in a cool room.
  • Avoid using a phone or watching TV in bed.

Staying healthy and fit as a service member

Before you know it, basic training will be over and your recruit’s military career will have begun. As a service member, your loved one will have access to Department of Defense resources for overall well-being. These include:

  • Health and wellness coaching. Service members and their immediate family have access to free health and wellness coaching to help them eat better, get fit, tackle stress and manage transitions.
  • Non-medical counseling. Trained counselors experienced in military life offer free, confidential sessions. A non-medical counselor can help with relationship issues, stress or anger management, parenting challenges and more.
  • Wellness apps. These digital tools were created by DOD and its partners to help service members and their families stay strong in body and mind.

This is an exciting time for you and your new recruit. Supporting your loved one’s efforts to prepare for basic training is just the beginning of a lifetime of healthy habits and a successful military career.

Military OneSource offers service members and their immediate family members 24/7 access to information, answers and support. To learn more, visit the Friends & Extended Family section >>.

Supporting Your New Recruit’s Preparation for Basic Training or Boot Camp

Getting in shape for basic training starts at home. Find out how you can help your new recruit start off with strength and stamina.

The New Army Combat Fitness Test

Service Member Doing Pushups

Starting October 2020, all soldiers will be required to pass the new Army Combat Fitness Test, which will replace the Army Physical Fitness Test. You will be expected to meet ACFT requirements regardless of age or gender, as part of your military training. The minimum requirements will instead vary by job or unit.

The test has six events that assess your ability to perform physical tasks you may encounter in combat conditions:

  1. Strength deadlift: You must perform a three-repetition deadlift, with the weight increased with each repetition. The weight range of the deadlift is 120 to 420 pounds. The deadlifts replicate picking up ammunition boxes, a wounded soldier, supplies or heavy equipment.
  2. Standing power throw: You will need to toss a 10-pound ball backward as far as possible to test the muscular explosive power that may be needed to lift yourself or a fellow soldier over an obstacle or to move rapidly across uneven terrain.
  3. Hand-release pushups: You will have two minutes to do as many hand-release pushups as possible. Depending on your job, there may be a minimum number you are required to complete. These are similar to traditional pushups, but at the down position you lift your hands and arms from the ground and then reset to do another pushup.
  4. Sprint/drag/carry: You must run five times up and down a 25-meter lane, sprinting, dragging a sled weighing 90 pounds, and then carrying two 40-pound kettlebell weights. This can simulate pulling a soldier out of harm’s way, moving quickly to take cover, or carrying ammunition to a fighting position or vehicle.
  5. Leg tuck: Similar to a pull-up, you must lift your legs up and down to touch your knees/thighs to your elbows between one and five times. This exercise strengthens the core muscles.
  6. Two-mile run: This is a timed run to build endurance and cardiovascular strength.

All of these events must be completed in under 50 minutes.

Scoring the ACFT test

Scoring for the ACFT is still being finalized, and its minimum scores may change depending on your occupational specialty. If you are in a more physically demanding job, you may see tougher minimums.

Look below for a snapshot of changes coming to the new Army Combat Fitness Test. Need help or inspiration to get ready for your next test? Contact Military OneSource’s Health and Wellness Coaching online or call 800-342-9647 and a Military OneSource consultant will register you and schedule your first session with a health and wellness coach.

Comparing the Old and New Army Fitness Tests

Current Army Physical Fitness Test New Army Combat Fitness Test (October 2020)
Number of Events    3    6
Events Pushups, sit-ups, two-mile run Strength deadlift, standing power throw, hand-release, pushup, sprint/drag/carry, leg truck, two-mile run
Standards Based on age and gender Based on job and unit
Maximum time to complete 2 hours 50 minutes
Minimum score to pass 180 (60 on each test) Based on physical requirements of job

Take Command of Your Well-Being With a Health and Wellness Coach

Wellness Coach watches class.

Losing weight, managing stress, tackling transitions — if you’re ready to make some life changes, free consultations with Military OneSource health and wellness coaches can help you set goals and create a plan to reach them.

You can be more successful in reaching your maximum potential when you have a coach cheering you on. Military OneSource health and wellness coaches stand ready to be your personal cheerleader.

How can a health and wellness coach help me improve my life?

Having a health coach in your corner helps you make a plan, focus on results and reach your goals. The top five ways a wellness coach can improve your life are by helping to:

  1. Clarify your focus (identify your beliefs, values and vision, and goals)
  2. Set you up for success (create an action plan to achieve your goals)
  3. Prepare you for the unexpected (eliminate roadblocks or barriers that stand in the way)
  4. Keep you on course (hold you accountable for your goals)
  5. Celebrate your achievements (acknowledge your hard work when you reach your goal)

What topics and goals do health and wellness coaches support?

Health and wellness coaches provide information, support, encouragement and accountability on specific topics including:

  • Weight management
  • Fitness
  • Nutrition
  • Health condition management
  • Stress management
  • Life transitions

Contact Military OneSource 24/7.

You can get personalized help 365 days a year by telephone and online.

Overseas? See OCONUS calling options.

Prefer to live chat? Start now.

How can a coach help with life transitions?

Having a plan can sometimes make major adjustments and life changes easier. A Military OneSource health and wellness coach can help you make a plan before or during those life transitions when you’re adapting to changes such as deployment, moving, becoming a new parent or retirement.

Who’s eligible for health and wellness coaching?

The Military OneSource Health and Wellness Coaching Program is a free resource for eligible service members (regardless of activation status) and certain others including:

  • Active duty
  • National Guard
  • Reserve members
  • Immediate family members and survivors of active-duty, National Guard and reserve members

How do I get started with a health coach?

Call 800-342-9647 to sign up for health and wellness coaching sessions. You can choose from three Health and Wellness Coaching Program session options:

  • Phone
  • Secure, real-time online chat
  • Secure, real-time video session

Are there self-directed wellness programs available?

If you prefer to work without a coach, visit the United States Department of Agriculture MyPlate Plan to try a self-directed online program that tracks things like nutrition and exercise.

You’re one call away from starting to live a healthier life. Call today for the information, support, encouragement and accountability a Military OneSource health and wellness coach can give you.

Morale, Welfare and Recreation Programs and Eligibility

Hands stretch to toes during yoga class

From fitness and sports to tickets and travel, Morale, Welfare and Recreation has something for everyone. Programs vary by location and whether you’re stationed on an installation or off, you’ll always have a way to access these offerings to relax, have fun and connect with others.

  • Fitness, aquatics and sports programs: Hit the gym, try yoga, swim laps at the pool or join an organized sport. If you aren’t near an installation gym, work out at any of the more than 3,000 YMCAs and private fitness facilities that offer military memberships to those who are eligible.
  • Boating programs, bowling centers, golf courses, stables and special interest recreation programs: Now’s the time to try something new. Get a great deal on a boat rental, horseback riding or another special interest program, like scuba diving or flying. Get a group of friends together for a night of bowling or an affordable round of golf.
  • Individual skills development programs: Get in touch with your creative side with arts and crafts, check out a program at a performing arts center, or learn some handy automotive skills while working on your car.
  • Libraries: Check out a bestseller, read a magazine article or study for an upcoming test with library resources. Visit your installation library or log in to your Military OneSource account to access the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library from anywhere in the world. Download select titles to your smartphone or tablet or get an audiobook for your next road trip.
  • Information, Tickets and Travel: Get tickets to a movie or an amusement park at a reduced rate or ask an Information, Tickets and Travel employee for help planning your next vacation, from airfare to resort reservations. Use your discounts to see sporting events or go to a concert you’ve wanted to see.
  • Recreational lodging: Rent a beach cabana, find the perfect ski chalet or take your family members camping — all at significant savings.
  • Outdoor recreation programs: Whether it’s mountain biking, paintballing or hunting, your Morale, Welfare and Recreation program can help you get out there. Rent a tent and sleep under the stars, or rent a few coolers, tables and chairs and host a backyard BBQ (equipment rental varies by location). If there’s not an installation near you, consider checking out the no-cost annual pass offered by the National Park Service that provides you with access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites.
  • Recreation centers: Get your video game fix with a tournament against your friends, watch the big game with good company or just take advantage of free Wi-Fi at your local rec center.
  • Single service member programs: Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs offer a variety of single service member programs that support singles ages 18 to 25 with sports, trips and tours, concerts, holiday and special event activities and much more.

For more information about your local Morale, Welfare and Recreation program, visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.



Now that you’re ready to have some fun, here’s some information on how to make it happen:

Unlimited use: The following persons and their immediate families generally have unlimited access to all Morale, Welfare and Recreation services and programs.

  • Service members on active duty
  • Members of the Reserve Components (Ready Reserve, National Guard and reservists in training)
  • Cadets of the service academies and Merchant Marine cadets
  • Retired service members and their family members
  • Honorably-discharged veterans with a 100 percent service-connected disability
  • Medal of Honor recipients
  • Unmarried surviving spouses and orphans of personnel who died on active duty or in retired status, or who were married to the service member for 20 years while they were on active duty
  • Department of Defense and Coast Guard civilians stationed outside the United States


Limited use: The installation commander establishes limited use eligibility requirements that are subject to local demand and capacity. Here’s a list of the groups who may have limited access to Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs and services based on local installation policy:

  • Department of Defense and Coast Guard civilians and their families stationed inside the United States
  • Retired Department of Defense civilians and their families
  • Department of Defense contract personnel and technical representatives when working full time on the installation
  • Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets when participating in field training or practice cruises
  • Former prisoners of war or those missing in action, along with their family members
  • Military Housing Privatization Initiative employees and residents, and privatized Army lodging employees
  • Foreign national employees
  • Guests and members of the public (when established criteria have been met)

For more information on limited use eligibility, check with your installation Morale, Welfare and Recreation program.

Health and Wellness Coaching for Teens

Mom and daughter looking at phone

Current as of March 24, 2020

Physical activity and time with friends are essential to the health and well-being of teenagers. But the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has isolated teens and sidelined them from team sports and many other activities.

If your teen is struggling with healthy eating, physical fitness or stress, a Military OneSource health and wellness coach can help. This free service is available to those 13 and up by phone and video.

How health and wellness coaching can help

Health and wellness coaches provide information, support, encouragement and accountability for:

  • Weight management
  • Fitness
  • Nutrition
  • Health condition management
  • Stress management
  • Life transitions

How health and wellness coaching works

The health and wellness coach will guide your teenager rather than say what to do or how to do it.

The coach will:

  • Help your teenager identify goals
  • Work with your teen to create an action plan toward meeting those goals
  • Help your teen track progress toward those goals
  • Hold your teen accountable and provide support each step of the way

A parent must attend the first session with the teenager. That session will include the assessment and initial goal-setting.

Call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 to sign your teenager up for health and wellness coaching sessions.

Our understanding of COVID-19 is changing rapidly. Stay up to date by checking the Coronavirus Information for Our Military Community page for updates.

Health and Wellness Coaching Consultation

Child helping mother do sit-ups

Current as of March 23, 2020.

The coronavirus disease 2019 has led to gym closures and disrupted other ways people stay fit and manage stress. At the same time, boredom at home can lead to unhealthy snacking. Good nutrition and fitness are key to withstanding the stress of uncertain times.

If you need a hand getting back on track, free Military OneSource health and wellness coaching can help. Coaches can also help you tackle stress and deal with life transitions.

Health and wellness coaching

Your Military OneSource health and wellness coach will work with you by phone, video or online chat to help with:

  • Weight management
  • Fitness
  • Nutrition
  • Health condition management
  • Stress management
  • Life transitions, including deployment, moving, becoming a new parent or retirement

How health and wellness coaching works

Health and wellness coaches provide information, support, encouragement and accountability. Your coach will not tell you what to do and how to do it, but will help you make a plan, focus on results and reach goals. Your coach will:

  • Help you identify your beliefs, values, vision and goals
  • Create an action plan to achieve your goals
  • Prepare you for any roadblocks or barriers to reaching your goals
  • Keep you focused and on course
  • Celebrate your achievements

Get started with health and wellness coaching

Call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 to sign up for health and wellness coaching sessions. This service is free for service members and their immediate family.

Our understanding of COVID-19 is changing rapidly. Stay up to date by checking the Coronavirus Information for Our Military Community page for updates.

How to Stay Healthy During the COVID-19 Quarantine

Boys eating broccoli

Current as of April 21, 2020

It’s normal to cut corners when engaging in everyday activities, especially when you’re comfortable with the task. But to avoid putting yourself and your family at risk during the coronavirus disease 2019 quarantine, examine your habits to make sure you’re not cutting corners on your health.

Perhaps the most important factor when it comes to your habits during this time is to avoid spreading germs.

Keep calm with COVID Coach

This app can help you cope with pandemic-related stress. It’s free, secure and recommended by the Department of Defense.

For specific guidance on everything from personal hygiene to keeping areas around your house clean and avoiding contact with others if you must leave the house, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a great resource.

But maintaining good health during the quarantine means following guidance for covering your face in public and considering paying extra attention to your eating habits, exercise and personal schedule.

With that in mind, here are some other things to consider:

Wear cloth face coverings when you go out

Military personnel, families and supporting civilian members serve as role models during extremely challenging times. One way you can do this now is to take steps to protect yourself and others whenever you need to go out. This includes following Department of Defense and CDC guidance for wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing may be hard to maintain. This can slow the spread of the virus and help people who may unknowingly have it from transmitting it to others.

  • Cover your face. Create your own cloth face coverings using common household items such as T-shirts, scarves and bandanas. Making and using these coverings helps protect public health while reserving critical supplies such as surgical masks and N-95 respirators for medical first responders, as current CDC guidance recommends.
  • Know the exceptions. Do not place cloth face coverings on children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without help.
  • Be careful not to touch. Avoid your eyes, nose or mouth when removing your face covering. Wash your hands as soon as you finish.
  • Follow guidance. Wear your face covering whenever you are on Department of Defense property, installations (except personal residences) and facilities when 6 feet of social distance isn’t possible in public areas or work centers.

Be good to your body

Keep yourself healthy with the following activities:

  • Get moving. Reach out to a Military OneSource health and wellness coach to develop an exercise plan just for you with the equipment you have at home. You can make an appointment for a phone, online or video session by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.
  • Keep your bedtime the same. It’s tempting to binge watch your favorite shows late into the night if you are not currently reporting to work or if you are working from home, but resist that urge. Sleep helps restore and relax your mind and body. A good sleep routine keeps you healthy.
  • Eat regular, nutritious meals with your family. Teach your children how to stay healthy by choosing healthy meals. Show them how to plan a meal, cook it, set the table and clean up after. Family meals are a great time to bond and get to know each other better, not to mention staying healthy.
  • Order medications online. Order your medications online to avoid contact with people who may have the virus. Here’s how to get home delivery for medications under TRICARE.

Be kind to your mind

Mental health is just as important as physical health. Here are a few ways to stay informed with updates on safety while keeping current events in perspective.

  • Engage your mind in your favorite activities. During the quarantine, make sure you are scheduling time for yourself to participate in the activities you enjoy the most. Whatever your thing is—reading a book, painting, playing an instrument or streaming your favorite music, dancing, writing, singing, etc.—do it, enjoy it and you’ll feel better for it.
  • Avoid information overload. Watching or reading too much negative news can increase anxiety. Instead, limit the time you take in negative news and use the extra time to fill yourself with something positive like writing down all you are grateful for or using these other tips for emotional wellness.
  • Practice self-care. Plug into tools to help you de-stress and take care of yourself. The Defense Health Agency recommends several: Breathe2Relax trains you on deep-breathing techniques and is among several you’ll find on the Military OneSource Recommended Wellness Apps page. The Military Meditation Coach podcast provides relaxation exercises and tips for well-being.
  • Help others and ask for help when you need it. Helping others will bring you happiness. Consider surprising a neighbor by doing their yard work or leave groceries on their porch (while keeping your social distance).Ask for help if you or your family need it; Military OneSource confidential, non-medical counselors are here for you. If you or a family member are having suicidal thoughts, call the Military Crisis line at 800-273-8255, press 1; text to 838255; or start a confidential chat.

    If you find yourself in a dangerous, abusive situation, contact command, the Family Advocacy Program or law enforcement. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 911. Except in select circumstances, you have the option of making either a restricted or unrestricted report of domestic abuse. Both options allow access to victim advocacy services, which include personal help and support.

  • Seek reliable information. Look for sites that provide factual and frequently updated information such as the CDC.

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

Physical Wellness

Service members do pull-ups during training

Service members in the National Guard need to maintain a level of optimal physical performance (after all, that’s what the PT test is for), but that’s not the only reason to be physically fit. Physically well individuals have more self-esteem, better emotional health, and tend to get sick less – not to mention, they are better able to weather the physical strain of being in the military. Being strong is only part of it – physical wellness includes flexibility, nutrition, medical self-care, and the right amount of physical activity to encourage optimal health.

What does “physical wellness” mean?

  1. Physical wellness means avoiding substance abuse and eating a balanced diet, both of which will keep your body running better and longer:

    Avoiding substance abuse includes steering clear of drugs, cigarettes, alcohol or other substances that can interfere with the way your body and mind functions. Physically well individuals practice temperance when they do drink, shun cigarette smoking, avoid illegal drugs, and don’t misuse prescription drugs.

    Eating a balanced diet of vegetables, fruit, proteins and carbohydrates provides necessary fuel and nutrients to your muscles, organs and bones. Physically well individuals who eat right also think more clearly, have more energy, and fight off sickness more easily.

  2. Physical wellness means engaging in balanced physical activity and knowing your limits to prevent physical injury:

    Balanced physical activity is critical to maintaining physical wellness, as a lopsided approach (for example, too much strength training and not enough stretching) can cause muscle stiffness, stress to bones, impeded cardiovascular health, or permanent harm to joints. Physically well individuals improve flexibility, agility and cardiovascular health in addition to strength.

    Knowing your limits can be as important as working out, as it protects your body from the excess stress of working out too much. Physical wellness means listening to your body for warning signs of injury and allowing yourself sufficient time to recover and rest after a workout.

  3. Physical wellness means taking care of yourself and maintaining good health with regular check-ups:

    Taking care of yourself if you’re sick is as much a preventative measure as it is a facet of physical wellness. Getting proper rest and necessary medical attention when feeling ill promotes faster healing and reduces the likelihood of a chronic condition.

    Regular check-ups are an integral part of physical health, and are often rewarded by insurance as a means of preventative medicine. Physically well individuals foster an open, honest relationship with their primary care or family physician, ensuring they are always informed and on top of their physical well-being.

Signs of physical distress

Learn how to identify the warning signs of physical distress through the list below.

  • Recurring pain in joints, muscles or elsewhere in the body
  • High Body Mass Index
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abuse of substances including alcohol, cigarettes, illegal/prescription drugs
  • Unexplained exhaustion
  • Insomnia
  • Poor eating habits (refusing to eat, eating too much, binging and purging)
  • Poor safety habits (risk-taking, failing to wear protective gear, etc.)

Tips to improve your physical wellness

  1. Maintain a diverse exercise schedule. PT is a part of every service member’s experience, but whether you are active in National Guard or a traditional Guardsman, integrating a regimen of strength, flexibility, endurance and cardio training is necessary to maintain good overall physical health and prevent injury.
  2. Be safe. Accidents do happen, but you can prevent health problems and injuries by wearing a helmet or seat belt, ensuring you are not under the influence when you get behind the wheel, and practicing safe sex. Buddy Care applies: whenever possible, be a buddy to someone else or have a buddy nearby.
  3. Listen to your body. Pain and discomfort are warning signs that your body gives you to tell you to stop what you’re doing. Whether you experience pain during, after or unrelated to your activity, don’t let it go untended. If the pain is severe, seek help immediately.
  4. Cook more, eat out less. A simple way to know what you’re eating is to prepare food yourself. Using fresh ingredients to create a wide variety of dishes expands your palette and improves your eating habits. Best of all, it’s fun to play Bobby Flay for an evening, and you can share your culinary exploits with friends and family, who will no doubt appreciate the home-cooked meal.
  5. Little adjustments go a long way. Small efforts can make a big impact on your physical wellness. Some small changes you can implement today include checking the nutrition labels before purchasing food items, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, getting to bed a little earlier, and having a bite of breakfast in the morning. Small successes today can inspire great successes tomorrow.
  6. Practice “sleep hygiene.” Creating a simple routine approximately 60-90 minutes before going to sleep can greatly aid in both falling asleep more easily, and experiencing more restful slumber. Some tips include turning off the TV at least an hour before you want to sleep, relaxing all your senses (burn a scented candle or incense, wear something soft against your skin, listen to pleasant music, etc.), or taking a bath or shower about 30 minutes before sleep.

Children, Schools and Families Initiatives, Promising Practices, Tools and Resources

Little girl in a tug a rope exercise

A fit and healthy fighting force is the foundation of a strong national defense. In the United States, poor nutrition, obesity, lack of physical fitness and tobacco use pose a growing threat to the military’s four “Rs”: recruitment, retention, readiness and resilience. To address these threats, the Department of Defense launched a Healthy Base Initiative to make healthy living the easy choice for service members and their families. The military supports programs that protect the well-being of our military families, including:


  • Alliance for a Healthier Generation – This program targets the prevalence of childhood obesity and empowers kids to develop lifelong, healthy habits.
  • Share our Strength – Shopping and cooking classes empower families to purchase and prepare healthy food on a budget.
  • Operation Kid Fit – This is a military-adapted, evidence-based child obesity program.
  • 5210 Healthy Military Children campaign – This educational campaign is aimed at increasing activity and consumption of fruits and vegetables, while reducing sugar-sweetened beverages and recreational screen time. See the Club 2150 curriculum adopted at an after-school wellness program at Yokota Air Force Base.

Promising Practices

  • Baby Hot Wheels – This free circuit-training program is also a social outlet for mothers and babies alike. Sessions are rain or shine in the gym or on the track.
  • Club 2150 – This after-school program setting targets childhood obesity through the concepts of 5210.
  • Recess Before Lunch – The initiative improves child nutrition and reduces waste by implementing a school schedule change for recess prior to lunch.
  • Youth sports program – This comprehensive, year-round youth sports program for kids ages 3-15 at 29 Palms teaches participants skills in a variety of sports and overall functional movement while instilling lessons of leadership and responsibility.


  • Initiative Program Fidelity Tool template – Program Fidelity Tools are short, checklist-style surveys tailored to each program implemented under the Healthy Base Initiative. The surveys assess fidelity on a semi-annual basis, as appropriate to the specific program, based on the intervention’s HBI start date.


  • The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition– The president’s council engages, educates, and empowers all Americans to adopt healthy lifestyles, including regular physical activity and good nutrition. The council is made up of athletes, chefs, physicians, fitness professionals and educators who are appointed by the president to serve in an advisory capacity through the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
  • Human Performance Resource Center – The center’s human performance optimization website is for U.S. warfighters, their families and those who support them. The goal is total force fitness: warfighters optimized to carry out their mission as safely and effectively as possible.