The Transformative Power of Adaptive Sports Programs

Race using adaptive cycles

For many years, people with disabilities have been using sports as a therapeutic tool. It helps them overcome serious injury or illness and is a means of recovery. They fight their personal battles on the track, in the pool and on the court. Their drive to overcome, recover and push through obstacles sends a powerful message: Serious injury or illness does not interrupt the pursuit of a meaningful and productive life.

Recognizing this, the Department of Defense and the United States Olympic Committee, created the Warrior Games. This inter-service adaptive sports competition showcases the resilient spirit of today’s wounded, ill and injured service members. Athletes from all branches of the military compete against each other in a range of adaptive sporting events. Having overcome severe injuries and medical conditions, the service members embody the warrior spirit. They serve as role models for other survivors worldwide.

The United Kingdom’s Prince Harry founded the Invictus Games after attending the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado. He saw the impact that sports played in the recovery of service members and was inspired to launch a similar event. He designed the Invictus Games for wounded, ill and injured military members and veterans from around the world. It also uses sports to promote healing and support recovery.

Warrior Games, Invictus Games: Sports as medicine

Many athletes say that participating in adaptive sports:

  • Boosts their self-esteem
  • Improves their mental and physical health
  • Increases their strength
  • Makes them more resilient

Recently, scientists began to purposefully measure the effects of adaptive sports programs. They want to determine adaptive sports programs role in rehabilitation.

See these resilient competitors in action! Check out featured videos, stories, photo essays and more:

Learn more about how the Military Adaptive Sports Program aids with healing our wounded warriors.

A holistic approach to recovery, rehabilitation and community reintegration

Adaptive sports and other reconditioning activities help service members come to terms with traumatic injuries or illness by inspiring them to realize what is still achievable by focusing on ability.

Adaptive sports promotes holistic growth and achievement by addressing several factors, including:

  • Being part of a team promotes a sense of belonging and peer support, of knowing you’re not alone in your struggle.
  • The opportunity to renew the power of service to country and strong desire to pursue a higher purpose that have always inspired service members in combat and life.
  • Competition rekindles the sense of passion and determination of the warrior spirit that is part of a service member’s DNA, the courage to move forward despite barriers and obstacles.
  • The chance to be celebrated and recognized, supported by family, friends and people from around the world, boosts self-worth and self-efficacy.

Adaptive sports engages service members and veterans mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically and socially. It helps them find hope and strength through their common experiences.

According to the Defense Health Agency’s Warrior Care Recovery Coordination Program, the benefits of physical activity for ill and injured service members also include:

  • Reduced stress
  • Increased quality of life
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Improved weight management
  • Enhanced rehabilitative process

Finding an adaptive sports program

The Defense Health Agency’s Warrior Care Recovery Coordination Program oversees the Military Adaptive Sports Program. MASP provides reconditioning activities and competitive athletic opportunities to all wounded, ill and injured service members. The program empowers wounded, ill and injured service members through physical and mental activities that engage, stimulate and inspire recovery. Offerings include:

  • A weekly calendar with suggestions for activities service members can do by themselves or with their families to improve their skills and stay connected
  • Virtual clinics in swimming, cycling, archery, wheelchair rugby, track and field, healthy mind and body, powerlifting and cooking
  • Access to healing arts initiatives

Each service branch also offers their own wounded warrior program:

In addition, the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events cosponsors adaptive sports clinics and competitive events for disabled veterans of all ages and abilities. This includes the Grants for Adaptive Sports Programs, which provides grant funding to organizations to increase and expand the quantity and quality of community-based adaptive sports activities for veterans with disabilities and members of the armed forces. To find out more, visit the VA National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events website.

Beyond Your Service Member’s Pay: The Benefits of Military Service

hands holding wallet with credit cards

As a member of your service member’s support network, you may have heard the good news that both active duty and reserve military personnel received a 3% military pay raise in 2021. Beyond the salary bump, you’ll be glad to know that military service offers your loved one additional ways to be financially fit while shaping their lives and preparing them for the future.

The military provides notable compensation benefits, ranging from paid vacation to retired-pay plans that beat those many private-sector employers offer. It also offers free or reduced-cost housing, a host of special and incentive pays, free financial and tax consultations and more. At the same time, the military offers your service member opportunities to develop both professionally and personally. Tuition assistance and opportunities to travel and develop leadership skills are just some of the reasons a military career is unlike any other.

Military financial benefits

Allowances: In addition to base pay, service members may also receive housing and food pay. A basic allowance for housing helps your loved one offset the cost of housing. Whether they choose to live on the installation or in town, BAH provides a reasonable amount each month to afford housing based on their rank and the area where they live.

Basic allowance for subsistence is a monthly allowance meant to assist service members in paying for meals. However, if your service member lives on the installation, they will not receive BAS but will have access to free meals on the installation.

Special and incentive pays: While base pay and allowances cover the fundamental components of military pay, special and incentive pays are used to compensate service members for hazardous or difficult duty assignments and to recruit and retain them. There are more than 60 special and incentive pays. Common S&I pays are:

  • Hardship Duty Pay: For service members at duty stations where the standard of living is significantly below the continental United States.
  • Assignment Incentive Pay: This incentive is paid to service members for unusual assignment circumstances like extended tours.
  • Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay: For service members who perform hazardous duties like aircrew members.

Paid vacation: Service members receive 30 days of paid leave each year as well as all federal holidays. Whether it’s a short or long trip, your loved one can go on vacation and fully enjoy their time off while still receiving salary and any other allowances that are due to them. If a service member has accumulated over 60 days of paid leave, they must use the excess days or lose them by the end of the year.

Full military health and dental insurance: You can rest easy knowing that your service member is fully covered at no cost to them through TRICARE Prime. Active-duty service members will never pay out of pocket for any type of care within the network for this comprehensive medical insurance program. TRICARE also offers several plans that cover service members and their immediate family members at competitive rates.

Retired pay: Service members who stay in the military for a full 20-year career will qualify for monthly retired pay, which provides a continuing source of income long after the member has ended their service. In addition to this pension-like benefit after a full career, new members and those who previously opted into the Blended Retirement System can also earn government-provided contributions to a 401(k)-like savings account called the Thrift Savings Plan. This option is available to all members covered by BRS, even for those who do not intend to serve a full 20-year career. TSP is another avenue for service members to save and secure their finances for retirement. Service members can choose between a traditional or Roth account. Even if a service member decides not to retire from the military, they can roll their TSP into another 401(k) after separating from the military, or leave those funds in the TSP to continue growing until they reach full retirement age.

Free or reduced-cost housing: For those service members who are required to live on the installation, they can enjoy living for free in the barracks or dorms. Service members who receive a housing allowance are offered affordable housing options on the installation or in town through the housing office.

Affordable life insurance: Service members are automatically signed up for Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance through their branch. It offers low-cost coverage to service members for up to $400,000 at only $29 per month.

Free financial help: The military provides free financial perks to service members like financial counseling and tax services through Military OneSource. Your service member can be coached through several money-related issues like budgeting and money management, and MilTax allows them to easily prepare and file their taxes every year.

Newsletter Connects Friends, Family

Gain a better understanding of your service member’s military life with the Friends & Family Connection eNewsletter.

Military discounts: Maybe one of the greatest financial perks and least considered is military discounts. Service members have access to many perks like tax-free shopping at exchanges on the installation as well as discounts at the movies, restaurants, amusement parks and much more. And for their traveling needs they never have to worry about paying for luggage when flying within the continental United States.

Signing and reenlistment bonuses: At times, the military offers enlistment and reenlistment bonuses to service members in certain career fields. These bonuses are usually offered to help recruit and retain for jobs that are hard to fill or that require high skill levels, and they can range in the thousands. Each branch determines how much to offer. Bonuses are not guaranteed and change constantly at the discretion of each branch. For accurate information on bonuses, it is best to contact a local recruiting office.

Professional and personal development

Military service shows your loved one what they are capable of, helping them grow both personally and professionally. The military instills strong values, such as integrity and personal responsibility, traits that will serve your loved one well, wherever they go in life.

Professional development: As a service member, your loved one will acquire knowledge, skills and abilities that civilian employers value. These include:

  • Leadership. The military trains individuals to lead with confidence, example and integrity.
  • Discipline. Service members learn that success requires them to see a task through to completion and take responsibility for their actions.
  • Flexibility. Conditions can change quickly in the field. Service members learn to adapt to new situations with little preparation.
  • Teamwork. The military is made up of people of different backgrounds and personalities. Service members learn to overcome their differences and work cooperatively to accomplish their mission.
  • Communication skills. The military teaches service members to communicate with one another effectively and efficiently.
  • Problem-solving skills. Service members learn to think on their feet. When something doesn’t go as planned during a mission, they quickly identify new solutions.
  • Technical skills. In addition to their technical education, service members have opportunities to become proficient in a variety of technical and tactical skills.

Tuition assistance: Your service member may qualify for tuition benefits while serving and after leaving the military. The military Tuition Assistance program provides up to $4,500 of assistance per fiscal year. The Department of Veterans Affairs administers a number of education benefit programs, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which your service member can use after leaving the military.

Job stability: Regardless of the economy, the military offers a secure job and a regular paycheck.

Personal development: As a member of the armed forces, your service member will be challenged to grow in new ways. They will discover new strengths and capabilities, boosting their confidence and opening new pathways in life. Areas of personal development through military service include:

  • Fitness. Physical fitness is important in the military where staying strong and healthy is essential to the mission. In addition to the physical benefits of staying fit, studies have shown that exercise boosts emotional well-being.
  • Friendship. Deep bonds of friendship often develop among those who serve together. Service members connect with one another through shared experiences and mutual dependence.
  • Travel. Service members have opportunities to live in different parts of the country and the world. Being exposed to new cultures and ways of life broadens their horizons and teaches them about how the world works.
  • A sense of purpose. Serving in the military can instill the sense of purpose that comes from working toward something much bigger than yourself.

Military service comes with many benefits — both financial and personal. Whether your loved one plans to serve one tour of duty or retire after 20 years, you can be confident they are fully compensated while serving their country and have opportunities to gain skills and strengths that will shape their life in positive ways long into the future.

Fitness Classes With Morale, Welfare and Recreation

Kickbox class

From high-intensity aerobic workouts to relaxing yoga, your installation’s fitness center has classes for everyone at every level. Classes are available for little or no cost to anyone who can access the gym through the Morale, Welfare and Recreation program. Use the classes as primary fitness tools or supplement your current routine. Bring the family and make fitness a fun habit. If you’re hesitant or unsure that group fitness is right for you, consider what you could get out of the classes:

  • Team atmosphere — Participating in a group fitness class gets you in a room with similarly motivated people. In the classes, you may be able to help a classmate reach a fitness goal or learn a new skill, while challenging yourself to keep pace with a more advanced classmate. Often, the atmosphere is enthusiastic and supportive, which can help you take on new challenges and celebrate success. Plus, you benefit from the motivation of a dedicated instructor. And if you’re taking the class as a family, you’ve got a ready-made team.
  • Accountability — Just the act of signing up for a class is often enough to create a sense of accountability, which will likely grow as you get to know your instructor and your classmates. When you find a class that fits your needs, you can hold your classmates accountable for missing classes, and they might do the same for you.
  • New exercises — Trying a new group fitness class might be just what you’ve been looking for to break out of your everyday routine. If you’re searching for a completely new workout or simply a few fresh exercises, you can benefit from the installation fitness instructors who create challenging workouts to re-energize you. Try something new and you might discover a new favorite workout.
  • Workout partner — If you’re just beginning your fitness journey, a workout partner can help you reach your goals. You may find others who are working toward similar lifestyle changes, such as increasing exercise, kicking unhealthy habits, losing weight or starting a healthier diet. You can motivate each other and offer support along the way. And if you are working out with your family, you can motivate one another before, during and after a class.

Check out the group fitness schedule for your installation’s fitness center and join a class today.

Healthy, Active Children and Academic Achievement

Youth playing volleyball outside

We all want our youth to enjoy learning, achieve good grades and have academic success. Nutrition, physical activity and mental well-being are all linked to academic achievement, so making sure your children are healthy and active will fuel them to reach their academic goals.

A healthy lifestyle can help improve a child’s:

  • Attention span
  • Thinking ability
  • Memory

Listed below are some tips for making healthy eating, physical activity and mental well-being part of your child’s daily life. For more nutrition, physical activity and mental health help, set up a
live chat with Military OneSource or call 800-342-9647 to arrange a specialty consultation for health and wellness coaching. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.

Nutrition

According to studies from the Journal of School Health, hungry children tend to have shorter attention spans and have difficulty with problem-solving, math skills and memory recall. Children need a nutritious breakfast of whole grains, fiber and protein. They also need snacks throughout the day that are high in protein and low in sugar to boost their ability to listen, process and remember what they are learning.

Visit these websites to get tips about healthy food choices:

Physical activity

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Physical activity can include school recess periods, hiking, dancing, playing sports or walking to and from school.

Check out the following resources for ideas about how to keep your children physically active:

  • Morale, Welfare and Recreation activities are available on your local installation.
  • Installation youth centers offer a safe environment for youth to explore interests, build skills and experience success. Most youth centers have informal and formal sports programs as well as instructional classes.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America MISSION: Youth Outreach provides military youth no-cost membership in clubs that offer a wide variety of recreational and educational programs. Perfect for families living off base and not near a youth center.
  • 4-H Military Partnerships provide military youth the opportunity to join 4-H clubs in their communities and participate in summer camps around the country. Visit the 4-H Military Partnerships website to learn more.

Boost your child’s social and academic success by making healthy eating and physical activity part of your family’s daily life.

Mental health

Your youth’s mental health is also essential to maintaining energy and engagement in their physical and academic activities. Help your child remain rested and mentally healthy by keeping an eye on these factors:

Connecting to comprehensive information on nutrition, physical activity and mental health will help enable you and your family to be mission ready. Military OneSource is your 24/7 connection to information, parenting tips and support – your one source for your best MilLife.

6 Tips to Harness Your MilParent Power

Soldier colors with child

As a service member, spouse or survivor you know the importance of being a good guardian – of country, community and family. Responsibility is nothing new.

Just like a position in the military, parenting is an “always-on” job that requires smarts, skills, support and attention to detail. And just like any job, there’s always more to learn and room for improvement. You can take steps to up your parenting game even higher.

Tip #1: Show them love

It may sound simple, but one of the best things you can do to help your child thrive is make sure they know how much you love them.

  • Tell them. Talk to your children about how much you care for and appreciate them.
  • Cuddle. From the moment they are born, nurturing touch is one of the easiest and most fundamental ways you can show your children they are loved and safe.

Tip #2: Give them your time

Children know when they have your full attention and when they don’t. Put down your smart phone and turn off the television and video games so you can spend time with them, face-to-face.

Distracted parenting is linked to an increase in injuries and accidents at home. But more importantly, spending unplugged time with your child contributes to their healthy growth, boosts communication skills and increases their sense of well-being. Taking just 15 minutes a day to play with your child, doing what he or she wants, can help reduce the need for negative discipline.

Tip #3: Do your homework

Powerful parenting can be learned. Learning about child development and understanding what to expect at various ages and stages is key. There are lots of resources for you to learn about your child’s developmental phase:

Check out other Military OneSource parenting supports and read about the importance of understanding your child’s developmental stage to get started.

Tip #4: Find and offer support

Remember, the military community is also a parenting community, and there are lots of ways you can find the support you need:

  • Know that Military OneSource and military and family life counselors are available to help talk through parenting challenges and military life stresses.
  • Understand that your installation’s Military and Family Support Center can provide information on local resources, tools and support networks, from classes for expectant parents to child care to programs for youth. Information, good ideas and social media support groups are available 24 hours a day on Military OneSource.
  • Discover Sesame Workshop products and ZERO TO THREE resources, which offer DVDs, books, apps and games that are helpful, fun and specially geared to military children and families.
  • Find support in friends, neighbors and support groups beyond the military community.

Don’t forget that you, too, are part of the parenting community. If you see a parent who could use a helping hand, offer yours. Babysitting, cooking or even a kind word can mean a lot to a parent in need.

Tip #5: Get healthy

Healthy habits start at home. Eating nutritious meals, getting plenty of physical activity and adequate sleep can make a huge difference in your child’s health and well-being – and in your own.

  • Limit sugary snacks and beverages. Offer your child a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy each day. Be sure to check out Fitness, Nutrition and Active Living – The Essentials.
  • Make physical activity a part of each day. Take walks together, play active games, visit the playground. Check out your installation’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation offerings.
  • Encourage restful sleep by keeping electronic devices out of your child’s bedroom. Have your child turn off screens at least one hour before bedtime. Create a bedtime routine that helps your child unwind from the day, such as a bath, brushing teeth and reading a bedtime story.

Tip #6: Cut stress

Too much stress makes it hard to be an effective parent. Learning how to manage stress can improve your happiness, help your kids and show them they can handle it, too. Talk to a Military OneSource counselor or check out the online stress management tools and mobile solutions to help you improve your mood.

Of course, if you think a child may be at risk of harm or neglect, you can report your concerns by reaching out to Military OneSource or the Family Advocacy Program on your installation. You can also contact the Department of Defense Child Abuse and Safety Hotline at 877-790-1197 (OCONUS, call collect 571-372-5348) or the National Child Abuse Hotline at 800-4-A-CHILD or 800-422-4453.

Healthy Living – Resources

As a military member, you have several resources available to support your health — from nutrition courses and fitness initiatives to military family programs and wellness centers. Discover and explore different tools that can help make healthy living easier for you and your family. While Military OneSource does not provide direct health care services, it does offer non-medical counseling and information about health care services and resources.

Nutrition resources

Good health begins with proper nutrition. The following tools and programs can help you eat right, whether you are at home or at a dining facility.

  • MyPlate.gov: This website is rich with healthy eating tips, recipes, and printable posters, placemats and activity sheets to use at home and offers information for all life stages, from infants and toddlers to teens and older adults. Whether you’re looking for help with healthy eating, a picky eater or creating a customized healthy cookbook for your family, MyPlate can help. The Start Simple with MyPlate app is also available to help you select simple daily food goals that will lead to a healthier diet and lifestyle.
  • National Farmers Market Directory: The fresher your produce, the more nutrition it offers. Local farmers’ markets give service members and their families the healthier option of acquiring locally grown produce. Whether it’s just a roadside stand or a gathering place for local producers, these farmers markets will help you build a better diet.
  • Health.gov: This website offers every day healthy living and nutrition information.
  • Dietary Guidelines for 2020-2025: Updated, downloadable and printable dietary guidelines are available to help set the path for a healthier future for the entire family.
  • Commissaries.com: A great resource for eating healthy on a budget is the military commissary, which sells groceries and household goods at an average of 30% less than other markets and stores. Before your grocery run, visit the commissary website, a great network of information where you can:
    • Snag simple, healthy recipes for your meal planning or last-minute meal. Narrow your recipe search by selecting Dietitian Approved under the Browse Recipes section.
    • Review the Savings Aisle to see what’s on sale for the week and preview the promotional prices before making your shopping list.
    • Make your shopping list or order online with curbside pickup by using the My Shopping List

Fitness resources

Among the fitness resources available to service members and their families are these:

  • The President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition: This program 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. Valuable content includes physical activity and fitness resources for all ages and military-specific resources including Move! Weight Management Program and service-specific fitness programs.
  • Human Performance Resource Center: This 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.
  • Health.gov: Fitness and physical activity information and resources are available, including the Move Your Way® Campaign.
  • Total Force Fitness: mil’s Total Force Fitness concept focuses on a service member’s entire health throughout their career.

Family health resources

Service members can take advantage of a variety of resources that support a healthy family life, tools that help teach youth good nutrition and information on the importance of exercise. Some of them include:

  • The President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition: This program 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. Valuable content includes:
  • MyPlate.gov: This website offers healthy eating tips, recipes and printable posters, placemats and activity sheets to use at home and offers information for all life stages, from infants and toddlers to teens and older adults. Whether you’re looking for help with healthy eating, a picky eater or creating a customized healthy cookbook for your family, MyPlate has information to help. Explore MyPlate Life Stages for nutrition resources for children of all ages.
  • Dietary Guidelines for 2020-2025: Updated, downloadable and printable dietary guidelines are available to help set the path for a healthier future for the entire family.
  • We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition): This national movement, developed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, is designed to give parents, caregivers and entire communities a way to help children ages 8-13 stay at a healthy weight. A wealth of information — including healthy weight basics, eating right, getting active and downloadable cookbooks — can be used for the entire family!
  • Your Local Commissary offers tips on making healthy choices and raising a healthy eater.

Wellness resources

  • Health and Wellness Coaching Consultation: The nutrition and overall health of our service members and their families is important to our nation’s defense. Check out this free resource from Military OneSource for eligible service members and family members and get your overall wellness back on track.
  • Military OneSource Recommended Wellness Apps: Check out the recommended apps from Military OneSource to get your health and wellness back on track.

Online health and wellness initiatives

Health services are available to military members in a variety of forms. Get motivated by connecting with other people who have similar goals and seek out new methods for helping yourself stay on the path toward a healthy lifestyle with these online initiatives.

  • The Human Performance Resource Center is a Department of Defense initiative that helps members of the military, their families and caretakers to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle. The online center offers advice on nutrition, dietary supplements, physical conditioning and mental fitness.
  • TRICARE provides resources to help you pursue a healthy lifestyle, such as Making Healthy Changes for Life.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers the Start Simple with MyPlate app, a simple and easy-to-use mobile app that allows you to set daily food goals, track your progress in real time, earn badges and celebrate your success as you learn to develop healthy eating habits.

MWR Digital Library health resources

Another great place to turn to support your health is the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library, which offers a variety of materials for those seeking information on wellness. Through the library, users can:

  • Access medical journals, magazines, reference works and multimedia covering a range of health-related issues.
  • Find journals and other materials with information on everything from brain health to psychology to alternative medicine.
  • Improve their brain health with clinically proven personalized brain training exercises.

Fitness, Nutrition and Active Living – The Essentials

american flag

Optimal health begins with nutrition, fitness and active living. From guidelines on developing healthy eating habits and ideas on how to stay fit to strategies for giving your child a happy, healthy start, Military OneSource provides practical and fresh content as well as initiatives and programs that will motivate you to maintain healthy living and manage your health in creative ways. Now, more than ever, it is important to incorporate healthy daily practices into your complex schedules to help promote physical, mental and emotional wellness for all.

Practice good nutrition

Healthy eating requires developing new diet habits like limiting sugar, snacking on fruits and vegetables and choosing whole grains. Get your child’s day off to a good start with a breakfast high in protein and whole grains and keep healthy snacks available throughout the day. Aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Your local farmers market and military commissary are two great places to buy fresh produce at reasonable prices.

My MilLife Guide is a great way to keep your family’s health goals on target. When you sign up for My MilLife Guide as a service member or a military spouse, expert content pertaining to your goals will be delivered right to your mobile device.

You can also sign up for Military OneSource health and wellness coaching sessions. This service is free for service members and their immediate family. Consultants can help you with weight management, fitness, nutrition, stress management and more. Sign up today. Call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. OCONUS? Click here for international dialing options or schedule a live chat.

Turn to Military OneSource for other helpful strategies on eating right.

Relevant Articles:

Relevant Resources:

Help your child create a balanced, healthy day from start to finish

It’s important to teach children as early as possible actions and choices that promote health and happiness. Start by encouraging good nutrition and feeding them a hearty breakfast every morning, ensure healthy snacks are available throughout the day — at home and school — and be sure to take breaks to keep the body moving, whether it’s a family walk around the block or a quick game to get the blood pumping. Encourage physical activity at the end of the day as much as possible to lessen additional screen time. Promote good sleep habits and teach them how to communicate and express their feelings.

Here are some family activities to stay active and stay connected:

  • Engage in a backyard relay
  • Play a game of Duck, Duck, Goose
  • Act out your favorite story book character
  • Plan a backyard picnic or camping night
  • Read bedtime stories together
  • Draw your favorite movie character
  • Host a family game night
  • Have a family movie night with healthy movie-themed snacks
  • Eat dinner under the stars
  • Have a family bake-a-thon and host it virtually if all of your loved ones aren’t together

Relevant Articles:

Relevant Resources:

Improve family fitness

Make fitness and active living an important part of your family life. Swap some of your daily screen time for a stroll around the neighborhood with your children, a short bike ride, a game of kickball, a Frisbee toss in the backyard or hop scotch. Start the day with morning stretches or beginner yoga and sprinkle in movement breaks throughout the day. Get creative and have fun! Plant or weed a garden, wash the car, walk the dog, play freeze tag, rake leaves or pick up sticks. Your installation’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation is a great resource to get the entire family moving – with fitness classes, sports teams, golf courses, outdoor recreation programs and more.

Relevant Articles:

Relevant Resources:

Access nutrition and fitness resources

Don’t be afraid to tap into the support you need to meet your nutrition and fitness goals. Military OneSource provides health and wellness coaching sessions to help you eat better, get in shape, manage stress and tackle transitions. We highlight a wide range of nutrition and fitness resources, tools and programs that will motivate you on the path to healthy living.

A new text-based service from the Military Health System and Military OneSource can help you get back on track. My MilLife Guide is like having a portable health and wellness coach who will regularly send you texts, or “GuideTips,” to support you as you take care of yourself and your family. These texts will lead you to proven resources developed for the military community.

Relevant Articles:

Relevant Resources:

Healthy habits for remote learning and work

At the forefront of parental concern is how to focus on good nutrition and activity habits in a world of remote learning and remote socializing. As parents, it’s important to focus on the key principles of setting your child up for mental, physical and emotional well-being. Model the behavior you’d like to see in your child and set a daily schedule that’s healthy and balanced for all.

  • Start your day off with a healthy, balanced breakfast.
  • Stay active during the day. Encourage your children to get their bodies moving in the morning with stretching or yoga and intersperse active breaks throughout the day. Run around outside on short school breaks. Stuck inside? Toss beanbags into laundry baskets, build a fort with blankets and pillows, grab a hula hoop, play Duck, Duck, Goose or schedule a 10-minute virtual dance party with your child’s friends after classes end and before homework begins.
  • Model healthy screen use. While increased screen time is inevitable in a world of virtual learning and social distancing, there are several ways parents can model healthy screen use and reclaim control of screen time.
    • Practice the 20-20-20 rule: For every 20 minutes in front of your screen, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds before returning to your screen.
    • Blink! Studies show that eye strain increases because we don’t blink as often while we’re concentrating on our screens. Remind your child to blink often.
    • Keep your screen at arm’s length. Keeping your screen approximately 25 inches away from your eyes reduces eye strain from blue light exposure.
    • Be sure to put all of your devices to bed two hours before sleep as blue light has been shown to disrupt sleep patterns.
    • Enjoy a media-free meal each day for all family members.
    • Try instituting a device-free day each month for all family members.
  • Engage in non-screen family activities. Play board games or work on a family puzzle instead of watching TV. Take a bike ride or family walk. Have a picnic in the yard.

Whatever your schedules and challenges, Military OneSource is here to support you and your family as you improve your overall health through nutrition, physical fitness and emotional well-being.

Practicing Good Nutrition Boosts Personal Performance

Woman shopping at food market

Good healthy and peak physical fitness are key to our military community’s force readiness. One of the best ways to build strength and stamina is to eat nutritious foods that will provide your body the energy and nutrients it needs in order for you to perform at your best. Here are some tips on how to build a better diet and improve your overall well-being:

Develop and maintain healthy habits

Eating healthy usually requires developing new dietary habits, but that doesn’t have to happen overnight. Small changes over time can make a big difference. You might begin with some of these suggestions:

  • Limit your sugar. Water is essential to keep the body hydrated. Replace soda, sugary sports drinks and large quantities of juice with water.
  • Lower your sodium.  High sodium consumption can raise blood pressure, which can contribute to stroke and heart disease. Start reading labels to raise your awareness of hidden sodium. Buy reduced sodium items whenever possible.
  • Eat lean protein. Reducing fatty red meat and increasing lean proteins such as chicken, seafood, beans, eggs, nuts and seeds can aid in building muscle, losing weight and maintaining a healthy heart.
  • Choose whole grains. Whole grains are packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Whenever possible, eat whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat over refined grains like white bread, pasta and anything made with bleached flour.
  • Snack on fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, and their high fiber content can help you maintain a healthy gut. Replace high fat, high sodium snacks such as chips or roasted peanuts with sliced carrots or an apple.

Explore the farmers market

Not all foods are equal when it comes to nutrients. The fresher your produce is, the more nutrition it offers. Your local farmers market is a great place to shop for fresh produce at a reasonable price. Whether it’s just a roadside stand or a gathering place for local producers, these farmers markets will help you build a better diet. Find local farmers markets in the United States by searching the National Farmers Market Directory. Some of the beneftis of buying local include:

  • The food is as fresh as you’ll find anywhere. Most produce is brought to market within hours of being picked.
  • Eating food grown close to home and recently harvested has many health benefits, including increased nutrients.
  • Local farmers grow seasonal foods, which tend to be less expensive and allow you to cook seasonal dishes.
  • Farmers — your food experts — can teach you how to use the produce, grow your own food or share some great recipes.

Check out the commissary

Another great resource for eating healthy on a budget is the military commissary, which sells groceries and household goods at an average of 30% less than other markets and stores. Before your grocery run, visit the commissary website, a great network of information where you can:

  • Snag simple, healthy recipes for your meal planning or last-minute meal. Narrow your recipe search by selecting Dietitian Approved under the Browse Recipes section.
  • Review the Savings Aisle to see what’s on sale for the week and preview the promotional prices before making your shopping list.
  • Make your shopping list or order online with curbside pickup by using the My Shopping List tool.

Share your healthy lifestyle with your children

Share your nutrition goals with your children and help your family establish healthy habits that include:

  • Enjoy five or more servings of fruit and vegetables. The Mayo Clinic recommends the 1-2-3 approach — one serving of fruits or vegetables at breakfast, two servings at lunch and three servings as part of dinner or snacks throughout the day. Center your meals and snacks at home around fruits and vegetables, and teach children how to make healthy foods.
  • Serve whole grain breads and cereals that are high in fiber. Make healthier, less processed alternatives available at all meals and for snack time.
  • Encourage your children to eliminate sweetened beverages. Sweetened beverages, such as soda and sports drinks, add extra sugar and calories to the diet. Encourage children to reduce juice consumption as well. Drinking water or low-fat milk instead is a healthy choice for the entire family.

As a service member — or part of the military family — you need the right fuel to stay energized. Eating well allows you to perform your job to the best of your ability. These suggestions can get you started on a path to good nutrition and good health.

For more healthy information, check out the Military OneSource Health and Wellness Coaching program, a free resource for eligible service members and family members. My MilLife Guide is also a great way to keep your family’s health goals on target. When you sign up for My MilLife Guide as a service member or a military spouse, expert content pertaining to your goals will be delivered right to your mobile device.