More than meets the eye

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Quion Lowe
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs

When most people think of fitness, weight lifting and eye-popping muscles may come to mind; however, the benefits and importance of being physically fit are also closely related to many other factors in life and can be vital to a balanced well-being.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the access to maintain physical fitness has changed for some, and adjustments to their fitness routine may have been necessary.

“Physical fitness is important for everyone because it’s part of being able to perform every day to the best of your ability,” said Juli Bailey, 49th Medical Group Quality Assurance risk manager and former 49th Force Support Squadron exercise physiologist health promotion coordinator. “Airmen who are physically fit are less likely to get injured on the job, are more capable to handle stressful situations and recover faster from illnesses.”

Although exercising is a big part of staying fit, diet and nutrition are also vital to staying healthy.

“It doesn’t matter how physically fit you are if you don’t have the diet to go with it,” said Bailey. “Without a healthy diet, you can be vulnerable to health risks like high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. It’s important to keep track of your diet and anyone who needs help can still contact the base nutritionist who is still available to talk with and encourage people through virtual appointments.”

With adjustments being made to public places that advocate for Airmens’ health, such as fitness centers, Airmen are encouraged to use the resources they have to get creative and stay healthy with their diet and exercise regimen during the pandemic. 

 “We have been fortunate enough to be one of the few fitness centers that stayed open this whole time,” said Bradley George, 49th Force Support Squadron chief of fitness and sports. “We have been taking many safety measures to stay open. We are limiting the number of people in the fitness center, adding extra sanitizing stations and we are closely monitoring members so they are keeping that social distance.”

George added that not only is the fitness center is a great luxury for the base, it is also important to stay open for the overrall readiness of Holloman’s Airmen.

“The gym is also a great outlet for people who feel cooped up at home or have any feelings of anxiety or depression,” said George. “I think it’s great that we’ve been able to stay open for the Airmen. They can come in and de-stress, see their buddies and do something great in the weight room.”

While the fitness center is not the only way Airmen can work out, it is imperative that they still find ways to maintain their fitness as putting this off can decrease readiness and add more stress when physical fitness tests resume.

“It’s been a great adjustment, but I’ve stayed in shape,” said Airman 1st Class Tyrique Moore, 54th Operations Support Squadron radar airfield weather systems technician. “I have been doing a lot more workouts at home and running outside to avoid contact with others when I can.”

Moore also acknowledged that this change in routine can be a challenge for some, but said the reward of being physically fit, is worth the hard work.

“I have always been told that it takes 21 days to create a habit,” said Moore. “You’re not going to have motivation every day but that’s when discipline kicks in. If anyone is struggling to stay disciplined, I am always willing to help. I used to workout with others and keep them accountable that way, but right now it’s more of a virtual interaction. I can send workout videos or share ideas I have that can be done at home. Really anything to encourage my wingmen and try to motivate them to stay on track.”

While this pandemic can create a challenge for people trying to stay fit, it can also serve as a spark to work towards fitness goals and maintain those goals when society returns to normal.

“This virus seems to be affecting people with health concerns more than others,” said Bailey. “Hopefully people will take physical fitness more seriously who didn’t before because COVID-19 is not the only health risk that you can be vulnerable to when neglecting physical health.”