Recently retired Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston discussed Army fitness and nutrition in recent years and some unfinished business in those areas he hopes his successor will resolve.
“I left (Sergeant Major of the Army) Mike Wiemer a big, long list of stuff,” Grinston said.
Grinston was a guest on the podcast “MOPs & MOEs”, which released the episode Sunday. The podcast focuses on human performance, health and nutrition primarily for a military audience. It has previously featured other Army leaders and experts on those topics.
During the hour-long podcast, Grinston spoke about efforts he and his staff made to improve the quality, options and service at dining facilities across the Army, the Army Combat Fitness Test and the Holistic Health and Fitness program, also known as H2F. Grinston also took a moment to share his opinion on leg tucks, a feature of the original ACFT that was later cut from the program.
“I promise nobody in the Army fought harder to keep the leg tuck than me,” Grinston said. “I wouldn’t say insubordinate, but it was close.”
Podcast hosts Alex Morrow and Drew Hammond asked Grinston about successes and unfinished items in the health and fitness areas during his four-year tenure as the Army’s top enlisted leader.
Morrow is an Army Reserve officer who previously attended the Army Physical Fitness School while on active duty. Hammond is a strength and conditioning coach who has spent a career working as an embedded human performance professional within both special operations and conventional military units.
Grinston retired this summer after having served 36 years on active duty. Army Times recently reported that Grinston will become the first enlisted person to head the Army Emergency Relief Foundation when he takes over as the organization’s director on Jan. 1.
The retired sergeant major said he’d hoped a pilot program that provided prepared meals for soldiers from the dining facilities would have been implemented Army-wide. That effort is still in development.
The option, in place at Fort Liberty, North Carolina, allows soldiers to order meals for pickup online from their DFAC, saving time and helping soldiers who work shifts that prevent them from using the dining facilities during regular hours to receive a meal.
Morrow and Hammond asked about ways to reduce fast food, junk food and other unhealthy items on installations to improve nutrition options.
The sergeant major was well known for eating at DFACs when he traveled, calling out substandard food or cleanliness issues and giving challenge coins to NCOs he saw eating at the facilities.
He encouraged leaders to use the facilities to both monitor the state of their soldiers’ dining areas and to interact with soldiers outside of regular duties.
Grinston said his team worked to improve the entire nutrition ecosystem on installations, ensuring the quality of DFAC food was better, and commissary options such as salads, sandwiches and prepared meals were available. During his time as SMA, Grinston served on the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, or AFFES, which overseas commissary and restaurants on those services’ installations. While there, his focus was on educating soldiers to choose good nutrition options.
“Here’s my philosophy,” Grinston said. “Life’s about choices. I don’t think it’s my job to eliminate bad choices. What I want to do is make you so informed you choose wisely.”
Grinston was also a major supporter of the ACFT and the H2F program. The SMA posted his ACFT scores on social media and participated in physical training sessions with various units he visited on official trips.
This summer, weeks before his retirement, a congressional bill advanced that would have barred the ACFT from being the record PT test for soldiers and restored the decades-old Army Physical Fitness Test as the official test.
Grinston spoke out immediately, telling reporters that the new test was vastly superior to the old physical fitness test and necessary to change the culture of fitness within the Army.
In the recent podcast, he said returning to the APFT after the ACFT would be a huge step backward.
“Well, you might as well go back to the M1 Garand,” Grinston said, referencing a rifle soldiers used in World War II.
As far as the leg tuck comments are concerned, Grinston said he fought to keep it and cited a RAND Corporation study that endorsed the exercise.
The sergeant major said many who read the RAND study drew the wrong conclusions about using the leg tuck, a more difficult core strength exercise, over the plank.
The RAND study, released in 2022, reviewed 630,000 ACFT results and analyzed whether the test could predict success in combat tasks.
The leg tuck was determined as “not useful” in predicting combat task performance, lead author Dr. Chaitra Hardison told Army Times at the time.
But Grinston said the report noted if an individual couldn’t do a leg tuck, then evaluators didn’t have a way to assess core strength. That, however, was because the leg tuck includes upper body strength, core strength and grip strength.
“It rated higher than the plank because it’s a multiple-component exercise,” Grinston said.
The sergeant major pushed back on ongoing debates in which some say adding strength and conditioning coaches to brigades takes physical training authority away from NCOs.
But Grinston said that the expertise of such coaches is necessary for better physical training and should be seen as an added resource for NCOs to use when planning PT.
“I’ve heard this a little bit,” he said. “I usually tell people it’s pretty simple. If you gave your authority away, you gave it away, nobody took it from you.”
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.
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Groundbreaking Review: Impact of Menstrual Cycles on Women’s Exercise and Nutrition
A Groundbreaking Review
A new review conducted by a multinational team of scientists is challenging the conventional wisdom surrounding women’s menstrual cycles, exercise, and nutrition. The team found little evidence to substantiate many commonly held beliefs, such as what to eat, how to train, or what supplements to take during menstruation. This lack of hard evidence points to a significant gap in scientific research on women and exercise, particularly concerning how menstrual periods affect sports performance, physiology, and overall fitness.
The Lack of Evidence
The review relied on various investigative methods, including a systematic review and meta-analysis, narrative interpretation, and a previous umbrella review. Despite this comprehensive approach, the team found sparse research on the impact of menstrual cycles on women’s exercise routines and performance. The few studies that do exist offer limited insights into the effects of menstruation on sports performance, physiology, and fitness.
Hormonal Variations and Individual Differences
One key finding of the review was the substantial hormonal variations between women during their menstrual periods and between cycles. This suggests that there is no ‘standard’ version of a menstrual cycle. Similarly, the review found few differences in exercise results across the cycle phases. These discoveries underline the need for a more individualized approach to training and nutrition during menstruation, as opposed to a ‘one size fits all’ strategy.
Challenging Long-Held Beliefs
This groundbreaking review challenges many long-standing beliefs and myths about menstruation and exercise. It calls into question common practices that many women follow, such as adjusting their diet, exercise routine, or supplement intake based on the phase of their menstrual cycle. Moreover, the review highlights the absence of scientific backing for phase-based exercise regimens and advocates for individualized training plans.
The Role of Other Stressors
As the next step, this work will focus on determining whether symptoms associated with menstruation are cycle-related or due to other stressors. This will provide further insights into women’s experiences during their menstrual cycles and help to inform more effective and individualized strategies for exercise and nutrition.
The Need for More Research
The authors of the review are calling for more high-quality, standardized research on women’s menstrual cycles and exercise. They hope that these future studies will provide the evidence needed to support more effective and individualized recommendations for women during their menstrual cycles. In the meantime, women should consult with health professionals and consider their unique experiences and needs when developing their exercise and nutrition strategies during menstruation.
7 Reasons why exercise, not medication, is your best bet for longevity
Choosing exercise over medication for longevity isn’t just a health trend; it’s a lifestyle choice backed by science.
This blog delves into seven reasons why regular physical activity could be your secret weapon for a longer, healthier life.
You’ll discover how exercise, more than any pill, enhances heart health, mental well-being, immune function, and much more.
Perfect for anyone aiming to improve their health, these insights will highlight the profound impact of incorporating exercise into your daily routine, showing that sometimes, the best medicine is a good workout.
7 Reasons why exercise is the ultimate longevity booster
1. Improves cardiovascular health
Integrating regular exercise into your lifestyle can lead to substantial and lasting improvements in cardiovascular health, often going beyond what medication alone can achieve. It’s a holistic approach, benefiting not just your heart but your entire body and mind.
Here’s how it fortifies your heart and circulation:
Strengthens the heart muscle
Just like any other muscle, your heart becomes stronger with exercise. Regular physical activity helps the heart pump more efficiently, reducing the strain on this vital organ .
Improves blood circulation
Exercise enhances blood flow, ensuring better distribution of oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. This can lead to reduced blood pressure and a lower risk of heart disease.
Exercise vs. medication
- Reduced dependency on medication: While medications for heart health are essential for some, regular exercise can reduce the reliance on these drugs. It can naturally lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels , reducing the need for medication.
- Long-term benefits: Exercise offers long-term improvements in heart health without the side effects often associated with pharmaceuticals.
- Holistic health: Beyond just cardiovascular benefits, exercise improves overall health, including weight management, mental health, and immune function, offering a more comprehensive approach to wellbeing.
2. Enhances mental health
A regular exercise routine can significantly enhance your mental health, offering a holistic and sustainable approach to managing stress, anxiety, and depression .
This natural method can work in tandem with or sometimes even replace the need for medication-based treatments, depending on individual circumstances. Here’s how it makes a difference:
Natural stress reliever
Physical activity increases endorphin production, reducing stress and promoting well-being.
Regular exercise has been shown to relieve symptoms of depression. It stimulates the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which play a key role in mood regulation.
Exercise vs. medication
- Long-term effects: Unlike medication, which often treats symptoms temporarily, exercise can improve mental health.
- No side effects: Exercise comes without the side effects commonly associated with antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication.
- Holistic approach: It improves mental health and enhances physical health, creating a positive feedback loop that further boosts overall well-being.
3. Boosts immune function
Incorporating regular exercise into your lifestyle offers a comprehensive approach to strengthening your immune system.
It’s a natural, effective way to enhance immune resilience and overall health, often providing broader and more lasting benefits than medication alone. Here are the distinct advantages of exercise over immunity-boosting medications:
Enhances immune surveillance
Physical activity improves the circulation of immune cells, making the body more efficient at detecting and responding to pathogens .
Regular exercise can lead to a long-term decrease in inflammation, a key factor in immune response.
Exercise vs. medication
- Sustainable immune health: Unlike certain medications that offer temporary immune support, exercise contributes to lasting improvements in immune system resilience.
- No adverse effects: Exercise strengthens the immune system naturally, without the side effects sometimes associated with immune-boosting drugs.
- Overall health benefits: Beyond immune enhancement, exercise improves cardiovascular health, mental well-being, and more, contributing to a stronger, healthier body capable of robust immune responses.
4. Aids in weight management
Exercise is a more holistic and sustainable weight management approach than weight-loss medications.
It not only helps in shedding pounds but also builds a foundation for a healthier lifestyle. Here are the advantages that weight-loss medications often can’t match:
Regular physical activity increases calorie expenditure, which is crucial for weight loss and management .
Exercise, especially strength training, builds muscle mass, which enhances metabolism, helping the body burn more calories even at rest.
Exercise vs. weight-loss medications
- Sustainable results: While weight-loss medications may offer quick results, exercise leads to longer-lasting weight management by promoting healthy habits.
- Holistic health benefits: Exercise not only aids in weight control but also improves overall health, unlike medications which can have side effects and don’t necessarily contribute to overall wellness.
- Addresses root causes: Exercise tackles the underlying issues of weight gain, such as sedentary lifestyle and poor fitness, rather than just the symptoms .
5. Strengthens bones and muscles
Regular exercise offers long-term benefits for musculoskeletal health, mobility, and overall well-being . Here are the benefits that often surpass those from medications and supplements:
Weight-bearing exercises, like strength training and walking, stimulate bone formation and reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures .
Combats muscle atrophy
Regular physical activity helps preserve muscle mass and strength, crucial for mobility and overall health.
Exercise vs. medications and supplements
- Natural approach: Exercise strengthens bones and muscles through natural physiological processes, unlike some supplements and medications that can have side effects.
- Comprehensive benefits: While certain medications and supplements target bone density or muscle strength, exercise improves both, along with other aspects of health like balance and coordination.
6. Improves sleep quality
Regular physical activity provides a holistic approach, addressing sleep issues without the potential downsides of medication. Here’s why it stands out as a natural alternative to sleep-aid medications:
Promotes deeper sleep
Engaging in physical activity can lead to more restorative deep sleep phases , crucial for physical and mental recovery.
Regulates sleep patterns
Regular exercise helps synchronize your body’s natural circadian rhythms, contributing to more consistent sleep patterns .
Exercise vs. sleep-aid medications
- Sustainable solution: Unlike sleep medications, which can lead to dependency or have side effects, exercise offers a long-term, natural solution to sleep problems.
- Additional health benefits: Exercise not only improves sleep but also boosts overall health, offering benefits that sleep medications cannot, such as improved mood, reduced stress, and enhanced physical fitness.
7. Enhances brain health and cognitive function
Exercise offers a natural, effective way to enhance brain health and cognitive function, surpassing the benefits of medication alone.
It’s a proactive approach to maintaining mental sharpness and overall brain health. It offers unique benefits compared to cognitive-enhancing medications:
Boosts brain health
Regular physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, delivering essential oxygen and nutrients that are vital for maintaining brain health. This, in turn, can lead to improvements in memory, attention, and processing speed .
Slows cognitive decline
Regular exercise has been shown to slow down the natural decline in brain function associated with aging, reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Exercise vs. cognitive-enhancing medications
- Holistic benefits: Unlike medications that may target specific cognitive functions, exercise benefits the entire brain, improving various aspects of cognitive health.
- Long-term effects: Exercise provides lasting cognitive benefits without the side effects or dependence risks associated with some medications.
What exercises are best for longevity?
Incorporating the right exercises into your routine can significantly impact longevity. Here are key activities best suited for promoting a longer, healthier life:
Engaging in activities like walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling can enhance cardiovascular health, increase lung capacity, and improve stamina . It is recommended to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week.
Building muscle through weight lifting or bodyweight exercises like squats and push-ups helps maintain muscle mass, supports metabolism, and strengthens bones.
Flexibility and balance exercises
Practices such as yoga or tai chi enhance flexibility, reduce the risk of falls, and improve joint health.
Incorporating exercises that mimic everyday activities can maintain the ability to perform daily tasks, contributing to independence in later life.
Combining these exercises offers a comprehensive approach to maintaining physical health, crucial for enhancing longevity .
This blend ensures cardiovascular, muscular, and functional fitness, each contributing to a longer and more active life.
Embracing exercise as a key component of your lifestyle transcends mere physical fitness; it offers a comprehensive path to enhanced longevity and overall well-being.
As shown, the benefits of regular physical activity reach far beyond those of medication, positively impacting heart health, mental wellness, immune function, weight management, musculoskeletal strength, sleep quality, and cognitive health.
By choosing exercise, you’re not just investing in a healthier body, but also in a more vibrant, fulfilling life.
It’s a natural, sustainable approach that nurtures both the mind and body, paving the way for a longer, healthier future.
Does exercise help longevity?
Yes, exercise significantly contributes to longevity. Regular physical activity improves cardiovascular health, strengthens muscles and bones, enhances mental well-being, and boosts immune function, all of which are key factors in extending lifespan and improving life quality.
Is cardio best for longevity?
Cardiovascular exercises are excellent for longevity as they improve heart health and overall endurance. However, for optimal benefits, it’s best to combine cardio with strength training and flexibility exercises to address all aspects of physical health and wellness.
How can I improve my body’s longevity?
To improve your body’s longevity, engage in regular physical exercise including both cardio and strength training, maintain a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and ensure adequate sleep and stress management. Additionally, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption is crucial.
Is it better to exercise longer or more frequently?
It’s generally better to exercise more frequently rather than for longer durations. Regular, consistent exercise sessions, even if shorter, are more effective for sustained health benefits, injury prevention, and habit formation, compared to occasional, longer workouts.
The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
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