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Fitness: More than just muscle

  • Published
  • By Teresa McNamara
  • 48th Fighter Wing Staff Writer
The new year is quickly approaching. What's your new year's resolution? This year, why not join the many who make the resolution to be fit? Scientific studies show physical activity can produce health benefits such as weight loss, increased stamina, increased efficiency of the heart and lungs, diminished stress and improved self-image.

To Darrin Muhr, exercise physiologist at the Health and Wellness Center and twenty-year certified field professional, the term physical fitness embodies more than bulging muscles and paper-thin bodies.

His philosophy for fitness involves setting realistic goals to match ability, time and dedication to working out; realistic goals such as "I'd like to loose about 10 pounds," or "I'd like to strengthen my arms," not "I'd like to look exactly like Jessica Alba or Vin Diesel." He emphasizes physical well-being, as opposed to numbers such as calories burned or pounds lost.

As the HAWC's only exercise physiologist, Mr. Muhr's primary duty is to train Liberty warriors and families to be fit to fight. He runs the base fitness program, and trains physical training leaders to manage their unit's fitness and testing programs. He also teaches the mandatory Healthy Living program and the Body Composition Improvement program.

The workout programs he creates reflect his fitness ideals, the clients' goals, medical history and physical limitations. For someone trying to get on the workout bandwagon, Mr. Muhr thinks it's futile to "throw out the kitchen and start all over, or exercise for two hours your first day." His client's first session begins with a six to 10 minute cardio warm-up, followed by four to six strength training exercises, spanning 10 to 20 minutes in length. This slow, easy pace shows the client how to correctly and safely use the machines for optimal results.

"I like to gradually work into it. If you get too sore, the pain may be discouraging," said Mr. Muhr.

It's also important to choose activities of interest so you will stick with them, adding a few extra minutes to the routine every few days, Mr. Muhr added. Once the recommended 30 minutes is reached, the duration and intensity can be increased.

Adding new activities to an exercise repertoire can add a challenge while breaking the monotony. For those on the quest for fitness, the Fitness and Sports Center offers a range of activities and resources above and beyond cardio and weight machines and free weights. There are basketball courts, racquetball courts and workout classes, to name a few, free of cost. For a price there are personal trainers, masseuses, belly dancing classes and even Kuk-sool-won classes from three time world champion, Master Darren Hart. Adding new activities to your repertoire can add a challenge while breaking the monotony.

Although a change of habit is hard and takes time and patience, health is too important not to pay attention to, said Mr. Muhr.

"Impatience is the biggest problem I encounter," said Mr. Muhr. "Don't expect to start exercising on Monday and be buff by Wednesday."

With much determination, patience and support, Staff Sgt. Alan Higginbotham, of the 48th Component Maintenance Squadron, made a life change upon his permanent change of station to RAF Lakenheath. He failed three physical fitness tests, and the fourth would have spelled force separation for the almost seven year service member. With the help of his flight, Sergeant Higginbotham spent the last few months running two and a half to five miles three days a week, complimented by 45 minutes to an hour of weight and circuit training two days a week.

"I really didn't like to run, and I didn't really want to run," said Sergeant Higginbotham. "But my flight supported me, got behind me, and helped me get through it." Sergeant Higginbotham's hard work paid off. He lost 30 pounds and passed his PT test on Nov. 21, with a time of 12 minutes, four minutes shorter than his last test. His flight showed up to the track to cheer him on, and three flight members ran the test with him.

"Since I have been exercising I feel a lot better and a lot healthier," said Sergeant Higginbotham. "Working out it is now part of my routine."

There's no time like the present to get off that couch and get healthy, so start now on a get fit resolution.