From Frontlines to Fit – Five tips for veterans to stay healthy

Serving the country as a war veteran is perhaps one of the most honorable professions; it demands courage, selflessness, dedication, and sacrifice.

Putting your country’s needs and safety before your own is, without a doubt, the most significant sacrifice these courageous soldiers make.

Not only is the veteran’s heroism worth applause, but so is their family’s; they spend each second worrying about the security of their loved ones. Unfortunately, veterans tend to neglect their health in looking after their country.

During the second half of their lives, when veterans age, unhealthy habits can negatively affect them.

Luckily, a slight change in the daily routine and lifestyle can positively impact health. If you are a war veteran working in the field or are retired, the following tips will help you adopt a lifestyle that ensures optimum health and wellness:

1.      Frequent medical check-ups

Out on the field, you may engage in physically demanding tasks that can threaten your health. Other missions may expose you to the risk of contracting infectious diseases.

To stay fit and avoid serious illnesses, visit the doctor frequently. Yes, working in the military is demanding, and you often have no spare time on your hands; but your health should always be a priority.

Other than minor injuries, some missions can expose you to cancer-causing toxins like asbestos. Timely diagnosis and treatment are crucial for the best outcomes in this case.

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In-service veterans benefit from free medical check-ups, but unfortunately, some find it challenging to incorporate medical monitoring into their lives once they retire.

2.      Get enough sleep

A common complaint by professionals in demanding jobs is that they don’t get enough sleep because of the lack of free time on their hands.

The same is true for war veterans; between ongoing missions and frequent watches, it is difficult to squeeze in some ‘me-time,’ let alone time to get a good sleep.

Research reveals that around 76 to 89% of war veterans are sleep deprived. However, worry not because there are ways you use to adopt healthy sleep hygiene and take control of your sleep routine.

Firstly, establish a fixed sleep schedule to monitor and regulate your body’s ‘internal clock.’ Once you internalize this sleep schedule, your body will get used to the routine and sleep well through the night.

Right before bedtime – ideally half an hour earlier – get a break from any exciting, stressful, or anxiety-causing activities and give your mind a time-out.

Also, avoid ruining your sleep routine by taking naps! Even though power-naps sound appealing, sometimes even these can disturb your sleep and keep you awake at bedtime.

3.      Incorporate physical activity into your routine

With a jam-packed routine, many veterans complain about not having enough time to sleep, let alone visit the gym. However, it is a misconception that only a tiring workout in the gym can count as being physically active.

Ensuring an active lifestyle could include something as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator and walking to a nearby store instead of going in your car.

With this slight change in your routine, you’ll see excellent short and long-term benefits, from weight management, improved health, reduced risk of illnesses like cancers and heart disease, muscle and bone strength, improved mental health, and so on.

As difficult as this may sound, remember that self-care is always your priority. Only with a sound mind and body can you function well and serve your country with everything you have.

4.      You are what you eat, so eat healthily

It is easy to neglect the importance of a healthy diet when you don’t find time to prepare a good meal; of course, grabbing a snack from the store is undoubtedly more effortless when you have a mission to handle. However, without sound health, nothing else matters.

Closely monitor your nutrient intake and consume the right amount of macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water. To achieve this, you should increase the number of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains you consume.

While a delicious treat right before a challenging day at work might sound tempting, reduce the amount of sugar you consume.

In addition to ensuring good physical health, your diet also influences your ability to fight off problems like pain, heart disease, and arthritis. Anti-inflammatory foods, for instance, are known to cure chronic pain.

5.      Stay in contact with your support network

As the famous saying goes, ‘man is a social animal’; we thrive on good social relationships. Family is perhaps the first and most significant personal relationship for anyone.

Unfortunately, working with the military often demands long periods of separation from family and loved ones. Don’t let physical distance be a barrier.

Today’s highly globalized and digitalized world means it is possible to maintain close personal relations even if a thousand miles are separating you. Keep in touch with your friends and family, and develop healthy relationships with your colleagues.

Final words

In looking after the country, veterans tend to neglect their well-being. Remember that your health is equally, if not more, important.

Keep up with your wellness checks, get sufficient sleep, stay active, eat healthily, and keep in touch with your support system.