Fitness: Important for all from longevity to fitness

9 May 2014 | Cpl. Sarah Cherry

Physical fitness is a vital aspect of daily life and longevity, but is especially important for Marines. May is recognized as National Physical Fitness and Sport Month.

Fitness decreases risk of disease, helps avoid injuries and increases longevity. Marines rely on physical fitness for combat readiness, efficiency and discipline and are tested annually on their combat and physical fitness.
Despite the importance of physical fitness, it is neglected by many. Over one third of adults in the United States are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some common factors that prevent people from exercise are lack of time and enjoyment.
Harriet Fisher, the Fitness Program Coordinator aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, said that fitness should always be enjoyable.

“You should have a sense of well-being when you’re done,” said Fisher. “It should be an enjoyable experience. If you’re not enjoying the activity you chose, why are you doing it?”

Fisher added that although it’s important to find things you like to do, it’s equally important to try new things.
Marines and authorized civilians have many opportunities on base to try new forms of fitness, from seminars, to classes at the gym, to the sports teams on base.

The sports teams are a valuable asset for Marines because it provides a different mindset toward exercise.

“Sports are a way to get to know your fellow Marine or sailor outside of the work environment,” said Jeff Epstein, Air Station sports specialist. “It’s exercise, but it’s more than exercise. You never give up; you keep going. Sports are important for teamwork, physical activity, and getting out of your comfort zone.”

Some sports available on base include softball, soccer, bowling and basketball.

Although fitness should be enjoyable, it is crucial for Marines in a way that it is not for civilians.

“A sports team can only be as good as their weakest player, and it’s the same with Marines in combat,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Wood, a first degree martial arts instructor trainer with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31.

He said Marines rely on combat fitness to improve their ability to rely on each other physically in combat.

“Combat fitness is the basis of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. Physical strength, endurance and agility directly affect the outcome of the techniques.”

Physical fitness directly impacts quality of life, bone and muscle strength and can help you meet new friends with similar interests. For Marines, physical and combat fitness is essential to combat and allows Marines to thoroughly rely on each other.