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Army embraces healthier foods, fitness to fight flab in recruits

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 | 11:10 a.m. CST; updated 8:06 a.m. CST, Thursday, December 2, 2010

FORT LEONARD WOOD — New soldiers expecting Army drill sergeants to bust their chops over poor posture or a wayward gaze may instead want to avoid a more modern military transgression: relying on fast food for sustenance.

The U.S. Army plans to get new recruits into better shape with a revamped approach to health, fitness and diet at basic training.

The most visible changes will be seen in mess halls, where milk and juice dispensers will replace soda fountains and whole grains will be substituted for white bread and pasta.

Army leaders were unveiling the new approach Wednesday morning at Missouri's Fort Leonard Wood. It's the first substantial change to basic fitness training in the Army in 30 years.

"We are seeing many soldiers entering our profession who need phased conditioning methods and improved nutritional habits," said Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command.

The "soldier athlete" initiative is designed to prepare new recruits with training methods similar to those offered to elite athletes preparing for competition.

That means more attention on injury prevention, flexibility and mobility, coordination and aerobic endurance, as well as healthy eating. Drill sergeants will include one-hour sessions on performance nutrition in addition to their traditional responsibilities.

Army leaders report fewer injuries and higher scores on physical fitness tests at bases where the new program has been tested.


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