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Turning fitness into a privilege

During a recent visit to McChord Field, Col. Sean P. Pierce, 446th Airlift Wing commander, pauses for a photo with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein holding the U.S. Air Force triathlon jersey. Pierce competed in the Armed Forces Triathlon Championship and the Air Force team won a silver medal. (Courtesy photo)

During a recent visit to McChord Field, Col. Sean P. Pierce, 446th Airlift Wing commander, pauses for a photo with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein holding the U.S. Air Force triathlon jersey. Pierce competed in the Armed Forces Triathlon Championship and the Air Force team won a silver medal. (Courtesy photo)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McChord, Wash. -- Turning fitness from an obligation into a privilege changed my life.

In college, I ran endurance track and over the years, I would work out three times a week thinking that was enough to do well on the Air Force’s fit test. Turns out, as I got older, that wasn’t enough. After struggling to pass a test, I decided to change how I approached fitness, incorporating it into my life again through endurance competitions.

Through signing up for a triathlon and setting goals, I found my fitness voice. Setting a goal, a benchmark, and preparing for competing changed my life. Instead of just conditioning for the fit test, I now view it as part of my lifestyle.

Since June is Men’s Health Month, I’d like to encourage you to find an activity you enjoy in life, something that lights a spark and inspires you to incorporate fitness into your life completely. Carving out time to train is difficult, but for me, it’s my sanctuary and despite the operations tempo, I remain committed.

As part of Men’s Health Month, it’s important to highlight the facts. The life expectancy for men in the United States is about five years shorter than for women. Many men visit their healthcare providers less frequently than women. One in three American men suffers from a condition related to cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for men.

Just days before the competition, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein visited McChord Field, and I was able to get a photo with him holding my Air Force triathlon team jersey for the Armed Forces Triathlon Championship. The team won a silver medal and I'm very proud. Being able to compete as part of the Air Force was a true accomplishment.

During a speech at the Warrior Games opening ceremony June 2, the general discussed how over time, we grow older, not all of us grow stronger.

“There’s this old saying, ‘Age wrinkles the body but quitting wrinkles the soul,’” said Goldfein. “And while all of us grow older, not all of us grow stronger as we age. The athletes and warriors we celebrate this week show us how to grow stronger over time as they conquer the daily challenges in mind, in body, in spirit. Warrior Games athletes are not defined by illness, injury or the invisible wounds of war. They’re defined by their courage, their determination, their grit, their resilience and their friends and family who cheer them on here and at home.”

His comments really resonated with me, as well as the commitment of wounded warriors to continue to incorporate fitness into their lives through competitive athletic events.

Incorporating fitness in your life now will really benefit you in your later years and improve your quality of life. Being active will enable you to live longer, and fitness is a key to good health.

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