NATICK, Mass., April 19, 2006 – The U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, along with the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine and the Army Physical Fitness School, has initiated a two-phased study to investigate potential weight and muscle loss in soldiers deployed to Afghanistan.
The formal study has been prompted by soldier observations and anecdotal evidence of weight/muscle loss, according to Marilyn Sharp, a research health exercise scientist in the Military Performance Division at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.
In February, Sharp's team, as well as U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine and the Army Physical Fitness School, collected data on several hundred soldiers who were set to deploy to Afghanistan.
Upon their return, the soldiers will be re-assessed to evaluate body composition changes.
Some of the soldiers will be trying out a new fitness program called Physical Readiness Training.
In Afghanistan, soldiers are often on the move, carrying heavy loads on physically demanding terrain under high altitude conditions, which can stress the heart and the lungs.
The loss of muscle mass and weight could impair the warfighter's ability to carry out his mission.