As a career Marine who has now been retired from active duty for over five years, I find myself taking a somewhat clearer perspective of my military experience. No, I’m not talking about rewriting history (like many do), what I mean is looking at things with a longer view. That includes many different areas; the people you served with, the deployments forward, mistakes made and successes gained. One way or the other, all these things look different in your rear view. Fitness and health are different.
As a lifelong, self confessed “PT freak” this is something that I’m sure I’ve studied much more than most. Way back in the dark ages when I came in (1981) the PT program was much different that the “scientific” programs you see in the military today. I think just being a hard ass was more of a priority than actual fitness back then. Over the years that attitude has changed and has shifted more towards actual physical ability, to include better health. Just for one example look at smoking. When I came in everyone smoked, and they smoked just about everywhere. Needless to say those days are gone and the overall health of our military members are better because of it.
On thing that illustrates in a real way is some of the lifelong Marine buddies that I’ve know for over 30 years. Now while many of these guys could out PT me on their worst day when we were in our early 20’s, now sadly, many are now in poor health. Many are very overweight, and have some serious health issues. I’m not talking about battle wounds or injury for the most part here. Just the result of their day to day habits over many years. Eating and drinking to excess, smoking, stress and lack of exercise.
Look, I’m not trying to lecture anyone about how to live your life. It’s a free country and if you’re not hurting anyone else, or breaking the law, have at it I say. What I’m getting at here is that I don’t think that you are doomed to poor health and fitness just because you are getting older, and/or have retired from active duty. You don’t. I know this from my own personal experience and many years of first hand observation. All it really takes is a program of moderate, consistent effort in PT and a little discipline in your personal life. These are not that hard and yield positive benefits in your life that are almost too good to measure, especially in the long run.
I wrote my book “Corps Strength” in 2010. But I’ve been pretty much have been following that same PT program for about 25 years. Does it work? Better yet does it work long term? Note the picture below. These two pictures were taken 18 years apart. Both at the Marine Corps Marathon (1996 and 2014). Now I will admit I can’t run as fast as that hard headed Jarhead on the left, but I still run pretty good at 54, and and you can too, and that my friends is the point. Take care and be safe.