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ACC releases fitness guidance for pregnant Airmen

Photo illustration of an Airman doing sit-ups

Keeping a fitness routine can prevent exercise-related injuries. By staying on track with workouts, Airmen can avoid overexerting their muscles when it comes time to train for their physical training tests. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney)

Photo illustration of an Airman doing push-ups

Fitness specialists assigned to local base fitness centers and annexes are available to assist Airmen with adjusting their push-up and sit-up forms in preparation for their physical training tests. Individuals can also request an equipment orientation, during which fitness specialists show the requester how to use various pieces of gym equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney)

JOINT-BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --

In an effort to improve the fitness program for Airmen during the stages of pregnancy, the Air Combat Command Surgeon General directorate recently released new guidance.

The guidance is called “Conditioning/Reconditioning (Fitness) Program for Airmen During and After Pregnancy,” and it implements immediate changes to the Fitness Program. It also establishes additional fitness and educational opportunities for pregnant Airmen to enhance their physical wellness.

“We recognized that we were falling short in providing optimized health and fitness they can use to support our pregnant Airmen,” said Gen. Mike Holmes, the commander of Air Combat Command. “Our goal is simple: provide our Airmen with research-based options for pregnancy and post-partum conditioning and reconditioning.”

The program comprises two parts.  Airmen will have access to nutritional, emotional and other materials, via an educational website, to help them through their pregnancy and afterwards. Depending on the installation, they will either have access to voluntary pregnancy and postpartum reconditioning classes taught by certified trainers or kiosks with instructional videos.

“We are hoping Airmen will take advantage of the in-person fitness classes if it is available at the installation” said Lt. Col. Tracy Markle, Mental Health Branch Chief for ACC’s SG directorate. “The classes can also serve as a way to meet other women and share experiences.”

Along with improving the support community of Airmen who can discuss post and prenatal fitness, it also helps Airmen make informed decisions in terms of personal fitness and how to prepare for the future.

 “The goal is to provide better education to supplement what we already have,” said Col. Rosemary Haley, Command Nurse and Chief of Medical Operations for ACC’s SG directorate. “We’re also looking at the exercise prescription for some of those individuals to see if we can tailor that to exactly what their duty requires.

“A lot of people feel that if you’re pregnant, you can’t work out. That’s just the opposite. We want people to stay active throughout their pregnancy and also after they deliver.”

 The new program also includes self-guided fitness materials, which Airmen can use as a guide during their personal physical training sessions.

“We don’t want you doing anything unless your primary care manager tells you that it’s safe and you’re good to do it,” Markle explained. “So what does that activity look like? You’ve got to listen to your body. It is going to be dependent on how active you were before you were pregnant.”

Markle also noted that doing something is always better than doing nothing, regardless of Airmen’s physical ability prior to pregnancy.

“Do what you think you’re capable of doing,” Markle said. “We also don’t want you doing something that is going to jeopardize your health or your baby’s health either.”

Overall, the ACC senior leadership team aims to use the new guidance to improve the overall health and well-being of their Airmen.

“The body does change throughout the pregnancy process,” Hailey said. “We’re hoping that people see some value and we have a return on investment and that the Air Force takes a look at this and pushes it even further.”