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Thousands using new ArmyFit site for self-improvements

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Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2014 12:00 am

WASHINGTON – Since Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness launched its ArmyFit site several weeks ago, tens of thousands have logged on and are taking advantage of its features, designed to improve self-awareness in health and resilience.

In the first week alone, some 28,000 users visited the site where they took the Global Assessment Tool, or GAT, and many then went on to view the myriad of resources offered, said Lt. Col. Daniel Johnston, program manager for ArmyFit.

GAT 2.0 is an online assessment that’s been scientifically validated and accurately measures five dimensions of health, including the emotional, social, spiritual, familial and physical. The physical dimension consists of sleep, activity and nutrition, the three parts of Performance Triad.

The metrics from those five dimensions are then aggregated through an algorithm that has been scientifically validated to accurately predict a person’s life expectancy, Johnston said.

The assessment takes an average of 23 minutes to complete, is easy to do and the results are presented in colorful graphics depicting how the person rates in each of the five dimensions compared to his or her peers, he said.

The GAT 2.0 also scores a person’s “real age” with their “actual age.”

In other words, someone who is 35 years old but is especially strong on all or most of the categories might be several years younger in “real” but not “actual” age.

Each of those dimensions have been shown to be a strong predictor of life expectancy and quality of life and those taking GAT 2.0 will hopefully be motivated to use the advantages of ArmyFit’s extensive information, programs and coaching.

Taking GAT 2.0 “is the first step in self-awareness and starts the on-boarding process to ArmyFit,” Johnston said, adding that taking GAT 2.0 annually is a requirement for every Soldier and it is also the first step in using ArmyFit.

As to the help that’s offered after taking GAT 2.0, Johnston said there are some 5,000 pages of sites relevant to those five dimensions on ArmyFit and, he noted, within the first week those topical pages generated around 86,000 page views.

Those topical pages, he continued, connect people with organizations, groups and other users. Johnston emphasized that GAT 2.0 protects people’s confidentiality and that those who do the assessment can choose whether or not to continue on the site and how much information they’re willing to share.

The original GAT, hosted on a site called “Soldier Fitness Tracker,” was missing the “physical” dimension of sleep, activity and nutrition. One of Johnston’s first tasks was to build that “critically important” fifth dimension into a new GAT.

But while looking at building out the fifth dimension, Johnston discovered something else that disturbed him.

“I noticed right away that the site was archaic with very little follow-on training, advice or recommendations following completion of the GAT,” he said.

“I just felt we were failing our Soldiers in terms of giving them great online feedback and training,” he said. “It had become just another requirement to check the box, and see you next year. We needed to get our Soldiers engaged and provide them with some interactive content and information they needed to improve.

“So then my mission became much greater,” he continued. “Not only did we need to enhance this assessment tool by making it truly global, we also needed to make the entire Web platform much more engaging.”

Spc. Ryan Bradley, a medic at Fort Bliss, Texas, said he found the content to be interesting and compelling.

After completing GAT 2.0, he said the site offered content appropriate to his needs.

“I’ve never before been able to connect spirituality in my life,” he said. The site “linked me to information that explained self-awareness, valuing self and having a purpose for being. Now I understand what that pillar means.”

Bradley also said he clicked around on family topics and that dimension brought up a lot of resources as well. “It wasn’t at all bland and offered certain aspects I wanted to improve in my life and great suggestions.”

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