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Legion Baseball flashback: Honoring 1 of Shelby’s champion sons

When Loy Paige and his teammates on the Shelby, N.C., American Legion Post 82 baseball team were enjoying one of the greatest summers of their lives, they shared local and national newspaper headlines with news from the other side of the world.

Paige, 94, is one of two surviving members of the 1945 American Legion World Series championship team that set its history while the world was focused on military endeavors of World War II in Europe and Japan.

“Obviously there was a lot going on that summer,” said Paige, who was honored during the 2022 ALWS. “We were just young kids enjoying the game of baseball and chasing a championship.”

The news of the world was celebrated by fans during their championship run as Paige still remembers hearing cheers in Sumter, S.C., while his team was playing at Riley Park in an American Legion Baseball regional.

“There was a lot of hollering when we were playing a game and (Shelby head) coach (B.E. “Pop”) Simmons was asking us, ‘Why are they rooting for Shelby down here in South Carolina?’” Paige said. “We told him, ‘No. It’s because the war’s over!’ He was so wrapped up in coaching us that he didn’t think about anything else.

“The best news is that we went on and won the game.”

Simmons, like many in the world, was looking for a release from the grueling nature of World War II.

Paige was motivated enough to support the effort as he enlisted in the Naval reserves.

He never did see active military service and in the summer of 1945, he served the Shelby community by helping the local American Legion Baseball team win its first and only national championship.

“Baseball has always been part of my life and I’ve always enjoyed it,” said Paige, who was the left fielder on the 1945 Post 82 team. “We had a great group of players and we played really well together.”

When Shelby began its historic season in June of that summer, Germany had surrendered just a few weeks earlier on May 7.

By the time the season ended on Sept. 1 with a Post 82 ALWS title, Japan had surrendered as well — 17 days earlier during Shelby’s regional playoff game in Sumter, S.C.

In between, Shelby rolled to a 36-6 overall record that included a season-ending 15-game winning streak. After winning the South Division of North Carolina Area IV with a 7-1 league record, Post 82 advanced to a Western North Carolina finals series by virtue of a 10-2 second-round record.

Shelby would defeat Charlotte Post 9, 4-1, in a best-of-seven Western finals, then swept Laurinburg 4-0 in the state championship series.

Three straight victories in a regional in Sumter, three straight victories in a sectional in Charleston, S.C., and three straight victories in the ALWS in Charlotte followed as Shelby became the eighth of 19 teams in ALWS history to go unbeaten in national tournament competition.

“It seemed like we’d always have guys come up with a hit at the right time and got good pitching and things worked out real well,” Paige said. “As kids, our parents worked at the mill and they would bring yarn home and we’d get it and make a ball and use a broom stick. We had a lot of ballgames out in the street.”

In 1945, American Legion Baseball was celebrating its 20th season. In Shelby, where Post 82 first sponsored a team in 1931, local support was extraordinary.

“The people that lived in Shelby followed us throughout the year,” Paige said. “I thoroughly enjoyed it and I know my teammates did too.”

Crowds of 9,000 jammed Charlotte’s old Griffith Park for the first two ALWS victories before 10,250 came to the 4-2 championship game victory over Trenton, N.J.

Since Shelby’s population in 1945 was 14,000 and so many of them were in Charlotte to see the ALWS, Simmons and his assistant coach Lloyd Little cracked jokes about the town they’d left behind.

“I doubt if there are enough people left in Shelby to put out a fire,” Simmons said.

Little added: “I doubt there are enough people left to start the fire.”

Nowadays, Paige and pitcher Harry McKee (who lives in Georgia) are the only surviving members of the team. At the 2022 ALWS, Paige even showed American Legion officials the glove he used to play left field for Post 82.

“It’s a great memory for me and I’m happy that people still remember that team,” Paige said.

Though he frequently has gone to local American Legion Baseball games ever since he played, Paige makes a point of getting to Shelby’s Veterans Field at Keeter Stadium annually.

“It’s really nice to have the World Series here in my hometown,” Paige said. “I enjoy being able to come and watch games every year.”

 

Michigan post’s Legion Family forming friendships through Arc dances

For around the past six years, the American Legion Family of Devereaux Post 141 in Howell, Mich., has hosted dances every two months for users of The Arc of Livingston’s programs. The Arc provides advocacy, information and referral and support services to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

And while the dances are meant to be enjoyed by the Arc citizens, they’ve also become a highlight for Post 141’s Legion Family, serving as a collaborative effort between the Post, Auxiliary Unit, Sons of The American Legion and the Legion Riders that brings smiles to all their members’ faces.

“It’s a huge deal for not only all the members of Post 141, but their families, too,” said Sons of The American Legion Squadron 141 member Reg VanWulfen. “This dance is not just a party. It’s life experiences, even for the Legion members. In the Sons, we have a family that comes in, and they have young sons: 9, 12 and 14. And they help out. They learn to help people. They do it as a family.

“We enjoy it. We have fun. And we don’t just have the Arc come in and have dances. We have members that get up and dance, party, joke, do different things to interact and talk. Social acts. It’s very unique.”

Post 141 had hosted similar dances years ago before they stopped. They were resumed around six years ago under then-post commander and current finance officer Jim Grimes. The pandemic brought a halt to them temporarily, but they resumed this year.

Post 141 Commander Bobby Brite, who also is a Legion Rider, said the success of the Arc dances is a credit to the teamwork of the post’s Legion Family and the view each brings to the project.

“The Legion, we have one perspective of looking at things. The Sons have a totally different perspective, and of course the Auxiliary bring a totally different perspective,” Brite said. “There are no egos involved here. It’s just a meeting of minds. We allow our veterans and our family members to come up with the best ideas to move forward on things.

“We utilize all of our resources and all of our talent to create the same type of party atmosphere that we do on every other event. That family atmosphere that we push at our facility, it's just a natural progression for the Arc citizens to come in and enjoy it with us.”

SAL Squadron 141 Commander and Chapter 141 Legion Rider Chris Jones said as a part-time driver for a community transportation system, he deals with many of the Arc citizens on a regular basis. “I get to hear a lot of conversations,” he said. “The No. 1 they talk about when it comes to these dances is they say they get to come and get to see their friends. We have made it to (where) it’s not just a place where they come. We’ve made it a place where their friends are at, and they get to hang with their friends.”

This year, at the urging of Jones, the Riders became involved. Chapter 141 members staged their motorcycles outside of the post that the Arc citizens were able sit on during the event.

“We want to make it better for them each time they come visit with us,” Jones said. “One of the concepts was that let’s get involved more members of the Legion Family. So I reached out to the Riders to see if they were willing, and the Riders came out.”

For Past Auxiliary Unit 141 President Terrie Harter, the Arc dances are special because of their effect on both the guests and the members. “The smiles on the kids’ faces are the best things, though,” she said. “You get out there and dance with them. They talk to you, and they want to take pictures together. We just become one big happy family. And the smiles on their faces when you’re out there dancing together, it melts your heart. It’s just breathtaking. I love every minute of it.”

Jones said the dances give the Arc citizens an opportunity to interact with people who view them simply as friends. “Let’s be honest: with some of their disabilities, they can’t just walk out … and visit people. They can’t go some places because of their limitations,” he said. “With that being said, when they come to our place, we do not look at them as any kind of special needs people or with disabilities. We look at them as our friends. They get to spend three hours not being stereotyped by our members. Our members truly want to be there and enjoy their time there.”

Philly Legion post gets big assist in renovation efforts

A generous grant from the City of Philadelphia will allow one of its American Legion posts to go back to being a hub for the community in Southwest Philly.

William P. Roche Post 21 recently received a $100,000 revitalization check from the city. The check was presented by Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, who was able to secure the grant in the city’s fiscal 2023 operating budget.

“I have known of William P. Roche Post 21’s mission and service to the community for years,” Johnson said via press release. “We share the same mission and dreams for creating safe environments for the community and providing a place that veterans can call home.”

Post 21 Commander Melvin James said the money will allow the post to make some much-needed repairs to its aging facility.

“It’s going to mean a lot for the post,” said James, a member of the Legion for nearly 20 years. “It’s going to help the post out and getting the post back together because we’ve been down for two years because of the pandemic. It means a lot, trying to get this post back to where it belongs.”

During the pandemic Post 21’s membership began some renovations, using their own funds and some donations from others. But other issues need addressed within the facility – which has been the post home since its founding in 1920 – including the plumbing and the post’s main hall.

Burt despite its facility needing work, Post 21 has continued to assist those around it. “We are a very big part of this community,” James said. “People come and patronize us. We give out donations and have food drives. \We’re getting ready to have a Thanksgiving canned food drive. We have toy drives and food drives around Christmas, and the local band students come to practice here.”

Many of the families that have been helped in recent years have experienced gun violence; Johnson sits on the city council’s Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention.  

“This is something that is very dear to me,” Johnson said. “They’re going to be here for a long time, and I want to make sure that things are easier for them. I pushed very hard to get the grant for this job, and I’m happy to see that it came through.”

For James, its an opportunity to improve a building that already has a special place in the Legionnaire’s heart. “It meant a lot to get this grant from Kenyatta’s office,” he said. “It will help us with the hall and with the community. This old building means a lot to me because I’ve been here many a year. So I’m trying to straighten it out and get it done. I love that post. It means a lot to me.”

OUR KOREAN WAR STORY: Forgotten No More

Observed in the Aug. 10, 1995, American Legion Dispatch’s coverage was a profound contrast between conditions in the combat theater and at memorial dedication ceremonies more than four decades after the Korean War’s end.

“Thousands of the 1.5 million Americans who served on the Korean peninsula against ruthless North Korean and Chinese troops, frost-bite and mind-numbing fatigue endured suffocating heat and humidity July 27 to celebrate the long-awaited dedication of the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.,” the national publication reported.

Water jugs were provided to veterans as temperatures climbed to 96 degrees, with heavy humidity. “The heat was tough, but we survived it,” Legionnaire and Korean War Army veteran Bill Honnef of Post 226 in Brackenridge, Pa., said during the late-July dedication. “We’re survivors anyway. We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”

American Legion Past National Commander John P. “Jake” Comer, a Korean War veteran who had been appointed by President George H.W. Bush to serve on the national Korean War Veterans Memorial Advisory Committee, later pointed out that the Legion made a popular decision for ceremonies, especially given the weather.  

“Plans for the dedication ceremonies included a wreath-laying ceremony (and) a Pusan Tent City where The American Legion had an air-conditioned tent,” Comer later told delegates to the 77th American Legion National Convention that year. “Let me tell you, that certainly came in handy … The other veterans’ organizations did not have the same …The American Legion really was out front – first class.”

More than 50,000 were estimated in attendance for the memorial dedication. Approximately 400 Legionnaires – including every national officer – marched behind then-National Commander William Detweiler of Louisiana in a parade to commemorate the dedication on 2.2 acres of the National Mall. American Legion bands from Massachusetts and North Dakota marched and played in the procession. Legion color guards from across the country participated, and Detweiler had receptions to honor 51 Korean War veterans. Detweiler also joined President Clinton in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during the four days of honor.

Also during that time, Samsung Corp. entrusted The American Legion with a $5 million scholarship endowment for the descendants of Korean War veterans, later extended to descendants of other wartime U.S. veterans, in thanks to those who freed South Korea from communism.

South Korea President Kim Young Sam made the memorial dedication the centerpiece of a four-day state visit with President Clinton. Talking with local reporters, President Kim “said the 54,246 Americans who died in the war – 34,000 in combat – left a legacy of a free, vibrant South Korea, which suffered 570,000 war dead,” the Dispatch reported. “The United States also lists 103,284 wounded, 7,140 prisoners of war, and 8,177 missing in action who were sent to the Korean peninsula in response to North Korea’s invasion, on July 25, 1950.

“There are some U.S. veterans who left their souls in Korea,” Kim said. “Their sacrifices were not in vain.”

The American Legion was a major contributor to the memorial with its 19 stainless steel figures of U.S. troops from multiple branches on patrol. “The weary, poncho-clad troopers represent the ground-pounders from all branches of the military, 14 Army, three Marines, one Navy medic and one Air Force observer,” the Dispatch observed. “On their right stands a 164-foot, 8-inch long thick granite wall. On its highly polished gray/black granite surface are etched the faces of 2,400 support personnel and all the machines and weapons of war needed to sustain troops in the field.”

Fiber-optic illumination of each statue was particularly moving to Past National Commander Comer, who worked to raise funds and awareness for the project for years, promoting donations and merchandise sales. “What amazed me was the memorial at night,” Comer said. “The statues each have a spotlight that shines just on the faces.” The faces of the support personnel, etched in granite, seem to float behind the statues at night. “It’s very eerie and dramatic,” Comer said.

One initiative recognized at the national convention came from American Legion Department of Illinois Korean War Veterans Memorial Chairman Jack Cover of Post 69 in Robinson, Ill., who designed a remembrance pin the Legion was able to sell and put about $80,000 toward the memorial. Shirts, hats, mugs and coin sets were also sold to help the Legion provide some $700,000 for the memorial.

“There is no finer monument in the history of our nation,” Comer told the 77th National Convention, meeting in Indianapolis. “The Korean War veterans will be forgotten no more.”

Detweiler summed it up this way: “We helped launch the long-awaited memorial to women (the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, 1993) who have served side by side with men in the defense of this country. We helped dedicate the long-awaited Korean War Memorial. Why? Because we, as a people, and we, as an organization, must never forget and must never let future generations forget the deeds of the valiant men and women who answered the call of this country, who asked no questions but gave their talents and time and their lives, in many instances, to protect the freedoms and the peace that we all enjoy today. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do. It’s the American thing to do.”

 

 

NEF: A community lifeline

As I write this message, the governor of Florida has mobilized the National Guard in preparation of a hurricane strike.  This comes days after military members in Puerto Rico rescued an estimated 1,000 residents who were stranded by floods and catastrophic winds due to Hurricane Fiona. To the north, remnants of Typhoon Merbok damaged thousands of homes and roads on Alaska’s western coastline.

The American Legion is not a first response organization. I leave those designations for police agencies, fire departments, emergency medical technicians and military personnel. But we are a powerful second response.

When a natural disaster hits, it is often an American Legion post or department that is at the center of a community’s recovery efforts. Whether its providing meals for rescue workers or shelter for storm victims, The American Legion has been a lifeline for those who have lost nearly everything.

After Hurricane Hugo pummeled South Carolina in 1989, The American Legion revived its National Emergency Fund (NEF). More than $9 million of direct financial assistance has been provided during the lifetime of this great program. It has assisted Legionnaires and Sons of The American Legion members who have been impacted by declared natural disasters.

The NEF provides nonrepayable grants of up to $3,000 for individuals and $10,000 for posts on a case-by-case basis. Overhead for the program is paid through membership dues, meaning that 100 percent of donated money goes to funding grants.

Following the motto of the Boy Scouts, The American Legion encourages all Legion Family members to “Be Prepared.” Even if your community is not in a high risk area, I recommend you download The NEF Preparation Guide for pointers on what do before, during and after a natural disaster.

Applications for NEF assistance must go through department headquarters and can be found here. The NEF, itself, will not replace your home. But it can help pay for immediate needs such as temporary housing, food, water, diapers, clothes and other essentials. It is just another tangible example in which The American Legion delivers on its “devotion to mutual helpfulness.”

As a New Yorker, I have seen the horrific damage caused by Superstorm Sandy a decade ago and how American Legion assistance made a difference to so many people. Through your support, we can continue to make an impact.

For God and Country,

Vincent “Jim” Troiola

National Commander

 

A new home for Va. Post 139, and new homes for at-risk veterans

A new home for American Legion Post 139 in Arlington, Va., also means new housing opportunities for veterans and the community.

Post 139 is now located on the first floor of the seven-story Lucille & Bruce Terwilliger Place, which also includes 160 two- and three-bedroom rental units, meeting rooms and a counseling office as well as outdoor recreation space.

The grand opening of the building, which already houses some residents, took place on Sept. 23. Guest speakers at the grand opening included VA Secretary Denis McDonough.

“Fifty percent of this building is veterans’ housing,” said Post 139 Commander Bob Romano.

Touted as the first of its kind in the country, the co-location stemmed from the extensive repairs the post’s former building required. Post leadership turned to a consultant to figure out what to do.

“There were many offers (for the property),” Romano said. “None of them included a post home at this location, and APAH came up with the idea of a post home, veterans housing and affordable housing. It was just a deal that was unanimous in approval.”

APAH, the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, bought the 1.4-acre property in 2016 for about $9 million.

“Without the American Legion Post 139, we would not be standing here today and really 160 families wouldn’t get to enjoy what it’s like to live in an area of opportunity like this,” said Carmen Romero, president and CEO of APAH.

Romero said Terwilliger Place is “critically important” given the increases in rent in the Washington, D.C., area. And it’s especially vital to provide affordable housing to the veteran community.

“It is a dream,” Romero said. “It’s what we’ve worked so hard for the last six years, and I’m so honored to work with The American Legion. I love the leadership, I love the people, and really, what you stand for and how you saw this as an opportunity to do something more important and bigger for both veterans and the community at large.”

In addition to the 50 percent veterans housing preference, more than 10 percent of Terwilliger Place’s units are reserved for households earning 30 percent of the area median income.

The building is named for the parents of real estate developer Ron Terwilliger, who donated $1.5 million to the $80 million project.

In a video produced by APAH, interior designer Kia Weatherspoon said the design process involved “reimagining, specifically on the Post 139 side, how can the new post home be a haven and a place for the next generation of veterans who are a lot younger than traditional post members of the past?”

Romano said plans for the post, which officially opens in January 2023, include offices for the Virginia Department of Veterans Affairs and George Mason University law school, both of which will provide free advice to all veterans.

“That itself is going to draw veterans in, and hopefully we’ll get a sign-up,” Romano said. He added that any veterans living in the building will get their first year of Legion membership provided by Post 139.

An alternative therapy for treating PTSD

Former Army Ranger Jonathan Wechter shares his journey of healing from trauma as The American Legion Tango Alpha Lima podcast concludes its series of episodes related to PTSD and veteran suicide.

Wechter is a fitness and nutrition coach, bodybuilder, power lifter and marathon runner. After leaving the Army, Wechter worked as a contractor overseas and dedicated himself to studying during his downtime.

“My whole approach was to be able to coach someone on different avenues,” said Wechter, who also does ultra marathons and triathlons. “A lot of people just need accountability. It’s just about motivating them and getting them into consistency.”

Wechter also addresses using psychedelics for mental health wellness.

“I’m not a shaman, this is just from my experience,” he said. “Fitness is very good for your mental health but it is only going to get you so far. A lot of veterans have demons buried down below. And they are battling that, especially those from the GWOT war (Global War on Terrorism). Psychedelics put you on another state of consciousness. They correlate different parts of your brain that aren’t normally correlated together.”

Wechter says that state helps the user ponder and deal with their issues. “They just become a lot more rational and easier to face. I just like to push (the idea that) you have the answers within you. You don’t need psychedelics to do that but it helps with the meditation.”

Psychedelics are among many options. In fact, The American Legion National Executive Committee appointed the TBI-PTSD Committee to look into alternative therapies for treating the ailments in a 2015 resolution.

“What works for me doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you,” Wechter pointed out. “Just because psychedelics worked for me, doesn’t mean they will work for anybody else.”

Earlier episodes in this series included:

• A conversation with Dr. David Rudd, a psychologist with the Army’s 2nd Armored Division during the Gulf War, who has been studying post-traumatic stress disorder for decades. In this episode, he discusses current research, Be the One and more.

• Members from American Legion Post 539 in New Bern, N.C., which demonstrates how it can Be the One in numerous ways, including its annual March for the 22 fundraiser. In this episode, Post 539 Commander Liz Hartman and member Adin Colon talk about how they have grown the annual Veterans Day event.

Last week’s episode welcomed Concussion Legacy Foundation founder and CEO Chris Nowinski and retired Navy Commander Daryl Adamson for a somber look into the relationship between head injuries, PTSD and suicide. The foundation provides a vital link to improving research into PTSD while Adamson is the father of a Marine who died by suicide.

While this week’s episode concludes this month’s series dedicated to Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, the podcast will continue to feature guests and news items related to this topic going forward.

Currently, there are more than 140 Tango Alpha Lima episodes all available in both audio and video formats here. You can also download episodes on iTunes, Google Play or other major podcast-hosting sites. The video version is available at the Legion’s YouTube channel.

New York state commander promotes drive-by membership 

When 2022-23 American Legion Department of New York Commander Dave Riley had his personal vehicle wrapped with the Legion emblem, brandmark and six branches of service to include Space Force, Riley added an additional feature – a membership QR code.

The membership QR code is on the back of his vehicle. When someone scans it, they are taken to the Department of New York’s join page.

“All the younger veterans, everything is by their phones,” Riley said. “They are going to scan it just to see what it is. It’s the curiosity. Now, they can just scan the back of my car and join.”

No verbiage such as “Join now!” appears on the QR code. Riley did that for a reason.

When veterans “see The American Legion vehicle (QR code), I wanted them to be curious to scan it. I wanted the curiosity of the QR code to get them to scan it and see what it was. They are going to scan it just to see what it is. They scan everything for the information.”

The QR code was created at no cost by Department of New York Media and Communications Chairman Bob Stronach, who made it black and white so it can be sized to fit on a variety of membership marketing tools – email, pamphlets and business cards. Riley currently has the Legion application on the back of his business card but is looking forward to having the membership QR code there one day.

“The QR code is a lot easier and more efficient,” Riley said. “They can fill out an application online while you’re talking to them.” Once veterans are directed to the join page through the QR code, “they can put their credit card in right then and there. I don’t have to worry about (asking for or handling) any money. They can join then and there.”  Once a new member joins, they are placed in the department’s holding post.  

Riley said holding post members will be contacted for renewal purposes and to place them in a local post.

“Only time will tell to see what we get from membership off of it,” Riley said. “If I get one person to sign up through the QR code, I’m 100 percent ahead of myself. It’s just another membership tool in the toolbox.”

 

 

Five Things to Know, Sept. 26, 2022

1.   An overnight drone strike near the Ukrainian port of Odesa sparked a massive fire and explosion, the military said Monday, as Russia’s leadership faced growing resistance to its efforts to call up hundreds of thousands of men to fight in Ukraine. It came hours after the United States vowed to take decisive action and promised “catastrophic consequences” if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine. 

2.   The U.S. Army dispatched long-range artillerymen to Latvia on Monday for national combat readiness drills alongside local and allied forces, service officials said. U.S. Army Europe and Africa said it deployed two M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems with a dozen personnel to the Baltic nation, where security concerns have grown following Russia’s full-fledged invasion of Ukraine in February.

3.   Two U.S. military veterans who disappeared three months ago while fighting with Ukrainian forces against Russia arrived home to Alabama on Saturday, greeted by hugs, cheers and tears of joy at the state's main airport.

4.   North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile near its northwestern border Sunday morning, its 18th round of missile tests so far this year, according to South Korea’s military. The missile was launched around 6:53 a.m. from North Pyongan Province, north of the capital city of Pyongyang, the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a text message to reporters.

5.   Wearing a camo baseball cap and holding a fishing rod, while seated in a pink chair at the edge of Great Hollow Lake Saturday morning, a smile crept across three-year-old Daniella Aleman’s face when she felt a wiggle at the end of her fishing line. The 3rd District of the American Legion’s second annual Children’s Fishing Derby was in full swing.

Eight tips to injury prevention

Whether you’re a fitness beginner or a gym rat, injuries are a bummer. Often, though, they are preventable. Here are my tips for avoiding injuries during exercise:

Warm up. Jumping right into an activity is the fastest and most common way to injure yourself. Cold muscles are less elastic and more susceptible to pulling and tearing, which can end a workout. Take five to 15 minutes before exercising to do a dynamic warmup, meaning you keep the body moving by walking and performing active (not static) stretches. Static stretching is meant for post-workout, after muscles are warm.

Pace yourself. Train with the body you have, not the body you want. Aim for improvement, but don’t attempt something that is clearly beyond your level. Easing yourself into higher-intensity workouts will be far more beneficial than starting with something too challenging, injuring yourself and then having to take time off to recover.

Mix things up. Doing a variety of exercises can boost your training. Over time, our bodies adapt to repetitive movements, which can lead to injury when we attempt something our muscles aren’t prepared for. Taking a balanced approach to fitness leads to overall improved strength.

Use proper technique. Take the time to learn how to properly perform an exercise, especially in weightlifting. If you’re new to something, learn good form and seek a fitness professional for help. Improper form can cause serious injuries that can halt your progress, even causing long-term injuries.

Hydrate. Dehydration hinders your workout and risks creating a more serious issue. Your body loses lots of fluids and electrolytes through sweating, so be sure to replenish them. Sip from a water bottle before, during and after exercise.

Wear the right shoes. A leading cause of sports injuries is wearing ill-fitted attire for your sport. Research the right type of shoes for your activity. For example, don’t wear running shoes for weightlifting or basketball shoes for long-distance running or walking.

Rest. Rest days allow your body to recover and regenerate, allowing muscles to rebuild. A rest day for every three to five workout days is generally advised. Pushing through on days when you’re worn down may do more harm than good. You’re better off taking an extra rest day to prevent overtraining injuries. A rest day does not necessarily mean no activity. A walk, yoga routine or easy bike ride are good ways to keep the body moving and burning calories.

Listen to your body. It’s great to get out of your comfort zone, but if something hurts, stop. Pain might indicate you are doing the workout wrong or that you’re not ready for that type of activity yet. Learn to recognize the difference between workout “pain” from a challenge versus pain from a genuine injury.

Army veteran Jennifer Campbell is a certified personal trainer with a master’s degree in nutrition education. She is commander of the California American Legion’s 24th District.

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