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Exchange puts some muscle in retired Soldiers' fitness and well-being

By Tom Shull, Director/CEO of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service

From my time in the Army, I know first-hand the importance fitness related to combat readiness plays in a Soldier's life. Although we are at a different stage of our journey, fitness still has an important role to play.

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is doing its part to ensure retired Soldiers have what they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In fact, the Exchange is rolling out special BE FIT sections in stores. These sections have the look and feel of a sporting goods store, with men's and women's athletic footwear and apparel together in one area.

Name brands that shoppers know and trust, such as Under Armour, Nike and Adidas, are prominently featured in the BE FIT areas. So far, 24 Exchanges have added the sections, including Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.; Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.; Fort Meade, Md.; and Fort Belvoir, Va. By the end of the year, 16 more Exchanges will see the sections. If you don't live near an installation, an assortment of Be Fit products can found at shopmyexchange.com.

For those who are near an installation and want to grab a bite to eat, I encourage you to stop by an Exchange food court or Express for plenty of smart choices. For example, Popeyes offers Exchange-exclusive items-a blackened chicken salad with 300 calories and a side salad with only 35 calories. The restaurant, which has more than 75 Exchange locations, also offers its Louisiana Live Well menu with 20 items, all 350 calories or less.

What's more, Exchange food court staples such as Subway, Boston Market, Taco Bell, Charley's, Manchu Wok, Starbucks, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Baskin-Robbins all offer low-calorie options.

Diners crave variety-and the Exchange is listening. This summer, the Exchange enlisted Freshens Fresh Food Studio to bring the restaurant to our food courts. The restaurant is known for health-conscious offerings such as salads, rice bowls, flatbreads, smoothies and yogurt. Locations and opening dates are being finalized, but the Exchange plans to open four Freshens restaurants within a year.

Retired Soldiers can also fill up on healthy choices at the Express. Snack Avenue offers fresh salads with less than 300 calories, chilled fruit cups and oatmeal. Coolers are stocked with wraps, salads, hard-boiled eggs, milk and other healthy grab-and-go items that make good-for-you snacking easy.

The next time you're on an installation, I invite you to drop by the main store and browse our fitness products. Or, grab a healthy bite to eat in the food court or a snack at the Express.

The Exchange was there while you served-and the team is looking out for your well-being now. It's an honor to continue to serve you and your families.

Tom Shull, a former infantry company commander, is the first civilian Director/CEO of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service. Before coming to the Exchange, he served on the National Security Council staff in the Reagan White House and served as CEO for several renowned retailers and consumer goods companies.