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Social fitness key to everyday happiness

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- In the age of text messages, Facebook and instant messaging, being "social" has taken on a new meaning.

However, Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Trottier, 21st Space Wing command chief, said that, unless you're sending a text asking to meet up face-to-face, communicating electronically isn't socializing at all.

During the second quarter of this year, the Air Force is focusing on the social pillar of the Comprehensive Airman Fitness program.

"The social pillar is just being out with others. It's not locking yourself away in your room or your house," Trottier said.

Sometimes work is social time, Trottier said. Sometimes after a day at work, it's more appealing to go home, sit in front of the TV, and tune out. But sometimes being around others is rejuvenating. "Sometimes when you're around people, you draw off them, their energy and their vibe, and it makes you feel good," he said.

There are organizations across the base that offer different services to make sure Airmen and their families are taken care of during their free time.

According to Michelle Peterson, Outdoor Recreation program coordinator, Outdoor Rec offers numerous seasonal outdoor adventures for families and for adrenaline junkies including white water rafting, camping, rock climbing, hiking and skiing.

"We like to give (everyone) an opportunity to meet other people who have interests the same as theirs," Peterson said.

Outdoor Rec adventures do more for Airmen than provide them with a fun outing. "It builds your self esteem and the self esteem of those around you," Peterson said. "You create trust with other people that you might not have ever known before and all of a sudden you're in a situation where you need to trust them. Being able to learn how to trust somebody that quickly is a skill that everybody should (have)."

The base chapel also offers a variety of groups and activities for people with a variety of beliefs and interests including Protestant programs, Catholic programs, groups for young adults, a single parents group, Mothers of Pre-schoolers, a monthly spaghetti dinner, and different retreats throughout the year.

"Churches, whether on base or in the community, are a great way to meet people with similar beliefs. The church community does a lot for our Airmen," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Tim Porter.

According to Porter, chapel activities are open to, and attended by, people across the base regardless of spiritual beliefs.

The chapel also sponsors the Eclipse Cyber Café on the first floor of Discovery Hall. The café offers lattes and Italian sodas, game consoles, internet access, and a comfortable place for Airmen in the dorms to hang out or study.

It's important, Trottier said, especially for Airmen living in the dorms, to not keep a wall up around them socially. "You can't be afraid to talk to the people around you, find out what kind of interests you might share," he said.

Physical fitness is easy to measure, but it can be hard to tell if you're getting enough social interaction. Different individuals need different amounts of social time in their day.

Porter says one way social fitness can be gauged is by evaluating what kind of support system a person has. "If you've got people you can go to when things get hard, then socially, I think you're in pretty good shape," he said.

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