Ladies and Gentlemen: Start your engines! As the whole town of Indianapolis gears up for the Indy 500, you can test out your endurance abilities with this 500 workout!
Start by completing the following exercises for the designated amounts of time. At the end, you will have completed 500 seconds of strength exercises! Choose weights that are light to moderately heavy, because you will be doing most of these exercises for a full minute.
- Basic squats: 60 seconds
- Rows: 60 seconds
- Alternating lunges: 60 seconds
- Chest press: 60 seconds
- Crunches: 60 seconds
- Alternating shoulder press: 60 seconds
- Hammer curls: 60 seconds
- Wall sit: 60 seconds
- Plank: 20 seconds
Finish with a 500-second (8 minutes, 20 seconds) run around the track! Take “pit stops” when you need to by walking for 30 seconds or stopping for a quick water break.
After you’ve made it to the finish line of your workout, make sure to refuel with more water and a healthy snack, like a banana with peanut butter or whole wheat crackers and string cheese!
In part 1 of this blog, I went on a bit about the dangers of sitting and then began to describe NIFS’s Fit-It-In program offered by Kathy, one of our managers at a client site. We’re proud to share that Kathy’s initiative, a collaboration with her client, was a large part of the reason her client was able to win the American Heart Association’s Fit-Friendly Company Platinum Designation and the Workplace Innovation Award in 2013.
Fit-It-In was conceived to help her associates combat sitting disease. While the program itself is creative and well thought out, the most compelling element (and probably the single biggest contributor to the program’s success) was Kathy’s effective outreach to mid-level managers for their support of the initiative.
We knew Kathy was successful at achieving supervisor support when we got this data back from a participant survey: The pre-program survey revealed that 70% of associates felt they had the support of their immediate supervisor to participate in programs that would improve their health; however, by the end of the program that number had improved to 96%.
Below I outline some of the key elements of Fit-It-In as well as some important lessons learned. I also share the compelling data that screams “effective employee health program.”
Bringing Fit-It-In to the Masses
After Kathy garnered the support she needed from executive leadership and mid-level managers at her client location, she set about launching Fit-It-In. With the help of the wellness team at her site, she was able to purchase a fitness band with handles for each associate in that office. Then she started educating the masses on how to use their new band. Through one-on-one meetings in the fitness center, speaking at department meetings, hosting exercise breaks (“flash mobs”), and providing handouts and other literature (which was regularly changed and updated throughout the program) in strategic areas of the building, she was able to reach most of the associate audience more than one time.
Following an educational blitz, Kathy continued her efforts to be routinely visible for the associates both in the client’s onsite fitness center promoting short, 15-minute workouts, and at department meetings. She facilitated stretch breaks, walking groups, and other simple opportunities for associates to infuse some physical activity into their otherwise sedentary day.
Capturing Health Promotion Success in Numbers
If you read part 1 of this blog, you’ll recall that I described this program as “conceptually simple.” It is. The elements I’ve mentioned are the types of services being offered by corporate health professionals all over the country on a regular basis. What is unique about Fit-It-In is the level of managerial support Kathy garnered as well as the rigorous data she kept throughout the program.
Kathy started with a pre-program survey that captured information such as this:
- How many hours per day are you sedentary?
- Have you maintained consistent workouts in the past month?
- Do you feel that you have the support of your manager to maintain your health through amenities and services available at work?
As the program progressed, she surveyed associates monthly to find out if they were participating in Fit-It-In activities, and if so, how often they were engaging in specific elements of the program. Here’s what we learned:
- Within the first four months of launching Fit-It-In, the percentage of associates participating in any activity over the course of the month increased 34%.
- The percentage of associates who completed the Fit-It-In band exercises at their desks three to four days per week increased 42%.
- In the first four months of the program, 33% more associates were walking at work at least five times per week.
The data goes on, and on, and on. As I said, Kathy surveys participants monthly to track progress and to continually evaluate opportunities to fine-tune and improve the program.
Program Costs and Lessons Learned
It’s important to note that while this was an uncomplicated program, it wasn’t free. I’ve outlined basic program costs here:
- Fitness band for 600 associates @ $5/band = $3,000
- Monthly prize @ $200 per prize = $2,400
- Monthly stairwell challenge @ $50 per month = $300
- Presentation board, prepping walking routes, and other miscellaneous supplies = $200
- Estimated 12-month total = $5,900
Every well-executed program comes with some lessons learned. When I talked to Kathy about this, here’s what she told me:
- Providing associates with multiple quick exercise/activities, not just one option, was integral to reaching the needs of a varied workforce. Some activities, like the fitness band use and stairwell challenges, worked well for call center associates, while outdoor and indoor walking routes were popular for those who could take more time.
- We can’t say it enough: middle management buy-in is essential to changing culture. Without the rally meeting sponsored by human resources where management could hear Kathy make the case for the importance of this initiative and provide their feedback, she would not have had the success we saw with the year-long offering.
- One key subtle difference between this program and others like it is that Kathy incentivized associates reporting their activity instead of offering prizes for completing the activity. Ongoing self reporting required associates to log into a survey tool and answer questions. By doing so each month, they were eligible for a valuable (typically around $200) monthly prize drawing.
Contact us to learn more about this program or the other services NIFS provides to our clients. If you’re looking for key strategies to engage your workforce, check out our whitepaper on the topic.
We work on a lot of build/design projects in retirement communities where the project is either new construction for a new community, or the plan is part of a repositioning that includes enhanced wellness spaces and services. I’ve got two communities on my desk currently where we’re helping to map out their fitness center and related spaces.
If you follow industry trends, you see it all the time in press releases, RSS feeds and other media avenues: ground breakings for projects that include a state-of-the-art wellness wing, indoor/outdoor pool complex, etc. Communities are getting serious about folding resident wellness into their broader business strategy to remain viable in the market.
Over my years at NIFS, I’ve had the pleasure of working on more than 20 different types of fitness center builds. As you can imagine, I’ve learned quite a bit along the way. Below are my top five recommendations (in random order) on pitfalls to avoid during your design journey.
#5 – Don’t let your design team talk you out of consulting with an expert who is used to programming fitness spaces.
You should rely 100% on your architectural team to provide all the elements of the space that speak to code, compliance, overall flow and esthetics as those elements relate to the broader project goal. But it’s not reasonable to expect them to understand how your personal trainers and fitness manager will work with your residents in the space. Unless your architect had a previous career managing a fitness center for an active older adult audience, my hunch (based on my experience) is that he might miss some key elements in the design that would ultimately inhibit the end-user experience.
#4 –Don’t overlook the value of qualified management for your fitness areas.
There is nothing worse than pouring money into fabulous state-of-the-art digs than to have them sit idle after the grand opening. We know that senior living fitness centers are not an “if you build it they will come” proposition. Your resident audience will be expecting support to use the pool, fitness center, and other health-related spaces. Plan to hire a qualified manager who is dedicated to running this physical dimension of your wellness strategy. (Note – this is not the same as your fee-for-service personal trainer.) You’ll be glad you did.
#3 – Don’t assume that what you’re planning for today will fit you tomorrow.
If you follow #5 and #4 above, you’ll be quite pleased with how well-utilized the exercise programs are in your community. And it won’t be long before you need to add another treadmill, a mat table, or another piece of equipment. If you design with growth in mind, you’ll be able to do some subtle shifting of existing equipment to make new pieces fit. Similarly, if you anticipate that the space and services will quickly become wildly popular, you may need to add staffing. Planning for additional staff workspace is also essential.
#2 – Don’t get swept up by a sales pitch from an equipment vendor.
Exercise equipment comes in a lot of shapes and sizes – it is not one size fits all. Treadmills can vary widely on the marketplace in terms of features, cost, warranty, and ease of use. Do your homework (or hire someone to help you) and avoid being swayed by the sales pitches from equipment retailers. All of them will put together a layout for you at “no extra cost”. All of them will tell you they’ve been in the active aging market for decades. All of them will tell you that they have the best science behind their product. It’s a very buyer beware market.
#1 – Don’t get tunnel vision on what a quality fitness program (bricks and mortar + management) can do for your residents and the greater community.
Expand your vision of what’s possible in the space. If you can dream big on this project, you’ll be able to anticipate where the market is headed for resident wellness. Do you have an opportunity to capitalize on your local neighbors for some revenue by opening up your fitness center and services to the 55+ community who does not yet live on your campus? Can you see a path to combine therapy and wellness in your new space where the transition of care is seamless for your residents? How do you need to design the space to support these concepts as part of your future? Think about separate entrances, equipment, user privacy needs, data lines and medical records storage. What has to be in place for your dream space to become a reality and potentially a new best practice in resident fitness programming?
It can be both exciting and daunting to embark on a substantial construction project. Getting the right stakeholders to the design table early will help you carefully navigate some of the common pitfalls I noted above. If you’ve “been there” and “done that”, share your tips below. If you’re about to embark on this kind of project and you’d like to learn more about the key elements of fitness center design, join us for our free webinar, “Build a Better Fitness Center. Click here to find out more about that event as well as the rest of our webinars in NIFS Build Vitality webinar series.
NIFS was thrilled to begin fitness management services at two new retirement community client sites in April. Furthermore, we were honored to be able to tailor our staffing services for the unique needs of each location. Community fitness and wellness programs can’t be addressed with a cookie-cutter approach. Read on to learn how NIFS is supporting the unique needs of each location and their residents.
Peabody: 20-Hour-per-Week Fitness Manager
Peabody is a CCRC in North Manchester, Indiana. Although Peabody did not have a fitness center for its residents until the grand opening of the brand new Billie Jean Strauss Wellness Center in April, NIFS has been supporting this community since early 2012 through consulting and equipment recommendations. NIFS provided recommendations for the fitness center and aerobics studio, including everything from treadmills to strength equipment to balance-training tools and space layouts. When the build was complete, NIFS was able to support the equipment installation and helped the community prepare for the grand opening celebration.
Because Peabody residents are not accustomed to exercising in an onsite fitness center or having group fitness class options in an aerobics studio, the community began staffing services at 20 hours per week with a NIFS Fitness Manager. As NIFS’s best-in-class fitness programming sparks resident engagement and enthusiasm, they anticipate growing the manager position to full-time to add more opportunities and services for residents. So far the launch of the program has been a great success and residents have been very eager to learn about the new equipment and program. NIFS is excited to expand the possibilities for Peabody residents and grow with the community.
Sandhill Cove: 40 Hour-per-Week Wellness Director
Sandhill Cove is a CCRC in Palm City, Florida. The community has a fitness center, pool, and contracted group fitness and personal training services. NIFS visited the community for a consulting arrangement in the fall of 2012 and provided a variety of recommendations to unify their program offerings in creating a stronger wellness brand. Following those recommendations, community leadership felt that NIFS could best lead this movement for the community and began staffing services with a full-time NIFS Waterfront Wellness Director.
The community had strong elements of a wellness program in place for its residents. The Wellness Director will be leading the initiative at the community and helping to pull in the various programs, services, and personnel under a unified vision for the program. In addition, the Wellness Director will be providing NIFS’s traditional best-in-class fitness programming and management services.
NIFS launched at the community in early April and we are thrilled with the progress made with increasing resident awareness of new and existing services available at the community and with the turnout at the Waterfront Wellness Open House. Residents received a passport to guide them on a tour of different booths. The booths highlighted different programs and service offerings around the community and educated participants on the different dimensions of wellness. Eighty-nine percent of residents who participated in the event submitted a completed passport indicating that they visited every booth. This was a great first step in helping residents identify the various programs and service offerings available at Sandhill Cove under the Waterfront Wellness Program.
In celebration of National Employee Health and Fitness Month, be a healthy trendsetter in your company by inviting a co-worker to join you for a workout at your corporate fitness center! Not only will working in a group help keep you motivated, you can push each other to strive for a better workout. Here are some ideas that are featured in this video for partner exercises that are great for any level of fitness!
- Partner squat with med ball toss
- Partner sit-ups with med ball pass
- Partner plank w/ high five
- Partner band core twist
- Partner band rows
Your workouts don't have to be stressful. If you find you struggle with fitting exercise into your routine, take ten minutes at a time to go for a walk, stand up at your desk to stretch, perform exercises at your desk, anything that can help you FIT IT IN to your schedule.
Stop reading... Get up and Move!
Talk to your corporate fitness staff about Deskercise and how you can fit exercise into your routine from your desk!
We sit. Frankly, we sit a lot. We sit at home, we sit on our commutes, we sit at work, we sit during our child’s after-school activities. Sit, sit, sit. And it’s not doing us any favors, either. In fact, recent startling statistics indicate that sitting may be a significant threat to our overall wellbeing.
Before you write this off as one of those “it can’t be that bad” indicators, consider these statistics. There are even more (if you need more convincing) in this compelling infographic.
- Sitting six hours a day increases your risk of death by 40% over someone who sits less than three hours.
- Between 1980 and 2000, exercise rates remained the same, but sitting time increased 8% and obesity doubled.
- People with sitting jobs have twice the rate of cardiovascular disease as people who stand for work.
And to those of you who say that sitting disease is really a problem only for people who don’t work out, think again. Data shows that prolonged sitting can negate some of the benefits you receive from regular exercise. Let me just say it one more time: How often we sit is a problem.
NIFS’s Fit-It-In Gets Results in Combating Sitting
So there it is: sitting is our great nemesis. If you’ve been wracking your brain for strategies that actually combat the gravitational pull to a chair, look no further. Below is an outline for one of NIFS’s award-winning programs, Fit-It-In, with real results that can be implemented in any worksite health setting.
But before I get into program specifics, I need to say that if you don’t have built-in strategies for evaluating your programs, you’ll want to be sure you establish that basic infrastructure in order to determine whether your efforts at combating sitting disease are actually working. For more on how NIFS evaluates our programs, read this blog. After all, without effective evaluation strategies, you can’t get fantastic data like this: Before Fit-It-In started, 100% of associates polled indicated they were sedentary at least four hours per day. By the end of the program, only 8% of associates polled indicated that they were sedentary four or more hours per day.
In the Beginning
This conceptually simple and highly effective program, called Fit-It-In, is the brainchild of one of NIFS’s managers, Kathy Douglas. Kathy manages a corporate fitness center for NIFS at a client where there is a lot of sitting. She, like most of us in worksite health promotion, had been following the news coming out in the last few years about the dangers of sitting and felt compelled to address this for the associates she serves.
She knew that if she could just get them into the fitness center, she could help them, even with small breaks in the day, to feel better and to gradually improve their health. But she was up against (1) individual inertia, and (2) a corporate culture for productivity that kept associates in their seats.
After much research, discussion with leadership at her client location, and careful outlining of the program’s goals and objectives, she launched Fit-It-In. The primary goal of the program was to help improve associate health and engagement by providing them with an efficient and convenient method of fitting in more physical activity throughout their workday.
Fighting Inertia to Improve Employee Health
Kathy knew she had a lot of work to do to reach the 500+ associates at her location with a message about moving more, and she was certain that focusing on getting them into the fitness center was going to be met with significant resistance. So she brought exercise to the associates and incorporated a variety of simple opportunities/events through which associates could engage in movement-oriented activities without having to truly work out.
Program features included the following:
- Fitness bands to all associates
- Online workout and stretching documents
- Indoor and outdoor walking routes
- Motivational stairwell challenges
- Fitness band exercise challenge of the month
- “15-2-Fit” 15-minute workout cards available in the fitness center
- 5-Minute Flash Mob fitness band exercise events
- “YES You Can―Fit-It-In” informational kiosk
- Monthly grand-prize drawing
Pretty great list of services in the initiative, right? Well, here’s the thing: Kathy knew (she’s been with this client for five years) that unless she was able to get support from mid-level managers, this initiative would flop, no matter how creative, relevant, simple, or potentially impactful it was.
Engaging Managers to Support Employee Exercise
Truly, this is what sets this program apart from others. Kathy spent a significant amount of front-end time with managers in the organization talking with them about Fit-It-In: how it would benefit their productivity goals as well as the health of their department members. She also sought buy-in from the executive leadership in her location so that the mid-level managers would know they had the support they needed to get Fit-It-In off the ground in their division.
Easy enough. On to the next steps, right? Unfortunately, it took a lot of effort on Kathy’s part to overcome managers’ resistance to allowing their employees to move for five minutes during a meeting, or at each hourly bell. There were significant concerns in some areas about productivity and department goals being compromised because employees would not be 100% focused on work 100% of the time.
It’s a common hurdle, but it’s not commonly overcome. Kathy was able to gain a lot of traction with these supervisors by presenting Fit-It-In jointly with Human Resources. She engaged the managers in conversation at the end of the presentation to listen to their concerns and other feedback. Kathy added elements to the initiative in response to those discussions and ultimately was able to remove most of the identified barriers to generate a win-win message.
If you want to read about how Kathy was able to go from 100% of associates reporting that they were sedentary for four or more hours to just 8% indicating that they were sedentary for four or more hours each day, you won’t want to miss part 2 of this blog. We’ll dig into the data, as well as offer an overview on how the program was implemented. I’ll also outline some of our key lessons learned.
One of the most overlooked factors of physical fitness is balance. This is especially important for the senior population, but balance is something every age group should think about. Balance is important in order to remain upright and steady when sitting up, standing, and walking. We utilize balance constantly in our daily routines without even thinking about it.
Completing balance exercises will result in fewer injuries and improved stability with age, and that will keep individuals stronger and independent for a longer time period. Improving balance does not have to take large amounts of time out of your day. The following exercises will reduce your base of support and challenge your stability in various ways.
- Knee raise and extension: From a seated position, raise your knee and then slowly kick, or extend your leg out straight. This exercise works your upper thigh and hip muscles. These are both important muscle groups for stability. This exercise can be done anytime while seated. For example, do this exercise during a commercial break while watching your favorite TV show.
- Walk heel-to-toe: Place one foot directly in front of the other foot while walking. This exercise can be done at home when walking down a hallway or near a table or counter so that you have something to grab onto if necessary. For example, do this exercise while walking from your living room to your bedroom at night.
- Stand on one foot: While standing, lift one leg off of the ground. After holding for 30 seconds, switch feet. This exercise can be done anywhere when you are just standing still. Be sure to keep something stable close in case you need to grab it for extra support. For example, do this exercise at home while standing at the kitchen sink.
- Chair stands: This is a sit-to-stand exercise. Move to the edge of your seat, place your arms across your chest, and then push through your heels to stand up out of the chair. This exercise will help strengthen lower-body muscles that are important for mobility and stability. This exercise will be most beneficial if you focus on using only your legs to get up out of the chair (try not to push yourself up with your arms). For example, do this exercise during a TV commercial break a few times to improve lower-body strength.
- Tandem and semi-tandem stance: Stand with one foot directly in front of the other, or stand with one foot slightly in front of and off to the side of the other foot. Do this exercise for 30 seconds, and then switch the foot you have forward. This exercise can be done anywhere you are standing still. For example, do this exercise while waiting in line at the grocery store. Keep your shopping cart in front of you in case you need some extra support.
Try doing these exercises throughout your day to work on improving your balance and stability. If you need to start out holding onto something while doing these exercises, that is okay. The more you do the exercises, the easier they will become. As the exercises become easier, you can further challenge your balance by closing your eyes. I hope you find these exercises simple, beneficial, and enjoyable!
Close out the week with a simple workout that will not only work the muscles, but test your balance. We’ve probably all heard that balance becomes increasingly important as we age to help prevent falls and loss of coordination. But, it’s never too early to start working to improve your balance! Some easy tips to instantly challenge your balance are to stand or sit on an unstable surface (i.e. a BOSU or stability ball), try performing an exercise standing on one leg only, or try closing your eyes—taking away the sense of sight will increase the rest of the body’s proprioception. Try the following exercises to add in an element of instability to your regular strength training moves.
1. Lunge w/ medicine ball chop (hi to lo)
2. Stability ball plank
3. 1-leg overhead shoulder press
4. 1-leg squat on box
5. BOSU bicep curls
6. BOSU mountain climbers
Currently one-third of Americans believe they should be cutting down on gluten in their diet (based on research from NPD Group, a market research firm). However, is going gluten free the answer for everyone?
Eliminating Gluten for Celiac Disease
Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye, and barley. For some individuals who are afflicted with celiac disease (about 1 percent of the population), this means their small intestine becomes inflamed when they eat these foods, which can lead to abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, lactose intolerance, joint pain, migraines, and many other symptoms. For them, eliminating gluten in their diet is key to alleviating these ailments. Currently this is the only cure for the disease.
Other individuals might be experiencing gluten intolerance. This means they do not test positive for the disease but could still suffer from some of the symptoms associated with celiac disease. For this population, gluten elimination is an option also, but this is not the same condition as celiac disease.
Gluten-Free and Weight Loss
A growing number of people have been eliminating gluten due to the promise of weight loss on this diet. The reason for the weight loss is due to the removal of a lot of products that are typically high in calories such as baked goods, bread, and pasta. The elimination of gluten does cut down dramatically on the number of calories that a typical person might consume in a day.
However, when eliminating these grains, individuals could potentially decrease the fiber in their diet, which we know is a necessity for Americans to help control weight and decrease the risk for heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Also, if people are substituting gluten-free products, they are typically just as high in calories, fat, and sugar as the regular counterparts, so weight loss is not always a guarantee. In addition, these products normally cost two to three times as much.
Alternatives to Going Completely Gluten Free
A gluten-free diet is very restrictive and can be extremely challenging to follow. Instead, focus on reducing the intake of foods containing gluten instead of eliminating them. Also, try to incorporate more foods that are naturally gluten free: fruits and vegetables!
There are many ways in which you can achieve a healthy lifestyle without restricting yourself and going on the gluten-free diet.
If you quietly answered yes to that question and then pulled your office door shut so no one would know you were reading this blog, it’s okay. Take a deep breath. You’re not the only one who has struggled with occupancy at one time or another.
Kudos to you for looking at alternative means to boost your occupancy. It’s true: wellness programming hasn’t been a traditional area for tackling occupancy issues. But as more and more communities get on board with providing a healthy lifestyle for their residents, a creative and well-executed resident wellness strategy will become essential for communities to compete in the marketplace.
That may be the future, but I don’t think it’s too far off. And positioning your community now with a standout fitness and wellness program for your residents will only build your competitive advantage.
If you’re looking for some baby steps to take to get you started, consider reviewing the National Whole-Person Wellness Survey available from Mather LifeWays for $15. The report is extensive and details various trends in community wellness, covering multiple dimensions as well as details about program participation and anticipated future trends in community wellness.
You can also register for the NIFS Build Vitality webinar series. In this free four-part webinar series, we cover wellness branding, fitness centers, wellness staffing, and wellness programs.
If this all seems like too much to bite off for now, watch the short video below to hear why senior living marketing professionals are convinced robust wellness programming is central to their occupancy success.