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!
The weather is warming up a little more each week, so that means it’s the season for swimsuits and tank tops! Even though many people exercise hard for the first half of the year to prepare for “swimsuit season,” many people tend to let their workouts take a vacation as well during the summer. Some easy ways to squeeze in exercise during the summer months are to take a walk outside, take the kids to a pool and play with them in the water, plan a vacation that involves activity such as hiking or canoeing, or walk or bike to your favorite restaurant instead of driving.
As you are getting those arms summer-ready, remember that when toning and shaping of muscles is the goal, strength exercises should be done in addition to a weekly cardio routine. Performing both cardio and strength exercises will help eliminate excess body fat while sculpting lean muscle. Here are some specific toning exercises for the shoulders, biceps and triceps that can be done anywhere. If you don’t own dumbbells at home or aren't able to make it to your corporate fitness center, you can use water bottles, cans or anything that can be easily held and is light-medium weight. Complete the following exercises striving for 10-15 repetitions, 2-3 sets.
1. Basic push-ups (on toes or knees)
2. Alternating lateral/frontal raise
3. Overhead tricep extension
4. Bicep curls
5. Shoulder press
Being in the fitness field, we hear excuse after excuse as to why people skip exercising. It’s not that we aren’t interested in your life and stressors, but we do not want you to feel obligated to explain yourself. Life happens, as any understanding person should know, and sometimes we just can’t do it all.
But don’t think you’re off the hook from exercising. The reasoning behind your skipping out is important. I always tell the apologetic exercisers that it’s okay to miss a day, as long as they weren’t sitting on the couch eating ice cream right out of the container or sulking in bed. However, if you were doing something along the lines of getting together with friends, cheering on your child at a ball game, volunteering in the community, or organizing and cleaning your home, missing a workout is not the end of the world.
There is much more to wellness than exercise and diet, and it is important to keep a balance between all of the components to ensure optimal health. Seven defined dimensions of wellness are integrated and work together to help create who we are. If one of them is out of balance, it can infringe on the other dimensions that contribute to creating a “whole you.”
Take some time to analyze the following dimensions in your life:
- Spiritual: The development of a strong sense of values, ethics, and morals. It is the feeling that there is meaning in life, which may or may not have a religious inference.
- Intellectual: The ability to effectively learn and use information for development. This dimension increases openness to new ideas and maintains creativity and curiosity.
- Environmental: The understanding of the impact of your interaction with nature and your personal environment, which will help improve the standard of living in the community.
- Social: The ability to feel connected and participate in your community and enhance your well-being through relationships with family, friends, and coworkers.
- Emotional: The ability to control stress and appropriately express yourself, leading to positive self-esteem and meeting life’s challenges.
- Occupational/Vocational: The ability to find and create a balance between work and play by matching your values with interests and utilizing talents in your world.
- Physical: The ability of the body to properly and effectively function by staying active and avoiding harmful habits in order to accept uniqueness and improve health.
As long as you are contributing to and feeding these other dimensions equally, there is no need to be overwhelmed with guilt for not hopping on an elliptical for 30 minutes. Be conscious of your decisions and don’t punish yourself for missing a workout, because exercise can quickly become a chore if we shift our mind in that direction. Feed your wellness with all dimensions, and if you are falling out of balance in your physical wellness, search for an activity you enjoy. Be active, be healthy, be you.
Don’t forget about the core muscles! The core helps to protect organs and keeps the torso strong enough to connect the upper body with the lower body. A strong core helps with balance and stability in everyday activities. Core strength also helps with all activities and sports. It’s very important for athletes to have strong core muscles. Strengthening the core muscles can help to relieve lower back pain/problems and increase good posture. Just like every other muscle group, our bodies need a good core workout on a regular basis. It doesn’t take long; you can get a full core workout in 15-20 minutes or less. I work at a corporate fitness center and teach multiple core classes a week. Try my workout below and let me know what you think! Form is very important, so view the video clip prior to starting for helpful tips.
- On back, hands underneath you supporting the lower back, legs straight in the air, feet together, lower legs pushing the lower back into the mat. Use the stomach muscles to lift the legs back up. Perform the exercise slow and controlled. 15 leg raises, then hold the legs just off the floor and hold for 15 seconds. Next, 6 little circles one direction keeping feet together. 6 circles the other direction, then finish with a 15 second hold again.
- Flip over to a center plank for 1 minute – on elbows & toes, shoulders above elbows, weight pushed back towards feet, keep hips low, body in a straight line, abs pulled in tight without holding breath.
- Modification can be done on knees instead of toes.
- Turn to a side plank for 1 minute – shoulders above each other, bottom hip up off the mat, feet on top of each other, abs in tight without holding breath.
- Modification can be done with bottom knee on the mat, still keeping bottom hip up high.
- Flip over to the other side for 1 minute – form is important so see details above or video clip!
- Back to a center plank (see video below) – lift one leg for 10 seconds, switch legs.
- Lift one leg out to the side (see video below) for 10 seconds, switch legs.
- Hold a perfect center plank for 30 seconds.
- Back to a side plank, but this time lift the top leg up for 15 seconds, then one leg lift to one truck rotation (see video below) for 45 seconds.
- Switch sides and repeat.
- Back to a center plank hold for 30 seconds.
- Relax on mat (on your stomach) for a few lower body exercises.
- One arm up, other down by side on the mat, use the lower back to lift the chest up & down off the mat. 15 reps. Switch arms and repeat 15 reps.
- Keep neck and shoulders relaxed, exhale when you lift, slow & controlled, always pause at the top to squeeze the lower back muscles. See video for a form check!
- Both arms and legs up & down. 10 reps, then hold for 10 seconds.
- Opposite arm & leg, lift and pause, then switch to the other arm & leg. 30 seconds.
- One arm out to side, other arm down by side on the mat, lift and rotate towards the arm that is straight out. See video. 10 reps then switch arms & sides and repeat 10 reps.
- Back up to a center plank hold for 30 seconds.
- Flip over to your back for bicycles (see video for form and modification) for 30 seconds.
- Not tired yet? Repeat the workout.
Not ready for this long of a core workout yet? It’s ok, start with a couple exercises and work your way up to completing it all. If you like the FREE WORKOUT FRIDAY, subscribe to our blog!
Do you need to improve your posture? Sit at a desk all day and not realize that you slouch? A lot of people focus on the front of their bodies and forget to work the back side. Go to your corporate fitness center to start strengthening your upper back muscles which will help to pull your shoulders up & back resulting in better poster. Strengthening the upper back can also help with back pain. A stronger back will produce stronger shoulders and shoulder joint, resulting in less risk for injuries. Now that I’ve got you thinking about your posture, sit up straight! I’ve got your “back” so try this upper back workout for an improved quality of life!
*Very important tip when performing upper back exercises is to make sure the shoulders are rolled back and use the upper back by squeezing the shoulder blades together instead of pulling with the arms (biceps). Always focus on lifting with the back, and not holding your breath! Your muscles need oxygen to get stronger so think about taking deep breaths throughout all workouts.
Traditional lat pulldowns – either with a lat pulldown machine or try a dual cable machine to mix it up a little. 12-15 reps, 2 sets
Assisted pull ups – using the upper back, pull up (squeeze), slow & controlled lower the body still using the upper back. 10 reps, 2 sets
Dumbbell row – pick a challenging weight in each hand, palms facing each other, weights out in front of thighs, knees slightly bent, slight bend forward at the waist, pull elbows up high behind you and squeeze the shoulder blades while you pause, then release the weights slowly back to starting position. 12-15 reps, 2 sets (Very important – do not bend in the spine, just slightly at the waist!)
Push up position row – this works the upper back and core at the same time. While in a push up position up on the toes (knees on mat for modification), keep the hips in line with body not up, weight in each hand, alternating sides pull the elbow up high, squeezing the shoulder blade, and try not to rotate your body. Focus on using the upper back and core muscles during this advanced exercise. 10-12 reps each side, 2 sets
Summer will be here before we know it, which means spending time outdoors and hotter temperatures. Men will be working outside or spending time at the pool, which usually means having their shirts off. And women will be wearing dresses and also spending time outdoors. It’s time to focus on our backs for strength and a better appearance. How do you get ready for summer?
It's that time for another season of candy! Actually, none of these candies would be considered healthy, but some of them are definitely better than others. Plus, with all things, it is important to keep in mind the importance of moderation, even when digging through your Easter basket. Here is a rundown of some of the most popular Easter candy choices and what you would have to do in order to burn them off.*
2 Dark Chocolate-Covered Peeps: 110 calories
How to burn it off: Walking for 30 minutes at 3 mph
4 Peeps: 128 calories
How to burn it off: Low-impact aerobics for 25 minutes
35 jelly beans: 140 calories
How to burn it off: Raking the lawn for 30 minutes
1 Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg: 180 calories
How to burn it off: Jumping jacks for 20 minutes
10 Cadbury Mini Eggs: 158 calories
How to burn it off: Ballroom dancing for 30 minutes
1 Cadbury Creme Egg: 150 calories
How to burn it off: Golfing while walking and pulling clubs for 30 minutes
7-oz. solid chocolate bunny: 1,100 calories
How to burn it off: Playing full-court basketball for 2 hours
6-oz. hollow chocolate bunny: 858 calories
How to burn it off: Running at a 10 min/mile pace for 90 minutes
*Calculations based on a 150-pound person.
Enjoy some of these once-a-year treats, but be aware that they should be included in an overall balanced diet. Try to make these goodies last much longer than just Easter Sunday!
When it comes to the kids, feel free to add some non-candy treats to your child’s Easter basket this year, such as a jump rope, plastic eggs filled with change, or a stuffed bunny. Make these items the focal point of the basket instead of the candy.
Arthritis. When you exercise, it hurts. When you don’t exercise, it hurts. This widespread issue is affecting people of all different ages and driving these arthritis sufferers right to the couch. It just hurts no matter what, so what should you do? Pick your battles.
I understand that it’s painful and can leave you hesitant to do anything to potentially worsen the ache, but doing nothing at all will certainly not help. In fact, it will make it worse. You cannot let arthritis get in the way of your quality of life.
I’ve spoken with people everywhere along the spectrum, from those in slight pain and avoiding any activity to those who are bone on bone but keep moving along. I am in no way recommending the “no pain, no gain” rule, but I am encouraging you to get active in order to increase the longevity of your joints.
For Arthritis, It’s Better to Stay Active than to “Baby” Your Joints
Your joints will love you so much more if you choose moving over “babying.” Don’t believe me? Check this out: Exercise strengthens the muscles surrounding that arthritic joint, which can reduce pain and improve the joint’s mechanics. It also compresses and releases cartilage, which brings oxygen to the joints.
So, now you’re looking at not only decreased pain and postponing surgery, but you’re also improving your overall health. Plus, if surgery is required, you will drastically speed your recovery. Is this starting to sound like a win-win?
Top 4 Exercise Types for Arthritis
Now you’re wondering, “But what exercises can I do?” There’s a plethora, but before I give you my list, I will tell you the most important factor: alignment, alignment, alignment! Please check with your senior fitness specialist to make sure you’re in a proper alignment while performing exercises. This helps minimize strain on the joints and will make a world of difference! After I correct my own clients’ alignment, they look at me like I’m a miracle worker. (Spoiler alert: I am not.)
Now, on to my list of the top 4 arthritis-friendly exercise modes:
- Low-impact cardio: These heart-happy exercises are easy on the joints and will burn a lot of calories. Popular machines for this include ellipticals, bicycles, and rowing machines.
- Aquatic exercise: Not a great swimmer? No problem! There’s a lot more that you can do in the water. It’s also very kind to your joints. The buoyancy reduces stress on the joints and spine, and provides resistance without equipment.
- Yoga: Yoga is an excellent way to strengthen and lengthen the body. Both are essential in improving alignment, which is critical in taking the strain and stress off of your joints. Try out a class before you pop in a DVD at home. That way, the instructor can see your position and guide you if needed.
- Tai chi: This traditional style of Chinese martial arts includes slow, controlled movements, which put little force on the joints, to improve balance, strength, and flexibility. Like yoga, try a class first to get some feedback from an instructor.
Learn more about arthritis and how to alleviate the symptoms by searching articles at Discovery Health and Lifescript.
Once you have learned basic strength moves separately and have mastered the form for each, consider trying a workout where you combine both a lower and upper body strength exercise into one. Combo exercises have many benefits, such as burning more calories and increasing your physical and mental coordination. They also allow you to pack more into a certain amount of time, making your workout thorough and efficient. On busy days, this can be a good way to squeeze your normal 40 minute workout into 20!
There are many ways you can combine separate, basic strength moves into a combo exercise: upper body paired with lower body, lower body plus core, two arm exercises combined, etc. Even combinations of more than two are possible, for example a squat with a bicep curl into a shoulder press. Get creative, as long as you are using proper form for all exercises. Here are five upper body/lower body combos to try today:
1. Squat w/ tree-hugger - placing a band behind your back (or ancor if possible), sit back into a squat while bringing your extended arms out in front of you as if you were hugging a tree.
2. Deadlift w/ upright row - maintain a straight back while performing the deadlift, as you return to standing position, perform an upright row leading with your elbows.
3. Step-up w/ bicep curl - stepping up onto a box or bench while performing a bicep curl, maintain proper form keeping knee in line with the ankle.
4. Backwards lunge w/ front raise - as you step back into a lunge simultaneously perform a front shoulder raise with manageable weight, strive to maintain proper form.
5. Shoulder press w/ leg extension - can be performed sitting or standing, if standing you will balance on one leg lifting the opposite knee. You will perform a shoulder press while simultaneously extending the lifted leg at the knee and lowering.
Take a 10 minute break today and work through these exercises for worksite wellness. Be sure to complete exercises on both sides where applicable.
The number-one challenge that the aging population faces is balance because the number-one concern is falling!
In order to maintain balance, you must balance your day to include balance exercises! A wise person once said, “Practicing balance doesn’t make perfect; practicing balance makes permanent!” Therefore, include specific balance exercise daily, incorporate them into your exercise routine, provide a variety of balance exercises, and do different ones daily to challenge your stability.
Start with the three goals of achieving better balance:
Goal 1: Establish a Routine.
What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning? You usually head to the bathroom, take a shower, brush your teeth, and so on. It’s a consistent routine. So is practicing balance! Find the time, whether it 's before or after exercising, after breakfast, or before bed. Schedule in a few balance exercises and make it part of your routine.
Goal 2: Think Before You Start.
Remember, all the exercises in the world will not do any good if you don’t follow these simple safety rules:
- Wear proper shoes. Your ankles and feet need good support. No sandals or fancy shoes!
- Utilize your strong muscles. Strengthen the muscles that support the body (especially the lower legs and ankles). So make sure your exercise routine includes strengthening these areas.
- A mirror is helpful. Look at yourself when you attempt to balance, check your posture, and note what your limitations (such as knee replacements or back issues) permit.
- Stand on good flooring. Do your exercises on stable and level ground. If one side is higher or more unsteady than the other, you will be the same.
- Use stable support. Make sure that there is a stable chair or counter available. As you practice, you will need an occasional support when you feel unsteady. The main goal is to prevent falling.
- Avoid fast movements and position changes. Slow down! Learn to turn and react with deliberate patience. Incorrect weight shifting is the number-one cause of falls. So when you go to move or turn, remember to be as cautious as possible. What’s the real hurry? Let your body catch up with your mind’s intent.
Goal 3: Practice Being Unsteady to Become Steadier.
Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Practicing exercises that force the body to feel unsteady actually helps the body become steadier. That being said, you should also continue to challenge the body. For example, if you’re capable of supporting yourself by raising both arms out and holding them for 10 seconds, next you can incorporate holding on with one hand and lifting one leg out to challenge yourself. Eventually and over time you can regain better balance.
This blog was written for NIFS by special guest writer Elizabeth Carrollton.
Joint pain is a very common problem, and keeping fit is one of the best ways to find reliable relief. For many of us, limiting activity might seem to make sense when a joint is achy. However, inactivity can make matters worse. In fact, inactivity is a leading cause of joint pain, causing weakness in muscles and bones that can lead to injuries and joint disorders like osteoarthritis.
So if your joints are getting a bit sore and stiff by the end of the day, exercise can help relieve the pain and ward off more serious troubles. Of course, it's important to see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment of injuries or joint problems before treating them with exercise.
1. How Exercise Helps Joint Pain
Keeping the muscles around injured joints strong is important in maintaining range of motion, joint function, and alignment, factors that can speed healing and recovery after injuries, as well as decreasing pain and stiffness. In joints affected by arthritis, regular exercise can increase joint support by improving the strength and tone of surrounding muscles, which can relieve daily pain and stiffness and slow the progress of this degenerative joint disorder. That's why physical therapy is typically used as part of the treatment plan for most joint injuries and chronic degenerative conditions.
2. Joint-Friendly Exercise
Moderate, weight-bearing exercise is the way to go when your goal is to relieve joint pain. Avoid high-impact exercise that rattles the joints in favor of more joint-friendly options, like walking, swimming, or bike riding. Yoga, Pilates, and tai chi are great choices as well, and have been shown in a number of studies to reduce joint pain and discomfort.
If you have been fairly sedentary, start slowly, working up to that optimal goal of at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. If you have severe joint pain or degeneration, physical therapy might be a good idea to ensure that you aren't putting yourself at risk for further joint injury. Besides, working with an expert who is knowledgeable about joint care and function will likely offer more effective relief than exercising on your own.
3. Why Taking Care of Joint Pain Properly Is Essential
Ignoring joint pain can give small issues or injuries a chance to develop into serious, long-term joint problems. Serious joint problems lead to more than 690,000 knee-replacement surgeries every year in the United States and more than 450,000 hip-replacement procedures. Although these surgeries can be a good option for people who have been disabled by joint conditions or injury, they are major surgery and should be considered a treatment of last resort.
Recovery can be a long and challenging process after joint replacement and complications can be an issue, as anyone affected by the recent hip implant recalls can tell you. Faulty metal-on-metal hip implants, used in thousands of procedures, caused metallosis in some patients, which is a complication related to metallic implant debris. Metallosis can cause intense pain and swelling in the hip as metallic particles collect in the soft tissues, and can eventually lead to tissue death, bone loss, and implant loosening or failure, making more surgery necessary.
Elizabeth Carrollton writes about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com.