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.
What are some challenges in developing group fitness classes for active older adults? One of the hardest things for me is that there is a wide variety in exercise knowledge and ability. For example, you might have someone who has never exercised a day in their life sitting next to someone who has been exercising in a gym for decades. Or, you may have someone in their middle 60s next to someone who is 85 with two knee replacements.
To overcome these challenges, make sure that you give both a progressive and regressive option for each exercise that you are teaching. Allow the individuals to experiment with what works for them. Each individual will choose how hard they want to make the exercise, but it is the instructor’s responsibility to ensure they are able to complete the exercise in a safe and effective manner for their varying ability levels. Encourage the participants to try new exercises, but also let people know that it’s okay to progress slowly over several weeks or months. The most important aspect is that they keep moving and have fun while feeling accomplished at an appropriate intensity level for their needs.
Use Visual and Verbal Cues
Each individual will learn in his or her own way. Make sure that you not only show them a visual demonstration but also use verbal cueing that may help them. At this age, some of your residents may not see well and others may not hear well. Pick out key words or moves that may help them remember from one class to the next.
Explain Why They Are Doing the Exercise
It is also important to educate senior fitness participants on why they are doing different exercises. Describe the reason for the exercise, the muscle group being worked, and how it should feel while performing the exercise. This can help participants become more in tune with their bodies and may help prevent injury if they develop improved body awareness.
For example when cueing upright rows, explain to the participants that the exercise can help improve their posture because it engages the muscles of the upper back and backside of their shoulders. As you cue them through the movements, explain how to engage the shoulder blades so they can specifically feel and identify where the muscles should be working if the exercise is being done correctly. For someone who does not have a good visual of the exercise being demonstrated, it may provide reassurance that they are performing the exercise correctly if your verbal cueing is matching up with what they are feeling.
The New Year often provides the fitness industry with a boom of customers hoping to hold true to their resolutions. Many of those resolutions often pertain to unrealistic weight-loss goals.
Older Adults Exercise for Different Reasons
While we still see a boost in participation at our retirement community fitness centers in the New Year, the resolutions are often for a different reason. Many older adults exercise to maintain a healthy weight or to try to lose weight, but they understand the value in physical activity beyond vanity. As a fitness professional, it is refreshing to serve the needs of older adults in retirement communities who understand the value of living a physically active lifestyle for their overall health and well-being.
When a physically active lifestyle is adopted for the wrong reasons, it can be more difficult to adhere to for the long term. This is likely why the surge in participation in January often trickles off in mid-February at commercial gyms. However, when older adults adopt a physically active lifestyle, particularly one that has been designed for their individual needs, the benefits of that program help them adhere.
Selling the Benefits of Exercise in Retirement Communities
In our retirement community fitness centers, our participation levels gain momentum as the year progresses, and we don’t see that drop in participation. This isn’t all that surprising. We hear feedback from residents stating they have more energy, less joint pain, improved sleep, an easier time performing ADLs, and more overall endurance.
Kick off a motivating incentive program in your retirement community fitness program in the New Year to recruit new residents to exercise and inspire existing participants. Getting the residents started is half the battle. The benefits of exercise can often sell the adherence component for you!
A leader is someone who can guide, direct, or show the way. Wouldn’t you hope the leaders in your life have had experience or are educated on whatever matter they are pressing?
Take a personal trainer, for instance. You probably want your personal trainer to have a degree in the field of exercise and possibly some certifications to go along with it. And once they have those degrees and certifications, you would hope they practice what they preach and actually exercise on a consistent basis.
What about your boss, manager, or supervisor? Perhaps they encourage exercise in the workplace to increase productivity and to boost energy around the office. As your supervisor, they are in turn your leader (at least in the office). As a leader, you look to them for counsel and guidance. If your supervisor eats fast food for lunch every day and takes numerous smoke breaks, and the only walking he gets is to the vending machine, chances are you’re not going to listen to him.
The point is that leadership has to start at the top. A leader is put in that position to inspire, to rally, and to command your allegiance. If a person cannot do this, he or she should not be in that position. However (and there’s always a however), you are also an individual. Even if your supervisor works out every day in the corporate fitness center, that will not help you prevent heart disease. It will not help you shed those unwanted pounds. And if your supervisor quits smoking, your lungs will not get stronger. It is up to you to make positive changes in your life.
In a sense, we are all leaders. We each have our own path and we each blaze our own trail. It is up to each and every one of us to lead by example. I leave you with a quote from Marianne Williamson (from Return to Love). I hope it speaks to you and you become the leader you strive to be.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
This blog was written by Jenna Pearson. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
Most people would agree that regular exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle, but how much of an impact does physical activity really have on one’s health and well-being?
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has been advocating exercise as medicine since 2008, and when you look at the statistics, the reasoning behind their now-famous Exercise is MedicineTM initiative becomes clear. Studies have shown that regular exercise does the following:
- Lowers the risk of stroke by 27 percent.
- Reduces the risk of developing type-2 diabetes by 58 percent.
- Reduces the incidence of high blood pressure by approximately 50 percent.
- Can reduce mortality and the risk of recurrent breast cancer by approximately 50 percent.
- Can lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60 percent.
- Can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by approximately 40 percent.
- Can decrease symptoms of depression as effectively as Prozac or behavioral therapy.
Newer research also suggests that certain exercise provides cognitive benefits. Specifically, exer-gaming may delay—or even prevent—dementia, and has been shown to improve cognitive function in normal aging. Such exer-games include CyberCycle by Expresso and Shadowboxer ACTIVE.
Exer-games are also beneficial to physical aspects of health, as they shift one’s attention from the sometimes monotonous mindset of exercise to the task at hand, allowing them to put forth greater effort. Exer-games may also be more enticing for those who are easily bored by traditional exercise, thus helping them to more easily commit to a regular exercise routine.
This blog was written by Lori Griffin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
“Exercise is boring…,” “I don’t have the time…,” or “I don’t know where to start” are words many have used as excuses at some point or another in regard to a fitness routine or lifestyle change. With the emergence of Slim It to Win It in 2011, NIFS sought to squash not one, but all three of those excuses. With the guidance of health and fitness professionals two hours a week, members teamed up to conquer fun, limit-pushing workouts.
After experiencing personal successes the first year, members anxiously awaited the return of Slim It to Win It, and the second run of the program proved to be life-changing once again. Slim It is a chance for people to step outside their comfort zones and into a new way of life. With a total weight loss of 635 pounds and 1.6 percent body fat lost on average, coaches and participants alike celebrated forming new exercise habits and breaking old eating habits.
Slim It Helps Participants Achieve New Fitness Levels
While the empirical evidence demonstrates the physical success, it is the individual stories that explain the true victories. Participants accomplished fitness feats they never thought possible. From kicking their walking pace up to a jog to finally tackling a box jump, participants used the team atmosphere as fuel in their quest to shed some weight.
Nutrition and Healthy Eating Benefits
Not only did Slim It provide stellar exercise sessions, the program also spurred participants toward healthier eating habits. One participant in particular completely shifted his mindset regarding food. Rather than look for convenience at the last minute during lunch breaks, he learned to plan ahead for healthier, more satisfying options. Another member lost 26 pounds in the 10 weeks and attests to a true change in her body composition. “I am wearing jeans I have not worn in months! Not only did the numbers on the scale change, but I can really see a difference in myself.”
The Fun of Working Out as a Group
In addition to encouraging participants to challenge their fitness boundaries and reset their food mentalities, the program also instills a unique camaraderie among team members. Members exchanged numbers and worked out together outside of the team time. Even as the program ends each year, participants still connect to keep up their fitness.
With Slim It, people discover the fun in working out as a group. For example, coaches encouraged participants to log into a calorie-tracking website and when teammates noticed it had been awhile since someone had tracked his or her food intake, teammates made it a point to razz the individual a bit to get back on track. Each year with Slim It, “teammates” quickly turns into strong friendships rooted in a common lifestyle.
A Lifetime of Fitness Results
At the start of Slim It to Win It, 155 people began a 10-week program that took each of them to a new health and fitness level. With the challenging and encouraging group atmosphere, participants conquered their weight-loss goals. Coaches worked to instill new habits so that weight-loss goals were not only achieved, but also maintained.
One member comments as to why he chose NIFS’s Slim It program two years in a row: “I’ve been able to maintain the weight loss. In the past the weight would reappear.” Combining raw statistics and personal success stories, it is safe to say Slim It to Win It creates a lifetime of results for NIFS members.
People always ask me, "what's your secret?" and I laugh and tell the it's no secret. Thanks to a huge lifestyle change and the wonderful support system of work buddies, friends, and The Body Shop (worksite fitness center) and it's staff (NIFS) I have lost almost 100 pounds, maybe more!
A couple of years ago, the girls I ate lunch with every day decided to lose weight. I had been down the path before and was not excited. I hadn't weighed myself in well over a year and had no intention of starting. Because my friends were doing it, and I didn't want to eat lunch alone, I gave a half hearted effort. I decided to stop drinking regular soda and participate in whatever physical activity they did. And that is exactly what I did, and miraculously my clothes started getting bigger. We were just walking on the treadmill or outside at our lunch time and giving up soda and I could see results.
As the initial loss, whatever it was, had slowed because the changes I made were only mild, and as I saw my friends who were already participating in Weight Watchers begin to lose more rapidly, I wanted to make bigger changes too. So I had to finally weigh myself. By this time, I had started at a size 24 and was now in a 22, and some 20's, but still hadn't stepped on a scale. When I finally did I weighed 238 lbs. I cried the entire day, and thought how did I let myself go this far? And so I began to count calories, and changing everything about my life. Eventually through regular physical activity, tracking what I ate and counting calories, I have made huge changes. It's still a struggle every single day, but when I fall off the wagon, I started again immediately and you know what, the struggle is worth it. I have zero health issues and I can keep up with my kids. I look like a different person and I feel like a different person, a happier, much healthier person.
Do you have a support system at work to motivate each other to reach your weight loss and health goals?
This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
The fact that exercise is beneficial for your health is common knowledge these days. It would be hard to find someone to say that he or she shouldn’t exercise. The problem lies in mustering up the motivation to begin a routine and stick with it week in and week out.
This article provides tips for parents on setting healthy examples for children when it comes to exercise. The ideas could be applicable to anyone, though. One of the most important tips it touches on is to stop thinking of exercise as a chore. We all have never-ending to-do lists, parents especially, but exercise can be a stress relief and something you do to better yourself. Yes, it should be planned for, but rather than seeing it as the next chore in your list, think of it as a personal time-out.
The article offers other valuable lessons, too—planning ahead for your exercise, setting realistic goals, and bouncing back from setbacks. As a corporate fitness professional, the advice that struck me the most was the importance of finding your personal motivation or your reason for exercise. Knowing that you should isn’t always going to help you get off the couch, and in fact, can lead to feelings of guilt and shame when an exercise program isn’t adhered to. Material rewards can be nice, for instance treating yourself to a massage or a new pair of jeans, but those prizes can also cease to spur you on day after day. An intrinsic desire to be healthy and a personal drive to stay committed yield the best results.
As a visual example of motivation, poll some of your corporate fitness center members and ask them what their reasons for exercise are. Post this on a bulletin board along with their pictures for all to see as examples of sticking with it!
This blog was written by Bethany Garrity. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
Investing time and other resources in an employee wellness program as part of your broader business strategy can certainly lower increasing health care costs. Active, healthy employees also have fewer hospital admissions and disability claims. Providing employees with a corporate fitness center, group exercise classes as well as health seminars to teach them how to choose better health motivates workers to take advantage of what is available. You may also find that you reap other unintended but positive outcomes like improved employee morale through increased networking opportunities between upper management and employees.
While a corporate wellness program is primarily voluntary, many will choose to do so if the cost is low or free and if their upper-level executives are motivating them to do so. And that’s the key: upper-level executive support.
Simply drafting an email about your newly branded, hot-off-the-press wellness program that’s designed with the employees in mind is not enough. It’s a good start, but that’s it―it’s only a starting point. You have to show support with your active participation in the healthy offerings at your organization. You have to actively cheerlead your organization to better health.
Hire a great team to develop and implement the strategy. But stay tuned in enough to communicate your support in a variety of ways. To help you better visualize the myriad ways you can support organizational well-being, check out our acronym:
- S = Stop hiding in your corner office; walk the talk.
- U = Understand that your employees need to see healthy behavior modeled.
- P = Put down your smartphone and interact with your employees at a health-related event.
- P = Pull on the gym shoes and hold a walking meeting.
- O = Open up about your results at your company’s screening events and then commit to your own plan for improving or maintaining your health.
- R = Remove barriers for your c-suite leaders by encouraging wellness-focused goals as part of their performance bonuses.
- T = Tune into what your employees need to be successful and then leverage your creative organizational leaders to create those opportunities through your wellness strategy.
This blog was written by Sarah Harriman. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
A quick glance around the fitness center and you’ll see dozens of people, each with a different goal drawing them in to exercise. What motivates these people to come in the door and keep them coming back day after day?
Motivation can be both extrinsic (“My wife made me come to the gym”) and intrinsic (“I want to go to the gym”). While both may be effective short term, someone in it for the long haul needs to tap into his or her inner self.
If you feel like you’re lacking that inner drive, try these ideas:
- Healthy competition: Make bets with friends and family. Who can lose the most weight in a month? If you’re an athlete, find local events or races. Or, make bets with yourself. How many days in a row can you be physically active?
- Specific goals: Not seeing improvement can be a leading contributor to lack of motivation. Take a look at your goals and make sure they are specific and measurable. Instead of “I want to lose weight,” try “I will lose 10 pounds before December 1.” Or, modify “I want to be a faster runner” to “I will decrease my 5K time by 10 seconds before September 30.” With clear goals you’ll feel like you’re making progress and you’ll be less likely to be discouraged.
- A vision: Where do you see yourself as it relates to your goal? Keep track of how your actions contribute to that vision. Be honest and record your thoughts daily on a notepad or in a journal.
- Motivation loves company: Sharing your goal with a friend can help build your confidence and build on successes. Finding a buddy to partake in your goal not only adds a psychological boost, but ensures accountability. Or go high-tech with your goal by updating your Facebook status, posting a tweet, or blogging about your progress. With a post like “Heading out for a three-mile run!” or “Five pounds down, three to go!” you’ll likely be encouraged and may gain some followers.
Set Fitness Goals
Intrinsic motivation is fueled by our human desire to be competent, to belong to a group, and to establish control. At the start of the NIFS Go Girl Triathlon Training Program, we encouraged our participants to write down their goals and actions to achieve their goals. Some of the more original responses included:
- Meet other ladies who enjoy triathlon!
- Beat my husband’s sprint triathlon time.
- Pass more people than pass me.
What’s your goal and how do you stay motivated?