Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

NIFS: Strive for Sleep

sleep at desk resized 600Feeling drowsy throughout your day? Always need that cup of coffee first thing in the morning and possibly in the afternoon? Well, you’re not alone. Getting enough sleep every day is essential for proper functioning and well-being, but many people do not get the recommended amount of sleep that they should per night. The average adult should sleep 7 to 9 hours every night. Depriving your body of just an hour of sleep per night can have a cumulative sleep deprivation effect.  Sleep deprivation can decrease short term memory as well as increase your chances for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression. So, what can you do to prevent sleep deprivation and keep your body and mind sharp? Follow the guidelines below to help you kick start your new healthy sleeping schedule.

  1. Make sleep a routine…and not just one you follow on work nights. The best way to continue to get good rest is to put your body on a cycle. Try going to bed around the same time every night and waking up the same time every day. A good way to tell if you are getting enough sleep is if you naturally get tired and wake up around the same time every day.
  2. Exercise daily. A daily exercise routine of just as little as 30 minutes can help you fall asleep easier and get better quality sleep. In just 3-10 minute exercise bouts throughout your day you can improve your quality of sleep. If exercise is new to your routine, try not to work out too close to bedtime. While exercise can help you sleep at night, it can also stimulate your body so give yourself a few hours at the end of the night to wind down.
  3. Keep your bedroom calm, cool and comfortable. Create an environment that is made for sleep by making the room a cool temperature and keeping stimulants like TV, and electronic devices off. If you need noise to help you fall asleep consider a white noise machine. If reading on a tablet relaxes you, use the night reading feature to not over stimulate your brain. The key is to keep lights dim to get your brain to sleep mode.
  4. Watch what you eat….and drink. Certain foods and drinks that contain alcohol and caffeine can be enemies of sleep. While alcohol may make you feel tired it can actually block you from getting quality sleep. Caffeine will not make you feel tired and it can also hide in common drinks and foods. Chocolate, for instance, has caffeine as well as decaf coffee and soda. Make sure to read labels and know if caffeine is hiding in your food and drink.
  5. Help yourself to some stress management. Try different relaxation techniques such as stretching, listening to calm music or getting organized. If you still have a cluttered mind, write down your thoughts and what needs to be taken care of. Put it aside before bed and pick it up tomorrow. Feeling good before bed and clearing your mind makes for a restful night’s sleep.

A good night’s sleep is an important process to start any day with a productive and sharp mind. Using these helpful tips, you can be naturally energized and on your way to healthier living.

If you continue to be frequently tired, consult with your physician. There may be underlying causes for fatigue and sleeplessness. Sleep well and prosper!

On average, how many hours of sleep do you get per night?

Topics: productivity health and wellness sleep habits

NIFS Nutrition News: Get back on track!

healthy eating woman resized 600Have you fallen off track from your New Year’s resolutions and need a kick start back in the right direction? Since it's National Nutrition Month® it is the perfect time to regain focus on healthy eating behaviors! Getting back into a healthy routine does not mean seeking out the next fad diet, but learning to enjoy healthy and nutritious food. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ team of top nutrition and food professionals develop a once a year campaign to promote healthy eating behaviors with many different resources, games, and reading lists.  This year the Academy is focusing on ways to help you create healthy, enjoyable meals following the Dietary Guidelines!

First, start by replacing empty snacks with nutrient dense foods such as these, under 200-calorie, snacks:

  • Small baked potato topped with salsa and 1 ounce low-fat cheese.
  • Toaster waffle topped with ½ cup blueberries and 2 tablespoons low-fat yogurt.
  • Six whole-wheat crackers and one slice low-fat Colby cheese.
  • Fruit smoothie: Blend 1 cup fat-free milk, ½ cup frozen strawberries and ½ banana.
  • One 6-inch flour tortilla with ¼ cup black beans and 2 tablespoons fresh salsa.
  • Quick-to-fix salad: 2 cups mixed greens with ½ cup mandarin oranges, 1 tablespoon sliced almonds and 2 tablespoons reduced-fat dressing.

Next, make a few small lifestyle changes to your day from the following tips below:

  • Never skip breakfastA cup of coffee should not be the only thing you consume for breakfast! Instead, your breakfast should include some lean protein such as turkey or chicken as well as whole grains and fruit.  These small changes will help increase your morning energy level!
  • Control your portion sizesMeasure out a cup of your favorite food to see how much you are eating compared to the recommended serving size. This will help you understand how much you are eating in one sitting!
  • Be more active throughout the day - This does not mean you need to go to the gym, or set an hour of your time aside to work out in order to increase your physical activity. It is as simple as parking in the back of the parking lot, always taking the stairs, or taking a walk with your family after dinner. Increasing your steps per day can result in an increase in positive health benefits-aim for 10,000 steps a day!

Finally, consider making other small modifications to your eating behavior. In order to begin creating healthy meals following the Dietary Guidelines!  Click here for healthy recipes provided by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Interested in speaking with a NIFS Registered Dietitian, contact Angie Scheetz at NIFS.

Topics: nifs fitness management health and wellness diet and exercise portion control

NIFS: Fitness Apps for your Smart Phone

smartphone exercise resized 600Are you looking for fitness tips, a little extra motivation or some exercise accountability?  There’s an app for that!  Over the past few years, health and fitness apps have grown and can provide information such as, distance and pace, strength, circuit and flexibility routines, estimate calorie expenditure, and some can measure your heart rate.  Some apps will send daily fitness tips or motivational statements to help keep you on track with your exercise routine.  But, if you’ve ever tried to search for health and fitness apps on your phone, you know how overwhelming it can be.

There are hundreds and hundreds of fitness apps out there for your smart phone.  I have narrowed them down by choosing a few!  Upgrades are available for some, but the free versions work well by themselves as well. 

Fitness Apps

 

  • Tabata Trainer (iOS and Android) – provides an easy way to keep time during your Tabata or HIIT interval workouts; uses intense interval training as its guide for a 20 seconds of workout followed by 10 seconds rest; clean, basic and easy to use
  • Gym Goal ABC (Android) – has 280 exercises (with animation and written instruction), 52 different workouts (adjustable for four levels of expertise), cannot log daily workouts, but you can calculate BMI, THR, BMR and body fat percentage, can choose parts of the body to concentrate on
  • Workout Trainer (iOS and Android) – after completing the free virtual fitness consultation for a more customized workout; users can easily create and edit workouts; exercise instruction provided via photos and videos; progress cues can be provided during workouts
  • Daily Workouts (iOS and Android) – provides 5-10 minute targeted workouts or 10-30 minute full body workouts; has a database of 50 different exercises; workouts are different each day
  • Human (iOS) – encourages participants to get outside for 30 minutes a day and run, walk or bike; tracks progress and can share accomplishments on a social network

Run/Walk Trackers

 

  • RunKeeper (Android) – produces statistics around pace, distance, speed, time and calories burned; users can also listen to and control music during a workout
  • Nike+ Runner (iOS and Android) – records distance, speed and time, also can provide audio feedback each mile, ½ mile or time increment (set by the user); users can set up play lists to help boost motivation, music can be controlled during workouts
  • iRunner (iOS and Android) – maps run, walk, bike, hike, etc. with GPS; records time, distance, calories and pace; now integrates with FitBit, MyFitnessPal, Facebook, Twitter and more
  • Map My Run / Walk / Ride / Hike, etc. (iOS and Android) – tracks running/walking, biking, and 6000 other activities; tracks pace, distance, time, calories and elevations, gives real-time stats
  • Couch to 5K (iOS and Android) – provides a step-by-step program to get your running a 5K in nine weeks; gradually increases workouts from a walk/light-jog to a run in three workouts a week
  • Endomondo Sports Tracker (iOS, Android, Blackberry) – designed for runners, walkers, bikers, etc.; uses GPS to track routes; get pep talks, motivation and notifications each time you break a mile

You can find more detailed descriptions and reviews online and decide for yourself which apps will help you the most.  What is your favorite fitness app? Comment below and share or jump over to our NIFS Fitness Management Facebook page and tell us your favorite!

Topics: exercise fitness apps health and wellness

NIFS Confessions of a Health Coach: The Right Shoe

lacing up shoesTen years ago I decided to run my first half marathon. I have never been much of a runner, so I wanted to challenge myself. I went straight to my local department store and bought a new pair of shoes and hit the pavement. After a few weeks, I started to notice some knee pain. It got worse as I went into longer runs and eventually my back started getting the aches as well. When the pain became too much, I went to see my physician. His first reaction was for me to buy new shoes and a pair of inserts. Could this really be the only reason for my excruciating pain?

YES.

I went to a running store and had my foot analyzed, ran on a treadmill, and tried on a new pair of kicks. I found the right fit according to the employees along with inserts for extra support. Then I went back to my training. The pain magically went away and I was able to complete my half marathon with ease.

Turns out, since I am a woman with hips, my knees were curving inwards as I ran. Without the extra support for my arch to straighten me out, it was causing the pain.

Moral of the story? Get the right shoes for you. Every activity requires a different type of footwear. Make sure that you are coordinating properly for your exercise whether it's in your corporate wellness center, or out in your neighborhood.

A few tips as you shop:

  • Try on shoes at the end of the day when your feet are more swollen
  • Lace them properly to make sure the fit is not too loose or tight
  • Stand on your toes to make sure your heel doesn’t pop out
  • Wear socks you plan on exercising in to have the right thickness

What is your foot type? Normal, flat, or high-arched? What kind of stride do you have? Do you over pronate and roll your foot inward, or do you under pronate and not roll your foot in enough? Or is your stride normal? An employee at a fitness store near you will be able to help you get these answers and find the best fit. Make sure you run around the store to make sure it’s comfortable. Wiggle your toes and make sure you have enough room.

Try to avoid an all-purpose shoe. This won’t give you the right backing for each activity. Running, walking, hiking, and other sports all have different criteria and need different support. Having a proper shoe for each activity will help with comfort and prevent injuries and pain.

It is also important to replace your shoes every 300-500 miles. Pay attention to how the shoe feels as you go. If you aren’t getting the same support, it might be time to get a new pair. It never hurts to have your foot analyzed each store visit and to try different shoe brands. They are constantly evolving with new options.

Lace up and be pain free!

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Topics: exercise wellness proper shoe fit health and fitness

Why Nobody’s Using Your New Resident Fitness Center (Part 3 of 3)

seniors meetingYour marketing and sales team may be missing the mark when selling fitness to residents.

I started this blog series talking about the importance of following all the way through on your capital investment for your resident fitness program. In part two of the series, I covered some basics on the importance of quality leadership as central to your community’s exercise strategy.

In this third part of the series, we’ll look at how your marketing and sales team can better tap into your fitness program as a sales tool. After all, once you nail the strategy and the staffing for your program, it only makes sense to make sure your marketing team can communicate your updated and comprehensive services to prospective residents.

Promoting Senior Lifestyle Benefits in Marketing Collateral

How does your community talk about wellness to prospects? How do you promote resident lifestyle in your collateral? If you haven’t given much thought to this, it’s definitely time to start. You’d have to be under a pretty big rock to have missed the continued rise to prominence that wellness is making in senior living.

And it’s because of that elevated importance that breezing through or ignoring your resident wellness amenities and services is no longer an option. Skipping over wellness in your collateral and marketing events is a huge mistake.

Promoting the Senior Wellness Program Effectively During Facility Tours

When I consult with communities, it’s really (frighteningly) common to talk with the marketing and sales staff and learn that they’re offering something like this during a tour:

“Now we’re walking past our pool and coming up next will be our exercise room. We have personal trainers and a lot of different types of group fitness classes available for you to try all week long.”

It’s like running through a checklist of “stuff” you’re throwing at a prospect. Dining, check. Exercise, check. Crafts, check. No stories, nothing a prospect can sink her teeth into and really consider how her life would be if she had access to those opportunities.

Typically, when the tour sounds like that, there is also a lack of marketing collateral about wellness, and there generally aren’t events for prospects that communicate how your community helps residents live well.

Sometimes the glossing over is because of a lack of confidence about the community’s amenities or services. Here’s the thing: you do not have to offer jaw-droppingly beautiful amenities in order to execute well on a message of well-living at your community. But you do need to have solid services with the right staff people behind that programming in order to market the lifestyle at your community effectively.

The right people plus the right program gets you the right stories you need to help prospects relate to what it will be like to live in your community. And that’s what you ultimately want, right? Happy residents are the ones who feel connected, who engage in more living, and who contribute to their own lives and the lives of those around them through the opportunities you offer.

If you’re looking for a place to start on more effective communication and marketing opportunities around resident wellness, look no further than some simple numbers.

Data Matters, and Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Differently

There are a number of areas in your wellness program where you can gather data, and I’m a big advocate for data because it’s crucial to determining success as well as to telling the story about what wellness is at a community. You can make a big impact in marketing messaging simply by spotlighting how many residents participate in your fitness programming. But you can’t capitalize on that number or message if you don’t actually have the data.

Consider a resident story that might look something like this:

“At ABC Community, our residents believe that moving your body is one of many ways to live well. In fact, they’re such big believers that 83% of them participate in our fitness programs on a regular basis. When Mrs. Jones moved here in 2007, she wasn’t much for exercise. In fact, she’d never been to a class, or walked on a treadmill. But after she met with our fitness manager and had her personalized program created, she started moving and hasn’t stopped.” 

My hunch is that the pretend story I outlined would resonate with a lot of prospects who have never exercised, are a little afraid of it, and are entirely unsure how to get started. Unless you have a story to which the prospect can relate, the sales staff mentions “fitness center” and “trainer,” and the prospect automatically writes that off as a nice perk but one she’ll never use. And just like that, you’ve missed a chance to help the prospect see how living at your senior living community is not only different (she already knows that and it’s part of what’s keeping her from moving), but actually better than where she’s living now. Mrs. Jones—the resident in the testimonial—sounds like that prospect, probably looks like her, and she’s been able to live exceptionally well since she moved into your community. It’s compelling and reassuring, and it’s all backed by a wellness strategy that captures the data and the stories for use at the right times.

Now, getting that data and those stories is not rocket science, but it does require that you have the right personnel behind the wellness programming to facilitate a more strategic approach to resident lifestyle. You need health-oriented professionals (do not read that as “clinicians”) who have a head for numbers and a heart for people. If you need a refresher on the quality leadership part of this puzzle, return to part 2 in this series.

 

Whitepaper: Creating a Wellness Culture

 

Topics: senior center solutions senior wellness programs senior fitness management CCRC fitness center senior living community marketing senior living fitness center data wellness consulting

NIFS: Nutrition Labels Get a Much Needed Face Lift

Blog Author: Alyssa Furman, NIFS Intern

man reviewing food label resized 600The Food and Drug Administration is announcing the biggest overhaul to Nutrition Facts labels since 1994.

The new labels are geared toward society’s evolution in nutrition and dietary recommendations that have occurred over the past 20 years. Some of the biggest proposed changes include an adjustment to the serving size, making calorie counts more prominent to consumers, exposing any added sugar, and declaring nutrients such as Calcium and Vitamin D.

According to leading experts, the change in serving size will become “more realistic” since consumers are now eating more than two decades ago. For example, ½ C serving of ice cream will turn to 1c. This does not mean that we should consume more, but just make people aware of what they are actually consuming. A bottled beverage, such as soda, needs to provide accurate nutritional information for the entire bottle, not split between multiple servings. If someone buys a bottle, they are going to drink the whole thing, not measure out a serving.

A larger, bold font will be used in regards to calorie count at the top of each label. Consumers won’t be able to miss this one, as the FDA hopes this will have a true impact. By making packages easier to read, there is a good change the obesity rate will decrease, according to a recent study, which analyzed the positive effects of reading nutrition labels to lower overall BMI.

Currently Americans are consuming more added sugars that ever before. With an astounding 23 teaspoons per day, compared to the 6-9teaspoon recommendation from the American Heart Association. Have you checked the label of some of your favorite items? People may be taking in close to 15 teaspoons of added sugar just from one soda. It is very difficult to know how much of this added sugar is in the things we love to eat with the current information on nutrition labels. For example, you may see 18g of sugar in a container of yogurt. However some of this sugar is naturally occurring, which means it cannot be removed, like milk sugar, or fruit sugar. The problem is what is being added. Added sugars are NOT the same as natural sugar and they need to be distinguished on labels. Added sugars have been linked to many health issues such as heart disease or diabetes. Having an idea of such sugars will help consumers make more conscious choices.

New labels will also include facts on nutrients such as Vitamin D, Calcium, and Potassium. Facts such as these may help consumers to reach their Daily Recommended Values of such nutrients, as society as a whole is lacking in this department.

These new labels should be much simpler for consumers to understand as they rush though the aisles of their local grocery store in their busy schedules. There will be a 90 day public comment period about the changes, followed by a final ruling on label changes. If proposed changes are adopted, they will be phased in over the course of the next 2 years. 

What do you think of these new changes to the nutrition facts label?

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Topics: nutrition weight loss food label FDA

NIFS Member Speaks: Aziza Hunt shares her Motivation

my storyAziza joined the Wellness Center when she started her employment in September.  In three months she referred four new members to our Corporate Wellness Center and she says she is working on more. I am thrilled to have her as ambassador member of the Wellness Center and also admire her ability to motivate herself and her associates to get more active.  Here is her story and hopefully she’ll get you motivated to get moving too.

I come to the Wellness Center two times per day and right now my motivation is weight loss. When joined Weight Watchers® I realized how important activity was for my goal. Plus the gym is free, so there are NO EXCUSES.” My friends and associates who frequently join me in the Wellness Center are doing Weight Watchers® too. To help motivate them I try to let my actions be an example of my dedication to be fit and healthy.  As I tell my friends, “we work in a company that is about wellness, and we have so many resources that we didn’t have before coming to WellPoint so why not take advantage of them?” I also tell them, something is better than nothing.

My motivation to get active started when I joined a kickball team in the fall. I loved playing but I hated the feeling of being out of breath. I knew something had to give. While the team was on a break during the winter I wanted to improve my endurance but I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight.  I have a goal I want to accomplish by March (kickball time) and nothing and no one is going to stop me.  My plan is to stay active, stick to Weight Watchers®, and drink more water while also cutting back on sweets, junk, and “the white stuff”.

Aziza also admits to having bad days like the rest of us and I think she has a wonderfulA.Hunt attitude about these days.  Here is what she says about her off days, “I am human, and I know that I will have my “off days” but you just forgive yourself and pick back up. When I get weighed in each week with Weight Watchers®, my number on the scale that day either makes me work harder or lets me know I am on the right track. I have come too far and refuse to let the scale go backwards. I am too determined and have worked too hard.”

It sounds like Aziza has put a lot of thought into what she wants to accomplish and uses this to maintain her motivation.  Need motivation like Aziza?  Ask yourself exactly why you want to accomplish and determine exactly what actions must be taken to get there.  Start with the smallest action to get going. 

*Weight loss claims or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.

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Topics: exercise nifs fitness management motivation member testimonials weight watchers

Why Nobody's Using Your New Resident Fitness Center (Part 2 of 3)

training seniors resized 600Your residents need quality leadership in order to engage in the fitness services.

There is a lot of movement in recent years for senior living communities to include expansive, thoughtfully designed fitness spaces in their new community development or refurbishment plans. Surveys have indicated that wellness is a priority for prospects, and we don’t really see that going away as the boomers look toward their next life and how they want to live that next chapter. (I know you’ve heard this a gajillion times, but they are coming, and no amount of burying your head in the sand will change that. Get ready or get out of the business of anticipating their needs and knocking their socks off.)

So if you read part 1 in this blog series, you read about how your investment in wellness cannot stop with capital dollars. In this section we’re focused on why your residents need quality leadership in order to engage in the fitness services.

What Quality Fitness Leadership Is Not

Let me start perhaps with a list of exclusion—a list of what quality leadership is not. It is not limited to a traditional 1990s model of group fitness classes and a very part-time, questionably qualified attendant. It is not a personal trainer service (fee-based or free). It is not a silo-style environment where fitness is an island operating independently of what’s happening with activities, or resident services, or dining or other continuums of the community.

If any of that sounds familiar, I have a bad news/good news message for you.

  • Bad news: You’re stuck in a decades-old model. It may be working for you, but it’s worth asking whether it’s truly delivering on your brand promise. I would submit to you, at the very least, that if you’re working within a dated model, you’re lacking the capacity to truly be forward thinking. If your fitness services were built to be really strategic and forward thinking, you wouldn’t still be partying like it’s 1999.
  • Good news: You have fantastic opportunities to do more for your residents through your fitness program.

Quality Fitness Leadership Includes Core Skills and Soft Skills

Quality fitness leadership for your residents isn’t rocket science, but it does require some core skills that are learned through an accredited university curriculum, as well as soft skills that articulate a true passion for serving the residents in your community.

No doubt, you have more than enough practice at ferreting out the soft skills piece; after all, finding people who want to make a career out of serving our elders is your business. But understanding the technical competencies required in a qualified fitness center manager for your senior living community may be a little trickier. And then once you’ve found that qualified individual, you need to be prepared to take a strategic approach to on-boarding them in your community, which includes preparing both existing staff and residents for the new personnel.

The Keys to Hiring the Right Fitness Center Manager

There are a few keys about hiring that I think are helpful to communities venturing out in this process on their own. I’ve listed them quite briefly here:

  • Make sure you get familiar with the candidate’s credentials. Carefully evaluate certifications they list; not all fitness certifications are created (or earned) equally.
  • Require the candidate to demonstrate the skills required for the job. If you need them to teach group exercise classes for your residents, have the candidate provide a demo. If you need someone who can administer a senior fitness test, talk through that testing with the candidate or host a mock test as part of the interview.
  • Ensure the candidate can program for your audience. Evaluate their capacity to create print materials that fit with your brand, as well as the skills to execute a program from start to finish.

I’m here to tell you that those capable and passionate professionals do exist. We’ve written extensively about how to hire and how to successfully onboard fitness and wellness professionals. If reading isn’t your thing, consider watching our webinar on building better wellness staff in our Build Vitality webinar series. To discuss in greater detail, drop me an email and we can take a closer look at what you need as well as options on how to get there. Subscribe to our blog now to make sure you can catch part 3 of this blog series: What marketing needs in order to really sell your new amenity to prospective residents.

Topics: senior center solutions senior wellness programs senior fitness management CCRC fitness center engagement senior living community senior living fitness center hiring tips