Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

NIFS: Exercise for Charity

smart phoneAre you looking to give back to the community or help others? Did you know that you could do this while exercising too? If you have a SmartPhone or access to the Internet, there are several free apps you can download or sign-up through. Each application has a different organization or fund that you have the option of helping! I researched and found the top rated opportunity, along with a few others I have heard great things about.

Charity Miles is a free app for the iPhone and Android. The smartphone application allows for you to earn corporate sponsorships for charity while walking, running, or biking. If you choose to walk or run, you will earn 25 cents per mile and 10 cents per mile while biking. There are 28 different charities to choose from and you can earn up to their initial $1,000,000 sponsorship pool. Download the app, turn it on, choose a charity, your exercise, and press start. So easy!

WhoIRun4 is a non-profit organization that pairs a runner with one special needs child or adult. The purpose of this organization is to provide the runner with motivation while sharing who they are running 4 and bringing awareness to diseases and disabilities of all types. By visiting WhoIRun4 a runner can just sign up and find someone to be matched with. There are guidelines to this program, which can also be found on this website. Dedicate your workouts in a variety of ways such as making signs, t-shirts, or uploading pictures and tagging the individual or child’s parent on the organization’s Facebook group! Get creative and give your workout a whole new motivation!

The two organizations described above are my two favorites. Other popular opportunities include Erndit, Plus3Network, Upwave, and Charity Bets. Through these apps, you can log your activities and earn rewards to help your chosen charity. By visiting their links, you can learn more about the programs how you can sign-up to help.  

These opportunities are a great way to get inspired. Why not get healthy with friends or family?! You have the ability to set goals, work towards them, create a positive camaraderie, and have fun while doing it! The adrenaline rush one can get by exercising to help a charity is all the more motivation to work harder! If you are having trouble finding an activity to log, stop by the fitness center and pick up a group fitness schedule or ask about the fitness center incentive programs. They are a great way to meet new people and spread the word about one of these charitable opportunities! 

Comment and share your favorite apps for fitness.  Have you utilized one of these apps to raise money for a charity?

Topics: exercise nifs fitness management apps smart phone charity

How we engage residents in senior living fitness programs

thumbs upRaise your hand if you love hearing stories about how your staff make a resident’s day, particularly when it occurs organically, if you will, by the employee simply being who she is.  I know…me too.  That’s why I couldn’t resist sharing these two stories in our blog and how we engage residents in senior living fitness programs. 

Our organizational structure is such that we hire exceptionally capable, qualified, and passionate staff who we train well.  When they’re ready, we set them off at their client location to do their work.  Certainly, we provide a host of supports, ongoing training, and other touch points, but it’s tough for me to keep track of their day to day challenges and victories when they are far flung in 22 states with more than 60 clients.  So when these two stories got back to me, I simply had to give this shout out!

Story #1

When we first start working with a new senior living client and we place one of our fitness center managers onsite at the community, we sometimes get pushback from a small group of vocal residents about the information we require of them prior to helping them with an exercise program.  Industry standards through the American College of Sports Medicine establish that sound practice involves gathering relevant health information, securing a signed waiver, and getting a medical release where appropriate.  If we get push back from residents, it’s typically with the waiver and a common objection to the industry standard language we use. 

This story comes from that exact circumstance where a small group of residents had protested our use of a release for the fitness program.  While we were in discussion with leadership at the community about NIFS practices, and how the community wanted to proceed, our manager, Ali, continued to do what she does.  

She worked with the early adopters providing senior fitness testing, individualized exercise programs and guidance, and continued to follow up with those participants about their progress and any questions they have.  She offered creative group exercise classes and continued to enroll residents in those programs.  She focused in on improving resident’s balance through both class and 1:1 settings, and she continued to help participants track their progress as their strength and balance improved. 

Meanwhile, the residents did what residents do.  They talked to their friends and neighbors.  Those who were engaged in the new fitness programming with the NIFS fitness center manager talked about how much better they felt, how they could tell their balance was improving, and how easy the manager was to work with. 

And then those initial naysayers started thinking that they might be missing out on something really positive going on in the community.  So, within a few weeks of raising strong objections to our paperwork, those most vocal opponents put aside their concerns, completed the paperwork, and started receiving the same positive health benefits that their friends and neighbors had been experiencing.  We’re grateful for the opportunity to serve more residents in the community, and I’m completely tickled that it all came about simply because the NIFS manager kept doing what she’s amazing at with those who were ready. 

Story #2

The second story is one of those “well, duh” moments.  The action our staff member took in response to a resident need is truly a no-brainer.  But I say that and I know that I may not have arrived at that simple action which has definitely resulted in improved quality of life for that individual.  Rachel made this resident’s day simply by being who she is – a creative problem solver who is passionate about helping the residents enjoy very active living.

When Rachel learned that one of their formerly regular participants stopped exercising, she wanted to get to the bottom of it.  Turns out, the resident was unable to use the check in scanner because of a low vision condition, so she simply stopped attending group exercise classes.  After Rachel learned about the barrier, she worked with the resident to place a small piece of adhesive felt to the membership tag and taught the resident how to orient the felt in front of the scanner for a successful check in.  That resident was able to feel her way to a successful fitness center check in and removing that barrier was enough to pull her back into group exercise classes twice each (and every) week.

I suspect you have your own ‘feel good’ stories like this – share them in the comments below to help spread the love!

Click below to find out how NIFS attracts and attains the industry's best fitness professionals. 

How we find great staff
Topics: active aging senior living fitness programs for seniors nifs fitness management staffing CCRC Programs and Services

NIFS: Wake up Feet; Why do your feet fall asleep when exercising?

woman tying shoeAre you new to running or have you been a runner for some time now? Either way you may be experiencing the typical aches and pains, such as muscle soreness or blisters, but have you experienced the numbness and tingling in your feet while running? It feels as though you have pins and needles in your feet or like they seem to have ‘fallen asleep’ from this weight-bearing activity. If so, don’t get your shorts in a bunch. You may reconsider a trip to the doctor, but it will be okay. Promise!

This strange and annoying sensation is common, but does seem to cause worry. This feeling is usually caused from pounding the pavement or treadmill, cramming the your foot into a narrow shoe, or crowding the foot by the gradual, but hardly noticeable swelling. What you are feeling is a compressed nerve often causes this feeling. The numbness can progress along the top or bottom of the foot and sometimes into the ankle. The specific site on the foot that is feeling numb is usually where there is a compressed nerve. The most common area affected is outside of the third toe and inside the fourth toe. This sensation is known as Morton’s neuroma. Through time, the nerve will slowly develop a thickened coat of scar tissue.

You can try a few simple actions to reduce the pressure in your foot. These actions include choosing a shoe with plenty of toe space, using a pad in the shoe, placed under the ball of your foot, allowing the spread of the bones apart. If this does not work, your doctor may recommend a cortisone injection to provide some relief. If this does not describe the numbness in your foot, continue reading! 

Compression of the nerves passing through the front of the ankle or top of the foot causes numbness on top of your foot. This is usually caused by over tightening the shoelaces. People with high arches are more susceptible to this issue. This can be resolved by loosening the shoelaces, using a modified lacing method, or applying padding under the shoe tongue may help reduce these symptoms.

Other options to consider include a period of rest or orthotic shoe inserts. If the numbness persists and is not relieved by any of these methods, it may indicate a medical condition and require you to seek your physician. Before scheduling an appointment with your physician you can always talk to a staff member in your corporate fitness center that may have helpful suggestions!

Check out this blog from one of our health coaches about her experience with finding the right shoe!

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Topics: exercise shoes employee health and wellness foot health

NIFS: Lifting weights will make you bulky... MYTH

woman lifting weight resized 600To my knowledge, I don’t think there’s ever been a survey taken regarding this issue but personally, this is one of the most frustrating things to hear as a personal trainer, group exercise instructor, fitness manager, fitness specialist…fitness ANYTHING! So let me be clear right from the beginning. Lifting weights will NOT make you bulky.

The origins of this myth may never truly be known but I think we can all agree that females (and males for that matter) generally associate lifting weights with big muscle-bound bodybuilders. Although this may be true for some, the majority of us (exercisers and non-exercisers alike) lift weights and will never look like big, bulky bodybuilders. I’d even go as far as to say that the “bulk-factor” only applies to approximately 10% of exercisers, which does not even include the non-exercisers which would bring that percentage down. There are quite a few reasons that support this theory. Here are a couple:

Time – This applies to a couple aspects of life. First of all, do you realize the amount of time these muscle-bound men are putting in at the gym? We’re talking two+ hours in the morning and two+ hours in the evening…at a minimum! Most likely they may be getting in an afternoon session as well. Possibly even a little cardio at some point in the day. And to be specific, each two+ hour session is most likely focused on one muscle (i.e. chest day, leg day, arm day, etc.). Chances are you are working out one hour per day at most and doing a full body workout. There is not a chance you will get bulky exercising in this fashion.

Diet – This is the second aspect of time consumption. The planning that goes into each and every meal throughout the day and throughout the week is staggering. 6 meals a day; no cheat meals; getting a well-balanced diet throughout each day (i.e. getting enough protein, natural vitamins, water, etc.); and staying on schedule with each meal and/or snack. This takes A LOT of time. But it’s for good reason. A great workout plan is not much without a clean diet. These big guys need enough nutrients for their muscles to grow. They cannot have little cheats here and there…a candy bar in the afternoon for a pick-me-up, an alcoholic beverage while relaxing with friends, any sort of pastry to eat while they drive b/c they are late for work. No. They are very strict with their clean diet. Can you honestly say you are that strict with yours?

As I previously stated, these are only a couple of the reasons you will NOT get bulky simply by lifting weights. Unless you are purposefully trying to get bulky and basing your lifestyle around it, you don’t stand a chance to do so. On a positive note though, lifting weights will definitely help you target those trouble spots you’ve been trying to get rid of…the back of the arm, your lower back, your thighs. The next time you give yourself a goal of losing 10lbs, I challenge you to accomplish this feat through lifting weights, not by jumping on a treadmill for 30 min. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.  Connect with your corporate wellness staff to help you get started.  They can set you up with a plan to meet your goals.

 So get out there and start lifting to NOT get bulky!

Topics: corporate fitness nifs fitness management fitness weight lifting

Active Aging: Read for Brain Health

woman in library resized 600Often when we think or talk about having good health, it consists of eating healthy foods and exercising. There are many areas of our lives that we could improve upon health wise—often it seems like there is so much to work on to keep track. However, one segment of health that seems to go by the way side is mental health. Just as muscles lose strength or cardiovascular fitness declines with age, your brain can lose agility and decline in the way that it functions. There is no one way to prevent degenerative diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer’s, but you can start today with the way you live your life to help make your brain healthier. Here are a few tips for great brain health:

  • Stay physically active – being active maintains good blood flow to the brain and can encourage new brain cells.
  • Adopt a brain-healthy diet – there has been research done that high cholesterol can contribute to brain cell damage and stroke. A healthy diet that is low in fat and cholesterol is desirable along with dark vegetables and fruits with antioxidants which can help protect brain cells.
  • Stay socially active – this can help reduce stress levels and maintain healthy connections among brain cells.
  • Stay mentally active – new nerve cells can be created by getting involved in mentally stimulating activities; this can also strengthen brain cells.

I want you to focus on the mental component of staying healthy and giving you ways improve your mind game. Try any of these easy ways to fit more mental activity into your daily routine:

  • Never stop learning! Maybe you wanted to take up doing a new hobby or even wanted venture out and do a new sport, commit to it and learn about your new adventure.
  • Take up writing and working on crossword puzzles to keep you mentally stimulated.
  • Enroll in a few college courses to keep mentally active in a structured way.
  • Play games with your friends and family.
  • Even try memory exercises or games that can help with your mind game!
  • Lastly, read books that are interesting to you. Who wants to read a boring book just to mark it off of your list? Head to the library and pick up a book for FREE!

Your public library is a great resource that is within your community; however some don’t take full advantage of it. First of all, it’s FREE; it’s easy to sign up for a library card; and there are so many books to interest anyone, you just have to do a little digging.

So check out your local library during National Library Week April 13-19 and read for excellent brain health!  Visit our facebook page and share what book you are currently reading!

Topics: active aging nifs fitness management brain health wellness mental health

NIFS Nutrition News: Intermittent Fasting

NIFS BB
Interested in providing staffing at your corporate wellness site?  Contact us about how we provide great staff and programs to our clients!
Topics: nifs fitness management NIFS wellness health education

Active Aging: Lessons Learned for Teaching Classes in Memory Care

chair exercise resized 600

Just like any exercise program, there is a long list of health benefits that come with exercising. In fact, exercise not only improves physical health, but cognitive health as well. The Alzheimer’s Association widely accepts that, “Physical exercise is essential for maintaining good blood flow to the brain as well as to encourage new brain cells. It also can significantly reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes, and improve oxygen consumption”. Though memory impairments affect the body’s cognitive heath, it’s important to perform cognitive and physical activities to improve brain function. The body also needs strength and endurance to perform its activities of daily senior living such as eating, dressing, and getting around your home.

With this in mind, we began offering a special class to meet the unique needs of the memory-care residents at our community. We made it our goal to incorporate exercise as a means of fall prevention and overall improvement of physical and mental health. Having taught group exercise for quite some time, I thought this would be an easy transition. I reached out to my colleagues for advice on specific exercise recommendations for older adults with memory impairments and quickly mapped out an exercise class format. Boy was I surprised when I taught the class for the first time!

The normal exercise cuing of “Lift your right leg up. That’s 1, 2, now 3….” just didn’t cut it. Some of the individuals followed, but most of the residents looked at me with confused faces. One resident even said, “You know you are a really bad dancer!”. So, over the next couple months, with much trial, error and research I developed a new class called “Moving Minds”.

The new class incorporates seated exercises that are both engaging and effective. We always begin with a short warm-up with seated marching and a game. The game is as simple as passing around a beach ball, bean bag toss, or some form of bowling. This gets the residents moving and their brain focused for the main exercises. Our main exercises include low-impact joint movement and stretching. We use equipment such as pool noodles, balloons and bouncy balls to add a little fun.  The residents love doing the exercises with the noodles and are always playful with each other.

I always encourage the residents to count with me out loud as we go through the exercises. After 10-15 minutes of our main exercises we wrap up with another game. We also engage in conversation while doing the exercises where I ask the date, day of week, and various other questions. Some are more attentive than others, but they always have something interesting to say. One of my most enjoyable residents, yells “10, big fat hen!” every time we count to 10.

Overall, the residents’ health is continuing to improve and I have noticed small gains in cognitive ability. Sometimes the residents remember my name and I can tell they are getting used to their Moving Minds routine. The Center for Brain Health states, “Physical exercise may be one of the most beneficial and cost-effective therapies widely available to everyone to elevate memory performance”.

Moving Minds may not look like a typical exercise class-in fact, I still have residents who comment on my “bad dancing” or make animal noises the entire time we exercise. However, the truth lies in their many giggles and big smiles as they leave the class. Each week I’m reminded how great it is to work with this population.

Quick Tip to Strengthen Your Community Exercise Program

Topics: active aging senior living senior living communities group fitness for seniors memory care

NIFS: Ten Myths that Fool the Smartest of Exercisers


Some of you may have already been the brunt of an April Fool’s joke today.  Let’s clear up some fitness myths so you are not the brunt of any more jokes, especially in the gym.

1. The gym negates a bad diet- You cannot out exercise a bad diet. Don’t try it; I promise your diet will win every time! Hours and hours can be spent in the gym yielding few results because a person is only changing one piece of the puzzle. They use the excuse that they can eat whatever they want because their exercise offsets the excess calories taken in. The body does not work this way. Most people do not realize the amount of calories they actually consume and the amount of time it would actually take to burn it off at the gym. It takes much, much longer to burn off that cookie than it does to eat it!

2. Spot reduction works- Don’t feel like a complete fool if you have believed this one; it is not completely untrue. You cannot pick which areas from which you want to burn fat, but you can strengthen certain muscles by performing exercises focused on particular muscle groups.  By strengthening these muscles, you will tone areas and create shapely muscles. Now comes the second piece of the puzzle; to see these muscles you must burn off the excess layer of energy or “fat” to expose these beautiful muscles you have been working so hard for. Again, the gym does not outweigh your diet.

woman using exercise band resized 600

3. I’ve never been flexible and never will be- You make yourself inflexible by never training yourself to be.  Yes, your muscles may have been tight all your life, but this is because you have never worked to train them to be anything but tight.

4. Weight training bulks you up- If you want to change the composition of your body you have to weight lift. Yes, even you, ladies; it’s not just for the guys. Lifting will not make you bulky; things like your diet and the way you train can lead to bulk. Female bodies are lacking enough testosterone to gain as much muscle mass as a male. Lifting weight will change your body composition by increasing the percentage of muscle throughout your body, leading to a higher metabolic rate and a lean, shapely figure.

5. If I’m not sore or in pain, I’m not working hard enough- Don’t seek soreness. It can come from many different factors that have nothing to do with the quality of your workout. Judge your workout by more than how sore you are. How do you feel mentally? Are you smiling? Relaxed? Have more energy? Feel accomplished?

6. Cardio and resistance training are two separate activities- Mixing the two together can be the best combination for fat loss and save you tons of time! While lifting in the gym take fewer breaks between sets or add cardio intervals in between sets. This will allow your heart rate to stay elevated and give you the weight training you set out to do with the added cardio component.

7. I need machines to get a total workout- Why not think of your body as a machine? Machines and free weights serve their purpose and can be an essential part of your routine, but don’t limit yourself. You will get stuck at some point if all you use is machines. There will be a time when these are not available to you. When performing body weight training, you are in full control of the weight (your own body weight). You are recruiting muscles, especially stabilizing muscles that tend to go unused during machine workouts. Body weight training allows you to mimic movements that you will actually perform in real life.

8. Muscle weighs more than fat- Muscle does not weigh more than fat. A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat. The difference is their density. As we gain muscle and lose fat, our weight may change very little even though our body composition is changing and we are becoming leaner. Don’t become discouraged if the scale is not going in your favor. That being said, don’t assume you are at a healthy weight; the number is just higher on the scale because of your muscle mass. Get tested! A body composition test is the only true measure of what your weight is actually made up of.

9. Recovery time is social time- Don’t let distractions get in your way. Hopefully you came to the gym with a purpose in mind. Do what you came there to do. Turn off your cell phone, put in your headphones, and stick to your plan. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish in half the time when you are focused, then you will have more time to rest or socialize after your workout.

10. A tired mind is a tired body- Answering emails and phone calls, long meetings and appointments can make you feel drained after a full day at the office. Ditch the tired excuse. You might be tired of the work you have been doing, but your body may be looking to get rid of built up energy from the day. A tired mind does not mean a tired body! A workout can give you the extra energy and clear mind you are searching for.

Don't fall for those old tricks, re-establish your health for a better you!  

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Topics: wellness April fool's day exercise myths exercise and health