Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Creativity Meets Physical Activity in Senior Living

During National Senior Health and Fitness Day earlier this week, the residents at Sandhill Cove, one of NIFS partner communities, had a ball with a wine bottle ring toss, dart art, golf, and more.  Check out the images below that tell the story of a successfully active day for the residents in that senior living community.

Dart Art

This event was the clear resident favorite for the day.  The balloons were filled with paint and participants took turns hitting the balloons with darts, carnival-style.  The residents were so pleased with the outcome, that a section of the painted sheet will find a new home as framed artwork in the community for everyone at the community to enjoy.

Dart Art resized 600      dart art results 2 resized 600

Wine Bottle Ring Toss

What better way to put the wine bottles from last night's happy hour to use?  We're not sure we can call it environmental wellness, but the residents were really focused on ringing those bottles!  

Mr. Brauntuch Volunteer wine bottle ring toss resized 600

Aqua Golf

I guess when you've retired to south Florida, playing golf in the water is the only way to play. 

Mr. Morrissey I%27m getting wet Aqua Golf

The rest of the day was filled with other games like corn hole, shuffle board, a putting tournament, and croquet.  There were health check ups for the residents too.  Based on the smiles and participation, we think the day was a fantastic success for all who came out to play.

Want to learn more about NIFS Best Practice programming like this?  Sign up for our Best Practice series below!

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Topics: active aging best practices senior living community resident wellness programs

Active Aging: Why should I consume probiotics?

senior eating yogurt resized 600We see probiotics all over the nutritional world now. So many foods, especially yogurts, are offering probiotics and making sure they are on the front label. But you may be wondering what these probiotics are and why they are so important.

We're glad you asked!  Here are 3 of the best explanations as to how they help and why we should consider taking them.

  1. Replace what we kill – We hear about bacteria in the body and automatically think that it is all bad, but we rely on an average of 500 different species in our intestines to digest our foods and process our nutrients. There is so much in our food today that helps kill these bacteria. It has been shown too that even one round of antibiotics can drastically decrease the amount of good bacteria in our body. The top four bacteria to look for are: Lactobacillus bulgaricus,  Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei and Bifidobacteria.
  2. Digestive Health – So now we know we need to replace the bacteria that we kill and we know where it lives.  It’s time to see just what they do for us. These bacteria help break down and work through all the foods that we eat. This helps our body to use less energy while breaking down the foods and increases the absorption rate of all the nutrients that we eat. Both the Vitamin B’s and Vitamin K are processing are greatly increased by these bacteria. And don’t forget these are two vitamins that are responsible for giving us energy. When you think about it these bacteria are great energy boosters for us! We use less energy processing food and gain more energy from our foods. Finally all this bacterial helps regulate our digestive system. It is amazing the effect these tiny things have on our bowels. Once everything is in balance there is no more constipation or diarrhea or the bouncing back and forth between the two.
  3. Infection Prevention – Wait doesn’t bacteria cause infections? The answer is yes and no and to be even more confusing some of the good bacteria start with the name of bad bacteria as well. At first look what came to mind when you read Streptococcus thermophilus? Probably strep throat right? Well believe it or not this is a good bacteria and it does not cause strep throat. It actually helps with lactose intolerance and other irritations of the digestive track. Yeast infections are caused by the lack of good bacteria in our bodies. The yeast grows rapidly in warm moist areas and the bacteria are there to consume it. Lack of these bacteria has also been linked to urinary tract infections, bladder infections and kidney infection.

As you can see these little bugs are very important to our ability to digest, receive energy and stay overall healthy. These bacteria are found in many of the yogurts such as Activia®, Oikos® and Kefir. If you are lactose intolerant don’t worry there are soy and coconut based yogurts and drinks for you too. 

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Topics: nutrition active aging health and wellness

3 Reasons to Add a Corporate Fitness Center to Your Wellness Program

Business man on ellipticalCosts for care, costs for absenteeism, vendor costs, the cost of doing nothing…there has been a lot of chatter and posturing online recently about this information as it relates to corporate wellness. In case you’re not quite up to speed on all the cost-related information, here’s an infographic that will give you some compelling, high-level numbers and information to digest. As corporate wellness goes, there’s a ton out there on ROI too. Whether it’s accurate is up for debate.

If you’ve read anything we’ve put out over the last several years, you know that NIFS falls into the “do for your employees, not to your employees” camp when it comes to workplace wellness. When you treat your employees well and you provide the right services and amenities for the right reasons, there will be value to the business.

While an onsite fitness center isn’t the right choice for every business, it is an amenity that falls squarely into our “for your employees” philosophy. If you have any heart for taking care of your employees like you take care of your business, here are three reasons you should be strongly considering adding a fitness center to your overall worksite wellness strategy.

Taking Care of Their Talent

Your talented people are what make your business thrive. Technology matters, bricks and mortar play a role (most of the time), and other physical and cultural elements contribute to your success, but at the end of the day, it’s your people who make your business what it is. And you’re counting on them to perform at the top of their game.

Making it easy for your employees to exercise (through a corporate fitness center, for example) is one way to keep your smart and highly valuable employees using their talents for the benefit of your business. Compelling research has shown that adults who exercise reap more than just the physical benefits of movement.

  • This study shows that work-related benefits following a bout of exercise can include improved quality of work and better time management. The study also showed that exercise contributed positively toward an employee’s tolerance of his/her coworkers. And who couldn’t benefit from a more tolerant atmosphere?
  • This study shows that creativity is better following aerobic exercise and for at least a two-hour span after the exercise has been completed.
  • This article points out how we believe regular exercise can positively impact stress. And before you write off stress as a non-issue for the workplace, take a look at this data from an annual poll of American workers regarding workplace stress. (Bonus: you can take our own stress inventory at the end!)

Taking Care of Their Health

The physical health benefits of regular exercise are so well documented that I won’t bore you with study after study here. Let me instead take this opportunity to remind you of how easy it is to support your employees as they search for ways to get in the minimum recommended levels of exercise each day or 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week.

What you may not realize is that the health benefits of exercise can still be achieved if the 150 minutes is broken up into very small increments throughout the day. Yes, 10 to 15 minutes of movement two to three times each day is enough. So you can start to see the math add up on allowing flexible schedules for walk breaks, or short group exercise class opportunities, as viable ways to help your crew move more.  

Taking Care of Your Turnover

A corporate fitness center falls squarely under the “Employee Benefits” category, and the link between benefits and turnover has been well studied. Turnover, although regarded by some as a positive for business (fresh ideas, new energy, lose the dead weight, etc.), is still expensive.

  • This Gallup report outlines how to predict employee turnover, and points to pay and benefits as one of the top five predictors for employee turnover.
  • This Forbes article puts the spotlight on how treating employees well by providing them with access to “resources that support well-being and performance” has a positive but difficult-to-quantify impact on employees. The article spotlights the Virgin HealthMiles/Workforce survey, which showed that 87 percent of polled employees give consideration to employer-sponsored health and well-being offerings before they choose to commit to an offer.

If you’ve had enough of the statistics, reports, and research, perhaps you’re ready to dig in on the options for creating a corporate fitness center. Click below to access our three-part series that focuses on mastering the business case for creating a corporate fitness center, scoping out the size of your space and budget, and planning for a successful worksite fitness environment.

Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers

Topics: corporate wellness employee health benefits corporate fitness centers ROI corporate fitness centers; return on investement productivity

NIFS: How to face your fears

face your fearsMy earliest memory of my biggest fear was around age seven or eight. I was playing in my backyard with my childhood best friend on the swing set. We were running around it trying to catch each other when I slipped and fell, cutting my arm. I didn’t even realize I was bleeding until my friend pointed it out to me. Immediately my heart started to race, palms began to sweat, and I quickly lost all the color in my face. The next thing I remember is my Mom and friend standing over me as I lay on the ground after passing out. Every encounter with blood after this episode only amplified this fear, often resulting in avoiding certain situations such as routine blood draws or even jobs that required me to be able to perform a finger stick cholesterol test to fitness center members. Finally, after living with this fear for over twenty years, I finally made up my mind that it was time to face it. What is the one big fear you have in your life? Are you ready to face it? 

4 Tips to Facing Your Fears

1. Start small: Break down your fear and anxiety into smaller, more manageable pieces. I even listed the out in order from 1-10. (10 giving you the highest amount of anxiety and 1 just a small amount) Slowly work your way up the list as your anxiety reduces overtime.

2. Celebrate small victories: Are you afraid of heights and climbed a high amount of stairs, reaching a high elevation? Celebrate that! Have you wanted to take a group fitness class and finally worked up the courage to try one? Way to go! These small victories overtime will help you conquer your fear.

3. Ask for help: When I knew I wanted to overcome my fear, I asked for professional help. I know there are plenty of physiatrists that specialize in overcoming fear and anxiety. There are lots of resources online or by checking with your primary care physician.

4. Take action: Whether you are afraid of heights, spiders, or needles, you must physically face this fear. I overcame my fear of needles and blood with a standard blood draw. I may have looked like the man below, but I did it!  (And didn’t pass out!) 

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Topics: employee health worksite wellness nifs fitness management

Senior Living: Using Wellness Programs to Combat “Someday Syndrome”

social seniorsThere’s a lot of talk about what some in senior living call “someday syndrome.” It’s the phenomenon by which adults who have a lot to gain by moving to a retirement community for one reason or another put off the move, indicating they’ll make that change someday.

There are industry articles, LinkedIn discussion groups, and product/service provider blogs about this phenomenon. I’ve heard it in my own parents’ discussion about moving out of their house and into a community. They’re ready…sort of. Well, not really quite yet, but they’re taking steps to be ready. I think they’re like so many of their generation. They have very good reasons to put off leaving their house. What they’re missing are compelling reasons to make that difficult change and move into a senior living community.

In 2008 and for a few years afterward, there was a delay by older consumers largely because of the housing crisis connected with the great recession. But more recently, as the housing market has slowly made a turn for the better, someday syndrome remains. My parents and many of their contemporaries are waiting because they simply don’t see themselves, their lives, anywhere but in their current home.

The Power of Storytelling

In one of Steve Moran’s blogs, “Is Good good enough?,” he talks about recent trips to two better-than-average communities. And although he records being politely and promptly greeted as well as appropriately “sold” during his visit, he felt no connection to either location. He was given good marketing collateral and told quite a bit about both communities, but there was nothing in that messaging to provide unique, compelling, relatable, or personal connections. In short, if he were a prospect, he had no heartstring tug, no strong pull to move to either community.

In the end, Steve comes around to the idea of telling stories as a way to distinguish your community from those around you, and I think he’s right. The stories about residents, their family members, their lives at your community, and how the staff facilitate the very best for them are the essence of who you are.

The good news here is that you already have stories; if you’ve been in business a while, you quite possibly have tons of them. But the hard work lies ahead in figuring out how to use them to communicate your culture, your way of life, as a tool for inviting prospects to join your community family. One of the places you should be looking for stories is within your wellness program.

What a CCRC Can Offer Prospective Residents

If we look at broad brushstrokes of what a CCRC can offer to prospects, there are two big categories: safety/security and lifestyle. Both categories are clear distinguishers in terms of providing more/better than what a prospect is able to achieve in her own home. The continuum of care with qualified and passionate clinicians, along with related services (therapy, podiatry, etc) all within the four walls of your community is simply not achievable for an individual who remains at home. And if your organization is on the cutting edge of opportunities for education, service, growth, and camaraderie in your wellness programming, you no doubt have robust programming that no one individual could so easily experience living in her home.

If you are a healthy individual in your 70s or 80s and you’re considering moving out of your home into a retirement community, which of those two messages is likely to pull you through someday syndrome and toward relocating in a community setting: how you’ll be cared for when you’re sick or dying, or how you can experience new opportunities and enrich your wellbeing as you live at the community?

Let me offer a word of caution here. The idea of using lifestyle to combat “someday syndrome” only works when your lifestyle programming is truly compelling, diverse, individually oriented, and life affirming. If you calendar is full of various card games, bingo, the occasional trip, the occasional lecture, the same old group fitness classes, and the monthly podiatrist visit, there’s no lifestyle to sell and you won’t be different from the competition. Make no mistake: just because the calendar is full does not mean the events are expanding the horizons of your residents.

How to Sell Lifestyle

After years of working with our CCRC clients, here’s what we’ve learned about selling lifestyle:

  • Selling lifestyle is easy when you have the right programming and people in place that can elevate resident stories of successful living.
  • Selling lifestyle is easy when your programming has data to back up participation and engagement rates.
  • Selling lifestyle is easy when your marketing and sales staff understand the language they need to use and have specific stories to make a connection with a prospect.

If you’ve been nodding your head and you believe it’s time to elevate your community lifestyle both to serve your residents better and to create a true market differentiation for what you’re selling, check out this blog.

Are you ready to do wellness better? Learn more about wellness consulting.

Topics: senior wellness programs senior fitness management CCRC fitness center senior living engagement active living senior living community marketing

NIFS: Top 3 reasons to increase fruit and veggie consumption

woman eating healthy resized 600We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us, right? We hear it all the time that fruits and vegetables lower the chance of certain cancers, eating your spinach will prevent cataracts, eating fruits leads to longer life and beet juice lowers blood pressure. We also know that fruits and vegetables add color and texture to our dinner plate, they are low in calories and provide fiber, vitamins and minerals for our body. So, if something is good for us, why don’t we embrace it and take it all in? Well, it is not as easy as it sounds. For many, it may be the taste factor and immediate satisfaction of good tasting food, overrides thoughts of long-term health. Were you forced to eat your vegetables when you were younger? Possibly the half eaten peas and carrots that were in your mouth became the new center piece at the dinner table? Bad experiences tend to keep us away from trying it again. So, what are the top 3 reasons to increase fruit and veggie intake? Why would I want to give these foods another try?

1) Fruits and vegetables provide benefits for my overall health.  This requires a change of thinking to actually believe that it will provide long-term health benefits, so the eating choices I make today will affect me in the days, weeks, months and years ahead. Research has spoken and the results have been proven that fruits and veggies are good for us.

2) Maintaining at least half my plate with fruits and vegetables with protein and some small amounts of grains, provide steady blood glucose levels. I do not experience the high spikes of blood sugar that can be caused by eating a lot of foods that are on the high end of the glycemic index.  I feel better and have more energy by following this rule.

3) Eating more fruits and vegetables and eating less sugars and grains provide a healthy body weight. How much sugars and grains do you consume in a day? If you have been trying to lose weight and have had a hard time getting the weight off, you may want to look into what you are eating.

Whatever your experience was like, don’t give up on fruits and veggies. Give it another try. You may find that it is one of the best things you could do for your health. What are your reasons for eating more fruits and veggies? For ideas on how to incorporate fruits and veggies into your meals contact your fitness center staff.  

Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers

Topics: Food for Thought active aging nifs fitness management

Active Aging: Liven Up Your Olympics Programming (Part 2 of 2)

seniors swimmingIn part I of this blog series, we discussed opportunities to develop a comprehensive Olympics-themed program that would create a more memorable experience for participants as well as opportunities to attract more resident interest in the events. In the second part of this blog, we will explore a variety of events that you can consider folding into your Olympics to compliment the recreational activities your residents already know and love or to take a different path all-together.

Part II: Freshen up your Olympic events

Weekly recreational offerings with a strong resident following might seem like low-hanging fruit when it comes to spinning off an event for an Olympics-themed program. However, creating a flyer with your own Olympics logo and inviting these participants to a “special” tournament one afternoon can be less than inspiring for residents.  Read on to broaden your horizons on additional events you can pull into your next Olympics adventure.   

Recreational Activities & Games:

You’ve probably considered croquet, putting contests, corn hole, shuffleboard, bocce ball, ping pong, water volleyball, billiards, etc., but have you considered adapting your own versions of the following?

  • Frisbee Discuss: Play it indoors or outdoors and mark targets at varying distances. You can use hoola hoops or simply use tape to mark off the targets. You can designate varying point values for the different distances or recognize participants by the number of Frisbees that hit inside or on the target.
  • Water Balloon Shotput: Teach your residents how Olympians throw a shot put (without or without the spinning in a circle…OK, probably without the spinning) but use a water balloon! Measure the splash marks and who can shotput the water balloon the furthest distance.
  • Wii: Many residents are already familiar with Wii bowling and golf, but consider purchasing the Wii Fit if you don’t have one and allow your residents to hone their skills on downhill skiing. Wii also has games for archery, hunting & target practice, and many other options that might appeal to your residents.
  • Synchronized Swimming: Planned well in advance of your Olympics, you can have small groups of 3-4 residents compete against one another in synchronized routines they develop or have one large group of residents work together to put on a spectator sport for the entire senior living community. Perhaps you could host your Opening Ceremonies in your pool area to increase exposure of this wonderful amenity your community has to offer!

Brain Fitness:

You’re Olympic events don’t necessarily have to be recreation or fitness related. Finding other ways for residents to compete can be a great way to attract more individuals to participate.

  • Scavenger Hunt: Take pictures of random artwork and landmarks inside and outside at your community and provide these snapshots to participants. They will embark on a scavenger hunt trying to recall where they’ve seen these different items throughout the community and will visit each location. You can make it a timed event for the top three finishers or do recognition awards for everyone who makes it through.
  • Brain Trivia: Host a Jeopardy or other trivia type event for residents to promote intellectual wellness as part of your Olympics. For a large turnout, you can have multiple games going on at different tables simultaneously, or you can have residents work as teams for the answers.

Let your creative juices flow in developing a comprehensive and fresh approach to your next community Olympics!  If you like what we have shared, check out our Best Practice Series featuring 11 of our Best Practices we have implemented in active aging communities!

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Topics: active aging nifs fitness management senior living active living senior living community nifs best practices

NIFS: Women, Take Charge of Your Health

happy womenIt’s about that time of year where the weather is getting warmer and the flowers are blooming. May is a wonderful introduction into the summer months and is also a time we celebrate women. Mother’s Day is not the only day to celebrate women, but there is a whole week dedicated to women’s health. For this year, National Women’s Health Week for the US is May 11 – 17. Women can celebrate the generations of women before them that have pioneered the way and take charge of their health to make it a priority. This week focuses on preventive measures to take to improve their health and avoid disease.

Within this week, there is a day designated that women encouraged to visit their health care provider while getting recommended check-ups, vaccinations, and screenings. The National Women’s Health Check-up Day is May 12, 2014. Maintaining annual screenings and check-ups is one important way women can take control of their health and create a healthy lifestyle. Other healthy habits include getting regular physical activity, adapting a healthy nutrition routine, avoiding smoking, and following other general safety rules.

Sometimes it can seem like a lot to take in regarding our health. It’s do this, don’t do that. Follow this guideline, avoid this. Even though our health can be challenging, it’s important to know what we can control and what we can’t. One part of taking charge of your health involves understanding your risk factors. Some risk factors are beyond your control which includes family history of disease, your sex, age, or having an existing health problem. Ones you can control are diet, fitness, use of tobacco and drugs, alcohol intake, and even wearing your seatbelt to name a few. In the US, there are about 35% of early deaths that could be avoided by quitting smoking, having healthy diet and increasing physical activity. Make yourself more aware of how you can prevent early death.

To celebrate women’s health week, make time for yourself to schedule your appointments to take care of you.  I encourage you to take time this week to try the following activities:

  • Schedule your annual appointments: physical/dental/eye exam
  • Sign up for a 5K walk/run
  • Try a new healthy recipe
  • Attend a group fitness class, try something new like Zumba© or yoga
  • Get outside and do some yard work
  • Read a book or do a puzzle for brain health
Topics: active aging exercise and wellness women's health healthy living

NIFS: Encourage bike to work week for employee health

man biking to workIt’s MAY, birds are chirping the sun is out and oh yea watch for blinky lights and reflective leg bands, bike season has started! While some dread sharing the road with the two wheeled, foot powering transportation others love this chance to take advantage of the trails and bike lanes in your city. Well the truth is you SHOULD! Step outside of your normal comfort zone and bike to the store or run other errands while getting some exercise in!

Getting back on your bike can be a great way to involve the family, get involved with a new community and a little extra physical activity into your day! Great benefits of biking or commuting by bike include:

  • low impact exercise
  • creates a low environmental impact
  • it’s the most energy efficient type of transportation
  • reduces stress and travel stressors
  • saves money and so much more

Conduct an ABC Quick Check before each ride:

  • Air: Check the air in your tires. They should be inflated to the maximum rated PSI, you can find this number on the side of your tires. They should be inflated to the firmness of a basketball if you don’t have a pressure gauge.
  • Brakes: Brakes should be in working order if they stop the back when pushed forward or backwards. Brakes should be in working order if they stop wheels when pulled.
  • Chain: Chain should move freely, lightly oiled and rust-free. 

May 12-16 is Bike to work week this supports all levels of bikers to take advantage of active transportation. Here is a great website to get tips and tricks on biking to work or everyday biking. Check into other employee benefits at your work such as a bike commuter reimbursement.

How is your company promoting worksite wellness for employees?  Our staff offer great programs to encourage employees to get healthy.  Opt in to our Best Practice Series to receive 11 of our Best Practices implemented by our staff.

 

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Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness program nifs fitness management employee health and fitness

Active Aging: Breathe Life into Olympic Programming (Part 1 of 2)

seniors high fiveMany communities have regularly scheduled recreational activities on the monthly calendar such as croquet, bocce ball, or Wii that seem like fairly logical programs to spin into Olympics-themed events in senior living communities.  Still, it’s not enough to simply group these regularly occurring events together and call them your Community Olympics.  How do you set up the initiative so that it has broad appeal and allows those residents who participate in the events regularly to feel inspired and challenged alongside their novice neighbors?  This two-part blog will provide creative tips to kick your Olympics up a notch with your resident favorites as well as provide fresh new ideas for events.

Part I: Kick it up a notch

Many active aging residents, who participate in weekly recreational offerings such as shuffleboard, putting contests, are quite good. Wait, I take that back –they are really excellent! After all they are playing on a regular basis (perhaps their entire lives) and enjoying the friendly competition amongst their neighbors. As the media starts to promote the next Summer or Winter Olympics and you begin brainstorming ideas for another competition, consider how to create something that will be a truly memorable experience for your residents when they are already playing and honing their skills on a regular basis.

Get more of the community involved:

While some residents aren’t interested competing, that element of competition can breathe life into your Olympics and get more residents involved by tapping into volunteers as well as creating spectator opportunities. Create opportunities for your non-competitive residents to engage as volunteers to be scorekeepers, line judges, and coordinators for the individual events. Furthermore as you designate various venues for your events, make sure you include space for spectators and consider offering light refreshments. Market the opportunity for residentsin your senior living community to come and watch and cheer on their neighbors participating in the events. You could even host a workshop where residents can make banners or signs to bring with them and cheer on the Olympians. This can inspire not only your competing Olympian to feel the support of their neighbors, but it might also inspire a resident who is watching the event to give it a try themselves the next time around.

Make it a formal affair:

I’m not talking black ties and ball gowns, but do consider hosting a more formal approach to an Olympics by including an opening and closing ceremony as well as medals ceremonies for the different events you offer. Promote these ceremonies to the entire community and not just the Olympians. If residents are already use to regular tournaments for the recreational programs at the community, these ceremonies can help set your Olympics apart from the offering they partake in from month to month.  If you are hosting a variety of different events in your Olympics, have a parade at your Opening Ceremonies to present your Olympians in each event. If you are able to tap into resident volunteers and spectators, recognize their contributions with spirit awards at your Closing Ceremonies. 

Residents Unite!

Your residents are already competing amongst themselves on a regular basis. Why not unite your residents into a team and invite neighboring retirement communities to be your opposition for the Olympics. Plan the friendly competition well in advance so all participating communities have a chance to practice and hone their skills at the events that will be offered. While corn hole, for example, may be a big hit with your residents, it may be a new activity to residents at another community and they’ll need some time to reach Olympian status. This can motivate your residents to come together as a team and provide a fresh spin on an activity they already know and love.

Up next in part II of this blog, I’ll outline the variety of events you can consider for your Olympic Games.

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Topics: active aging senior living best practices active living senior living communities fitness programming