Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Try Positive Resolutions for the New Year

Do you find the typical New Year’s resolutions depressing? Start off 2015 with a new type of resolution. Instead of eliminating the things in your life that you love, try developing a list of new adventures or activities to experience this year. Brainstorm a variety of activities, events, recipes, or exercises that you find interesting or worthwhile and stick to it.

Take the time this year to really try something new for yourself and no one else. With each new experience, keep in mind the purpose and outcome you hope to achieve. Be confident and open-minded, and aware of your response in each situation. Keep track of your experiences, and who knows: something new this year may become part of your daily routine.

8 New Things to Try

something_newHere are some ideas to consider for the New Year:

  • Attend a new group fitness class.
  • Participate in a partner training session with a friend.
  • Try a new restaurant.
  • Walk a different route than your everyday commute to the office.
  • Prepare a recipe using fresh ingredients.
  • Attempt a new hobby, such as running, swimming, sewing, or biking.
  • Prepare a budget for the new year.
  • Learn a new sport.

By diving in and trying new things, you are taking it upon yourself to develop a more self-centered lifestyle. So many times we rely on others’ descriptions or evaluations of something instead of trying it for ourselves. With a new type of resolution, one that helps reinforce a healthy lifestyle, you can move forward during the New Year without regrets. Focusing on different activities and facing different challenges than what you may be used to will add variety to your days.

Tips for Achieving Your Goals

Remember these helpful tips when working toward your goals:

Try to develop simple, one-step tasks and take pride in each item you mark off your list in 2015. Choose tasks that are positive and promote overall health, rather than creating restrictive goals or limitations. Keep a running tally of your accomplishments and hold yourself accountable for each item on the list. Feel free to continue adding new events throughout the year based on successful or satisfying experiences.

Whether you are pledging to be healthier, happier, skinnier, less stressed, or more active, these tips can help. Don’t think about each task for hours on end, “just do it!” and move on (here are tips for finding motivation when you need it). If it is something you enjoy, evaluate it and go back for more. The main goal of this practice is to find new and fun activities that bring a sense of satisfaction to your life. You never know if you will like something until you try. The power that comes from accomplishing a goal only helps to reinforce one’s ability to keep moving forward. Keep that in mind, and work toward a healthier, happier future this New Year!

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Topics: Be inspired motivation goal setting new year New Year's Resolutions in Action resolutions

NIFS: Gain positive thinking with practices and questions (Part 2)

Before, we discussed how a negative attitude can adversely affect a person’s health.  Luckily, experts say you can change your ways regardless of how long you have been in a negative thinking slump. 

You can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking (don't miss part 1). They say the process is simple, but it does take time and practice —after all, you’re creating a new habit!

In my personal experience, when someone around me is being negative, I find that it really affects my mood.  How so?  Here is an example. 

My husband is a third shift worker and when he is just getting off of work, I am heading to work.  This means we are on opposite schedules 90% of the time.  Think of your regular work day.  Everything that went on at work, usually sticks with you till the end of the day when you can finally talk to someone about it.  If my husband had a rough night at work that resulted in a bad attitude, it typically spills over into our conversation.  Let me tell you, the last thing I want to hear at the start of my day is how bad his day was.  Sometimes, because of his bad night, it affects his thinking and before you know it the whole conversation is negatively affected and I’m annoyed by the time I’m off the phone.

Because of our schedules, I have had to adjust my way of thinking and create new habits when it comes to our morning conversations.  I can’t hold it against him for being in a bad mood, but sometimes I ask him a couple questions to try to bring what happened into perspective.  Sometimes this works, while other times it doesn’t and I have to be the one who changes my way of thinking and let him be in a negative mood while I remind myself this doesn’t have to affect the rest of my day. 

What works for me when trying to think positive?  

roadrageWhen service is slow at a restaurant: I often try to remind myself what it must be like to work in a place where what other people do affects how quickly you can get your job done.  For example: getting upset at the waitress when really something in the kitchen is what held up your food.

When someone is tailgating you while driving:  Instead of being that person who taps my breaks or purposely slows down to make that person more aggravated, I get into the other lane or wave them around me when the road is clear.  They must have somewhere to be that’s very important, right?!

When I am sore or do not feel the greatest: I think to myself that there are far more people that have bigger things going on.  My back hurts? What about the person who can’t walk because of back problems?  I’m tired?  Put on a smiling face and maybe that will make it easier to wake up and get through the day.  In my opinion, it’s better not to pout.  And like I said before “fake it till you make it”.

If you find it hard to find the other side of a story or think that there is no way you can be wrong, there are also questions that you can ask yourself to help you get on the path to positive thinking.  Carthage Buckley is an experienced learning and development professional who specializes in mentoring, coaching, and providing people with motivational skills.  He has had great success in giving people the ability to empower themselves to make the positive changes they are looking for.   On his website, Carthage listed “14 Questions to help you overcome your negative thinking”.   Listed below are great questions for everyone to ask themselves.  

  1. Is this fact or just my opinion?
  2. Could I be wrong?
  3. Why am I so certain of the conclusion I have reached? 
  4. What assumptions am I making?
  5. What evidence is there to support/dispute my thinking? 
  6. Who says things should be this way?
  7. When I felt like this before, what did I do to change my viewpoint?

My Challenge to you:  For the next 5 days, try to take a sour situation and put a positive spin on it.  Just today, I read this quote on a friend’s social media account, author unknown “Be selective in your battles for sometimes peace is better than being right.”  Meaning you ask?  When I have a conversation with someone that has a negative tone, it seems like that person is battling the other possibility, the other side of the story.  When I try to show light or perspective on the other side, I am told why I am wrong.  Pick your battles, believe it or not, you will find you’re more calm and comfortable when you’re not constantly upset about something.  Put any frustration into your workout and visit your corporate  or senior fitness center for some exercise!

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Topics: wellness

NIFS: How does positive thinking impact your life?

“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." - Abraham Lincoln

I don’t know how many conversations I have had with people about their health and exercise routines that often turn into conversations about why they cannot participate in a certain activity.  When I try to put a positive spin on the situation, the response I get is “You are young, you don’t understand.”  I realize I am younger than the folks I work with and do not totally understand what it means to get older with a body that wants to do the opposite of what I want to do.  But, I shouldn’t be totally disregarded, as I do have an idea of how difficult it can be.  After all, I have worked with people with ailments since I was old enough to have a paying job.  Plus, I have experienced the unfortunate event of orthopedic surgeries and physical therapies to get back on my feet.

I have been told multiple times that I smile a lot and they wonder why I am in such a good mood so early in the morning.  My answer is typically “Why not?”  I am lucky that I have been given the “upbeat” predisposition.   Whether it’s through helping someone with their exercise routine or stopping to have a conversation that strikes their interest, I will do what works to help a person’s day go a little better.  Too often do people walk through the halls to their apartment with their head down or worse, responding to a “good morning” with “oh is it?”  There really is a term that works, which is “fake it till you make it”.  Which means do what you have to do to make yourself believe it really is a good day.    

positive_thinkierSo what does this have to do with anything health and wellness related, you ask?  Well, there have been numerous observances and studies focusing on how a positive or negative attitude affects a person’s health and recovery. 

The Mayo Clinic has given us a list of health benefits that come with positive thinking

Researchers continue to explore effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. The benefits that positive thinking may provide include:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

It's unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits. One theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body. It's also thought that positive and optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles — they get more physical activity and follow a healthier diet.”

Think of the most negative thinker you know… Now, take into consideration the list above.  When I think of the negative thinkers in my life, once something “bad” has happened, they are immediately ranting about it, even long after the situation is over.   The more they talk about it, the more intense the story tends to get.  When they dwell on it, it seems as though they become distressed over the situation.  Sometimes it seems like the same thing tends to happen to them and they become depressed saying “why me?”  If depression becomes a factor, then as time goes on, depression starts affecting our health.  It’s easy to think negatively about most situations, which causes stress because you are upset about it, that can cause the person to have high blood pressure, high blood pressure results in heart conditions, which is detrimental to your overall health.

Basically, negative thinking can have a snowball effect.  Once one part of your life is affected, multiple parts may fall into the same pattern.  Before you know it, it has caused much more trouble than you ever thought it would with your personal health and worksite wellness. 

After reading this, do you think you are negative or positive thinker?  Do you agree with the affects a negative attitude has on your body?  Stay tuned for part two, where we will offer questions to ask yourself to help determine if you are negative thinker and what to try to turn your mindset around.  Until then, stay positive! 

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Topics: health and wellness

12 Days of Fitness: Keep Participants Active During the Holidays

When it comes to the holidays, everyone seems to be short on everything: time, money, patience, you name it. We are, however, enjoying longer lines and longer wait times! With all of this in mind, fitness can easily be put on the back burner. There are parties to attend, various people to shop for, and light shows to see, so it’s safe to say that spending hours at the gym is not something most people are doing this time of year. Now come January, that’s a different story!

snowmanPutting a Fitness Spin on a Holiday Tradition

Our staff have found various ways of putting a fitness spin on an old holiday tradition. It’s a program called the 12 Days of Fitness, and it works really well to get people moving during this busy season. When you think of 12 days, it doesn’t seem like a long time—and frankly, that’s exactly the point! Yet, 12 days of burning calories, educating people, and having some fun can have a positive impact for the participants.

We’ve had several sites record a 100% completion rate for this program, and we think the key to success is making each day count with simple but impactful activities and including something that is truly encouraging for the participants.

12 Tips for Creating a Holiday Fitness Program

 Below are our 12 best tips for how you can create your own fun and effective 12 Days of Fitness program.

  1. Offer quick yet challenging workouts since time is of the essence during the holidays. Short 10 to 20-minute classes or challenges will get people in and out. Tis the season to be efficient and effective!
  2. Let’s face it: prizes both pull people in and keep them coming back. Have a daily drawing or a daily competition where one prize is offered on each day of the program. Keep the prizes health and fitness related to further emphasize a healthy outlook.
  3. Hosting lunchtime classes or activities gives associates an alternative to those not-so-healthy holiday luncheons or parties. The potential for binging is everywhere; why not create your 12 Days of Fitness as a respite for employees looking for a healthier escape? 
  4. Get creative with classes or activities that you offer. Provide the participants with exercises they can easily do at home, or offer new and exciting ones to keep them out of an exercise rut. You might try dance-style classes or incorporate an exercise scavenger hunt in your facility.
  5. Use the program as a learning experience. Show participants healthy recipes or even host a healthy holiday party offering samples of modified or low-calorie snacks, appetizers, main dishes, and drinks.
  6. Make participants accountable. Post the exercise or activity of the day and require that the staff sign off when it has been completed. 
  7. Encourage associates who work at home to participate. Send them emails with exercise pictures or video demonstrations. It’s important for people to know they always have time to squeeze some activity into their day no matter where they are located.
  8. If you’re focused on getting employees into your corporate fitness center, require that some of the exercises and activities be performed in the facility. This also gives you a chance to see and speak with the participants.
  9. Incorporate stress reduction and relaxation into the program. You can do this by offering educational materials on these topics, or more interactive things like hosting a free yoga class or 10-minute chair massages.
  10. Add a personal touch. Send out emails or make phone calls to check in with participants who have missed a day or one of the required activities or exercises.
  11. Incorporate teamwork into the program. Similar to our Maintain Not Gain program, working with a partner can increase the chances of success. You can do this in the classes you offer; you can require a partner for certain exercises, or even add a referral component where participants encourage nonmembers to join and participate.
  12. Celebrate their accomplishment! Being successful is key, but everyone can feel a sense of accomplishment if managed correctly. Besides the daily drawings, offer all successful participants something at the end of the program. This can be a prize, but it can also be wrapping the successful participants’ names around some lights and words of encouragement for all to see. Make your participants feel proud of sticking to a healthy routine during the holidays. They’ll surely thank you later, and might even ask for more programs like

If you’re not offering a holiday program, this just might be your key to keeping participation numbers up and the pounds and stress levels down. Use some of the above ideas for developing your own 12 Days of Fitness and see what kind of difference you can make this season.

Corporate Fitness Services

Topics: engagement best practice program planning

Senior Living: Five Tips for a Restful Night Sleep

Getting enough sleep is important to all areas of your health. According to a study from Harvard Medical School, “Chronic sleep loss can contribute to health problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and a decrease in the immune system’s power.” I know, if I don’t get enough sleep, it affects my mood and performance level.

Working at a senior living community, I am asked by residents, “how can you get the necessary sleep you need when you toss and turn and just don’t sleep well?” Some of the biggest concerns from seniors I hear about not sleeping well involve muscle cramps that wake them up, not being able to clear their minds to stay asleep and frequent trips to the restroom.  I believe there are 5 key ways to get a more restful night’s sleep. I’ve shared these with my residents and I hope they can work for you as well.

  1. senior_drinking_waterDrink Water Throughout the Day. When I am busy, I find I rarely get enough water throughout my day. By the time night comes, I am super thirsty. It is hard to get enough water close to bed. Not only that, if I drink a lot before bed, I find myself waking up to use the restroom, which interrupts my restful sleep. Another negative side effect to not drinking enough water is muscle cramps. Dehydration can increase the likelihood of muscle cramps while sleeping.
  2. Take a Warm Bath or Shower. I have heard this is because the warmth of the water increases your body temperature and when you sleep, your body temperature decreases. This may be true, but for me the reason a warm shower works is it relaxes my tight, tired muscles. The warmth releases tension and helps ease my aches and pains from daily activities and exercise.
  3. Stretch. This goes hand-in-hand with the warm shower. You can get a better night’s sleep when your muscles aren’t tight and painful. I have found light stretching in my bed before I close my eyes gets my body ready for sleep. I concentrate on lower body, hip, and back stretches. I hold each stretch for at least 30-60 seconds. I close my eyes, take long and deep breaths, and focus on relaxing the muscles as I stretch them.
  4. Breathe. This is very important while stretching, but deep breathing throughout the day also helps reduce stress. When I am frustrated or upset, taking three-four deep belly breaths helps me calm down and refocus. At night this deep breathing is good because it helps clear my mind. After I finish my stretching routine, I lie flat on my back with my eyes closed and focus on breathing. In yoga, this is called savasana or corpse pose. It is beneficial because it helps your memory, reduces heart rate and blood pressure, increases oxygen levels in your blood, reduces headaches, and helps improve your focus.
  5. Reduce the Distractions in your Bedroom. This is by far the hardest thing for me to practice. Turning off the TV, putting the book away, and not sleeping with my smart phone next to my bed have helped me go to sleep faster. Picking up my cell phone to check email, the weather, and social media means I stay awake longer than I need to. The noises and distractions can also interrupt restful sleep, so put them away.

Tonight, may you sleep soundly after a day of drinking water, taking a warm bath or shower, stretching, breathing, and relaxing without any distractions; Sweet Dreams!

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Topics: senior living wellness

3 Ways  Fitness Participation Data Improves Senior Living Communites

group_of_seniors

If you can't answer these questions about your community fitness program, it's time to consider doing something more with the data you're gathering to create a more effective offering for your residents:

  1. Do you know how many classes you offered last month and which residents attended compared to the preceding month?
  2. Do you know how many appointments were conducted in the fitness center last year compared to this year?
  3. Does your tracking for fitness center or class attendance allow you to see individual participation trends by resident?

In many communities with which we work, there is often some type of sign in practice in place, but typically little to nothing is done with that information once the resident signs his name on the way into the fitness center. Consistent participation tracking is even less common in the group fitness classes; it's more common to simply estimate headcounts.

Tracking resident participation in all of your offerings is central to highlighting the value of your fitness program and continuing to evolve what you are doing.  Read on to discover three key ways participation data can help you provide more effective programming in your senior living community fitness center.

1. Create Visit Goals for the Residents

By keeping record of how many total visits you have to your fitness center, pool, and group fitness offerings, you can determine the ebbs and flows in participation through the year. As the busy holiday season approaches and exercise routines get pushed to the back burner, set a community goal for your residents to accumulate more visits in December of this year as opposed to last year. We’ve seen firsthand how residents LOVE to rally together as a team for goals like this. Providing them with weekly updates on their standings has helped us reach visit goals and prevented lulls in participation. You won’t know what a reasonable goal is, however, if you don’t have historical data to evaluate.

[Related Content: Increasing Participation in Senior Living Fitness Programs]

2. Reach Out to Individuals

Your tracking system should allow you to see how many times any given resident participates in part(s) of the program. If someone comes to a particular exercise class six times a month and the fitness center nine times a month, you should have that information at your fingertips through proper tracking procedures. Then you can recognize their efforts through recognition programs such as a monthly “Fit 15” listing. Similarly, if you have a resident who joined the program but stopped coming, you’ll have that important information at your fingertips. Personally contacting a resident and letting them know that their participation is missed and inviting them back to an old favorite or a fresh new opportunity can be a great tool for improving exercise adherence.

Let's be clear: We’re talking about tracking attendance by resident; that’s the only way this will work. Taking simple headcounts for total visits in your program will not allow you to consistently evaluate the specific members who make up your participation and create those avenues for personal connection and recognition.

3. Demonstrate Value

Having participation data that shows you monthly totals for your different offerings will allow you to evaluate what is effective, what is gaining or losing momentum, and what might be ready for a change. By sticking with a group fitness class on the calendar that has only two or three consistent participants, you might be limiting resources that could go toward a fresh new offering that would cater to the needs and interests of more individuals. Residents will be much more able to embrace change when you can show them the data and well-thought-out intentions behind it.

Similarly, if you feel your program cannot expand further without additional resources, let the data demonstrate the value in your current offerings. If an exercise class is busting at the seams, have a few months worth of data to show the growth and articulate the need for another class on the schedule. If your fitness center participation is increasing, use the monthly visit and appointment data to demonstrate the need for additional staffing support or more equipment.

[Related Content: Benefits of Tracking Participation Data]

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Don’t shy away from data. It can support important decisions about the future of your fitness program. Start small with a simple list of all the residents in the community and invite them to start checking in. From there, you can build basic spreadsheets to create a tracking tool that will help you determine what parts of your community’s fitness program need the most attention. Or, reach out to us for NIFS consulting services - we'll provide you with the tools to get off the ground quickly with improvements to your fitness program that boost your senior living community.  

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Topics: active aging fitness programs for seniors participation senior living fitness center