Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Active Aging: Ten Ways for Seniors to Stay Active in the City

active_in_cityIf you live in a city, then you have your share of challenges when it comes to keeping fit.  Although so many things can be available at your fingertips, how do you successfully stay active?  Here are 10 ways to be fit in multiple wellness dimensions for seniors living in an urban area: 

  1. Stop to smell the flowers by walking around a park or botanical garden.  Research shows that green space and being outside can lower stress.  I’m not saying you have to hug a tree in appreciation…unless you want to.   
  2. Enjoy a cultural experience at a museum while racking up your steps.  Many cities house museums for art, science, history and much more!  This is a great excuse to check out the latest exhibit while stepping your way towards health.    
  3. Walk a pet.  Use a cute pooch as your excuse to get out and about on a regular basis.  Start slowly and increase your pace and/or distance over time!
  4. If you have access to a body of water, then try sailing, canoeing, or kayaking.  This can be a fun option to mix into your routine by getting out on the water.  Don’t forget to take pictures from that different point of view to show all of your friends!
  5. Take the stairs.  Stairs are everywhere throughout the city.  If this is a safe option for you, then challenge yourself with some stair routines.  Walk them, every-other step them, do sidesteps…be creative!  I usually do stairs while listening to Eye of the Tiger…and pretend I’m Rocky Balboa.
  6. Explore your city’s architecture and history.  Whether it’s on foot or on a bike, explore the ins and outs of your city while getting exercise.  More and more cities are offering bike rental services so if you don’t own a bike, then try renting one! 
  7. Participate in an organized race event.  Many cities host races of various lengths, causes and themes for you to participate in throughout the year.  Select a race with a meaningful cause to you and train accordingly.  This can also provide a target end-goal for your exercise regimen. 
  8. Attend festivals or street markets.  This will give you an opportunity to walk around and even pick up a few fresh treats while being social with a few hundred of your closest friends!
  9. Beat traffic by walking instead of driving.  Given the accessibility of many locations, try walking to and from appointments and events such as grocery stores, hair appointments, doctor’s appointments, dentists, and the theaters when appropriate.  This is a healthy option that is also good for the environment. 
  10. Try a Gentle Yoga or Tai Chi class!  Both of these classes are beneficial to seniors since they are gentle on joints, promote range of motion and target on balance improvement.  Some classes will even meet outside on nice days!

What ways have you found to be fit in your city?  Keep in mind these safety recommendations to optimize your overall wellness.  Don’t live in a city?  Watch for my next blog about Ways to Stay Fit in the Country! 

Exercise is important as we age, check out our quick read for more information and share with your loved ones to keep them active, click below!

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Topics: active aging senior living exercise for elderly

NIFS Nutrition: 10 Healthy Snacks for Road Warriors

travel_snacksWhether you are traveling for business or for pleasure it typically means most meals are eaten out or on the go.  This can be challenging to make the most balanced choices and keeping your eating on the right track.  You want to try foods special to that region, you are busy and grabbing the first thing that sounds good, you don’t have access to a grocery store for more fresh foods can all be challenges while traveling.

The following 10 healthy snack ideas can help to keep you satisfied between meals and allow you to make balanced decisions at lunch or dinner.  These are snacks that you can bring from home that don’t require any refrigeration or utensils.  These can be easily thrown in a purse, bag or suitcase and readily available for you to grab at snack time.

Trail mix – Grab a handful of your favorite lightly salted or unsalted nuts, a handful of dried fruit, and a handful of high fiber cereal and toss in sandwich baggies for a high fiber and shelf stable snack.

Fresh fruit – Bananas, apples, pears, grapes, and citrus fruits are great options to grab from home for a sweet and tasty snack.  If you are concerned about the fruit bruising or spoiling during traveling, consider grabbing the squeezable fruit pouches.  Just be sure to pick the ones with only fruit and vegetables listed in the ingredients. 

Peanut butter sandwich – These aren’t just for kids!  2 slices of whole wheat bread can provide 8 grams of filling fiber and 2 Tbsp of peanut butter can provide 8 grams of protein.  This delicious and portable snack is perfect for traveling away from home. 

Hardboiled egg – This snack will provide you with all of the essential amino acids your body needs.  They can go a few hours without being refrigerated, so try to eat them as a morning snack if possible.  Or if you have access to a refrigerator, they will stay good in their shell for up to a week.

Jerky – This portable protein snack comes in many options such as beef, turkey, chicken, venison, and bison.  They are typically low in saturated fat and calories.  However, these can be loaded with sodium and not so good for you nitrates.  Look for lower sodium varieties and jerky with very short ingredient lists. 

Nutrition bar – These prepackaged bars can be confusing since there are so many options on the market.  Check out my blog with tips and suggestions, but as a rule of thumb grab a bar with less than 15 grams of protein, more than 3 grams of fiber, 15 grams or less of sugar, and mainly heart healthy fats. 

If you forget to grab snack when you leave home, here are some options that can be available for purchase.

McDonald’s fruit and yogurt parfait – This snack size treat has 150 calories and 4 grams of protein.  Save 30 calories and 40 mg of sodium when you skip the granola topping. 

Starbucks protein box (1/2 the box) – The full box is 380 calories which is more along the lines of a meal than a snack, but if you have someone to split with or a fridge for the leftovers, ½ the box is a great snack option.  Apples, grapes, a hardboiled egg, multigrain muesli bread, cheddar cheese, and peanut butter are all included.  

Wendy’s small chili – At only 170 calories and loaded with 15 grams of filling protein, the small chili is a great snack option.  Beware of the toppings though…the cheese will double the fat content and add 60 calories to the cup. 

Subway apple slices and cheese slice – For a perfect combination of fiber and protein, grab a bag of apple slices and 2 pieces of cheese for a snack around 100 calories total. 

The most important tip is everything in moderation!  Enjoy your travels, try something new, and get out there and explore the new city!

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Topics: nutrition healthy food choices nifs nutrition news

Senior Wellness: Elder Falls Linked to Obesity

fall_riskObesity is an epidemic in our society today. Those who are obese have greater risk of diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke, and arthritis.

This article discusses obesity in the elderly and how it increases their risk of falling. As might be guessed, the greater an individual's degree of obesity, the greater the risk of falling. A fall may also bring about greater disability for an elder’s ADLs (Activities of Daily Living).

The Risks of Falls for Elders

For more mild cases of obesity (BMI 35.0–39.9 kg/m (2)), an elderly person is at greater risk for long-term disabilities after falling. If an elder is more of a “weekend warrior” type, this claim makes sense. They are obese and need to make lifestyle changes, but they aren’t in such bad shape as to be completely sedentary (inactive). If they attempt a very strenuous activity, they could very well cause themselves a long-term disability.

One claim the article makes is that obesity may reduce an elder’s risk of injury from a fall. This claim doesn’t make sense from an orthopedic perspective. What do most of us do when we fall? We put out our hands to try to catch ourselves, right? Imagine the shoulder and wrist injuries that even a healthy, active athlete could sustain in such a fall. An obese elder is most likely going to have been sedentary (inactive) for at least several months. Being sedentary will have caused atrophy (wasting of muscle tissue) throughout the person’s body. Wrist and shoulder injuries, and perhaps even head and neck injuries, could be expected in an obese elder suffering a fall.

Prevent Injuries Through Exercise and Diet

Practicing prevention is much easier than being laid up with an injury. Strength training, yoga, Pilates, and other forms of exercise, combined with a healthy diet, can help keep us all more fit and active in our later years.

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Topics: weight control senior fitness obesity yoga injury

Why Corporate Fitness Center Design Matters

Corporate_Fitness_Center-1When a business makes the commitment to put in a corporate fitness center, they are making a statement (hopefully one of many) about how important their employees’ health is. It’s a substantial investment, and the project is not to be taken lightly. 

From an outside perspective, you might think there’s not much to designing this kind of space. Put up the walls, install the equipment, and you’re ready to go, right? I suppose you can charge ahead with that philosophy, but you may be leaving quite a bit to chance in terms of building a space that is safe, efficient, and effective for your employees. 

From conception to completion, we’ve had the privilege of being involved in dozens of fitness center design projects over the last several years. Below are three reasons why we think thoughtful design in corporate fitness is key to a successful fitness center program.

 Webinar Series: The Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers

Selecting the best equipment influences the success of your space.

When deciding which exercise equipment you want for your space, be sure to do your homework. Every sales rep will offer to lay out your space with their equipment for free. And every rep will tell you that their equipment is the best. Carefully lay out the features that are most important to you (don’t forget about warranty), and make a pro/con list for the equipment you’re considering to determine what will work best in your space and for your employees.

Hiring the right staff will help maximize use of the fitness center.

Only about 20% of American adults are meeting the physical activity guidelines as offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (And that’s probably a falsely high estimate because the data is gathered through self-report mechanisms.) So you can expect that less than 20% of your workforce would get enough exercise even if you didn’t put in an onsite fitness center. Simply offering a corporate fitness program isn’t enough to get employees in the inactive 80% camp to start moving. 

Corporate fitness is not an “if you build it, they will come” proposition. Having the right staff on board can make a big difference on utilization of spaces and programs through the fitness center. But you have to build the space from a user’s perspective in order to provide opportunities to maximize the programming that invites new participants. 

Your fitness management staff should be able to keep track of key metrics as well as provide a variety of programs (including group fitness classes) and services designed to draw in more users on a regular basis. 

Establishing the best possible layout will make a difference for users.

Thoughtful design will take into account the quantity and types of equipment needed in the space, as well as intended uses for the environment. For example, if you have an employee audience with an insatiable appetite for group fitness classes, don’t skimp on your studio space. Make it large enough to accommodate anticipated volume, and equip it with the right types of storage to house the group class toys. Carefully research what’s needed for the group fitness stereo, and pay close attention to work areas adjacent to the studio space to make sure that soundproofing is available where needed. 

Adequate locker room and shower space is a must, and easy access to drinking water is essential. Flooring surfaces need to be carefully considered along with where to place mirrors, how to orient equipment near and around windows, and what staff office/desk spaces will accommodate. 

And you should rely 100% on your architectural team to provide all of those elements for the space initially. But it’s not reasonable to expect that team to understand, from an operator’s perspective, how your fitness staff and employees will work and exercise in the space. Unless your architect had a previous career managing a corporate fitness center, my experience is that the architect might miss some key elements in the design that would ultimately inhibit the end-user experience.

If this brief outline of key design and program elements for your fitness center has you thinking you might be in over your head, check out our fitness center design sampling, or contact me to talk through the questions brought on from reading this post.

Topics: corporate fitness centers participation corporate wellness staffing fitness center design equipment

Free Group Fitness Classes Help One Participant Take On Cancer

SDropcho_photoIf you work in fitness, you know that for some members, the only way to engage them in regular exercise is through a group class setting.  Some people love the energy of a group effort, others like that they can blend in, and still other participants like group classes because of the ease of simply following real time instructions from a motivating teacher. 

For Sheila Dropscho, it’s the group atmosphere that keeps her coming back to NIFS-led classes at Broad Ripple Park in Indianapolis. She also walks and rides her bike for exercise, but when I talked to her about her experience with the classes she’s been attending for the last several years, the enthusiasm in her voice was palpable and she couldn’t say enough about the positive impact the Indy in Motion classes have had on her life. 

Indy in Motion is a partnership between the Marion County Health Department, Indy Parks, and NIFS.  The group fitness classes, held at a variety of Indy Parks, have been available for years and are offered at no cost to participants.  The formats and locations have evolved over time to meet the interests of the attendees at each site.  The program is a fantastic resource for people across the city to have access to free group fitness classes taught by some of the best instructors in the area.  To get a better idea about classes and formats available through Indy in Motion, click here.  Be sure to call the park to confirm that the information on the site is current.

Sheila learned about the Indy in Motion program through an article in the paper several years ago. When her youngest daughter went off to college, Sheila found herself with more time to commit to her personal health and she decided to give the program a try.  While Broad Ripple Park is her home base, she also takes Indy in Motion classes at Washington Park on the city’s east side. 

Sheila’s favorite class at Broad Ripple is Zumba® on Tuesdays and Thursdays; she tries not to miss it.  Sheila loves being around the other participants and watching their progress, but it’s the instructor, Nicole, who provides exactly the motivation Sheila needs to keep coming back. Nicole’s healthy tips, her intensity with the music, and her genuine concern about the participants are all part of what help Sheila feel great about the exercise and keep her coming back. 

Sheila’s consistency at class hit a snag when she was diagnosed with breast cancer recently.  She progressed through a mastectomy as well as a course of chemotherapy.  And she’s proud to say she is cancer-free.  But she credits her hard work in the group fitness classes and her good health going into the diagnosis for the relative ease with which she handled the challenging cancer treatment so well. 

Sheila said, “People were stunned that I was able to work my four 10 hour days during my chemo.  I don’t know that I would have been able to do that without that foundation.”

After recently undergoing reconstructive surgery and dealing with a complication from that process, her doctor has advised her, for now, to simply walk for exercise.  Sheila has been compliant with the doctor’s orders, but she confided that she’s more than a little bit eager to get back to her Tuesday/Thursday rhythm with Zumba®.

When Sheila’s ready, her class, and her instructor Nicole, will be there to help her get her groove on again.

Ready to bring group fitness classes to your Indianapolis audience?

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Topics: health and wellness testimonials group fitness

NIFS Nutrition: 8 Tips to Eat Smarter

eat_smartMany people don’t know where to start when eating healthier.  Here are eight tips to help you eating smarter.  You don’t need to do them all, but by incorporating just a couple of changes each week, you will find yourself on a path to better health in no time!

1. Snack Smarter

Start by changing the ‘snack ratio’ in the house.  Slowly and gradually have more fruits, veggies and baked snack foods around, rather than the typical, higher calorie, highly processed junk foods.  For instance, have at least three types of fruits and veggies (apples, carrots, grapes) on hand at all times to replace some of the cookies, ice cream or candy bars.  Don’t forget the almonds, nonfat Greek style yogurt and hummus too!

2. Get a “Hand”le on Portions

Develop a healthy habit of selecting sensible sized food portions.  If your plate has a serving of rice that can’t fit into the cupped palm of your hand, then in most cases, the amount of food you’ve chosen is too much.  Same goes for nuts, pretzels and pretty much any snack food.  Keep your plate full of fruits and veggies and limit the large portion sizes of meats, refined grains (like white rice, pasta and bread) and high fat dairy foods.  Check out choosemyplate.gov for a better understanding of portion sizes.

3. Slash Your Soda Intake

Try slowly weaning yourself off calorie-containing soft drinks.  The sugar and calories add up and can cause unnecessary weight gain.  Good alternatives include unsweetened iced tea or water.  If you like the carbonation, try using carbonated water (club soda or seltzer) mixed with ¼ cup 100% fruit juice.

4. Go Easy on the Sauces

Choose low fat and low sodium versions of your favorite condiments.  Ask to have your sauces and dressings served on the side.  This will save many calories since you will be in control of how much is consumed.  Usually more sauce is poured on than what is needed.  Dip your fork into the sauce or dressing, and then dip your fork into the food.  This will give you the flavor with every bite, but without the extra calories and fat!

5. Eat Breakfast

Eating breakfast is not the only tip, you must try to make it a good choice because it may establish your hormonal appetite regulation system for the day.  A donut or muffin with coffee may sound good, but it won’t tame your cravings or temper your appetite as much a s a protein-rich breakfast from eggs, egg whites, oatmeal with peanut butter, yogurt (especially Greek yogurt), cottage cheese with fruit or nut butters with a whole grain bread.  If you are eating cold cereal, look for brands that provide at least six grams protein per serving and 10 grams or less of sugar per serving.  Use skim or 1% milk to add additional protein.

6. Try Meatless Mondays

Or any day of the week really, but the point is to try to eat vegetarian one day a week to lower your animal protein consumption and increase your plant protein intake (beans, lentils, soy, tofu).  This will help to lower your cholesterol, increase your fiber intake, and is better for our ecosystem. 

7. Keep Variety in Check

The more variety of foods, flavors and textures you have to choose from the more likely you are to eat (think buffets).  So try to make a grocery list and stick to it, planning your meals and snacks everyday so you eliminate unnecessary food choices that may derail your diet. 

8. Make One Change at a Time

One way researchers suggest to conserve your daily willpower is to focus on only one positive diet behavior at a time, until that behavior becomes an automatic response.  If you try to do too much at once, or take your diet to the extreme, chances are you cannot stick with the routine long enough to provide lifelong changes in your health. Take is slow and steady and stay focused on your goal at hand!

Try a couple of these tips and find what works for you.  Small steps to a healthier lifestyle are key. What have you found works when maintaining a healthier diet? 

 

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Topics: healthy food choices healthy diet nifs nutrition news

5 Tips for Ensuring Senior Safety on Exercise Equipment

senior_on_treadmillFor any individual exercising, it is important to understand that there is some risk of injury, especially when working on a treadmill, elliptical, or weight machines. For the senior population, this is more pronounced, as the body is more prone to falls and other injuries from working with machines. So how does one avoid the risk of injury when working on a piece of exercise equipment?

Working with the senior population has taught me a great deal about injury prevention and risk that is important in the senior-aged population. For example, not every piece of equipment is safe for every individual, regardless of skill and ability. Due to this, safety is always first and you should consider the needs of each individual when working with senior clients. 

Following are five tips you should consider when working with your piece of equipment. There are safety features for every machine, so pay close attention to these tips.

1. Know Your Treadmill

One of the most commonly prescribed exercises for seniors is walking. It is an activity that can be done every day, and there is evidence to suggest it helps lower blood pressure, reduces stress, and helps maintain lean body mass. Due to this, treadmill walking is very popular. 

For the senior population, it is especially important to make sure everyone is safe from falls and injury, which is why treadmill safety is a high priority in many gyms with seniors. For general safety, remember to look forward at all times, keep the arms swinging as you normally would with your usual gait, and slowly increase your speed. For more on treadmill safety, check out this checklist of safety tips for treadmills.

2. Adjust Your Bike

An indoor bike and outdoor bike are similar in that they require proper adjusting prior to use. For a recumbent bike, remember to adjust the bike in a good position so that your feet are not reaching too far forward when pedaling. Make sure to adjust the back seat (if possible) so you can maintain a good posture during your ride. If it is a challenge to maintain good posture due to aching backs or medical procedures, try your best to adjust the seat appropriately or have your trainer help you.

3. Adjust the NuStep

Adjusting your NuStep is similar to adjusting your bike. Make sure that your feet are not reaching too far forward, and make sure that when you are pedaling your knees have a little bend. In addition to these adjustments, you can set your time and pace, and maintain an individualized ride, by adjusting a few settings. The NuStep is one of the safest pieces of equipment for seniors, and it can give a great workout for the upper body, lower body, or a combination of both.

4. Adjust Weight Machines 

Adjusting the weight machines is probably the only aspect in adjusting that needs good attention to detail, especially for the senior population. Some machines require adjusting seats, legs, arms, and back rests, and you will also need to adjust the weight stacks. For any senior starting out on exercise machines, it is best to have an exercise physiologist or trainer adjust the settings with you in order to have everything where it should be. In addition, correct adjustments will make your exercises more effective and can help eliminate injury.

5. Adjust the Biodex Balance Machine

Adjusting this machine requires primarily knowing where to place your feet each time you step on it. As a critical aspect in senior fitness, balance training will help work on balance, and this means working the mind, eyes, ankles, and feet. With a correct adjustment on a balance machine such as the Biodex balance training system, you will be ready to safely explore this aspect of your training to help prevent and reduce falls.

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If you have any special tips for equipment safety and would like to share, please add them to the comments section below. We are always looking for personal experiences with equipment adjustments, and any additional tips are valuable.

Are sure where to start in measuring your liability?  Click below for our checklist for managing your fitness center liability.

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Topics: balance senior fitness exercise for elderly injury prevention safety

Tips for Starting Balance Training in Senior Fitness

Balanced_older_womanYou might know that some of the basic elements your senior fitness workout program should include are weight training, cardio activities, and as much flexibility as possible. One element that needs special attention among the senior population is balance training. Training for balance has been considered a fourth recommendation from many organizations, and there has been a much bigger emphasis on balance training in senior wellness programs in recent years.

With balance training now a part of a strong recommendation for your daily workout routine, where do you start? What is balance training? These questions are pretty common among seniors, and the perfect place to start is with training. 

Following are some tips for starting and maintaining your new balance program—that is, if you have not already been working on balance.

Start with Assistance

Even if you feel like you are pretty surefooted, start light and use something to assist with your balance activities. Anytime you work balance, you are using muscles in your body that may cause your balance to become shaky. Once you are more acclimated to the balance activities and you are comfortable with progressing, try slowly releasing the assisting device or object to get more challenge from your balance activities.

Be Consistent

Anytime you start an exercise program, consistency will be important. The same rule applies here. When working on your balance, maintaining a three-day-per-week or five-day-per-week schedule will add up in no time. Consistency will train your mind, body, and muscles to improve your balance over time.

Modify and Vary Your Program

Again, when working on balance, be cautious with your modifications. Start with light modifications and progress with different activities. For a good list of modifications and additional balance exercises you can add to your balance program, click here.

Learn to Scale When Needed

Scaling a workout is something that many do, and when working with seniors, scaling is important. When you scale your workout, you are essentially changing something to make it more individualized. In other words, if standing on one foot is too easy for you when holding on to a sturdy chair, you should scale, if appropriate, by trying a single-leg stand without holding on to the chair.

Select Your Exercises

Starting your program should be slow. Start with about one or two balance exercises and progress as you feel necessary. Starting slow will progress you into a good program, but it will also help you take it slow (just like in other aspects of your training). When you start your balance program, hold your balance activities for about 20 to 30 seconds in each position and aim to complete about two or three sets. For a good amount of exercises and demos, consider the information here to help get you started on new balance training exercises.

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If you have any additional tips that worked well when you started a balance program, please leave some helpful hints in the comments below. If you found some things to work and others to not, we would like to hear your experiences.

Interested in how we provide balance training for seniors?  Check out our whitepaper, Advanced Balance Training Programs for CCRC Fitness Center by clicking below.

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Topics: senior wellness programs balance senior fitness balance training exercise for elderly