Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

When It Pays to Be a Chicken in Workplace Wellness

Melanie.jpgBeing a chicken is definitely frowned upon. If someone is known for being scared to take on a task or fails to address a situation because it’s too much of a challenge, chances are they have been labeled.

But what if you dressed like a chicken? It does take a bit of bravery, but it can help your mission by making a memorable statement.

We have an annual event for National Walk at Lunch Day, where employees are encouraged to walk outside over their lunch hour. This is also a kickoff event for our Fitness Challenge: a 10-week challenge for employees to stay consistently active and log their activity online in efforts to beat out other states doing the same. National Walk at Lunch Day happens around springtime when many people are stuck in their winter routine of being indoors—be that an indoor workout or, sadly, in most cases, an indoor sitting marathon.

Enter the Chicken Costume

As employees made their way outside, I strutted around greeting people with exclamations of “Bak, Bak, Bak!” and my versions of the chicken dance.

It’s a fun adventure to catch people off guard. Costumes often make that happen because they are unexpected. And you know you’ve done your job when you get smiles in return or people shaking their heads in surprise.

Of course bottled water, fruit, trail mix, and sandwiches helped our cause at the event, but the chicken-themed messages were just beginning because the Fitness Challenge was only Day One. Over the next 10 weeks, our motto was “Don’t Chicken Out.” We encouraged people to join the fitness challenge through email blasts with subject lines laced with chicken references or cartoon or movie quotes from Chicken Little, Chicken Run, or Looney Tunes’ Foghorn Leghorn. Just a few:

  • We Are Chicky for the Challenge!
  • Chick It Out! We’re in First Place!
  • I’m Chicken’ on You! Don’t Slack Off!
  • We Are Down to the “Chicken” Wire. This Competition Is Close!
  • Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? To finish the Fitness Challenge.

What I Learned

By the end of the challenge, I had learned several things:

  • People were responsive to the program because they enjoyed the humor.
  • The theme allowed for more creative ways to communicate than standard, monotonous program updates.
  • Employees anticipated the next email, instead of dreading or deleting it without reading it.
  • I was asked to “speak” at department meetings in costume, advertising the program and encouraging participation. Most just wanted to see a chicken, but it opened doors to promote the challenge.
  • Sometimes during the challenge, I wanted to email-yell or nag employees to get a move on, but funneling that competitiveness into catchy, humorous characters and slogans was more effective at getting people’s attention—and their increased participation in the activity.
  • I was able to enjoy sending out communications and I loved the responses I received from those who were also entertained by them. I got a lot of “Thanks for the laugh. I needed that!” messages.

Bottom line: Being a chicken in your workplace isn’t always bad.

It can go a long way in giving employees the motivation to take action in corporate fitness. Just make sure you pick the right breed. Spring is right around the corner, how do you plan to engage employees to participate in activities such as Walk at Lunch Day, or Bike to Work Day?  Download our whitepaper: 5 tips for maximizing employee enagement below to find the best ways to get your employees involved in your wellness strategy!

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Topics: corporate fitness motivation participation workplace wellness

Why Hiring the Right Trainer for Your Senior Fitness Program Is Vital

Let’s face it, personal trainers are pretty ubiquitous these days, and it’s easy to understand why. The industry doesn’t have licensure (yet), and there are a lot of inexpensive and easy-to-obtain “personal trainer” certifications available that allow fitness enthusiasts with little knowledge about how the body works to earn a distinction as a personal trainer.

The scary truth about hiring a personal trainer for your senior living community is that the typical consumer doesn’t necessarily know what to look for in a qualified fitness professional. Unfortunately, the I-paid-them-and-they-certified-me individual looks equally competent alongside the individual who has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and who has earned and painstakingly maintains an industry gold-standard certification.

While hiring an exercise professional for your senior living community fitness program is a very buyer-beware proposition, the rewards for making the right staffing choice can be great.

The right fitness professional is a major benefit to the residents.

MMFC1.jpgThis is really what it’s all about, right? You want a passionate, capable, competent, self-starter running the exercise program in the community. You need someone who will

  • Coordinate the group exercise program (the fitness specialist should be teaching at least some of the classes).
  • Initiate and execute on health-related programming both in the fitness area as well as in partnership with other departments in the community.
  • Promote and provide important services like exercise prescriptions (writing individual exercise programs for residents) and senior fitness testing, as well as follow up with residents to offer updated exercise programs and repeat testing as appropriate.
  • Track participation by individuals and reach out to nonactive residents to invite them into programs.
  • Manage the fitness space, including ensuring amenities are well stocked and equipment is in good working order.
  • If your personal trainer isn’t doing these things for you, it’s worth spending some time to re-envision what’s possible in your exercise program. Your residents deserve regular access to diverse classes that respect and challenge them physically. They will participate more if a fitness professional is available to customize exercise plans for them and to help them evaluate their progress along the way. And having a point person who is tracking the participation data and is constantly innovating will draw in more residents who wouldn’t engage without a personal invitation.

The right fitness professional is a major benefit to your business.

This is a tough one. Community leadership seems to have a difficult time making the leap from status-quo group fitness classes and the occasional trainer to establishing a manager for a robust fitness program. Maybe that’s consumer driven, and today’s residents, for the most part, aren’t balking at the outdated model. Maybe the lack of change is rooted in where fitness falls on the priority list.

Yet, with the right fitness center manager on board, you can free up your activities director to actually create person- and purpose-centered activities instead of tracking down a substitute for the group fitness instructor who just bailed on a class. You also send a distinct message to prospects and current residents that healthy living is central to who you are. And because so many communities are still operating on the outdated “group fitness + occasional trainer” model, you clearly distinguish your senior living community from the competition.

If you’re ready to start tapping into these benefits, you can either hire your own fitness center manager for the community, or partner with an organization like ours (NIFS fitness center management) to start improving the fitness program for your residents.

  Senior Fitness

 

Topics: CCRC senior living nifs fitness management staffing senior fitness personal trainers nifs fitness center management

Balance and Fall Prevention: How to Fall and Get Back Up Safely

ThinkstockPhotos-494387335.jpgMarch is Balance and Fall Prevention Month for the National Institute for Fitness and Sports (NIFS) Active Aging sites. Although this is an important component of exercise for all age groups year round, NIFS spotlights balance and fall prevention for a month-long program and showcases the various challenges and solutions to balance issues, as well as how to stay ahead of the balance curve.

Our senior living communities provide educational presentations and handouts for residents to help with fall prevention. One such handout is a home safety checklist to ensure that your surroundings are as fall-proof as possible. The Home Safety Checklist can be a great resource to make safe changes around your home by doing things like making sure small rugs and runners are slip resistant, providing good lighting—especially in hallways, passageways between rooms, and other heavy-traffic areas—and keeping exits and passageways clear. These are just a few of the suggestions. What else has worked for you?

How to Prevent Injuries When Falling

The objective of NIFS Balance Challenge is to prevent falls, but let’s say you suddenly find yourself falling. Remembering these tips and safely practicing how to fall can be the difference between a bruise and a broken bone:

  • Never try to prevent the fall itself. Instead, stay relaxed to prevent further injury.
  • Bend your knees, or crouch, during a fall.
  • Turn/twist your body so you can fall onto the outside of your lower leg first. If you cannot twist your body, NEVER try to catch yourself with your hands as it can break your wrists.
  • Instead, smack the ground with your hand(s) to lessen the impact of the fall.
  • Roll onto your backside to allow the muscles to dissipate energy and lower the impact force.
Fear is often the biggest obstacle when it comes to falling. Having a game plan and practicing the correct falling form can train your body how to safely fall and maximize injury prevention.

After You Fall

  • After a fall, you are probably feeling shaken up and scared. Take a moment to make sure you are alright and that nothing is broken. Wiggle your fingers and toes and then begin to feel other parts of your body as you regain your bearings. If you are feeling okay, remember these helpful tips for safely getting up from a fall:
  • Roll over naturally to your side so your stronger arm is facing up.
  • Place your inside arm on the ground at chest level and place your outside palm on the ground to lift your upper body.
  • With both hands flat on the ground, lift your hips from the ground so that you are on all fours.
  • Crawl to the nearest, most steady piece of furniture (such as a chair, couch, or countertop).
  • Place both hands on the furniture and use your stronger leg by placing your foot flat on the ground in front of your body. 
  • Pull yourself up slowly; sit, if possible.
  • Do not let anyone lift you unless they are trained to do so.
  • Use your pendant or make noise for help if you cannot get yourself up.

These are just a few of the topics that the professionals at NIFS present at senior living communities across the country. This education folds in well with weekly balance classes and individualized balance exercises that are available year round for seniors. 

Download our whitepaper to see how we have evolved our programming in community fitness centers.  Residents need more than a simple balance class, do more for your residents.  Click below to get started.

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Topics: senior wellness active aging senior living balance fall prevention injury prevention

Cognitive Decline: Senior Wellness Program Considerations

ThinkstockPhotos-500778232.jpgAs we grow older, we experience changes in cognitive processes, which is a normal part of aging. But in some cases these changes are severe enough to interfere with the performance of activities of daily living (ADLs), signaling the beginning stages of cognitive decline or possibly dementia. In most cases, age-related decline occurs roughly around the age of 50, and it is estimated that by 2025, 7.1 million older adults will succumb to Alzheimer’s disease.

However, there are actions that you can take to promote your cognitive health. Likewise, research has shown that lifestyle choices can help delay or possibly prevent cognitive decline. Yet it must be stated that not all risks for developing dementia can be modified, such as age and genetics. More importantly, if you happen to be a wellness professional or care provider, it will be imperative for you to identify whether the person in question lives independently, needs assistance, or depends on others, as this will affect the individual’s wellness program.

Three Principles for Creating a Wellness Program

To create your senior wellness program, it is essential to have a strong foundation to build upon. Here are three principles to build from:

  • Identify possible barriers to your wellness program.
  • Develop strategies to implement your program.   
  • Consider the application of the strategies.

Case Study: Dan

Now let’s take this one step further and look at a hypothetical case.

Recently Dan has been experiencing a number of difficulties when it comes to his memory/recall. A few days ago, one of his friends noticed that Dan had difficulties following the flow of the conversations and had a tendency to forget what was said. Additionally, his son has been noticing over the past few months that Dan has been misplacing things and forgetting appointments. And on top of that, Dan has become aware of his recent lapses in memory. According to his neurologist, Dan is suffering from what is known as mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

With some background about Dan, we can begin the process of helping him navigate his barriers and begin to implement strategies that will best benefit him. With MCI, it is important to realize that Dan recognizes what is happening but needs help to navigate the MCI. Therefore, the following recommendations have been made for Dan which will require reevaluation every six months by his neurologist.  There is no cure for MCI—but these strategies to navigate challenges will help improve Dan's quality of life.

  • Regular exercise: Research has shown that it may delay cognitive decline or slow the rate of decline.
  • Social activities: Interacting with others creates a mutual benefit including offsetting potential isolation and depression brought on by individual struggles with MCI.
  • Cognitive stimulation: Taking part in creative pursuits that include problem-solving and reasoning help the brain remain active in important ways.

Also, research has shown that factors that aid in overall health may indeed play a significant role in delaying dementia. These strategies include

  • Staying physically active
  • Losing excess weight
  • Performing cognitively stimulating activities
  • Being social
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Eating healthy

Avoiding Falls

One more factor to be aware of is falling, and among older adults it’s the number-one cause of head injuries, which can lead to language, emotion, and thinking impairments. Thankfully, there are actions that you can take to help decrease the chance of falling, including increasing lower-body strength and balance, adjusting medications, and evaluating fall hazards.

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All in all, it’s important to keep a positive attitude and embrace a culture of wellness. Through this perspective and these three principles, you are setting up yourself or those around you for success. More importantly, it will behoove you to continue researching cognitive decline to better equip yourself and those around you. Consider this information as only a summary, a beginning point for further development depending on your needs and goals.

Whitepaper+Wellness Culture


Topics: senior wellness balance cognitive function dementia Alzheimer's Disease