Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Senior Living Community Has a Blast Raising Money for Alzheimer’s

pbrown.jpgOne of our clients put the Alzheimer’s walk on center stage this year, and the residents responded with gusto! Paul, NIFS fitness center manager at Meadow Ridge, knew he wanted to create programming around the area walk from a fitness perspective, but he was also interested in building a synergistic event that involved both employees and residents, many of whom have been personally touched by a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.

It was their first time raising money for a cause, and they weren’t sure what to expect in the way of participation. But with thoughtful planning and a team effort, this year’s event was a success. Here’s a rundown of how they executed a $4,900 fundraiser for Alzheimer’s disease research on their very first try.

Paul initially set out with a personal brainstorming session to consider options and overall structure of what he wanted to offer. With that outline in hand, he met with both the administrator and the executive director. By the end of that meeting, they had a variety of fund-raising ideas on the table. Most importantly, he had the support of the resident health services director and the activities director to pull off the plan throughout the month of September.

Building Excitement

Paul started with a letter to the residents about what was coming. He mentioned the community’s support of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in their area, and provided some basic facts about the impact of the disease. He provided a teaser in the letter to pique their interest and encourage them to watch for another communication outlining how they could get involved.

He followed that letter with another print communication announcing himself as the captain for the Meadow Ridge walking team, and invited residents to participate in either a walk at Meadow Ridge or the three-mile designated Walk to End Alzheimer’s in their area. He also outlined information about how to make a donation and included an envelope complete with a receipt for tax use and a return label on the front. All they had to do was write the check, seal the envelope, and return it to the receptionist.

Two days after the second letter went out, they hosted a root beer float day. That was a brand new activity for Meadow Ridge, and it successfully inspired recollections of childhood for participants. At the float-making station, they had reminders about making donations using their envelopes, and they also had a donation jar. They quickly raised almost $300 in cash at that 90-minute event. 

ThinkstockPhotos-537612271.jpgFund-raising Events

The next week the community offered two different fund-raising events. The first was a resident-only bingo party where the cost to play was $5 per game. Of course, great prizes were offered to those who won each game. They also held a 50/50 raffle with employees. This event raised $206 in total, where $103 went to the winner and $103 was donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.

The last week included a raffle for 30 different prizes for home services like gardening and housekeeping. There were also dinner-for-two prizes and opportunities to win a personal assistant for a day. The grand prize was dinner for three residents with the community owner. Some of the prizes were internal services offered by Meadow Ridge staff, while others were from outside vendors who wanted to participate in this important event.

A Big Success

In the end, they had participation from about one-third of the residents, and a team of 79 residents and employees joined in on the walks for a total of 64 miles. And to top off all of the enthusiasm around this fund-raising, the Alzheimer’s Association recognized the community for their creative efforts.

The whole thing was such a hit, they are already dreaming of what they can accomplish next year!

Related: How One Senior Living Community Got Focused on Brain Fitness

Our staff put their creative ideas into their programming to help increase resident participation, click below to see how you can improve your programs.

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Topics: walking senior wellness senior living Alzheimer's Disease activities

Three Ways to Improve Corporate Fitness Programming on a Small Budget

staff001.jpgSometimes employers go all in on their investment in a corporate fitness center. Thousands of square feet are dedicated to treadmill upon treadmill, thoughtful changing facilities, ample group exercise space, creative equipment solutions, and around-the-clock dedicated fitness staff.

But that’s not the reality for most employers. It’s important to remember that corporate fitness doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. You can provide programs, services, and (probably most importantly) an environment that’s conducive to movement. So if you’re trying to improve the exercise options you provide onsite for your employees, but you’re on a tight budget, consider these ideas.

1. If you have dedicated staff for an exercise program, invite them to be a Jack (or Jill) of all trades.

Most exercise professionals with a college degree have a background in more than just exercise. It’s common for an exercise science curriculum to fold in public health, nutrition basics, stress resilience, and other health-related disciplines. We work with one client who has a small fitness center and no additional budget for fitness programming, and rather than lock our staff down to the four walls of the fitness center, they are out and about providing healthy lectures, offering stretch breaks at key shift-change intervals, and coordinating extra workplace wellness services like onsite chair massage.

2. Consider group fitness classes.

Sure, dancing to music isn’t for everyone, but group fitness has come a long way. You don’t have to be coordinated or be able to keep the beat to enjoy a great class. And if your office includes meeting space with tables and chairs that can be pushed to the walls, you probably have everything you need to run a class. Instructor costs can be paid for by employees, subsidized by the employer, or paid in full by the employer. Check out our quick read: Three Keys to Adding Group Exercise at Work.

3. Think long and hard about your environment.

How are your employees encouraged to work, and how are your leaders and managers incentivized to run their teams? Are employees expected to sit glued to their screens all day to make a quota? Do your managers have substantial pressure to meet the same quota? These kinds of unwritten cultural norms make it almost impossible for an employee to take a 10-minute walking break. Can that mindset be shifted over time? This article suggests that employers have to start taking a look at creative ways to address employee stress.

What about your physical space? Maybe you can’t have a dedicated space for employee exercise, and even group exercise classes in an unused meeting room seems out of bounds. Perhaps simple signage encouraging the use of stairs instead of elevators would be a starting point to encouraging employees to move more.

Think about incentives for exercise differently. Good, old-fashioned behavioral economics around loss aversion could help you build an inexpensive incentive model for encouraging more frequent exercise in a sedentary workforce.

Don’t let a lack of physical space or dedicated staff derail your brainstorming about ways to inject more opportunities for activity at the office. The options are only limited by your creativity (not your budget).

   Tips for adding exercise


Topics: corporate fitness stress corporate fitness centers fitness programming exercise in the workplace group fitness workplace wellness

Prevent Falls in Your Community with a Strong Balance Training Program

All too often, older adults don’t realize their balance is not what it used to be until after they experience a fall. Unfortunately, falls are dangerous; many of them result in significant injury in the short run. Lasting fear of falling can also negatively impact an individual’s quality of life in the long run. Because falls can be prevented wmoving_seniors-1.jpgith a proactive approach to balance training, we have embarked on a comprehensive fall-prevention model.

While rehabilitation might be a good starting point for residents with severe balance impairments, our fitness center managers take several steps to play an active role in providing balance training long before residents experience a decline in quality of life. 

Transitions with Therapy

A referral service can work two ways. For example, when a resident graduates from therapy services, NIFS fitness staff ensure they are continuing with their balance exercises in the fitness center. This helps residents remain independent while enjoying the lasting effects of their achievements from working with physical therapy. Similarly, when our staff members identify a resident who could benefit from working with therapy, they refer that resident to therapy services on campus to create a seamless transition of care. Read this blog to find out more about how our staff supports a positive fitness center–therapy relationship.

Individual Services in the Fitness Center

Residents with less-significant balance issues benefit from working with our staff to receive an individual exercise program that addresses their unique balance needs. In addition, our staff provides assessments of the residents’ balance abilities, which can be used to more appropriately prescribe exercises and to demonstrate noted improvements over time.

Group Fitness Classes

Most communities offer a group exercise program, but many schedules still lack classes that are dedicated to balance training. While many class formats incorporate balance training, we believe it is essential to offer dedicated balance classes to meet residents’ needs.

Unique Programming

Sometimes individual services in the fitness center get buried among all the activity opportunities at a community, and the group fitness classes as a recurrent series of events don’t always command a fresh look from your residents. That’s why we believe that specialty programming is a significant element in a comprehensive fall-prevention strategy for your senior living community. NIFS Balance Challenge is a great example of such programming.

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The need for effective balance training opportunities for older adults will continue to rise as the large baby boomer population enters retirement. Current residents and prospective residents will appreciate this comprehensive approach in addressing balance issues through therapy services as well as through robust programming options in the fitness center.

Want to find out more about how we provide our clients with well-rounded fall prevention/balance-training programming?

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Topics: physical therapy balance senior fitness senior living community fall prevention group fitness quality of life

A Simple Nutrition Checklist to Keep You Healthy and On the Move

couple_cooking-1.jpgMarch is National Nutrition Month! It may be time to revisit and reestablish your New Year’s diet resolutions. I wanted to pass along a basic guide to healthy eating and lifestyle habits that can also be used for weight loss.

Following is a checklist of six healthy habits to guide you on the path to better dietary health. If you are continually skipping any of these steps, you are probably missing opportunities to keep your weight in check or to keep your body healthy and your metabolism strong.

1. Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day.

Every person is different, so the need for more water comes with extra weight and increased levels of activity. But 64 ounces is a good baseline for hydration. Unsweet tea and zero-calorie drinks count. Diet sodas and coffee do not. WARNING: Don’t jump from 20 ounces a day to 64 ounces! Your bladder will not appreciate the drastic change. Instead, increase by 8 ounces every week until you reach 64 ounces.

2. Make your breakfast, lunch, and dinner plates look like the ChooseMyPlate diagram.

When trying to lose weight, go with half a plate of vegetables for meals (especially lunch and dinner) and save the fruit for snacks. Feel free to go off the beaten path and give veggies a try for breakfast. Who says you have to have breakfast food for breakfast? Try scrambled eggs with chopped veggies, or top a baked sweet potato with Greek yogurt and chopped nuts.

3. Include snacks.

If you are going 4+ hours between meals or find yourself hungry between meals, add a snack. The time between lunch and dinner is most often the biggest gap between eating during the day—sometimes 5 to 7 hours. Cravings tend to sneak up on you during this time as well. Fight cravings and trips to the vending machine by having healthy snacks readily available. Make sure they include at least two of the groups from the ChooseMyPlate diagram, such as:

  • Grain + Protein
  • Protein + Fruit or Vegetable
  • Dairy + Fruit

4. Moderate Portions.

A couple of ways to do this:

  • Use a salad-size plate instead of a regular dinner plate.
  • Track what you are eating. Use free online tools like www.myfitnesspal.com to determine how many calories, protein, carbs, and fat you are consuming. This includes weekdays and weekends. Note: Do not go below 1,200 calories without medical supervision. 
  • Women typically stay between 1,200 and 1,800 calories for weight maintenance and weight loss. Older, more sedentary women should eat closer to 1,200 calories. Younger, more active women can eat for maintenance and weight loss, eating closer to 1,800 calories.
  • Men typically fall between 1,800 and 2,200 calories for both weight loss and maintenance. Older, more sedentary men should eat closer to 1,800 calories. Younger, more active men can lose or maintain weight eating closer to 2,200 calories. Teenagers and young guys who are very active may need well above this amount. This range is relevant to those with desk jobs who get in a decent 30 to 45-minute workout during the day.

5. Make sure you are active throughout the day.

Think 3 minutes of activity (walking, walking in place, desk exercises, taking a flight of stairs up and down) for every 60 minutes of sitting. If you have time for a longer walk or workout, great!

6. Get your sleep.

Missing out on sleep can interfere with your mental acuity as well as your weight loss/maintenance efforts. Lack of sleep increases cravings for simple and refined carbohydrates that contain little nutritional value but lots of empty, unsatisfying calories. Give up the late-night shows and get your 7 to 8 hours of Zzzz’s. The benefits go well beyond more productivity at work.

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There you have it! Were you able to check off all of the above? Great! Keep up the hard work. If not, celebrate National Nutrition Month by choosing one of the above recommendations and implementing it consistently. Once this behavior becomes second nature, adopt a new habit to practice. Remember, long-term success requires sustained practice and patience. Don’t let a small or even big bump in the road discourage you from moving forward. Your health is worth the effort!

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Topics: nutrition weight loss hydration water sleep calories new year healthy habits