Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

3 Must-Have Services in Your Senior Living Community Fitness Center

4399_KF_3163-1.jpgWhile the size and shape of fitness spaces can vary dramatically from one senior living community to the next, it is very common for there to be at least some dedicated space with exercise equipment for resident use. It’s also quite common for communities to offer group exercise classes as part of the activity program. In some cases, communities also offer a personal training service.

However, that’s often where the fitness-related services for seniors stop. Below are three additional considerations that will elevate your exercise program to better serve current residents and to attract prospects who are looking for their next home.

Membership

Establishing a membership practice for your fitness center will serve a few key purposes.

  • The first is to help manage your liability tied to the community’s fitness spaces as well as to protect the seniors you serve. Fitness facility standards outlined by the American College of Sports Medicine are designed to be an industry-standard set of practices for the safe and effective management of fitness areas. Adhering to as many of their standards as is reasonable will help ensure the fitness program is successful for both your community and the residents.
  • The second is to establish a database of active participants so that staff can accurately track who is using the fitness programs and services and how often. Tracking attendance by member allows your staff to proactively reach out to residents who have historically been regular participants and who may have slowed or stopped their activity, or to those residents who have not yet joined the fitness program.

Exercise Prescriptions

Many of today’s residents haven’t engaged in regular exercise outside of their lives in your community, so it’s intimidating for them to approach a treadmill, recumbent bike, or strength equipment. Providing residents with an expert who can create an exercise program based on individual goals and limitations is a great way to help a novice exerciser start to understand how to use the equipment. Following up the exercise prescription service with regular support during each workout demonstrates a real commitment to physical wellness in your community.

Senior Fitness Testing

Getting a baseline on your residents’ fitness level is a great way to help them understand the progress they can make in the fitness center to either maintain or improve their physical well-being. The senior fitness test provides those results and feeds well into the exercise prescription service outlined above. There is inexpensive software (and a manual) that can be used to administer the testing and provide the participant with results. The equipment for each test is also relatively inexpensive and includes items like cones, a step bench, and a timer, among other equipment.

In addition to residents benefitting from their individual results, the community can use aggregate fitness testing data to determine strengths and weaknesses within the fitness program so that classes and other programs appropriately target residents’ fitness needs.

What’s Next?

To be fair, the membership piece could be managed by a lifestyle director. But the exercise prescription and fitness assessment pieces need to be managed by a trained exercise professional who understands the ins and outs of prescribing exercise for older adults. Read about how to hire a qualified fitness professional for your community, or consider working with us because NIFS managers provide these key services as part of our standard senior living fitness programming. Or, click the button below if you’re looking for more ideas about what you should expect from a robust fitness program.

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Topics: NIFS senior fitness management senior living community senior living fitness center group fitness for seniors personal trainng exercise prescriptions

Surviving Grocery Shopping with Kids (and Instill Healthy Habits)

ThinkstockPhotos-57568291.jpgGrocery shopping takes time, preparation, patience, and organization. But throw kids in the buggy (or cart) with you, and usually you end up with a big old, stressful mess. Take it from a mom with three kids under the age of 5; I know firsthand that it can be done happily and without tantrums (well, for the most part). But it’s taken some practice.

Three Essential Grocery Shopping Rules

Our family’s weekly shopping trip is usually done all together on Sunday mornings, straight from church to the store. So as we stroll down the aisles with our two separate carts (because how else will we fit the kids and the food?), my husband and I are ready to take on the dreaded shopping trip by following these three essential rules for surviving grocery shopping with kids.

  1. Never shop hungry. If I even think about letting my kids go into that store on an empty stomach, I might as well throw up my white flag right then and there. It’s not a good idea! In fact, it’s not good for adults to go food shopping hungry, either! Research (and, well, common sense) shows you will end up with way more food than you intended, just because your judgment is impaired by hunger pangs.
  2. Be prepared. The night before or morning of, I make my meal plan for the week ahead. I decide what we are eating for every meal, taking into consideration items I have in my fridge, freezer, or pantry that need to be used up. Once the meal planning is done, my list is constructed from there. I separate my list in order of how I go through the store (my game plan, so to speak): first the produce, then the bakery, then to the deli and meats, and so on. This is obviously individual to you and your store, but if you frequent the same place each week, you catch my drift. That way each section has the items listed there I need. And it prevents me from getting to the opposite side of the store and running around like a madwoman looking for that dang ketchup I forgot!
  3. Decide how your kids can help. If you have them with you, they need to feel included (suggested mostly for ages 5 and up). This is scientifically proven to prevent the dreaded boredom that can happen halfway through your trip. Think: how can they be involved? Maybe they can count the bananas. Maybe they can find the cheapest cereal. Maybe they can find the bread with the highest fiber. Of course, this kind of thing will require some patience from you, my dear, so be patient and let them have fun with this! Maybe your child could even have a shopping list, too, that is picture based. (You surely can find this on Pinterest!)

Grocery Shopping with Children Leads to Healthy Eating and Better Nutrition

Instead of hiring your standby babysitter for the weekly food trip, I say get your whole family involved in your shopping and meal preparation. If children learn from you how to shop, prepare, and enjoy healthy foods at a young age, you are instilling healthy habits that will hopefully last their lifetime. Happy shopping!

Looking to better track your dietary habits?  Check out NIFS Dietitian, Angie Mitchell's top 4 apps for better eating!  Download by clicking below! 

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Topics: nutrition healthy habits kids healthy eating meal planning grocery shopping

5 Health and Fitness Tips for Keeping Holiday Depression at Bay

ThinkstockPhotos-496352559.jpgAccording to the American Medical Resource Institute, approximately 6 million people over the age of 65 are depressed. As we know, this time of year can be very difficult for some seniors since the holidays have a tendency to intensify feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Use the following tips for keeping holiday depression at bay this season.

Remain Physically Active

Mayo Clinic states that exercise can help to combat anxiety and depression by releasing “feel-good chemicals” into the brain while reducing the immune system chemicals that can worsen depression. These results boost mood through calming effects, coupled with an increase in confidence that we experience while exercising.

Keep Your Nutrition in Check

Typically, holidays are filled with family, friends, and foods that are full of sugar and high in fat, which can bring on or worsen anxiety, depression, and bad moods. (Check out this article to discover the ways sugar may be harming your mental health.) Try maintaining a blood-sugar balance, increasing omega-3s, eating a balanced diet, and getting in your vitamins to combat the blues stemming from poor dietary choices.

Get Outdoors

Speaking of vitamins, did you know that vitamin D is produced when our skin is exposed to sunlight? When the weather gets cooler and the days get shorter, we spend less time outdoors soaking in the sun, which results in a dip in vitamin D absorption. Studies suggest that low vitamin D levels are associated with depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Read more about SAD here.

Remain Social

Staying connected to family and friends will benefit you both emotionally and psychologically when you start to feel the holiday blues creeping up. Remember past holidays, but try starting some new traditions to find joy and balance this holiday season.

Lend a Hand

Volunteering to help the less fortunate reminds us how lucky we are while connecting us to others, keeping us mentally stimulated, and providing us with a sense of purpose!

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Help keep your residents active and engaged with others, check out our quick read for the benefits of exercise and aging well.  

DOWNLOAD: Importance of Exercise for Seniors >

Topics: winter fitness fitness health depression

SMART and Healthy Eating During the Holidays

ThinkstockPhotos-125557141.jpgThe holidays are right around the corner, and the first thing that comes to mind is all that food! You don’t want to look like a Santa at the start of the New Year! Well, don’t feel guilty about consuming the goodies; just get smart! If you have an understanding of what it takes to properly fuel your body, specifically as you age, the healthy eating process doesn’t seem so daunting. Older adults have different needs, and there are some key nutrients that are really important to maintain.

Let’s get back to the word SMART. Here’s a simple way to eat healthy using this acronym for healthy eating during the holidays.

Servings

When you put food on your plate, divide that plate into four serving sections:

  • The first section is whole grains (wheat bread, brown rice, fortified whole-grain cereals).
  • The second section is protein (lean meats, eggs, fish, beans, cheese, tofu, peanut butter).
  • The third section is vegetables (fresh, frozen, dried, low-sugar canned).
  • The fourth section is fruits (fresh, frozen, dried, low-sugar canned).

This is true for every plate at every meal. Eliminate processed foods as much as possible. If you must open a package or can, be sure to check the ingredients. Examples of things to look for are words such as “whole” for grains and “low sugar” for canned fruits. Remember to also control salt intake and instead flavor your food with herbs and spices. Think of the holiday lights and create a colorful plate! The more color found in veggies and fruits, the more nutrients to fuel the body!

Maintain Important Nutrition 

Here is a list of the key nutrients (and examples of foods that provide them) an older adult needs:

  • Calcium and Vitamin D (leafy greens, cheese, milk, yogurt, seafood)
  • Vitamin B12 (lean meats, eggs ,fish)
  • Fiber (beans, cereals, fruits and vegetables)
  • Potassium (bananas, prune juice, mangos, pears)

The majority of these nutrients are found in the above foods. Supplements are also important to ensure that we obtain them, but the word is supplement, meaning “in addition to”; therefore, take supplements in addition to getting these nutrients through food.

Allow Some Fun Food

It’s fine to eat a slice of cake or have a cookie, but be mindful of how many. Remember to lower your intake of saturated fat and sugary treats that can lead to heart disease and unwanted pounds (and here are some healthful baking substitution tips). When you think of your plate, consider that 90% is the food that will provide your nutrients and 10% can be that “occasional” brownie or piece of pumpkin pie.

Reach for Water

Drink plenty of fluids! No, the holiday punch doesn’t count, so limit your alcohol intake. Drink water and realize that you can also obtain your fluids from juice, low-fat milk, and even soups.

Take the Time to Exercise

Physical activity is also important in maintaining a good digestive system, and the good fuel from food will be used to restore muscle and burn fat for weight loss.  Get your body moving after those holiday meals.

Be SMART this holiday season! Happy holiday eating!

Need help getting your eating habits on track?  Use NIFS Dietitian, Angie Mitchell to get your habit in line with personal nutrition coaching.  Click below for more information.

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Topics: exercise nutrition weight loss water fiber protein healthy eating holidays

Portion Distortion: Healthy Eating Means Eating Less

ThinkstockPhotos-164458496.jpgWe see it, we eat it. Usually that’s how it goes, right? Of course we eat too much, but is it really our faults? Well, unfortunately for Americans, the portion distortion mania has gotten out of hand—and so has obesity. Over time, we’ve gotten so used to the larger portions being served at restaurants, we’ve come to think this is normal. Then of course that thinking spills over into a food addiction at home, too. More food, more food, more food. The craziness needs to stop now! (Here are some tips for portion control at home.)

Today’s Meal Portions Are Too Big

Just because it is served to you, does not mean you need to eat it all. And once and for all, there is no “clean plate club” (anymore)! We certainly should be able to enjoy our meals without guilt, but my motto is “everything in moderation.” So while I indulge in the never-ending bowl of pasta and bottomless nachos from time to time, I focus on the food and enjoy it, that’s for sure (and here are some other tips for mindful eating). But one thing I’ve mastered over time, and invite you to practice as well, is listening to my body’s cues.

Stop Eating Before You’re Stuffed

When I first do that “sigh,” that’s my sign that it is time to stop. It usually comes when the food is about halfway gone, about 15 minutes into the meal. It’s that “ahh” moment. I sit back, put the fork down, stop, and think to myself, “I’m satisfied; I will stop now.” No, I will not continue until I’m stuffed; I’ll stop when satisfied—move away from the table and move on.

Over time, I’ve learned that our bodies are pretty amazing things. They give you these signs all the time if you take the time to listen and respect it. I love healthy foods, and I love unhealthy foods, too. I eat it all, but with balance. My portions end up smaller than those of the people sitting across from me, but that’s okay. It’s not a race, after all. And I certainly don’t feel like I’m missing out.

Listen to your body! The key to weight control and healthy eating is to eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full, and enjoy all things with balance—which will mean smaller portions every time!  Healthy eating means eating less!

Have you ever wondered how you could benefit from meeting with a nutrition coach?  Click below to check out our quick read to better understand how you can benefit from a one on one session.  

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Topics: weight control obesity portion control healthy eating mindful eating

NIFS Nutrition: Common Weight-loss Questions

ThinkstockPhotos-488214534.jpgAs the Wellness Coordinator at NIFS, I get to meet a lot of great clients and help them attain their nutritional goals. I have noticed some common weight-loss questions that arise during the sessions. Hopefully if you have been wondering the same things, these answers will give you some more insight.

How do I gain muscle and lose fat?

The best way to lose fat is to either increase the amount of calories you burn or decrease the amount of calories you consume. As you are doing this, you also need to make sure you are doing 2 to 3 days of strength training per week to build muscle.

To decrease calories, it is important to keep track of what you are eating and see where you can decrease. This might mean decreasing the amount of coffee creamer you put in your cup of joe or swapping the potato chips at lunch for some raw veggies.

Increasing your protein intake won’t automatically increase your muscle mass. If you are strength training 2 to 3 times per week, a simple calculation to know your protein needs is to divide your body weight in half and multiply by 1.5.

Can you give me tips on how to lose weight?

The first advice I always give to anyone wanting to lose weight is to start keeping track of your food. Studies have shown you eat 40% less when you write it down! This can be done with the apps available for your phone, using a website, or just jotting it down with a pen and a piece of paper. It will allow you to see when and why you eat and also will hold you accountable for what you are eating.

The other thing that can be helpful with weight loss is to look at what you are drinking. Are you consuming empty calories from flavored coffee drinks, soda, juice drinks, or alcohol? Most people tend to eat the same amount of food no matter how many calories they consume from their beverages. So try to stick to water, low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, and 100% juices for the majority of your liquids.

How many calories do I need a day?

Every person is a different height and weight, and has varying levels of activity, so there isn’t one calorie number that works for all individuals to follow. Instead, use the simple Choose My Plate calculator that takes these factors into account to determine the proper amount you should be consuming. Not only does it give an overall number, but what is more important, it tells you how to get in that number. Recommended servings of grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat and beans, and fat are given, along with some “extra” calories for those every-once-in-awhile food choices!

Personal Nutrition Coaching at NIFS

If you are interested in having your questions answered during a personal nutrition consultation, please contact me at amitchell@nifs.org or 317-274-3432, ext. 239. Click below for more information on packages and pricing.

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Topics: nutrition weight loss weight management NIFS apps strength training wellness nutrition coaching