Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Benefits of Collaborative Programming with Senior Living Communities

“Come on!”

“No pressure!”

“You can do it!”

Those are just a few of the phrases you’ll hear thrown out in the last round of the Semi-Annual Corn-Toss tournament held between several CCRCs in Indiana every spring and fall. This is one of many multicommunity events that NIFS fitness center managers put on every year. Sometimes events are competitive (such as corn-toss, water volleyball, or pickleball), and sometimes they are more educational (wellness seminars). A lot of coordination is involved (scheduling, transportation, food, and so on), but it’s always worth it!

ThinkstockPhotos-510313194.jpgHere are some of the ways the residents reap the benefits of collaborative programming with senior living communities outside of their own.

1. It’s an opportunity to make new friends.

It seems like making new friends only gets tougher as we get older. With social media, email, and easy modes of transportation, it’s so easy to keep up with the friends and family we already have in our lives, so why would you bother meeting anyone new? Study after study has shown that a healthy social life has amazing, positive effects on lifespan/longevity and quality of life.

Collaborative programming between communities creates a situation that facilitates new friendships because residents already know they have something in common. If everyone in a room is playing in a Euchre tournament, a resident can guess that the person sitting next to them at the table enjoys playing cards. Voila! Easy icebreaker! It’s also fun to see residents who consistently participate really getting to know each other. They start to make friends with residents at new communities, but also with neighbors who perhaps they hadn’t really known.

2. Staff can share ideas while residents experience a new way of learning.

As fitness staff, we spend a lot of our time trying to teach people about how to be healthy. We give advice about fitness and nutrition and staying active, but after a while, it can start to sound a little like a broken record. For residents, hearing about the same health/fitness topics from the same people means sometimes it’s in one ear and out the other. These collaborative events provide a great opportunity for residents to learn from someone else who has a different teaching style. Sometimes, hearing the same good information presented in a new way can be all it takes to make the advice “click” for a person.

3. Competition drives participation.

This doesn’t hold true for everyone, but at many communities, competition drives participation. If residents know they are practicing for a tournament against a “rival” community (however they may define that), they might be more interested. This not only means more participation on the day of the competition, but also leading up to the competition. And who knows, maybe during one of those practice sessions residents will see a bulletin board for your next fitness incentive and decide to sign up for that, too.

***

Multicommunity programs are fun and educational, and build camaraderie among residents. Whether informative or competitive, they are a great opportunity to learn from each other and about each other, and they always lead to a fun time.

Does your community regularly participate in collaborative programming with other communities?

Whitepaper+Wellness Culture

Topics: participation senior living communities CCRC Programs and Services programming competition

What Happened When I Stopped Doing Cardio; Increased Strength Training

ThinkstockPhotos-80699669.jpgSix months ago, a friend dared me to give up cardio for three months and focus on strength training. My initial response was, “No way! I’m a runner, I’ve always been a runner. There is no better exercise than running!” My friend was relentless and eventually I agreed to take a brief hiatus, although I was convinced that I would turn into a mushy ball of goo if I didn’t get in my daily run.

How I Changed My Workouts

Fast-forward six months. During this time, I’ve followed a low-impact exercise routine, which includes four days of low-impact strength activities such as yoga, one day of cardio, and one day of heavy weightlifting. And I have to say, the results are completely the opposite of what I expected.

How the Change Affected How I Look and Feel

What happened when I stopped doing cardio:

  • I gained 10 pounds, but my body measurements decreased. This was perhaps the most surprising change that I noticed. Muscle tissue takes up much less space than fat. After nearly six months of strength training, I’ve added 10 pounds to my frame and my clothes are fitting better than ever—not to mention it feels good to look in the mirror.
  • My energy levels skyrocketed. There is a reason why running burns so many calories: It’s HARD work! And when your body works that hard, you’re going to feel fatigued. Even if you sleep seven to eight hours a night, the physical strain of high mileage takes a toll on the body. I must admit that my energy levels are higher than they’ve ever been, even though I have a 5am alarm to fit in my exercise before work. In fact, I feel more fatigued on the days I don’t exercise!
  • I’m not as hungry. This was a “well DUH” moment for me. Many people tend to focus on the calorie-burning power of running without stopping to think that your body will want to replace all those calories. Several weeks after I stopped running, I noticed that I had a much easier time regulating my food intake. I didn’t need to eat as much, but I felt fuller with the foods I did eat.
  • I’ve noticed improvements in other areas of physical fitness. Previously, I was focused on distance, time, and miles. To me, a run wasn’t “a run” unless I ran at least four miles. Now I’m focused on how many pushups I can do with proper form (I’m getting close to 30!), how long I can hold a plank (nearly five minutes!), and how many pullups I can do (well, let’s just say I’m still working on this one).
  • I have fewer injuries. Focusing on low-impact exercise and strength training has helped my body recover from more than two decades of intense, running-focused exercise programs. My legs no longer ache if I stand for more than an hour. My tight hip flexors are starting to relax, particularly as I focus on improving the flexibility and strength of my hamstrings and glutes.

In sum, to everyone out there who is worried about limiting their cardio because they don’t want to risk gaining weight, try it for three to four months. You might just be surprised at how different you feel and the gains you make!

Looking to help your employees move more?  

Check out our free download below for more information on how to add exercise to your worksite!

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*Weight loss claims or individiual results vary and are not guaranteed.

Topics: running NIFS cardio strength training yoga weightlifting

Corporate Fitness: Why Do Your Feet Go Numb During Workouts

 

ThinkstockPhotos-484968472.jpgRegardless of whether you're new to exercise or you've been sweating it out for years, there's a good chance you've experienced the sensation of one or both of your feet going numb during a workout. For me, it's most likely to happen when I'm on an elliptical machine in the fitness center, but it's happened when I was out on a run, too. And "Why do your feet go numb during workouts?" is certainly one of the more commonly asked questions posed by our corporate fitness members. This phenomenon is common (and annoying), but it's probably not a life-threatening medical condition. There are a few things you can try to get the sensation to go away for good.

Check your routine. If you find that you frequently experience numbness during a specific activity, try changing up your routine. Maybe that particular piece of equipment or class just isn't the right fit for your body. Who knows, it might be that you just need a break, and taking a little time off can allow you to come back refreshed and ready for a new start.

FREE DOWNLOAD: 7 Ways to Add Exercise to the Workplace >

Check your laces. You may find that a simple adjustment in how tightly you lace your shoes can help. Resist the urge to snug-up the laces for a tight fit, and instead give your foot a little breathing room. Feet sometimes swell during exercise, and if you lace up tightly before you start sweating, you don't leave much room for your foot to spread.

Check your shoes. Consider the width (brand) of your shoe. A medium-width shoe is not the same across brands, and the same make/model of shoe has a different width for men and women. Men's shoes tend to have a wider toe box than women's shoes. So ladies, if you don't need a wide width, but your women's joggers aren't cutting it, try the men's version of the same shoe for a more comfortable fit. If you haven't been professionally fitted for shoes, it may be worth that investment.

[Related Content: How to find the right shoe]

Check your placement. On an elliptical or a bike, where the tendency is to keep your feet in the same position throughout the workout, think about making slight movements throughout the ride/roll. Subtly shifting how you place pressure on your feet over the span of a 20–40-minute session can help minimize numbness in the feet.

Check your symptoms. If you can use one of the recommendations above and the numbness goes away, no worries. If you find, however, that the numbness persists through your day, always occurs in the same place on your foot, or is so severe that you have to discontinue your workouts, it may be time to see your doctor. You may be dealing with a pinched-nerve injury that will need more than the suggestions above to remedy.

 

Topics: corporate fitness shoes Fitness Center injury workouts numbness

What Is the Key for Weight Loss: Diet, Exercise, or Both?

ThinkstockPhotos-470754782.jpgLots of research has been done over the years to figuret out the best recipe for success when it comes to weight loss. Diet alone? Exercise alone? Or a combination of both? It should come as no surprise that the key for weight loss and keep it off is to combine a low-fat, lower-calorie diet with an exercise routine.

Results of a Weight-Loss Study

In a study funded by the National Cancer Institute in 2011, 439 overweight to obese postmenopausal women were assigned to four different groups: exercise only (45 minutes of moderate-vigorous activity five days per week), diet only (1,200–2,000 calories per day, depending on starting weight, and less than 30% of calories from fat), exercise and diet, and no intervention.

The yearlong study found that the exercise-only group lost 2.4% of their starting body weight, with the diet-only group losing 8.5% of their weight. However, the group that incorporated both a lower-fat and caloric diet and exercise lost 10.9% of their starting weight, which was an average loss of 19.8 pounds. One other thing that was significant in this study was that the women who lost the most amount of weight and body fat kept a daily food journal, writing down everything they ate and drank.

Tips for Losing Weight

As I said, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a combination of more balanced eating and movement will lead to the most amount of weight loss. So here are some tips to help make this become a lifestyle for success.

  • Keep a food log. As the study showed, the most successful individuals logged what they ate. Grab a pen and jot it down, or use an app or an online program for tracking. Whichever way works for you, start today!
  • Focus on low fat. Aim for 30% or less of your intake from fat. Fat helps to make food taste more flavorful and helps to keep you fuller longer. However, aim for those good-for-you sources of fat such as nuts, avocado, olive oil, and salmon.
  • Move more. The individuals in the study did 45 minutes of exercise, 5 times per week, but any movement is better than nothing. Start walking, cycling, strength training, stretching, and just moving more each day.

More Help from NIFS

If you want to lose weight and are considering starting to decrease your calories or start exercising, hopefully this will help you to decide to do both! If you need more assistance getting started, please contact me at amitchell@nifs.org to set up a personal nutrition coaching session to help meet your goals.

Benefits of meeting with a nutrition coach >

Topics: exercise nutrition weight loss NIFS calories nutrition coaching diet

Weight-shifting exercises are key to fall prevention for residents

ThinkstockPhotos-590277470.jpgThe numbers are clear: about one-third of adults, ages 65 years and older, will sustain a fall this year. And the statistics that relate to the cost of falls are equally concerning. Because falls are a substantial risk in senior living communities, we focus a lot of attention on asking why residents fall and what can we do to prevent them. The results from a recent study provides us with some answers.


Study Shows What Causes Senior Falls

A 2014 observational study determined how and why falls occur in the aging population by actually videotaping falls in two long-term-care facilities between 2007 and 2010. The video cameras were placed in the common areas such as the dining rooms, hallways, and lounges. When a fall occurred it was reviewed with a focus on the actual cause of imbalance and the activity at the time of falling. The study captured 227 falls from 130 individuals. The researchers concluded that the most common cause of falls (41 percent) was incorrect weight shifting: basically, how an individual moves or transfers from one position to another.

Specifically, researchers noted that the majority of falls they recorded occurred in a position change from standing to walking. You see, staying balanced is about more than maintaining steady footing when in motion. The results of this study show that how we start moving can be much more crucial to staying in balance.

Read Now: The Importance of Teaching Physical Balance

Weight-Shifting Exercises are Key to Fall Prevention

If the researchers are right, then we need to make sure our senior living fitness programs incorporate weight-shifting exercises for participants. Not only do these activities teach residents about how to understand their center of gravity, but they also help with coordination and provide opportunities for modest strength and endurance gains in the lower body muscles. When taught carefully, implementing weight-shifting exercise into a balance program can provide intentional focus on more precise movement which helps overall motor control.

Ideally, your community's fitness program is run by a qualified fitness professional who can provide a range of fitness services for seniors including customized exercises in group and individual settings for each resident's needs.

Is outsourcing fitness and wellness right for you?

Fitness professionals can administer balance-training and weight-shifting exercises through one-on-one personal training sessions, group exercise classes, or with simple recommendations of exercises for a resident to include in her typical morning stretches. Trained staff can also provide field testing to help residents understand how they score on balance and other fitness tests so that they can work toward improvement with their tailored exercise regimen.

In case you don't have qualified staff on board, here are some examples of simple weight-shifting exercises for active older adults that can be taught by anyone in your community:

  • Side Sways: While seated in a chair or standing, place the feet slightly wider than hip width apart. Leading with the upper body, lean the body gently to the right while keeping both feet in contact with the floor. Repeat 10 to 15 times in both directions. Watch a demo of the exercise.
  • Forward Steps: Standing with the feet together near a chair back or counter top to hold onto, take an exaggerated step forward with the right foot. Then take the necessary amount of steps to recover to a normal standing position. Repeat 8 to 10 times and then perform on the left leg. Watch a demo of the exercise.

For more great content like this, download our whitepaper on balance and subscribe to our blog:

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Topics: senior living senior fitness fall prevention balance training

Battling Wintertime Blues with Nutrition

Are you struggling with the winter blues? Is it cold and dark and dreary in your part of the country? When was the last time you felt and saw the sun? You could be lacking vitamin D, and this can lead to depression and a lower immunity to fight colds.

So, if you aren’t able to get your much-needed 15 minutes of sunlight each day to supply your body’s vitamin D needs, start battling wintertime blues with nutrition with these food ThinkstockPhotos-stk26325fls-1.jpgoptions:

  • Fatty fish: This includes salmon, mackerel, canned tuna, and sardines. Three ounces of salmon provides 450 IU of vitamin D—almost all of the daily recommendation of 600 IU. Canned tuna and sardines are an inexpensive way to get in seafood, giving you heart healthy omega 3s and 150 IU of vitamin D per serving. Another bonus is the long shelf life if you haven’t been to the grocery store to get fresh protein choices.
  • Milk: Almost all cows’ milk in the U.S. is fortified with vitamin D. A lot of other dairy products are, too, but not ice cream or cheese. Typically an 8-ounce glass of milk has 100 IUs of vitamin D, and most yogurt has around 80 IU for a 6-ounce container. If you are choosing soymilk or almond milk, most are fortified, but check the labels to be sure.
  • Fortified orange juice: If you aren’t a fan of milk or have lactose intolerance, 100% orange juice is an option. Typically an 8-ounce glass has the same amount of vitamin D as a glass of milk (100 IU). Just make sure you are buying the fortified kind.
  • Egg yolks: Eggs are a great way to get in vitamin D. However, you have to eat the whole egg and not just the whites to get the benefit. One egg yolk has 40 IUs.
  • Fortified cereal: Another way to double up on vitamin D is to choose a fortified cereal to have with your milk or glass of OJ at breakfast. 1 cup of Multi Grain Cheerios provides 90 IUs of vitamin D. Add milk to that and you are close to 200 IUs! Just be sure to choose cereals that are labeled as fortified with vitamin D.
  • Supplements: If you still have trouble getting all of your vitamin D needs met through food and the sun, an alternative is to take a supplement. The upper-limit dose for individuals over age 9 is 4,000 IU per day. Consuming more than this can lead to higher blood calcium levels and increased risk of kidney stones. Always talk to your physician before starting a supplement.

Recent studies have found that nearly 3 out of 4 individuals have either a Vitamin D deficiency or borderline deficiency. Most of this because we spend more time indoors compared to our parents and grandparents. Longer work hours, longer commutes in a vehicle, and more screen time indoors definitely play a part. Get outside, incorporate more of the foods above, and chat with your doctor about supplementing. All of this can mean a healthier immune system, stronger bones, and lower risk of some cancers.

Want to lose weight, gain muscle, manage diabetes, improve sport performance, reduce cholesterol, or just figure out how to grocery shop and prepare healthier meals?

Benefits of meeting with a nutrition coach >

 

Topics: nutrition supplements depression winter blues vitamins winter

Improve Your Senior Living Exercise Program: Focus on Chronic Disease

ThinkstockPhotos-585600458.jpgThe benefits of regular activity for individuals throughout their lifespan is clear through the many (many, many) studies that outline how much movement is enough and which elements of health are improved with activity. However, despite the research, people in the U.S. still simply don't get enough activity to sustain health benefits, and the rate of inactivity in the older adult population is even more startling.

Sedentary behavior as we age can be linked to chronic diseases like arthritis and heart disease. Although these conditions are common in older adults—and in many cases, regular exercise can help individuals manage those health issues—seniors often feel limited by their chronic illnesses. If you're having trouble growing participation in your community exercise program, you might be missing this important audience. Improve your senior living exercise program and focus on chronic disease to address these health concerns.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Help Residents Manage Chronic Illness with Exercise

  • Arthritis: Exercise is one of the most crucial options for arthritis management. Regular activity helps lubricate the joints and can help reduce overall pain and stiffness that is often present among individuals with arthritis. Moreover, obesity is a risk factor for the disease, and increasing physical activity levels can help better manage the debilitating symptoms of arthritis.

[Related Content: Pick your arthritis battles: how exercise can help]

  • Heart disease: Heart disease is one of the biggest causes of death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that about one in every four deaths is attributed to heart disease. More people exercising later in life can help reduce the number of individuals with heart disease through the management of blood pressure and blood glucose, and decreasing LDL cholesterol.
  • Metabolic Dysfunction (type II diabetes and obesity): Type II diabetes and obesity are two closely related diseases in which the body is in metabolic dysfunction. Exercise can help maintain proper body weight and help regulate blood glucose and insulin levels to make the body more efficient.
  • Cancer: Exercise has been shown to help lower overall cancer risk among a variety of different forms of cancer. Studies have shown a 30 to 40 percent reduction in breast cancer risk among women who perform moderate to regular exercise.
  • Hypertension: Exercise can help lower systolic blood pressure significantly through moderate-intensity physical activity. Try breaking up exercise into three bouts throughout the day lasting for at least 10 minutes each to receive blood pressure–lowering effects.
  • Depression: Exercise can have a beneficial effect on personal mood. Studies suggest that group exercise classes can help reduce symptoms of depression by 30 percent or more in exercising older adults. The modest improvement in depressive symptoms can help maintain an overall greater vitality later in life and help prevent negative feelings or thoughts that are common with aging.
  • Dementia: Dementia is a disabling condition affecting many older adults. With a wide range of mental disorders categorized as dementia, there is a great need to understand how to prevent the condition. Exercise is one prevention strategy that can help slow the mental decline. One study showed a 37 percent reduced risk and a 66 percent reduction in risk of dementia when older adults performed moderate-intensity exercise, suggesting every adult ought to exercise to help lower the risk of mental decline and to help prevent mental disability later in life.
  • Insomnia: Certain medications and life events can prevent the body from proper sleep. Higher levels of physical activity can help tire the body enough to place it in a position for restful and lasting sleep. Avoid strenuous exercise two hours before bed to obtain these benefits, and aim to meet the daily activity recommendations.

Need help ramping up community exercise programs to reach a broader audience? Find out more about NIFS consulting service where we bring our expertise to your community.

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Topics: diabetes heart disease cancer sleep senior living arthritis hypertension dementia depression exercise program CCRC Programs and Services chronic disease