Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Anna Hiple

Recent Posts by Anna Hiple:

Employee Wellness: The Science Behind Produce Stickers

man shopping in produce resized 600Reading food labels just became a little bit trickier! If you've gotten into the habit of studying the labels of your favorite foods for nutrition information, here's something else to include: produce stickers. Fruits, vegetables, herbs, and nuts generally bear stickers with special codes that tell the checkout person how much the food costs. But these labels also provide important information about where the produce came from. Here's what to look for:

  • Four-digit code number: These types of codes, which usually start with a 3 or a 4, mean that the food was conventionally grown and may have been exposed to different chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Five-digit code number beginning with an 8: A code like this tells you that the item has been genetically modified, which means technology has altered its genes. This is done for a variety of purposes, such as boosting immunity to insects, producing a bigger crop, making items appear bigger or tastier, etc. The safety of this practice is debated.
  • Five-digit code number beginning with a 9: An item bearing this type of code is organic. If you're looking for your safest bet in terms of avoiding chemicals, this is it.

Wondering when you should splurge for organic? When it comes to peaches, peppers, celery, berries, leafy greens, apples, cherries, and grapes, organic is best. However, foods such as sweet corn, avocados, onions, pineapples, watermelon, mangoes, asparagus, cantaloupe, and kiwi tend to be cleaner even when conventionally grown.


Next time you’re in the grocery store, put your knowledge to the test to see what type of produce offerings it provides!

Topics: employee health nutrition Food for Thought Go Green employee wellness

Employee Health: Healthy Eating on the Night Shift

Many shift workers struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and it’s easy to understand why. The body’s natural routine, or its “circadian rhythm,” is significantly disrupted when they work the night shift.

When you have less access to fresher, healthier foods, eating well can be a challenge. Shift workers may also be unable to find an eating schedule that suits them. One idea that may work well is to eat a main meal before the start of a shift in the evening. Since this meal can be eaten unhealthy food options resized 600at home, you have more control over its nutritional content and the cooking methods used.

Once at work, it’s imperative that you bring along healthy snacks; avoid the vending machine and its processed, high-fat food at all costs! Some type of protein mixed with a small amount of carbs and fat is best because it helps you remain alert. Snacking and a light meal at break time can prevent hunger, and another light meal with healthy carbohydrates after work but before sleeping will promote rest and relaxation.

Avoiding caffeine toward the end of the shift is a must. It’s also a good idea, regardless, to replace coffee and pop with plain water or decaf tea.

Employers can help their night-shift workers in a number of ways, such as providing healthy food options, preventing tobacco use, offering 24-hour worksite gyms, and making employee wellness education available at a variety of times.

Topics: employee health nutrition worksite wellness employee wellness sleeping patterns

Corporate Fitness: The Battle of BMI vs. Body Composition

scaleBody Mass Index (BMI) vs. Body Composition: These measurements are used in the healthcare and corporate fitness worlds to help identify risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. But which is best? Many experts reason that both tools can be useful in different circumstances.


BMI is calculated by dividing weight (kg) by height (m²). Although it takes into account only these two factors, it can generally identify levels of fatness in most people, and has more of a place when a simple, general assessment of a larger group is needed. Labels of “underweight,” “healthy,” “overweight,” and “obese” are used to describe BMI ranges.

The drawbacks of BMI are manifested in a couple of ways. Someone who possesses a great amount of muscle mass may be classified as overweight or obese, when in reality they are in superior shape. An unconditioned individual can be classified as being at a healthy weight when muscle mass is actually lacking. This is where measuring body composition is valuable.

Body Composition

Body composition separates fat mass from lean mass and provides a better assessment of an individual’s health status. The limitations of body composition are that it’s not quite as simple and may not be practical for use in assessments of large groups. The simplest means of measuring it are by scale, handheld device, or skinfold testing and include some margin of error. While most accurate, underwater weighing or air displacement can be complicated and time consuming.

When embarking on a fitness program, it’s a good idea to track your body composition to help you measure your progress. This will allow you to have a much better idea of how your body is changing for the better with the effects of resistance training and cardiovascular exercise.  

Evaluate how you can do better for your employees with fitness offerings at your worksite.  Check out these 4 tips to improve your services, click below.

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Topics: overweight employees corporate fitness Body Mass Index BMI hydrostatic weighing body composition weight control obesity

Weight Loss: Reducing Calories, Not Taste

This blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

cooking healthyThe puzzle pieces of successful weight loss or maintenance are not limited to gym visits. They include healthy eating habits as well. Adopting a nutritious diet can seem daunting, so making small changes that add up is often an effective strategy.

Look into how you can incorporate some of the following tips into your own cooking and eating habits:


  • Swap cream and whole milk for skim milk in your coffee and cereal.
  • Substitute egg whites for whole eggs.
  • Use applesauce in baked goods in place of oil.
  • Choose lower-fat versions of yogurt and cheese.
  • Use nonstick cooking spray instead of oil or butter.
  • Trim the fat from meat, remove the skin, and prepare it through baking, grilling, or broiling instead of frying.
  • Use spices to pump up flavor.

 Smart Choices:

  • Eat whole grains instead of refined. They’re nutritious and will keep your stomach satisfied longer.
  • Pile on the veggies in sandwiches instead of cheese, extra meat, and mayo.
  • Use condiments like mustard, ketchup, vinaigrette, and hummus more often than mayo and high-fat creamy dressings.
  • Create bulk on a salad with extra veggies―not bacon bits or cheese.

 Eating Out:

  • Order a cup of soup prior to the meal. This will reduce your appetite.
  • Split an entrée with a spouse or friend.
  • Ask for dressings and condiments on the side.
  • Order grilled or baked foods instead of those that are breaded or fried.
  • Choose a baked potato or salad as a side dish.

 What other tips do you have that work for you?

Topics: nutrition weight loss weight management calories

Employee Health: Take Your Exercise Routine on Vacation

This blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

travel activitiesPreparing for a summer vacation? Be sure to bring workout attire! Instead of letting your exercise routine take off several days as well, check out some of the following fitness ideas and embrace the opportunity to be rejuvenated both physically and mentally.

Outdoor Fitness

Want to take advantage of the great outdoors? Here are some ways to exercise outside while on vacation:

  • Explore a new city on foot (or on two wheels): take a run, walk, or bike ride.
  • Bring the entire family to sightsee.
  • Have a beach nearby? A sunrise or sunset can set the stage for a great run. Incorporate pushups, lunges, squats, and core work in the sand.
  • Beach volleyball and a Frisbee or football toss will appeal to kids.
  • Seek out opportunities for surfing, paddle surfing, swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving.
  • Hiking, tennis, and hitting the links (sans cart!) will burn calories while you enjoy the sunshine.

 Gym Fitness on the Road

Not ready to give up your gym-junkie habits? Here are some ways to get in a fitness center workout:

  • Most hotels will have a fitness center, although you may have to get a bit creative since the equipment selection can be limited.
  • Swap the stairstepper for the real thing: climb the stairs at the hotel.
  • No hotel gym? Check to see whether they offer passes to a local fitness center.

 Staying Fit in a Hotel Room

 Stuck in the room? You can still stay active:

  • Bring a mat to practice yoga.
  • Strength train with resistance bands or body-weight exercises (pushups, squats, tricep dips, etc.).
  • Stationary exercises like jump rope, jumping jacks, burpees, and squat jumps will get your heart pumping.
Topics: employee health exercise fitness yoga

Employee Wellness: Healthy Joints, Healthy Body

This blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

healthy jointsYour joints play an important role in all of life’s activities. They connect bone to bone, which allows your body to move during everything from sports and exercise to everyday functions such as playing with kids, lifting groceries, performing yard work, and even sitting at a desk.

However, factors such as age, injury, diet, and lifestyle can negatively impact the joints over time, leading to stiffness, pain, and possibly even the onset of arthritis. Keep your joints mobile with the following tips:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Shedding a few pounds can help take the pressure off of lower-body joints, including the knees, which seem to suffer the most from weight gain.
  • Mix up the aerobic exercise routine. Running and playing sports can help build bone density, but too much impact can hurt your joints. Mix in lower-impact exercises such as biking and swimming.
  • Pump iron. Strength training builds up the muscles that support joint health. Mix together upper-body, lower-body, and core exercises.
  • Keep it moving. Sitting for too long invites stiffness. Take stretching or walking breaks at the office, when watching your child’s sporting event, or when watching TV or reading at night. When you do find yourself at your desk, practice good posture.
  • Stretch. Stretch after exercising. You may also find yoga, Pilates, and t'ai chi soothing for sore joints.
  • Eat for joint health. Consume foods rich in calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A, C, D, and K.
Topics: nutrition weight management arthritis pain relief joint health yoga injury stretching

Tackling Workplace Fitness at Lunchtime

This blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

workout at work, lunchtime yogaDo you find it difficult to make exercise part of your daily routine? You may be surprised at just how easy it is to squeeze in bouts of activity. Lunchtime is one such opportunity. Not only will you torch a few calories, you’ll tackle your afternoon tasks with a clear mind and increased energy levels.

Hit the Corporate Fitness Center

Consider visiting a local or corporate fitness center to complete your own workout or take a class. Just be sure to increase the intensity (think circuit training) to compensate for the fact that you may be performing a shorter workout than normal. Leaving your office for a walk or a run is also an appealing option to many people. Don’t want to do it alone? Organize a walking group! On days like these, it’s probably a good idea to bring your lunch from home to ensure you have enough time to eat.

Exercise in Your Office

No time to get away from your home or office? Mix bodyweight strength-training exercises such as pushups, squats, lunges, and sit-ups with cardiovascular exercises like marching, jumping jacks, stationary jogging, or jumping rope. Small hand weights or resistance bands can be tucked away in a drawer for a workout at a moment’s notice.

Just Get Moving at Lunch

At the very least, get up and get moving on your lunch break. At work, walk a few flights of stairs or do some laps around the building. If you need to purchase your lunch, skip the company cafeteria and walk to a restaurant (a healthy one!) that’s farther away.

Topics: exercise at work worksite wellness corporate fitness centers exercies at your desk

Pain at the Pump Fuels a Boost in Employee Health

This blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

walking, biking, gas pricesAs gas prices creep higher and you’re forced to dig deeper into your pocketbook, it can certainly be difficult to look at the bright side of what seems to be that inevitable price spike as the weather warms up. However, the next time you grudgingly fill up your tank, ponder the health benefits that are to be had as a result of higher prices.

First, there’s the most obvious: people will bike and walk more (and use public transportation), which certainly makes sense in a country where 50 percent of commuters are traveling five miles or less to the office. Traveling by bicycle or on foot provides moderate-intensity exercise that is generally safe for individuals of all ages and fitness abilities, and can provide a quality workout for someone who is pressed for time by the demands of work and family.

With fewer vehicles on the road comes less pollution, beneficial to both the environment and health. Less traffic fatalities also result, due not only to the decreased amount of cars but the simple fact that motorists drive more slowly to conserve gas. Speaking of saving gas, instead of making circles around the parking lot to snag the closest spot, now is the perfect opportunity to heed that oft-heard tip of parking in the farthest space from your destination!

The effects can trickle down to lifestyle choices as well. With less spending money to be had, families will be more likely to cook healthier meals at home as opposed to eating out. Outings for the family or for couples can include activities like biking or hiking instead of trips to the movies or a restaurant.

And while you're pinching pennies, don't forget that your corporate wellness center provides an affordable alternative to an expensive gym membership. This season, make that pain at the pump work in your favor toward a healthier body!

Topics: exercise at work exercise biking walking exercise at home corporate fitness centers

Senior Fitness: Make a Splash for Your Health

This blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Swimming has long been a heralded exercise due to the fact that it provides a solid cardiovascular workout while remaining gentle on the joints. The water can provide a stable environment, free from harsh elements, that keeps swimmers from overheating during a workout. These features make swimming attractive to older adults, and new research that shows it can lower blood pressure boosts its stock even more.

swimming older adult resized 600The small study, conducted at the University of Texas, found a decrease of almost 10 mm Hg in the systolic blood pressure (the number “on top”) of seniors who had borderline high blood pressure but were not receiving any type of treatment for their condition. As a bonus, researchers also found improved elasticity in the arteries of the participants, which is beneficial for preventing stroke and heart disease. These positive results were exhibited after three to four days per week of various swimming exercises for a total of twelve weeks.

If you’re an older adult seeking a lifestyle change that can help decrease blood pressure or someone simply wanting more variety, consider trying swimming. Or, perhaps you’re looking to get a parent, grandparent, or other loved one involved in an exercise program. Due to swimming's popularity, use of a swimming pool and aquatic programs is offered at many fitness centers associated with senior living communities. Other local fitness centers and community pools may also provide an opportunity to reap the benefits of swimming.

Topics: exercise swimming senior fitness

Corporate Wellness: Is Nighttime Eating a DO or a DON'T?

binge eating, late night snackThis blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Snacking before bedtime has long been a hotly debated subject. Although we’ve learned that weight control is largely dependent on the balance between calorie consumption and calorie expenditure, late-night eating must be done with care. Otherwise it may damage your weight loss or maintenance efforts. Follow these simple tips for nighttime eating.

Nighttime eating is a DON’T if…

  • You eat out of boredom or habit; not because you are hungry.
  • It leads to mindless consumption of excessive calories, especially of foods void of nutritional value such as potato chips, candy, cookies, ice cream, etc.
  • You tend to suffer from nighttime heartburn, indigestion, or acid reflux.
  • You tend to reach for foods that contain caffeine, such as chocolate.
  • You wake up feeling too full in the morning to eat breakfast.

Nighttime eating can be a DO if…

  • Heavy, greasy foods with a high fat content are avoided.
  • It has been several hours since your last meal.
  • The snack is light and nutritious and contains a mix of carbs and protein (examples: whole-grain cereal and milk, a piece of fruit with cottage cheese, low- or non-fat dairy, popcorn, a small turkey sandwich, whole-grain crackers and cheese or hummus, etc.).
Topics: nutrition weight loss weight control