Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Anna Hiple

Recent Posts by Anna Hiple:

Employee Wellness: A Healthy Makeover for School Lunches

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

With the recent release of new standards regarding school lunches and theischool lunch resized 600r nutrition content, it won’t be long before the food on your child’s plate will be more colorful, more portion-conscious, and more nutritious than ever before. The changes brought forth by the National School Lunch Program, in connection with the USDA, feature the following in lunches at participating public and not-for-profit private schools as well as various child care institutions:

  • Minimum requirements for veggies and fruits, with more choices and an emphasis on color variety

  • More whole grains and less refined carbohydrates

  • Milk choices of either skim or 1%

  • Calorie ranges for different grade levels that promote portion control

  • Limits on sodium and fat content

To better illustrate the improvements being made as the guidelines were introduced, a “before” and “after” menu was provided for a typical day. Instead of pizza sticks, raisins, a banana, and whole milk, the choices were a chef salad with low-fat dressing and a whole-wheat pretzel, choice of raw carrots or cooked corn, a banana, and chocolate skim milk. The healthier menu is certainly more well-balanced, yet reasonably attractive to a child’s appetite.

Plans are in place for a movement toward healthier breakfast and vending machine options as well. With about 32 million children taking advantage of these school lunches in America today, it’s hopeful that the new guidelines will not only help kids be at their best both mentally and physically, but perhaps put a dent in childhood obesity as healthier food habits are instilled at an early age.

Topics: employee health nutrition employee wellness kids

Corporate Fitness: Stop Muscles from “Cramping” Your Style

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

stretching, muscle crampsWe’ve seen muscle cramps strike athletes on the basketball court, football field, and during running events, and many of us have experienced them first-hand. This sharp, sudden pain can be so fierce that it is temporarily crippling. A cramp may also be physically manifested by a hard lump under the skin.

While muscle cramps generally resolve themselves and don’t cause any lingering damage, their onset can be extremely frustrating, not to mention painful, when they choose to strike in the middle of a crucial game or important workout in the corporate fitness center.

When mild cramps occur, the best treatment of the symptoms is to hydrate, rest, and stretch. But it's even better to stop them before they happen. Let’s look at the most common causes of exercise-related cramps and how to prevent them:

  • Cause: Dehydration
  • Remedy: Stay well hydrated during exercise (even during colder months) by drinking plenty of water. Consume a diet rich in fluids and fresh fruits and vegetables.


  • Cause: Electrolyte Imbalances
  • Remedy: Consume foods containing potassium (avocados, nuts and seeds, beans, dried fruit, bananas, potatoes), calcium (dairy, dark leafy greens; fortified cereals, juices, or grains), and magnesium (bran, nuts or seeds, dairy, fish and seafood, spinach, beans, whole grains). A sports drink may be appropriate, especially for high-intensity exercise lasting longer than an hour.


  • Cause: Environment
  • Remedy: Limit workouts in extreme heat and humidity. Take frequent breaks to hydrate and seek shade.


  • Cause: Fatigue
  • Remedy: Deconditioned individuals should start an exercise program slowly. Consult a doctor, if necessary.


Topics: exercise corporate fitness hydration fitness injury

Snacking Is Good for Employee Health!

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

Your stomach is growling, you’re having trouble concentrating at work, and you can’t help but count the hours until dinnertime. Sound familiar?

Nix the idea of snacking as a diet disaster and feel free to indulge! As long as it’s not potato chips from the office vending machine or candy in the office, snacking can lead to long-term health benefits and healthy weight maintenance.

healthy snacks, trail mix, snacking at workAim to eat a 150 to 300-calorie snack with a mix of carbs, protein, and healthy fats in between meals. Most likely, this will average out to eating approximately every two to three hours. Consistently fueling your body provides a boost to your metabolism and prevents the overeating that can happen all too easily when you approach a meal with an empty stomach.

Just remember to compensate for the snacks' calories by consuming smaller meals, so that your calorie distribution remains balanced throughout the day.

Healthy snack options are endless; take a look at the handful listed here:

  • Homemade trail mix
  • Yogurt and granola or fruit
  • A handful of nuts
  • Whole-grain crackers and low-fat cheese
  • Vegetables and hummus or guacamole
  • A piece of fruit—with or without cottage cheese
  • Whole-wheat English muffin and peanut butter
  • Popcorn
  • Protein bar
  • Small cup of soup
  • Small turkey sandwich with veggies on whole-wheat bread
  • Small baked potato with salsa
  • Whole-grain cereal with skim milk

What other suggestions do you have for between-meal nibbles?

Topics: employee health nutrition calories weight control

Employee Health: How Do I Get My Family to Exercise?

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

active family, exercise, healthy livingFor you: Take care of yourself as well as your family by carving out time to exercise and limiting sedentary behavior, which will give you energy to keep up with your family’s busy schedule. It’s always important to lead by example.

For your spouse: Once again, lead by example, and that may be enough to get your significant other off the couch and into an exercise program. Plan enjoyable activities that you can do together, such as biking, walking, and playing tennis. If you’re a gym rat, say that you need him or her for motivation, a spot, or even just the company, or plan to take a group fitness class together.

For your kids: Encourage any activity that keeps them moving, like sports (team or individual, such as martial arts, dance, rock climbing, skateboarding, or swimming), outside play, and play dates with friends. If you have video games in the house, make them active ones. Encourage friendly competitions among siblings, such as who can perform the most push-ups or sit-ups. Making exercise fun is the key!

For the entire family: When it comes to family exercise, the more, the merrier! Staying active as a family is not only good for everyone’s health, but it helps build strong relationships. Skiing, sledding, ice skating, and bowling are great for cold weather, and walking, biking, tennis, basketball, touch football, putt-putt golf, and swimming are all ideal for warmer-weather months.

Topics: employee health group exercise winter fitness exercise at home New Year's Resolutions in Action

Employee Health: How Can I Improve My Energy Level?

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

energy, healthy, wellbeing, funIt’s a new year, and you may be eager to start fresh with new resolutions, goals, and a lengthy to-do list. Give yourself the best chance to achieve success by providing your body with the energy it needs!

All too often we have a tendency to let our tired bodies get the best of us. Try out some of these tips to help keep your energy levels on par with your busy lifestyle.

  • Get plenty of sleep. Turn off the computer, TV, and cell phone and turn in early. Grab a power nap during the day, if necessary, which can stave off fatigue.
  • Get moving. Take a brisk walk, complete a quick set of pushups and jumping jacks, or perform some work around the house when you feel your energy lagging. We also tend to skip a planned workout when tired, when in actuality you’ll feel more energized after hitting the gym.
  • Eat smart. Reach for the fruits and vegetables, and avoid refined carbs, which can cause your blood sugar to spike and crash erratically. Eating a variety of nutrients will provide your body with vitamins and minerals (such as iron and magnesium) needed to function.
  • Eat often. Your eating schedule is important as well. Indulge in some breakfast and some healthy snacks between meals, so your body isn’t ever lacking for fuel.
  • Drink up. Dehydration may cause sluggishness, so be sure to hydrate throughout the day.
Topics: employee health exercise nutrition New Year's Resolutions in Action energy level

How to Initiate Workplace Wellness

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

wellness at work, healthy work environment, corporate fitnessApproximately 65% of the U.S. population is overweight or obese, which should tell us that some sort of a wakeup call concerning health is crucial. What if this wakeup call took root at work?

It’s common knowledge that happy, healthy employees will be more productive and have lower health insurance costs, which satisfies employers. However, implementing a successful wellness program in the workplace can sometimes be a bit of an uphill battle.

Provide Access to Health Screenings

We all know how difficult it can be to overcome bad habits, and if you have a group that is particularly set in their ways, starting small is key. Many individuals will not acknowledge they’re unhealthy until they are presented with hard proof; for instance, a diagnosis of pre-diabetes or high blood pressure may be what propels them to act.

How do they receive the testing necessary to identify these conditions? It may come in the form of a health fair with screenings, which can be less invasive and less intimidating than a doctor’s visit. A follow-up doctor’s appointment can be the next step, if necessary, and with proper education about nutrition and exercise, that employee will hopefully be on the road to better health.

Create a Healthy Workplace Environment

If you’re an employer, consider implementing a program that provides employee access to health professionals (anywhere from a doctor to a fitness professional) who can guide them in setting goals and achieving (and then maintaining) healthy habits.

Also, creating a healthy environment in the workplace (nutritious food options, active employee outings, etc.) always helps! Involve company leaders, which enhances the effectiveness of these types of initiatives.

Take a look at your workplace. What sort of action would be best suited to its employees?  

Topics: healthy workforce worksite wellness

Senior Fitness: Walking and Memory

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

senior fitness, retirement community, senior health and wellness, senior fitness managementWalking has long been touted as one of the most effective forms of aerobic exercise an individual can perform. The convenience of walking and the relative ease of it (compared to some other forms of high-impact exercise) make it a beneficial part of any exercise program for individuals of all ages.

The Impact of Walking on Senior Health

Regular walking is especially important for seniors, as it helps them maintain balance, muscle mass, and cardiovascular function that can otherwise deteriorate with age. It assists with the prevention of chronic disease and may help ease the symptoms of some medical conditions.

In addition, what’s good for the body has also been proven to be good for the mind; walking combats age-related cognitive decline, which helps seniors maintain their memory and prevent dementia. Specifically, walking increases the size of the hippocampus, which is a section of the brain related to memory.

Studies Prove the Memory Benefits of Walking for Senior Wellness

While many forms of activity can be good for the brain, a year-long study at a handful of universities specifically highlights the benefits of walking as compared to other forms of activity. Data was taken from two groups of seniors: one group with a walking program and another performing yoga and resistance-band training. The size of the hippocampus increased in the walking group but decreased in the other group. Therefore, especially if you are a senior, it’s important to lace up those athletic shoes and hit the pavement!  

Walking Tips for Seniors

Check out the following walking tips for seniors:

  • If you’re just beginning, start slow. You may want to consult with your doctor about a program.
  • Walk as briskly as possible, which will help you reap the most benefits.
  • Invest in a pair of comfortable walking/running shoes with plenty of support and cushioning.
  • If you have joint ailments, try finding softer ground on which to walk, such as a trail or a track.
  • Incorporate intervals into your walking program. Mix in speed bursts and incline training.
  • Recruit a walking buddy. Exercise can be much more enjoyable with a friend!
  • If walking outside, try varying your routes to keep the scenery interesting.
Topics: walking senior fitness memory

Employee Health and Nutrition: Pumpkin’s Powerful Punch

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

pumkins, nutrtion, health, employee wellness, nifsNothing brings about that glorious feeling of fall like crisp air, sunny days, brilliant foliage, football, apple cider… and all foods pumpkin!

The Health Benefits of Pumpkin

We are awed by the beautiful shades of red, yellow, and orange of the changing leaves, but let’s consider nature’s colors in terms of health; did you know that a pumpkin’s deep orange hue is an automatic giveaway that it is a nutrient powerhouse? The next time you indulge in a tasty pumpkin treat, consider what one serving of pumpkin, which is low in both fat and calories, can provide:

  • 100% of your daily value of vitamin A (from the healthy dose of beta-carotene in the pumpkin)
  • 20% of your daily value of fiber
  • A handful of antioxidants that help fight disease

How to Get More Healthy Pumpkin into Your Diet

The type of pumpkin that is generally best for consumption is that which comes from a sugar or pie pumpkin; Libby’s brand specifically uses the Dickinson variety. However, your jack-o-lantern is certainly good for something: its seeds! Roast them in some olive oil and seasoning and enjoy. They contain healthy fats, protein, fiber, zinc, magnesium, and iron. 

For unique ways to sneak pumpkin into everyday foods to make them healthier, check out these ideas. And try these healthier pumpkin recipes that are perfect for a fall day.

Topics: employee health nutrition antioxidants