Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Christen Smith

Recent Posts by Christen Smith:

Staying Active and Healthy on Vacation

Summer is a time for vacation getaways and family adventures.  Don’t let your plans get in the way of your health and fitness goals. Here are some suggestions for staying active and healthy on vacation this summer whether you are out of town or having a “staycation.”

  • ThinkstockPhotos-627280116.jpgWalk the airport instead of sitting and waiting for your flight. Get your vacation started off on the right foot and finish on a good note. There are endless opportunities to get in your daily dose of steps at the airport. Just be sure to keep correct posture as you move, especially if you are carrying or dragging a bag.
  • Do an entire workout from your hotel room. No need for a gym; you can do body-weight exercises, such as lunges, squats, push-ups, triceps dips, wall sits, planks, etc. The list goes on. Just be creative. Pack a resistance band in your suitcase for even more exercise options.
  • Take a bike tour. Sightseeing by bike can be a fun and exciting way to see the world around you. Some places require a reservation, so be sure to do your research to find a tour of the area in which you are staying. If you can’t find a tour, search for a local bike rental; then you can decide exactly where you want to go and what to see on your own schedule.
  • Try new things. Whether it’s a faraway destination vacation or a “staycation,” try things you’ve never tried before. Some examples include hiking a new trail, paddle boarding, kayaking, and golf. Another idea is to just take your workout outdoors and enjoy the beautiful summer weather. Try yoga on the beach or Pilates in the park.
  • Pack snacks and water. Don’t let bad nutrition habits ruin your healthy vacation; pack your own snacks. If you are driving, be sure to have plenty of healthy options so you’re not tempted to pull over at the closest drive-thru. If you are renting a condo, you can even do your own grocery shopping and cook your own meals. When you do eat out, try to plan where and when you are going, and what you will eat. It is vacation, however, so plan to splurge a little. Everything in moderation.
  • Plan ahead for an active vacation. Be sure to pack appropriate clothing, make any reservations for activities beforehand, and do some research to find out more about the area you will be visiting.
  • Make the most of your vacation time. Stay off your cell phone, close the computer, and turn off the TV. Spend your time doing activities that you enjoy. Spend time outdoors. Spend time with friends and family (or get some well-deserved alone time!). Be sure to get the most “bang for your buck” out of your vacation time.

Vacations don’t have to derail or throw off your healthy lifestyle. You just need a little planning and an adventurous spirit! What are your healthy vacation plans?

Check out NIFS picks for nutrition apps to keep you on track during vacation, click below for the free download!

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My Favorite Workout: Trying New Exercises or Activities

ThinkstockPhotos-165103697.jpgSomeone recently asked me, “What is your favorite workout?” I thought about my answer for a little bit. I do like to run, and I usually run about three days a week, but is that my favorite workout? No, my favorite workout is always when I’m trying new exercises or activities!

Try a New Exercise or Activity

The workouts that I enjoy the most are the workouts that I haven’t tried before, or don’t get to do very often. Whether it’s a new obstacle course race, running a newfound path, hiking a new trail, indoor rock climbing, stand-up paddle boarding, a taking a new Barre class, or just changing up a high-intensity interval workout, new workouts and exercises can be challenging and fun.

I’m like most people, I think, and doing the same workout day-in and day-out can get old. Like I said, I still run about three days a week, but I also try to mix it up with new workouts on a regular basis. I recently went to an indoor trampoline park with my kids. I had so much fun! I also had no idea how sore I would be the next day, simply because I was having too much fun to realize how much of a workout I was really getting.

The Benefits of Trying Something New

Besides being fun, switching up your workouts and trying something new can have lots of other benefits. Changing your workouts regularly can help break through the dreaded weight-loss plateau. It can also help prevent overuse injuries and build new muscles that you don’t use during your typical workouts.

Continuously trying new workouts can help build your confidence and keep your brain healthy. When you learn something new, it can help you feel empowered, more confident and ready to learn other new skills. And, learning new skills helps keep your neurons firing and your brain sharp, and helps to prevent memory loss.

New Workouts to Try

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Group fitness classes—Vinyasa Yoga, Zumba, PiYo, Boot Camp, Barre, etc.
  • Sign up for a 5K or a 10K, or challenge yourself to a half or full marathon.
  • Ballroom dancing classes
  • Indoor rock climbing
  • Martial arts
  • Water sports—skiing, paddleboarding, kayaking, whitewater rafting, etc.
  • Ziplining
  • Outdoor obstacle courses

What are some activities that you have recently tried or would like to try?

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Topics: activities exercises workout

5 Ways to Avoid Injuries When Running

ThinkstockPhotos-516819890.jpgIt seems that running injuries are all too common. There have been many research studies done on runners and, each year, as many as 79% of runners are sidelined due to injuries. Here are 5 ways to avoid injuries when running.

1. Add Strength Training

Strong muscles, ligaments, and tendons can guard against the impact of running, lead to improved running form, and help you achieve a more consistent gait. When the body is strong, the brain is able to tell the muscles to brace for impact before your foot even hits the ground. The glutes and the core contract, in order to, steady the pelvis and the leg. The foot and ankle muscles are activated, providing a solid foundation for your heel strike. Many runners lack strength in at least one muscle group. When one stabilizer muscle is weak, the other muscles make accommodations for the weakness and therefore can become overworked. This can create a “domino effect” in the body and cause an injury or injuries.

2. Always Warm-Up AND Cool Down

A warm-up prepares the body for exercise, by increasing the heart rate and blood flow to the muscles. Then, just as the warm-up prepares the body, the cool down brings it back to its normal state. The time spent warming up and cooling down helps prevent muscle soreness and aids in recovery, both of which will help prepare the body for your next run.

3. Use Correct Form

There are many disagreements amongst runners about what defines correct running form. Just as baseball players swing a bat, or a guitarist plays a guitar, there may be some variance in form from runner to runner. But, there is some common ground, and most can agree that certain components of form, such as, good posture and proper stride, can help prevent injury. For proper posture: Be sure to keep the upper torso straight and the head directly over the shoulders. DO NOT arch the lower back. For proper stride: Avoid over-striding, which is when the foot lands well ahead of the knee. Overstriding can put extra wear and tear on the muscles and joints. Try to focus on where your foot is landing and place it close to the body. Instead of reaching with the foot, try to drive forward with the knee.

4. Wear Proper Footwear

Shoes can alter your running form and have an impact on the amount of force that is applied to the joints with each step. Professional running stores may be a good place to start when trying to find the right shoe for you, but the best indication is how the shoe feels. If it doesn’t feel good, then it’s putting stress somewhere. If you experience aches and pains after a run, it may be a good indication that you’re not in the right shoe. You may need to try a few pairs before you find the right shoe for you. Also, be sure to change your shoes often. Running shoe should be replaced every 350-450 miles.

5. Avoid the terrible "too's"

Don't do too much, too soon, too often, too fast, too hard, with too little rest.  Listen to your body and ease into it and rest when needed.

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Topics: exercise running injury prevention

NIFS: Fitness Apps for your Smart Phone

smartphone exercise resized 600Are you looking for fitness tips, a little extra motivation or some exercise accountability?  There’s an app for that!  Over the past few years, health and fitness apps have grown and can provide information such as, distance and pace, strength, circuit and flexibility routines, estimate calorie expenditure, and some can measure your heart rate.  Some apps will send daily fitness tips or motivational statements to help keep you on track with your exercise routine.  But, if you’ve ever tried to search for health and fitness apps on your phone, you know how overwhelming it can be.

There are hundreds and hundreds of fitness apps out there for your smart phone.  I have narrowed them down by choosing a few!  Upgrades are available for some, but the free versions work well by themselves as well. 

Fitness Apps

 

  • Tabata Trainer (iOS and Android) – provides an easy way to keep time during your Tabata or HIIT interval workouts; uses intense interval training as its guide for a 20 seconds of workout followed by 10 seconds rest; clean, basic and easy to use
  • Gym Goal ABC (Android) – has 280 exercises (with animation and written instruction), 52 different workouts (adjustable for four levels of expertise), cannot log daily workouts, but you can calculate BMI, THR, BMR and body fat percentage, can choose parts of the body to concentrate on
  • Workout Trainer (iOS and Android) – after completing the free virtual fitness consultation for a more customized workout; users can easily create and edit workouts; exercise instruction provided via photos and videos; progress cues can be provided during workouts
  • Daily Workouts (iOS and Android) – provides 5-10 minute targeted workouts or 10-30 minute full body workouts; has a database of 50 different exercises; workouts are different each day
  • Human (iOS) – encourages participants to get outside for 30 minutes a day and run, walk or bike; tracks progress and can share accomplishments on a social network

Run/Walk Trackers

 

  • RunKeeper (Android) – produces statistics around pace, distance, speed, time and calories burned; users can also listen to and control music during a workout
  • Nike+ Runner (iOS and Android) – records distance, speed and time, also can provide audio feedback each mile, ½ mile or time increment (set by the user); users can set up play lists to help boost motivation, music can be controlled during workouts
  • iRunner (iOS and Android) – maps run, walk, bike, hike, etc. with GPS; records time, distance, calories and pace; now integrates with FitBit, MyFitnessPal, Facebook, Twitter and more
  • Map My Run / Walk / Ride / Hike, etc. (iOS and Android) – tracks running/walking, biking, and 6000 other activities; tracks pace, distance, time, calories and elevations, gives real-time stats
  • Couch to 5K (iOS and Android) – provides a step-by-step program to get your running a 5K in nine weeks; gradually increases workouts from a walk/light-jog to a run in three workouts a week
  • Endomondo Sports Tracker (iOS, Android, Blackberry) – designed for runners, walkers, bikers, etc.; uses GPS to track routes; get pep talks, motivation and notifications each time you break a mile

You can find more detailed descriptions and reviews online and decide for yourself which apps will help you the most.  What is your favorite fitness app? Comment below and share or jump over to our NIFS Fitness Management Facebook page and tell us your favorite!

Topics: exercise fitness apps health and wellness