Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Kimberlee Swift

Recent Posts by Kimberlee Swift:

Navigating the Dining Options at Your Senior Living Community

So you moved to a retirement community! Raking leaves is soooo 10 years ago. Who needs a lawnmower—not you! Snow is just a pretty decoration because you don’t have to shovel it, or in some cases, even clean off your car. Some do miss these seasonal outdoor chores, but many don’t.

ThinkstockPhotos-120726908_1.jpgThe biggest change, however, is the fact that you no longer have to think about what’s for dinner, or lunch, or even breakfast. What a joy! My husband and I have the same exact conversation every day at around 5:30pm: What’s for dinner? I don’t know. What do you want? I don’t care. What do we have lying around that I can toss together quickly? I don’t know, eggs, a salad? And we end up usually having a salad, maybe with an omelet. Easy, but sooo boring.

The Many Choices in the CCRC Dining Room

When you move in to a senior living community, you are sure to take advantage of the wonderful food options. Blueberry pancakes on a Tuesday? Why not! You would probably have a boring bowl of cereal, but not now. You can have eggs Benedict, grits and toast, and sausage. What’s for dinner? I bet it’s the soup of the day, a salad, an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert. Oh and the desserts. No graham crackers or dry cereal for you! No sir! Cakes, pies, a wide selection of ice cream, Jell-O, crème brûlée, pudding, the works! Oh and lunch. You can have a cheeseburger or a BLT every single day if you want to.

It’s no wonder that many put on what I like to call the “Freshman 15.” Just like when we went to college, we had this amazing buffet of options every day, and who am I to turn down these delectable items? I want to get my money’s worth! So I eat everything that is offered to me. But there are plenty of healthy options. You just need to practice a tiny amount of restraint with an eye toward weight management, and learn how to navigate the menu.

Choosing Healthy, Nutrition-Packed Dining Options

Easy enough. Here are my tips:

  • Avoid the sauces. Try to stay away from stuff with lots of sauce on it. Always get the sauce on the side. Dip your fork in the sauce then in your food. That saves a little bit of calories.
  • Eat more salad. Make a salad your entrée twice a week, instead of the side for your main course. Practice the same restraint with the salad dressing that you do with sauces. Even if you LOVE Parmesan peppercorn dressing, dip your fork in the dressing first and then stab it into your salad.
  • Keep veggies healthy. See if you can get your vegetables steamed or roasted, without sauce or butter on them, with maybe a squeeze of lemon and salt-free seasoning.
  • Increase your fiber. Fiber helps you feel more full and has lots of healthy side-effects. Pick whole-grain items off the menu, like brown rice, quinoa, wild rice, and whole-grain breads. Stick with sweet potatoes and skip the baked potato if possible.
  • Enjoy healthy fish dishes. Look for the catch of the day and get it broiled or blackened, and always ask whether they prepare it with lots of butter or oil (and skip it if they do).
  • Indulge occasionally. And finally, dessert. As hard as this is, choose two days a week that you can treat yourself to dessert, and see if anyone at the table wants to share it with you. Often the serving you get is really meant for two or even three, so don’t try to scarf it all down by yourself. I also suggest saving your dessert, taking it home, and having it for breakfast! Your body does a much better job of burning calories during the day, and by the evening your metabolism has begun to slow down to prepare for sleep. (Do you know how sumo wrestlers gain so much weight? They eat a big meal, about 2,000 calories, and then go right to sleep.) And who doesn’t love chocolate cake for breakfast? 

So enjoy the easy life; you have earned it! Just don’t get too carried away with the food options. You are in this for the long haul, and if you eat sensibly, get a little exercise, and get involved with programs and activities at your new home, you will truly make your new life the best it can be!

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Topics: nutrition weight management senior wellness senior living calories fiber dining food

Practical Senior Fitness and Functional Movement for Every Body

So what’s so practical about going to the gym, anyway? We can always find a million and one good reasons not to go. The dishes aren’t done, I haven’t finished reading the newspaper, the laundry is piling up, I have a headache, it’s too nice to be stuck inside, I’ve had a bad day…the list of excuses can go on and on. So why even bother?

The good news is that you don’t have to work out. But with every yin there is a yang, and the bad news is that if you choose not to exercise, you can expect to have a tougher time, especially as you get older, with simple daily tasks.

What Happens When You Can’t Perform Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)?

At this point in your life I bet you can’t imagine not being able to walk up and down a flight of stairs, or losing the ability to dress yourself or brush your own hair. These are simple activities of daily living that we tend to take for granted. I can’t imagine entrusting my 5-year-old nephew with picking out clothes and putting them on me. I would probably have on a t-shirt with dinosaurs or a front-end loader on it, a pair of warmup pants (on backward, of course), and slip-on Wellie boots on the wrong feet. So thank goodness I can manage to get myself together and pick out my own clothes at this point in my life—and walk up and down the stairs to pick out said clothes, and get myself to work, or out to dinner with my husband, or on a walk with the dogs.

So how do we lose the ability to do functional movements that seem mundane at this point in our lives? It all boils down to inactivity. Sure, there are a lot of other issues that can compound the simple act of avoiding movement and exercise. But the act of avoiding movement and exercise on its own is enough, over time, and added to the natural muscular wasting or atrophy that occurs as we age, creates a perfect storm of problems that can seem insurmountable.

We need movement, especially weight-bearing exercises, to keep our muscles healthy and vital. As we age (Newsflash: we are all getting older; by the time you get to the end of this blog, you will be 10 minutes older), our bodies are less able to both maintain and create new muscle. Once you reach age 70, this issue begins to accelerate. By age 80 the problem has moved into the fast lane, and boy does she have a lead foot. 

The Senior Fitness Solution: Keep Moving and Staying ActiveThinkstockPhotos-463464655.jpg

This wasting process makes daily activities increasingly more difficult. And now we are back to the idea of going to the gym, because we don’t want our legs to shrivel up like a worm that sits in the sun too long. But we still have the same old excuses. So what to do? Do the things that you want to continue to maintain your ability to do.

  • Going up and down stairs: You still want to walk up and down the stairs? Take 10 to 15 minutes a day and briskly walk up and down the stairs. If you don’t have a staircase, use the curb outside or buy an aerobic step riser from a sporting goods store.
  • Getting in and out of chairs (or on or off the toilet): Another key exercise for leg strength is a modified squat, or what we call a sit to stand (and it’s also good for balance). Sitting on the edge of a sturdy chair, trying not to use your arms, come up to a standing position. Then sit back down. Imagine you are sitting on a lemon meringue pie. Don’t splat it out; sit on it gently. Don’t stay in the chair. Just touch it with your rear end and then push back up. Try 2 or 3 sets of 10.
  • Dressing yourself and performing ADLs: Want to still be able to dress yourself and brush your own hair? Do modified pushups or wall pushups! Two sets of 10 per day will be more than adequate. Add in some weights (you can just use soup cans) and do some overhead presses and a few bicep curls and reverse flys to activate the upper body. Stick with the idea of doing the exercises until the muscles fatigue, usually after 20 to 30 repetitions. Add in a few planks for core strength. If planks are out of your league right now, just do some bent-leg lifts while on your back on the floor.

All of this is probably within your reach now. But why don’t you take a few minutes after you finish reading this blog to test out your abilities. Do all the stuff I outlined above, with not too much of a break in between, and see how you do. If it is a little or a lot tough, keep at it! It will get easier, and you will still be able to brush your hair and get off the toilet as you age! I’d say that active aging is a reward in and of itself.

Check out more great ideas like this from our staff!  Click below for more best practices from NIFS.

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Topics: active aging senior fitness staying active core strength ADL planks activities of daily living functional movement

Programs: The Way to their Heart is through their Stomach:  If you Feed them they will Come!

We have all been there, you spend hours and hours program planning putting together what you KNOW is a terrific program.  You included all the buzz words that get folks jazzed up and ready to participate like:  BALANCE-BOOSTING, ULTRA- EFFECTIVE, FAT-BURNING, MUSCLE-BUILDING, TONING AND STRENGTHING, EXCITING NEW CLASS.  You plaster signs all over the place, put notices in mailboxes and do just about everything short of hiring a skywriter to fly over and advertise for you.  The first day of your new class dawns, and you are filled with enthusiasm.  You are thinking that you really knocked this one out of the park, and that the room will be filled with eager new participants and people ready to “feel the burn” so to speak.

As you are setting up a sinking feeling sets in, a few people start to trickle in and you look up at the clock.  One minute till show time, so you figure, I might as well wait a minute, introduce myself to everyone and make sure they are set and ready to go.  A few extra minutes go by and you end up with a grand total of five participants.  Five.  For all that effort and work, you prepared for weeks prior to the new program, and this is the turn out you get.   Plaster a smile on your face and show just as much enthusiasm for the five brave souls who showed up as you would if 40 (who you hoped might show up) people were there and were just as excited as you are.

As the class wraps up, you ask yourself:  Self, where did I go wrong?  Were my advertisements boring?  Should I have hired a barbershop quartet to sing a jingle for me?  Would it have been a good idea to pull the fire alarm to see if people would just show up?  We have all been there, and are not immune to the crash and burn of a new program.  Sometimes no amount of advertising can give a program the boost it needs to succeed.  But I can tell you that one method has never failed me, ever.  And that method is… FOOD.   You provide any kind of food to the members and they will show up, in droves.

So what kind of options do you have?  Depending on your clientele you can range from mild to WILD…  Think of theme-ing the heck out of it.  Make it jive with your program, so what about Hula Lessons and Tropical Smoothies with Pineapple and Coconut Water?  Or how about Tai Chi with a Chinese tea tasting following (oolong, black tea, green tea, etc).  Get them up and moving in the morning with breakfast. Our favorite is our D.I.Y Oatmeal Bar.  It is cheap, relatively easy and really draws a crowd.  Set out a pot of oatmeal, and then a variety of fixin’s, from raisins and craisins to brown sugar, sliced almonds, and maple syrup, you can’t go wrong.

But really, any old food will do.  The next time you launch a new program, check the web for fun food ideas and see what you can come up with!

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Topics: active aging senior living

Power in Silence: Discover Mindful Meditation

old_man_meditatingMeditation is the ultimate mobile device; you can use it anywhere, anytime, unobtrusively.” ― Sharon Salzberg

So you have some stress in your life. You might turn to exercise to deal with these stressors. Or maybe you had a date with your couch and Ben & Jerry or Sam Adams? Did you zone out to the latest CSI or “reality” show? Out of these three, exercise is the best choice. But what do you do when you come home from a horrible 12-hour day and you don’t have any juice left for exercise. Do you have a room, a floor, and 20 minutes? Why not try a little meditation?

Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. Initially, seekers and gurus used it to get in touch with a spiritual and mystical dimension. Practitioners would meditate, in silence, for days at a time in order to reach a desired state of mind. In modern times, we can’t carve out days to reach a higher spiritual dimension (try asking your boss for a little personal time off to meditate for three to four days), but we don’t have to commit hours and hours to the practice to reap the rewards. Meditation isn’t just for reaching a higher plane. There are proven emotional and physical benefits to practicing it as well.

Benefits of Meditation

According to the folks at the Mayo Clinic we can gain the following emotional benefits:

  • Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
  • Building skills to manage your stress
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Focusing on the present
  • Reducing negative emotions

If you feel like you are even keeled most of the time, meditation can help to control some of these chronic conditions:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • High blood pressure
  • Pain
  • Sleep problems
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Heart disease

Famous People Who Meditate

At this point you might be considering meditation as a real prospect to achieving a healthier and happier you, but you still are on the fence. Sitting still and quieting your mind is that beneficial? Well these folks seem to think so, and they are pretty successful. A bunch of celebrities (and high-powered business folks) meditate, and I looked up a list to share with you. Check out who is getting in their daily silence:

  • Sheryl Crow
  • Paul McCartney
  • Katy Perry
  • Jennifer Aniston

Those are just a few who practice meditation. Their names might not surprise you, but these might:

  • Rupert Murdoch
  • Hugh Jackman
  • Howard Stern
  • (and this one really shocked me) Clint Eastwood!

Getting Started with Meditation

So now that you are convinced that meditation is worth a try, what do you need to start your practice? The best news of all is that you don’t need anything. I have found some great resources online and some terrific podcasts on iTunes. Check out these websites for free guided meditation scripts, music, and mantras:

Check out these podcasts:

Even Pandora has a Meditation station with terrific music to quiet the mind, and to help you find your inner peace.

Meditation often goes hand in hand with yoga, and here's some information about yoga at work.

So go out and find your inner self, quiet the thoughts, and open your mind!

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Topics: relaxation stress relief meditation

Senior Fitness: Beat the Heat with Aquatic Exercise

water exerciseThe heat index is approaching 100 degrees, and its only 8am. You are sick to death of running on the treadmill at the gym and want another option to burn some calories and improve your cardiovascular endurance. Well, my friend, have you considered the pool? You don’t have to be a swimmer, have fancy equipment, or even be coordinated to get a great workout in the pool. Aquatic exercise is perfect for all ages and ability levels, due to the adaptability of the aquatic environment. In basic terms, you get out of it what you put into it. The more effort you give the more resistance the water provides, and this increases the difficulty level of your workout ten- fold! The workout below can be done in shallow water, or if you are more adventurous, grab a noodle or an aqua jogger belt and try this in the deep end!

Kimberlee's Water Routine

Jog (or run) forward -10 count

Stationary Jog -10 count

Jog (or run) backward -10 count

Stationary Jog -10 count

High Kick forward -10 count

Stationary High Kick -10 count

High Knee Jog forward -10 Count

Stationary High Knees -10 count

Cross Country Ski forward -10 Count

Stationary Cross Country Ski -10 Count

Now repeat the above exercises for a 15 count each, and then a 20 count each. You can repeat this circuit 2-3 times, and add arms to each exercise for an extra calorie burning boost!

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Topics: adapting to exercise active aging nifs fitness management CCRC fitness center fitness arthritis