Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Melissa Cusick

Recent Posts by Melissa Cusick:

Balance and Fall Prevention: How to Fall and Get Back Up Safely

ThinkstockPhotos-494387335.jpgMarch is Balance and Fall Prevention Month for the National Institute for Fitness and Sports (NIFS) Active Aging sites. Although this is an important component of exercise for all age groups year round, NIFS spotlights balance and fall prevention for a month-long program and showcases the various challenges and solutions to balance issues, as well as how to stay ahead of the balance curve.

Our senior living communities provide educational presentations and handouts for residents to help with fall prevention. One such handout is a home safety checklist to ensure that your surroundings are as fall-proof as possible. The Home Safety Checklist can be a great resource to make safe changes around your home by doing things like making sure small rugs and runners are slip resistant, providing good lighting—especially in hallways, passageways between rooms, and other heavy-traffic areas—and keeping exits and passageways clear. These are just a few of the suggestions. What else has worked for you?

How to Prevent Injuries When Falling

The objective of NIFS Balance Challenge is to prevent falls, but let’s say you suddenly find yourself falling. Remembering these tips and safely practicing how to fall can be the difference between a bruise and a broken bone:

  • Never try to prevent the fall itself. Instead, stay relaxed to prevent further injury.
  • Bend your knees, or crouch, during a fall.
  • Turn/twist your body so you can fall onto the outside of your lower leg first. If you cannot twist your body, NEVER try to catch yourself with your hands as it can break your wrists.
  • Instead, smack the ground with your hand(s) to lessen the impact of the fall.
  • Roll onto your backside to allow the muscles to dissipate energy and lower the impact force.

Fear is often the biggest obstacle when it comes to falling. Having a game plan and practicing the correct falling form can train your body how to safely fall and maximize injury prevention.

[Read More: How one resident's fall inspired a whole community]

 

What's Next After You Fall

  • After a fall, you are probably feeling shaken up and scared. Take a moment to make sure you are alright and that nothing is broken. Wiggle your fingers and toes and then begin to feel other parts of your body as you regain your bearings. If you are feeling okay, remember these helpful tips for safely getting up from a fall:
  • Roll over naturally to your side so your stronger arm is facing up.
  • Place your inside arm on the ground at chest level and place your outside palm on the ground to lift your upper body.
  • With both hands flat on the ground, lift your hips from the ground so that you are on all fours.
  • Crawl to the nearest, most steady piece of furniture (such as a chair, couch, or countertop).
  • Place both hands on the furniture and use your stronger leg by placing your foot flat on the ground in front of your body. 
  • Pull yourself up slowly; sit, if possible.
  • Do not let anyone lift you unless they are trained to do so.
  • Use your pendant or make noise for help if you cannot get yourself up.

These are just a few of the topics that the professionals at NIFS present at senior living communities across the country. This education folds in well with weekly balance classes and individualized balance exercises that are available year round for seniors. 

Download our whitepaper to see how we have evolved our programming in community fitness centers.  Residents need more than a simple balance class, do more for your residents.  Click below to get started.

Find out how we help residents improve their balance >

 

Topics: senior wellness active aging senior living balance fall prevention injury prevention

Active Aging: Ten Ways for Seniors to be Active in the Country

active_in_countryLiving in the country can have its share of pros and cons when it comes to getting in your recommended daily activity. Although you might not have access to a fitness center at your fingertips, here is a list of 10 ways for seniors to stay active in multiple wellness dimensions while living in a rural area: 

  1. Can you dig it?  Try gardening!  Plant your seeds and reap the benefits with a bouquet of flowers, a variety of vegetables, and some new herbs to spice up your daily activity as well as your meals.
  2. Enjoy some time with nature by going on a nature hike!  With the scenery ever changing, this can be a beautiful change up to your typical cardiovascular exercise routine.  So don’t delay, lace up your shoes and take a hike!   
  3. Go for a swim at a local lake or community pool.  This activity uses the gentle resistance of water to strengthen your muscles.  It is easier on joints and the buoyancy of the water is effective for those with balance issues.  Don’t forget your water floaties!
  4. Walk a pet.  Take your favorite companion around the block for some good company during your exercise.  Maybe you start with a short distance that increases over time as you and your pet improve your stride and endurance together.
  5. Not feeling like going outside?  Then workout to a fitness DVD!  Pick out a yoga, gentle aerobics or senior boot camp DVD to do at your own pace in the comfort of your home.  What other workout DVDs do you recommend? 
  6. Go to the mall!  Do laps around your local mall to get your steps in each day.  You don’t have to go into a store and make a purchase if you don’t want to, but this is a great option whether the weather is rain or shine!
  7. Camping with the family.  Helping set up camp and carrying a pack can be a great way to burn calories while spending time with your loved ones.  Just avoid eating too many roasted marshmallows to gain back all of the hard earned calories that you just burned off!
  8. Check off the “honey-do” list.  Kill two birds with one stone by doing chores around the house while making your spouse overwhelmingly appreciative of you!  Dust, vacuum, do the laundry or put way the dishes and work off calories all the while!
  9. Do work around the yard.  Spend a nice, sunny afternoon outside by mowing, pruning and raking your yard.  Have a home improvement project that you’ve been putting off?  Then now is a great time to conquer it!  Your neighbors will be impressed by how immaculate your yard looks, and you will be reaping the benefits of your activity!
  10. Play with your grandkids at a park or playground.  Tap into your inner child and participate in the games that suit your fancy!  These are memories that your grandchildren will cherish for the rest of their lives. 

What ways have you found to be fit in your area?  Keep in mind these safety recommendations to optimize your overall wellness.  Don’t live in a rural area?  Then check out this blog about Ways to Stay Fit in the City!

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Topics: active aging active living senior fitness

Active Aging: Ten Ways for Seniors to Stay Active in the City

active_in_cityIf you live in a city, then you have your share of challenges when it comes to keeping fit.  Although so many things can be available at your fingertips, how do you successfully stay active?  Here are 10 ways to be fit in multiple wellness dimensions for seniors living in an urban area: 

  1. Stop to smell the flowers by walking around a park or botanical garden.  Research shows that green space and being outside can lower stress.  I’m not saying you have to hug a tree in appreciation…unless you want to.   
  2. Enjoy a cultural experience at a museum while racking up your steps.  Many cities house museums for art, science, history and much more!  This is a great excuse to check out the latest exhibit while stepping your way towards health.    
  3. Walk a pet.  Use a cute pooch as your excuse to get out and about on a regular basis.  Start slowly and increase your pace and/or distance over time!
  4. If you have access to a body of water, then try sailing, canoeing, or kayaking.  This can be a fun option to mix into your routine by getting out on the water.  Don’t forget to take pictures from that different point of view to show all of your friends!
  5. Take the stairs.  Stairs are everywhere throughout the city.  If this is a safe option for you, then challenge yourself with some stair routines.  Walk them, every-other step them, do sidesteps…be creative!  I usually do stairs while listening to Eye of the Tiger…and pretend I’m Rocky Balboa.
  6. Explore your city’s architecture and history.  Whether it’s on foot or on a bike, explore the ins and outs of your city while getting exercise.  More and more cities are offering bike rental services so if you don’t own a bike, then try renting one! 
  7. Participate in an organized race event.  Many cities host races of various lengths, causes and themes for you to participate in throughout the year.  Select a race with a meaningful cause to you and train accordingly.  This can also provide a target end-goal for your exercise regimen. 
  8. Attend festivals or street markets.  This will give you an opportunity to walk around and even pick up a few fresh treats while being social with a few hundred of your closest friends!
  9. Beat traffic by walking instead of driving.  Given the accessibility of many locations, try walking to and from appointments and events such as grocery stores, hair appointments, doctor’s appointments, dentists, and the theaters when appropriate.  This is a healthy option that is also good for the environment. 
  10. Try a Gentle Yoga or Tai Chi class!  Both of these classes are beneficial to seniors since they are gentle on joints, promote range of motion and target on balance improvement.  Some classes will even meet outside on nice days!

What ways have you found to be fit in your city?  Keep in mind these safety recommendations to optimize your overall wellness.  Don’t live in a city?  Watch for my next blog about Ways to Stay Fit in the Country! 

Exercise is important as we age, check out our quick read for more information and share with your loved ones to keep them active, click below!

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Topics: active aging senior living exercise for elderly

3 Must Do's During a Fitness Center Renovation (Part 2 of 2)

In part one we discussed ways to keep your members active throughout the renovation
personal trainerproject.  Now it is finally here, the moment you and your members have been waiting for (drum roll please…) The Fitness Center is reopened!  People are excited, expectations are high and there are lots of questions.  How do you use this new machine?  What settings are correct for me?  Etcetera, etcetera!  Your next steps are imperative for ensuring that members know how to use the new machines safely and are satisfied that their wait was worth it!  Breaking down the process into three sections will set you and your fitness center up for success.  Start off with general information about the new equipment and gradually get more specific by offering the following:

1. New Equipment Orientations

Begin by offering new equipment orientations to small groups.  The goal of the New Equipment Orientation phase is to provide a general overview of the new equipment to the small group by indicating where adjustments can be made, how to modify the amount of weight, safety features along with any other bells and whistles that apply.  Offering an overview of the new machines with specifics on how to use them can be a great resource for members that are interested in trying out the machines independently after gaining preliminary information.  The New Equipment Orientations could be paired nicely with an informational presentation where members have the opportunity to engage in a Q and A session. This is still the general information phase.  Residents wanting individualized instruction can register for a one on one appointment in which the machines can be adjusted specifically for them.

2. One on One Appointments

It is time to make the sessions personal by going one on one.  Begin by taking a member around to each new piece of equipment and adjusting the setting and weight resistance correctly for that individual.  Record the settings onto a program card that the member can then access each time he/she visits the Fitness Center.  Keep in mind that you could be reviewing a lot of information at one time…and this could become overwhelming to the member.  If this is the case then offer to meet with the member again in the near future to review the machines again.  Between the follow up sessions to review the new equipment and the member having access to his/her program card to practice setting the new equipment independently, each member’s comfort level with the new equipment should significantly improve.

3. Exercise Prescriptions:

Now comes the fun part: Add variety.  As the member becomes more comfortable with the new equipment, now is the time to fuse the new pieces with the old.  Create an Exercise Prescription Routine based on the member’s goals that include a variety of machines, bands, dumbbells, body weight exercises…having fun yet?  Well your member’s should be!  Follow up with the member every so often to ask about their exercise routine and be prepared to present a new and fun challenge.

Now your members are familiar with the new equipment and can take ownership of their fitness routines.  They can touch base with Health Fitness Specialists as needed and can move forward into the great services that your fitness center provides.  Before you know it the renovations will be a thing of the past.

Are you considering renovations in your Fitness Center or have you already been through this process?  What worked for you?

Download NIFS Benefits of Staffing Webinar

3 Must Do’s During a Fitness Center Renovation (Part 1 of 2)

group workoutIt is a time of change and excitement.  Out with the old and in with the new.  Things will be bright and shiny and…different.  During the short or lengthy time that your fitness center is undergoing renovations, how do you gratify your members?   Having a cutting edge  corporate or active aging fitness center is what everyone strives for…but if you don’t have any members waiting for the renovations to be completed, then the doors will close before they can be reopened.  Keep three things in mind during your fitness center renovations to ensure that your members are knocking on your fitness center’s door the minute they are reopened: 1. Keep members active 2. Keep members interested and 3. Use what you have.

1.  Keep members active:

These may or may not be items that members have utilized before so seize this opportunity to demo the equipment and provide workouts with the item.  These exercises can carry over with the member’s routine long after the renovations are completed. 

  • In addition to the smaller equipment, provide exercises using only body weight.

    • Burpees

    • Lunges

    • Planks

    • Push-ups

…what else?   There are tons!  Create a workout with combinations of the body weight exercises.  Try intervals or time based challenges.  Some members might love to make it a relay in a group setting.  Be creative.

  • Group Fitness Schedule

    • Market your Group Fitness Schedule.  This is a great opportunity for members to expand their fitness regimen to include a group fitness class that has caught their interest.  Body Pump, Boot Camp, Circuit, Body Stretch…whatever suites a member’s fancy. 

    • Add a bonus group fitness class(es) to the schedule.  This will provide a nice option for members who are disappointed that their regular exercise routine was thrown off due to renovations.  Implement a group fitness class that you’ve been wanting to test out.  Whether the class is a staple in the schedule or a promotional session, seize this opportunity to promote your group fitness classes.

2. Keep members interested:

  • Programming

    • Your plans for programming will most likely differ from the norm.  Keep members interested by implementing an attendance based incentive program to encourage members to keep up with their activity routine then list several options.

  • Communicate

    • Keep your members informed by maintaining an open pathway of communication.  Communicate to your members about what is happening in the Fitness Center.  What are their fitness options in the meantime?  Helpful tools: residential newsletters, in-house TV stations with daily event information, flyers in common areas, personal notices and phone calls can all be means used to successfully communicate.

3.  Use what you have:

  • What sets your facility apart? Do you have access to:

    • Pathways

    • Trails

    • Recreational sports areas

    • Lakes/water

    • Swimming pools

    • Fields

    • Stairs

As long as it’s safe, the world is your playground.  Target local features and landmarks to mix into the planning. 

Have you found other successful alternatives to exercise while the Fitness Center was undergoing renovations?  Share your best solutions!

 Watch the Build a Better  Fitness Center Webinar

Topics: corporate fitness centers senior living fitness center nifs fitness center management

Employee Health: Smaller Is Better

This blog was written by Melissa Cusick. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

cell phones, technologyIn the world of technology, time equals improvement and efficiency. Back in the day, we had computers that occupied the space of an entire room and Zack Morris-sized cell phones. Now we have personal computers that fit in the palm of a hand and Zoolander-sized cell phones. It seems that as more is discovered in the world of technology, items have become smaller and more efficient. Interestingly enough, this concept does not seem to apply to people.

In 1995 when the United States began tracking obesity rates, Mississippi had the nation’s highest adult obesity rate at 19.8 percent. Now, 16 years later in 2011, Colorado has the nation’s lowest adult obesity rate at 19.4 percent.

As you can see, what used to be the upper end of the nation’s obesity scale is now at the extreme low end of the spectrum. This is concerning because common conditions associated with obesity include, but are not limited to, high cholesterol and triglycerides, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease, all conditions that can be avoided with proper nutrition and activity.

Nowadays, we have low-calorie options at stores and restaurants, fitness centers popping up on virtually every corner, and educational tools at our fingertips. We can download an app on our tiny cell phones to count calories or find a healthy restaurant or fitness facility. But do we?

Something common to the field of technology and humans is that bigger is not always better. What has changed in our society in the last 16 years that has influenced the adult obesity rate to increase so severely? What can corporate wellness programs do to help reverse this alarming trend?

Topics: corporate wellness obesity technology

Doing Chores for Exercise When You Can't Get to NIFS

This blog was written by Melissa Cusick. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

chores for exercise, nifsIf you're having trouble finding time to keep up with your household chores and do your workouts, why not combine them?

My Chore Workout

Time to work out! I begin with dusting to work my forearms, followed by vacuuming to work my biceps, triceps, and abdominals. I scrub the floors, feeling more and more like Cinderella while working my shoulders and biceps, among other muscle groups.

While in the kitchen I notice that the pile of dishes in the sink is beginning to look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, so I do the dishes and target my back and arm muscles, making sure to alternate hands. Now for laundry: to wash, to dry, to fold, providing a full-body challenge. After all this I sit down, feeling exhausted.

More Ways to Burn Calories Around the House

By doing common chores such as dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing the floors, dishes, and laundry, you can burn several calories. Other tasks can be a great workout as well. For example, mowing the lawn with a push mower, or shoveling snow can be a full-body workout. Painting, if you include a squatting motion and alternate hands, can also use most muscle groups. Even pulling weeds can provide you with health benefits by improving grip and the muscles of your forearm and biceps.

Depending on your weight and how intensely you go about these tasks, you could burn as many calories as if you went to NIFS for a workout. Can’t make it to the fitness center today? Consider cleaning your house…I mean, look how buff Mr. Clean is!

Topics: exercise at home NIFS