Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Morgan Garrett

Recent Posts by Morgan Garrett:

Tips to help residents exercise safely in your community fitness center

senior_on_treadmillThis blog was updated on March 22, 2017.

Of course, exercise comes with inherent risks.  Fortunately, the scientifically proven benefits for regular activity far outweight potential risks for injury.  And yet, for older adults, the risk of injury may be more pronounced, as the body is more prone to falls and other injuries from working with machines. So how can staff working with older adults decrease the risk of injury for their clients?

[Related Content: 5 Senior Friendly Equipment Ideas that Won't Break the Bank]

Working with the senior population has taught me a great deal about injury prevention and risk that is important in the clientele. For example, not every piece of equipment is safe for every individual, regardless of skill and ability and safety should be the first consideration when determining the needs of each client.  

Following are tips related to five common pieces of equipment we use with our older adult clients on a regular basis.  

The Treadmill 

One of the most commonly prescribed exercises for seniors is walking. It is an activity that can be done every day, and there is evidence to suggest it helps lower blood pressure, reduces stress, and helps maintain lean body mass. For the senior population, it is especially important to make sure each client is safe from falls and injury.  Teach clients to look forward at all times, keep the arms swinging normally as they would on a walk around the block, and slowly increase treadmill speed with comfort.  For more on treadmill safety, check out this checklist of safety tips for treadmills.

The Bike

An indoor bike and outdoor bike are similar in that they require proper adjusting prior to use. For a recumbent bike, remember to adjust the bike in a good position so that your client's feet are not reaching too far forward when pedaling. Make sure to adjust the back seat (if possible) to support good posture during the ride.  Sometimes it's a challenge to maintain good posture due to aching backs or medical procedures.  In that case, make the client as comfortable as possible, shorten the ride, or try another option for cardiovascular exercise.  

The NuStep

Adjusting the NuStep for clients involves similar steps as noted above for adjusting the bike.  Make sure that the client's feet are not reaching too far forward so that while pedaling there is a slight bend in the knee.  In addition to these adjustments, consider talking the client through how to set their time and pace to enjoy an individualized ride.  The NuStep is one of the safest pieces of equipment for seniors, and it can give a great workout for the upper body, lower body, or a combination of both.

The Selectorized Strength Machines

Adjusting the weight machines requires a good attention to detail, especially for the senior population. Some machines require adjusting seats, legs, arms, and back rests, and you will also need to adjust the weight stacks. For any senior starting out on exercise machines, it is best to have an exercise specialist adjust the settings for a customized workout.  Take care to teach the client how to manage the settings when possible so that you're fostering independence in the workout. However, for many older adults working with selectorized strength equipment is a brand new activity and you may need to work with a client over a few fitness center visits in order to help them feel increasingly comfortable with the workout.   

The Biodex Balance System

Adjusting this machine requires primarily knowing where to place your feet each time you step on it. As a critical aspect in senior fitness, balance training will help work on using both the brain and the body to prevent falls. With a correct adjustment on a balance machine such as the Biodex balance training system, clients will be ready to safely explore this aspect of your training to help prevent and reduce falls.

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If you're preparing to purchase new equipment for your community fitness center, be sure to download our whitepaper on the key questions to ask during the buying process.  Exercise equipment is expense; the whitepaper will help you be a more informed consumer.

Download now: Questions to Ask before buying exercise equipment

 

Topics: balance senior fitness exercise for elderly injury prevention safety

Tips for Starting Balance Training in Senior Fitness

Balanced_older_womanYou might know that some of the basic elements your senior fitness workout program should include are weight training, cardio activities, and as much flexibility as possible. One element that needs special attention among the senior population is balance training. Training for balance has been considered a fourth recommendation from many organizations, and there has been a much bigger emphasis on balance training in senior wellness programs in recent years.

With balance training now a part of a strong recommendation for your daily workout routine, where do you start? What is balance training? These questions are pretty common among seniors, and the perfect place to start is with training. 

Following are some tips for starting and maintaining your new balance program—that is, if you have not already been working on balance.

Start with Assistance

Even if you feel like you are pretty surefooted, start light and use something to assist with your balance activities. Anytime you work balance, you are using muscles in your body that may cause your balance to become shaky. Once you are more acclimated to the balance activities and you are comfortable with progressing, try slowly releasing the assisting device or object to get more challenge from your balance activities.

Be Consistent

Anytime you start an exercise program, consistency will be important. The same rule applies here. When working on your balance, maintaining a three-day-per-week or five-day-per-week schedule will add up in no time. Consistency will train your mind, body, and muscles to improve your balance over time.

Modify and Vary Your Program

Again, when working on balance, be cautious with your modifications. Start with light modifications and progress with different activities. For a good list of modifications and additional balance exercises you can add to your balance program, click here.

Learn to Scale When Needed

Scaling a workout is something that many do, and when working with seniors, scaling is important. When you scale your workout, you are essentially changing something to make it more individualized. In other words, if standing on one foot is too easy for you when holding on to a sturdy chair, you should scale, if appropriate, by trying a single-leg stand without holding on to the chair.

Select Your Exercises

Starting your program should be slow. Start with about one or two balance exercises and progress as you feel necessary. Starting slow will progress you into a good program, but it will also help you take it slow (just like in other aspects of your training). When you start your balance program, hold your balance activities for about 20 to 30 seconds in each position and aim to complete about two or three sets. For a good amount of exercises and demos, consider the information here to help get you started on new balance training exercises.

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If you have any additional tips that worked well when you started a balance program, please leave some helpful hints in the comments below. If you found some things to work and others to not, we would like to hear your experiences.

Interested in how we provide balance training for seniors?  Check out our whitepaper, Advanced Balance Training Programs for CCRC Fitness Center by clicking below.

Download Now .

Topics: senior wellness programs balance senior fitness balance training exercise for elderly

NIFS Nutrition News: Top 5 Worst Snacks to Eat While Watching Football

football_foodIt’s that time of the year again: football season. With every year comes a clean slate for each team. Rosters are changed, stars have yet to emerge, and the underdog team is nowhere close to being discovered. With the changes the football season brings, have you ever considered your dietary habits for the season? Similar to the new football season ahead, do you plan to change your eating or drinking habits for football Sunday?

You really can keep nutrition and wellness in mind while enjoying a game party. Here are some of the worst snacks to eat while watching football, followed by suggested alternatives.

The Top 5 Worst Foods to Eat While Watching the Big Game

  1. Heavy or dark beer: Heavy or dark beer is loaded with calories and often has more alcohol per volume than a lighter beer. Consuming a six-pack of this type of beer in an afternoon can easily equal half of your daily caloric intake allowance and set back your hard work over the previous few months.
  2. Fattening ribs: Ribs are often loaded with fat and sodium, two culprits of poor heart health. Ribs tend to have flavorful dipping sauces and marinades that are primarily sodium infused. One serving of ribs can quickly tack on a load of sodium, which is known to cause water retention in the body.
  3. 7-Layer Bean Dip: Tortilla chips, guacamole, shredded cheese, sour cream, and refried beans are all loaded with calories. If this is combined with ribs and some dark beer, it’s a diet’s worst nightmare.
  4. Original potato or tortilla chips: A one-ounce serving of original-style potato chips contains about one fifth of your daily fat intake. There is even more in tortilla chips. When combined with bean dip and fatty ribs, potato chips are the straw that broke the camel’s back.
  5. Nachos: Nachos often include ground beef, refried beans, sour cream, guacamole, cheese spread or whole cheese, and olives. While this may sound appetizing to some, it can quickly add up to a weight-gaining mess. If you are eating out at a local bar for the Sunday game, avoid nachos as an “appetizer” because based on the total calories in one meal, it could be considered two meals.

 The Top 5 Best Foods to Eat While Watching the Big Game

  1. Light beer or wine in moderation: Light beer contains a fraction of the calories in dark brew. In addition, wine is full of flavonoids and contains fewer calories than a dark beer. Remember to exercise moderation when having any alcohol regardless of the “strength” of the source.
  2. Grilled salmon: Grilling does not always need to be bad for you. In fact, grilling can be a much better option than baking. Exchange ribs for a nice piece of salmon. Salmon is full of good fat and it can fill you up quickly.
  3. Fat-free onion or spinach dip: Homemade dip that includes fat-free sour cream and a dip mix can save loads of calories from entering the body. Try out your favorite flavor and mix it up frequently.
  4. Baked chips or sweet potato chips: If chips are going to be consumed, buy ones that are baked. Baked chips have less fat and less sodium than fried. If you are more inclined toward the healthiest option, try fat-free and low-sodium chips.
  5. Assorted vegetable tray: An assorted vegetable tray is a great snack for the game. Veggies can be dipped or used as a side dish. Swap out the nachos for veggies and try this as your appetizer instead.

For more tips for a fumble free football party, check out this article. For more help making healthy eating choices, find out more about NIFS Personal Nutrition Consulting.

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Topics: nutrition healthy food choices

Top 10 Reasons Exercise Is Important for Senior Health

seniors_walkingOver the years, it is easy to forget about exercise when it’s not routine. Remaining sedentary over life can lead to metabolic disorders and other diseases associated with physical inactivity. A recent study suggested that about 67 percent of the older population is sedentary for at least 8.5 hours each day, suggesting a need to improve activity levels for senior health.

Exercise for elderly people should be something performed regularly, and making it fun and a routine can help in the long term. Moreover, there are numerous health benefits the older adult can receive from long-term exercise. Following are 10 reasons seniors should continue to exercise.

  1. Arthritis: Exercise is one of the most crucial options for arthritis management. Regular activity helps lubricate the joints and can help reduce overall pain and stiffness that is often present among individuals with arthritis. Moreover, obesity is a risk factor for the disease, and increasing physical activity levels can help better manage the debilitating symptoms of arthritis. (Here’s another NIFS blog post about exercise and arthritis.)
  2. Heart disease: Heart disease is one of the biggest causes of death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that about one in every four deaths is attributed to heart disease. More people exercising later in life can help reduce the number of individuals with heart disease through the management of blood pressure and blood glucose, and decreasing LDL cholesterol.
  3. Metabolic Dysfunction (type II diabetes and obesity): Type II diabetes and obesity are two closely related diseases in which the body is in metabolic dysfunction. Exercise can help maintain proper body weight and help regulate blood glucose and insulin levels to make the body more efficient.
  4. Cancer: Exercise has been shown to help improve overall cancer risk among a variety of different forms of cancer. Studies have shown a 30 to 40 percent reduction in breast cancer risk among women who perform moderate to regular exercise.
  5. Hypertension: Exercise can help lower systolic blood pressure significantly through moderate-intensity physical activity. Try breaking up exercise into three bouts throughout the day lasting for at least 10 minutes each to receive blood pressure–lowering effects.
  6. Depression: Exercise can have a beneficial effect on personal mood. Studies suggest that group exercise classes among older adults can help reduce symptoms of depression by 30 percent or more in exercising older adults. The modest improvement in depressive symptoms can help maintain an overall greater vitality later in life and help prevent negative feelings or thoughts that are common with aging.
  7. Dementia: Dementia is a disabling condition affecting many older adults. With a wide range of mental disorders categorized as dementia, there is a great need to understand how to prevent the condition. Exercise is one prevention strategy that can help slow the mental decline. A recent study showed a 37 percent reduced risk and a 66 percent reduction in risk of dementia when older adults performed moderate-intensity exercise, suggesting every adult ought to exercise to help lower the risk of mental decline and to help prevent mental disability later in life.
  8. Quality of life: Maintaining functional independence is something many older adults want. A regular exercise inclusive of strength and balance training can help accomplish this. Aim to be physically active for 30 minutes every day and to strength train at least two non-consecutive days per week.
  9. Insomnia: Certain medications and life events can prevent the body from proper sleep. Higher levels of physical activity can help exhaust the body enough to place it in a position for restful and lasting sleep. Avoid strenuous exercise two hours before bed to obtain these benefits, and aim to meet the daily activity recommendations.
  10. All-cause mortality: Exercise is known to reduce death from all causes. In fact, a recent study showed a 30 to 80 percent reduction in all-cause mortality when individuals exercised at an intensity level greater than 4 METS, suggesting that exercise can help delay premature death from various causes.

Looking to improve balance for your residents, or yourself?        Click below to download our content.

fall prevention training NIFS

Topics: senior fitness exercise for elderly

How to Address Senior Fitness Class Challenges

senior stretch classWhat are some challenges in developing group fitness classes for active older adults? One of the hardest things for me is that there is a wide variety in exercise knowledge and ability. For example, you might have someone who has never exercised a day in their life sitting next to someone who has been exercising in a gym for decades. Or, you may have someone in their middle 60s next to someone who is 85 with two knee replacements.

To overcome these challenges, make sure that you give both a progressive and regressive option for each exercise that you are teaching. Allow the individuals to experiment with what works for them. Each individual will choose how hard they want to make the exercise, but it is the instructor’s responsibility to ensure they are able to complete the exercise in a safe and effective manner for their varying ability levels. Encourage the participants to try new exercises, but also let people know that it’s okay to progress slowly over several weeks or months. The most important aspect is that they keep moving and have fun while feeling accomplished at an appropriate intensity level for their needs.

Use Visual and Verbal Cues

Each individual will learn in his or her own way. Make sure that you not only show them a visual demonstration but also use verbal cueing that may help them. At this age, some of your residents may not see well and others may not hear well. Pick out key words or moves that may help them remember from one class to the next.

Explain Why They Are Doing the Exercise

It is also important to educate senior fitness participants on why they are doing different exercises. Describe the reason for the exercise, the muscle group being worked, and how it should feel while performing the exercise. This can help participants become more in tune with their bodies and may help prevent injury if they develop improved body awareness.

For example when cueing upright rows, explain to the participants that the exercise can help improve their posture because it engages the muscles of the upper back and backside of their shoulders. As you cue them through the movements, explain how to engage the shoulder blades so they can specifically feel and identify where the muscles should be working if the exercise is being done correctly. For someone who does not have a good visual of the exercise being demonstrated, it may provide reassurance that they are performing the exercise correctly if your verbal cueing is matching up with what they are feeling.

Topics: motivation senior fitness management senior fitness fitness success

Senior Fitness: Importance of good posture

senior woman at computerGood posture is as important as eating right or having a good exercise routine. When you have good posture your body will work the way it is supposed to, keeping your muscles balanced and working together will also help prevent injuries. Poor posture can be caused by many different activities, one of them being that a person has overcompensated from an injury or fall. As society continues to be in sedentary positions and behind a computer these problems are going to continue. Excessive weight and careless standing, sitting or sleeping habits will also lead to poor posture.

For seniors, decreases in physical activity as we age can be the primary culprit of poor posture. Sometimes these decreases in physical activity are a result of a diagnosis of a chronic health condition such as arthritis or neuromuscular conditions. The key is not to stop exercising when chronic health conditions arise, but to use exercise to help maintain posture and manage the symptoms of such conditions. When posture is out of alignment, it can increase an older adult’s susceptibility to falls.

There are a few things that you can do to help improve posture:

  1. Individuals need to make sure that they are in a healthy weight zone for their body type.
  2. Participate in a balanced exercise program that includes cardio, strength, and flexibility training. Classes such as Pilates or yoga are great ways to focus on strengthening and improving flexibility in the core muscles which support posture.
  3. Be aware of what chairs you have in your work space, as well as your home.

Use it or lose it - as we age, our muscles will get shorter and weaker if we are not using them. Poor posture can lead to head aches as well as back and neck pain. For more information on the importance of posture or activities you can do to help correct your posture please speak to fitness professionals or your doctor.

Topics: senior wellness programs senior fitness fall prevention posture