Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Corporate Fitness: FREE Workout Friday

Free Workout FridayIt’s easy, when walking and talking with friends or coworkers, to follow their lead and get on the elevator. Time for a change? Try being the leader and lead them toward the stairs instead of the elevator. Not only will you get where you’re going faster by taking the stairs, but you will also burn more calories throughout the day.

February is "Take the Stairs" month, so try to break the habit of using elevators! You have the power to persuade others to take the stairs and become more active.

Not only is it good to take the stairs when you have the choice, but it’s also good to incorporate stairs into your workouts. If you have stairs in your house or at the gym, that is great! But not everyone has that option, so you can resort to a stair climber or stair stepper. Most gyms have a cardio machine that simulates going up stairs.

Incorporating stairs will help to improve your aerobic conditioning and lower-body strength. Try this indoor workout during the winter months and look around for a set of stairs you can use outdoors when it’s nice outside.

  • Jog in place for 3 minutes to warm up
  • 20 jumping jacks
  • 3 minutes on the stair climber at a moderate intensity
  • 20 jumping jacks
  • 20 squat hops
  • 5 minutes on the stair climber at a moderate intensity
  • Jump rope for 3 minutes
  • 20 jumping jacks
  • 20 squat hops
  • 5 minutes on the stair climber at a moderate intensity
  • Jump rope for 3 minutes
  • 5 minutes on the stair climber at a moderate intensity
  • Walk a lap around the fitness center/house to cool down

Legs burning? That’s okay. Your lower body will thank you for trying something new and incorporating more stairs!

Topics: exercise at work corporate fitness exercise at home Free Workout Friday cardio calories

Corporate Fitness: FREE Workout Friday

Free Workout Fridays

Did you know the number one killer of women is heart disease?

Today is National Wear Red Day, encouraging you to show support against heart disease. Too many women are unaware of the deadly disease and how it can be prevented. So, grab a friend, put on your favorite red shirt and hit the treadmill for a good cardiovascular workout.

Cardiovascular exercise (example – treadmill workout) is very important for several reasons, including the prevention of heart disease. Not only will the treadmill help you to lose weight, but it can be a great heart pumping workout. The stronger the heart, the less work it has to do to pump blood throughout your body. Cardiovascular exercise will also help to reduce stress levels and increase confidence. Who doesn’t love leaving the house feeling confident?? Give this treadmill workout a try!

  • 2.6 mph for 3 minutes (warm up)
  • 3.0 mph / 3% incline for 2 minutes
  • 3.4 mph / 4% incline for 2 minutes
  • 3.6 mph / 5% incline for 2 minutes
  • 3.8 mph / 6% incline for 5 minutes
  • 4.0 mph / 8% incline for 8 minutes
  • 3.8 mph / 6% incline for 5 minutes
  • 3.0 mph / 1% incline for 3 minutes (cool down)

This workout is designed to push walkers by adding some incline work to burn more calories and strengthen the lower body. If you feel you are ready to take it up a notch increase the speed so you are jogging rather than walking.

If you feel you are not ready for this workout, take it down a notch and work your way up to 4.0 mph / 8% incline over time. Find a challenging speed you can maintain for at least 10 minutes and increase the incline 1% every two minutes until you can complete the workout above.

What is your favorite treadmill workout?

Topics: exercise at work exercise walking Wellness in the Workplace worksite wellness exercise at home NIFS employee wellness Free Workout Friday

Corporate Fitness: FREE Workout Friday

Free Workout FridayPeople everywhere are always searching for the best, most modern training device that will produce great results in the least amount of time. It is likely that you’ve tried the latest craze, yet you’re still searching for something more. Ironically, you may already own one of the most inexpensive yet effective training devices: the jump rope.

Getting Fit with a Jump Rope

It sounds old-fashioned, and it is. However, the jump rope is making a comeback in gyms and fitness centers everywhere. What began as a schoolyard game has progressed to recreational use and is now evolving into competitive sports training for all levels. Whether used as a warm-up or training, there is room for jumping rope in every workout. Benefits include upper- and lower-body coordination, muscular endurance, balance, and agility.

Jumping rope tones muscles, improves cardiovascular fitness, and burns calories all at the same time. Jim Zielinski, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Illinois, endorses jump rope in the September 2011 issue of Training and Conditioning magazine. “The activity can achieve a “burn rate” of up to 1,000 calories per hour. That means jumping rope for 10 minutes is roughly equivalent, calorie-wise, to running an eight-minute mile.”

How to Start a Jump-Rope Workout

The best way to begin a jump-rope workout, like any new program, is with correct form. Grasp the handles and start by swinging the rope to your side without jumping. Next, without the rope, practice small jumping movements, barely lifting off the ground. Finally, put the two movements together. When done correctly, jumping rope while staying high on your toes can involve less pounding on knee and ankle joints than jogging.

H  Images jump rope resized 600There is never a better time to start than now. Pick up a jump rope and try this FREE workout.

Complete 5 rounds of the below exercises for a total of 15 minutes.

Basic Jump: 1 minute

Rest: 30 seconds

Alt. High Knees: 1 minute

Rest  30 seconds

Challenge: How long will it take you to complete 500 total jumps?! (Count to 500 and time yourself and record)

 

Topics: exercise at work exercise corporate fitness exercise at home Free Workout Friday cardio balance

NIFS Nutrition and Fitness for the Holidays

thanksgiving dinner resized 600The holidays are around the corner―time flies! I want to pass along my top five tips to get through those holiday dinners without destroying all the hard work you have put into this thing we call fitness, and still enjoy those once-a-year delights that make life worth living.
I have heard a pretty shocking statistic that Americans will consume an average of 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving, and over 200 grams of fat (and not the good fat, either). I don’t think I have to tell you how long it would take to recover from and burn that many calories. So use these five tips to help you stay on track.

1. Do not skip meals before the “big one.” Many people think starving themselves before the big meal will help in keeping down the caloric intake for the day. WRONG! Remember that you have to keep that furnace burning all day, and if you come into the big meal starving, you will overeat. I guarantee it. 
2. Make one run. At the “big one,” have little servings of everything so you can enjoy all the great tastes that come with the holiday, but in moderation. People tend to love one item, eat a lot of it, then go back for the things they didn’t have room for on the first run.
3. Work out! Find 30 minutes that day, and the day after, to get in a workout. Do it fast and furious so you can get back to the family but still keep the furnace hot and continually burning.
4. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol is a double-edged sword in that it tends to lower inhibitions (taking your eyes off your goals) and increase the production and release of a hormone that absorbs fat. If someone has a drink in their hand, they more than likely have their other hand stuffing their face.
5. Keep your goals in the forefront. Why have you come to see me in the first place? Why have you gone through these weeks of physical torture? It’s to accomplish those goals you have defined for yourself and to become the individual you ultimately want to be. You have to remind yourself when you are facing down a loaded turkey with all the fixings of all the sweat and tears you have put into this thing.

You should totally enjoy everything about the holidays, because that is why you work so hard. But learning to enjoy and not destroy is key. Trust me, there is a balance, and your goal is to fill your toolbox to help work toward that balance. Follow this link to test your knowledge of holiday foods!

Topics: exercise exercise at home calories

Corporate Fitness: Is P90X for You? (Part 2 of 2)

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann, MS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

one arm push up, advanced exerciseIn an earlier post I discussed the pros of buying and trying the P90X workout program. Now let's talk about the cons.

  • Although the program can be done at home, the use of a pull-up bar is an integral part of several of the workouts and is not a piece of equipment most people have at home. However, there are several pull-up bars available online that can be installed easily in a doorway.
  • There is a daily time commitment of at least 60 minutes if not more. This may be more time than a new exerciser can realistically commit to.
  • Many of the exercises are advanced and might not be appropriate for beginner exercisers. Additionally, each exercise is performed for very high reps (15 to 25 or more), which can put participants at risk for pain and injury.
  • There is a nutrition guide included in the program materials. However, it requires detailed planning and tracking and does not leave much room for error or slipups that are a part of life. While the nutrition plan is probably the most significant contributor to the actual transformation participants have experienced, it may not be appropriate for people with dietary restrictions and food allergies.
  • Finally, as a fitness professional, I feel that many of the exercises demonstrated in the DVDs are high risk for experienced and beginning exercisers. Excessive jumping, questionable stretches, and unusual joint angles combined with excessive loading could set up participants for injury.

Is P90X for you? If a structured program that you can do at home is appealing to you, P90X may be a good option. However, if you are interested in a safe and progressively challenging routine that is specific to you and your needs, seek the help of a qualified personal trainer or other health and fitness professional. Additionally, a registered dietitian can help you develop a program of healthy eating for weight loss. Check with your corporate fitness center professional for advice specific to your needs.

Topics: exercise corporate fitness exercise at home

Corporate Fitness: Is P90X for You? (Part 1 of 2)

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann, MS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

How many times have you seen the infomercial for P90X while sipping coffee, sitting on yourdumbbells resized 600 couch on a Saturday morning? Maybe too many times to count and like any product you’ve seen advertised on TV you may have asked yourself, “I wonder if it really does work?”  

The featured “real-life” success stories are pretty amazing and motivating for anyone hoping to improve their appearance, strength, and health. But if you’re like me, you may be pretty skeptical of anything available for purchase from TV in just “three easy installments of $39.99” (not including shipping and handling). Before I shell out $120 bucks, I want to know what I’m committing to and if I’ll really be satisfied with the product.

Well, here’s a review that might help you determine whether this 90-day at-work workout program is for you. In this post I review the pros. In the next post, I'll review the cons.

  • The program can be done entirely at home in your living room.
  • The DVD set includes workouts for the muscles of the whole body as well as cardio, stretching, and yoga workouts.
  • The DVD set also comes with a schedule detailing which days to do each DVD, a nutrition plan, and a fitness guide that explains the exercises and steps for progression.
  • You get online access to the P90X online support club. This online resource provides tips and advice on your 90-day fitness journey.

Check back to read about the cons of the P90X program.

Topics: exercise corporate fitness exercise at home fitness

Pain at the Pump Fuels a Boost in Employee Health

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

walking, biking, gas pricesAs gas prices creep higher and you’re forced to dig deeper into your pocketbook, it can certainly be difficult to look at the bright side of what seems to be that inevitable price spike as the weather warms up. However, the next time you grudgingly fill up your tank, ponder the health benefits that are to be had as a result of higher prices.

First, there’s the most obvious: people will bike and walk more (and use public transportation), which certainly makes sense in a country where 50 percent of commuters are traveling five miles or less to the office. Traveling by bicycle or on foot provides moderate-intensity exercise that is generally safe for individuals of all ages and fitness abilities, and can provide a quality workout for someone who is pressed for time by the demands of work and family.

With fewer vehicles on the road comes less pollution, beneficial to both the environment and health. Less traffic fatalities also result, due not only to the decreased amount of cars but the simple fact that motorists drive more slowly to conserve gas. Speaking of saving gas, instead of making circles around the parking lot to snag the closest spot, now is the perfect opportunity to heed that oft-heard tip of parking in the farthest space from your destination!

The effects can trickle down to lifestyle choices as well. With less spending money to be had, families will be more likely to cook healthier meals at home as opposed to eating out. Outings for the family or for couples can include activities like biking or hiking instead of trips to the movies or a restaurant.

And while you're pinching pennies, don't forget that your corporate wellness center provides an affordable alternative to an expensive gym membership. This season, make that pain at the pump work in your favor toward a healthier body!

Topics: exercise at work exercise biking walking exercise at home corporate fitness centers

Employee Health: Get Fit with Your Kids!

This blog was written by Lisa Larkin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

family fitnessDo you sometimes feel tired after work, but your children have plenty of energy to burn off? Do you find it difficult to find time for fitness and family life? Try combining them for a new, fun outlook on physical activity. You and your children will benefit! It helps them burn off energy and you will hopefully gain some energy.

I’ve listed some fun and creative ways to get the family involved in a healthier lifestyle:

  • Kids love video games, so look for good deals to purchase a Wii. There is fitness, dancing, boxing, and several other active games to get the entire family involved.
  • Pull out some of your fitness DVDs and make a game out of who can do the most or go the furthest on the workouts.
  • Be a kid again! Play games like kickball, dodge ball, and tag at the local park. Get other neighborhood kids and families involved, too!
  • Find a good trail for a family bike ride.
  • Depending on the season, find an indoor or outdoor pool for swimming and fun pool games.
  • Light strength training is also good for the kids. They don’t need heavy resistance because their bodies are still developing. If you have an onsite corporate fitness facility, talk to the fitness staff for good strength training exercises for kids.
  • Try to walk as much as possible―for example, to the park, to the restaurant, or to school.

What other fun activities have you incorporated while spending time with the kids?

Topics: employee health winter fitness exercise at home fitness corporate fitness centers staying active energy level kids

Corporate Fitness and March Basketball

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann, MS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Many of us have sedentary jobs and get very little physical activity, planned or otherwise. Additionally, it doesn’t help our waistlines that many of us prefer to spend our leisure time stagnant as well. With some planning and creativity, you can get your less-than-active hobbies moving.

Getting a Workout While Watching TV

It’s March, and I lovemarch madness college basketball, so for the next few weekends I could park myself on the couch for hours of entertainment and bliss without moving a muscle. However, I know that long periods of inactivity have dangerous consequences. How can I “squeeze” some activity into my basketball watching marathon?

I get into the action with this “game” I’ve created for myself. When my team makes a three-pointer, I do five push-ups. Free-throws equal five squats each. I stretch during time-outs, and for every 10 points my team scores, I hold the plank for one minute. By the end of the game, regardless of how well my team played, I’ve probably gotten quite a bit of activity.

Cue Yourself to Take Exercise Breaks at Home and Work

If your hobby isn’t already active like hiking or biking, what reminders or cues can you create to remind yourself to take an activity break? Maybe you can take a lap or two around the block at the end of each chapter you read in your novel. Perhaps you can take a break to play with your kids outside when you finish a page in your scrapbook.

This type of activity can also be included in your workday, too. In fact, employees who get more physical activity are more productive at work. A well-rounded corporate wellness program can help you determine how to get your employees more active each day.  

Topics: corporate wellness exercise at work exercise at home productivity staying active

Corporate Fitness: Should I Exercise When I’m Sick?

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

exercising while sick, cold and fluMost people fall victim to mild colds or other bugs in the course of the year, making them second guess whether or not they can still exercise while being sick. Sometimes, when you are sick, you are not physically able to exercise, so the obvious choice is to stay home and rest. But what if you just have the sniffles or a pesky sore throat?

WebMD says that in most cases, practicing exercise restraint is the safest bet. It is a myth that exercising can sweat out toxins. Your immune system has the sole responsibility of fighting and protecting from illness.

Here are some situations in which to definitely avoid the gym:

  • If you are contagious. First and foremost, if you think there is any chance you could pass on an illness to other participants in your corporate fitness center, please stay home. Gym equipment is a major carrier of germs. Different sicknesses have varying lengths of contagion periods. A person with a very severe stomach virus can be contagious up to a week before he or she experiences symptoms and up to two weeks after recovery.
  • If the type of sickness will worsen with exercise. Respiratory infections can be aggravated by working out, especially by performing high-intensity cardio. Migraines, other headaches, or body aches can also worsen with the movement of exercise. Ask yourself whether there is a chance the exercise session will leave you worse off than before.
  • If your symptoms are below the neck. In one of my Exercise Science courses, we were taught that if symptoms were only above the neck and no fever was present, a person might be fine to continue working out, but at a lighter level. However, symptoms from the neck down, for instance nausea or stomach pain, can worsen with exercise.

When you do resume exercise after being sick, start light and build your way back to the level you were previously at. The good news is that a boosted immune system is a well-known benefit of a regular exercise routine, so encourage your corporate wellness participants to keep moving while they are healthy!

 

Topics: exercise at work exercise exercise at home