Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Tips for an Effective Exercise Program

ThinkstockPhotos-497351161.jpgYou know you want and need to have a regular plan for your exercise, but where do you begin to
 develop an exercise program? Here are my best tips for creating a workout regimen that will work for you whether you are in your corporate fitness center, or at home and on the go.

Setting Goals

Setting goals establishes a justifiable reason for consistent exercise. Having a goal in place can also improve commitment and has been shown to improve adherence to programs and routines. The SMART system was designed as an acronym to help with goal setting. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Ideally, established goals should be characterized by these five words. Following the SMART guideline can improve the chances that you will achieve your goals.

The Mind-Muscle Connection

When it comes to resistance exercise, building muscle and strength is about much more than going through the motions. As you would imagine, concentration is an important part of achieving any goal, and focused concentration becomes even more important during resistance training. This focused concentration during weightlifting is the mind-muscle connection, and refers to contracting or tensing a muscle not only through physical movement, but also through thought. An example of someone incorporating the mind-muscle connection would be an individual performing a biceps curl and focusing their concentration on slowly flexing the elbow joint using the biceps muscle, as opposed to just going through the movement.

Variety

Whether speaking about aerobic capacity, muscular strength, or muscular endurance, fitness is all about adaptation. For example, the heart eventually adapts to aerobic exercise when it is performed consistently, and it begins to pump blood and oxygen more efficiently. Muscles adapt to strength/resistance training by recruiting more muscle fibers and possibly splitting the fibers to form new muscle cells. However, physiological adaptations do not always yield positive results, which is why variety plays an important role.

Adaptation to a particular exercise also translates to less calories burned performing that exercise, because just as the heart has become more efficient at pumping blood, the metabolism has become more efficient with burning calories. To avoid this, it is important to perform a variety of different exercises targeting different muscles and muscle groups. Doing so will not only prevent imbalances, but also ensure that all sections of a muscle get adequate stimulation.

Nutrition

There’s a well-known saying in the fitness industry along the lines of, “Abs are made in the kitchen”—referring to the well-tested theory that nutrition plays a larger role in muscle definition than exercise itself. But this phrase can be applied to more than just the aesthetic appeal of defined abdominals. Eating habits play an important role in achieving fitness results, whether these habits refer to the amount, quality, or time that food is consumed. Muscles require nourishment through food, along with adequate protein and carbohydrates to rebuild in the recovery after a workout.

Group Fitness or Personal Training

Getting up and getting moving is said to be the hardest part of staying active, but sometimes more guidance is required in order to stick with a healthy routine. Luckily, there are options for those who need a more structured and supportive environment to stay active. Your corporate fitness center may offer group fitness classes Monday through Friday at varying times, and these can be a great way to incorporate exercise and social time into your day. Personal training is a great option for those who prefer more detailed, hands-on instruction when performing exercise.  Be cautious when hiring a trainer and that they are qualified professionals.  

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Topics: nutrition NIFS goal setting group fitness exercise program muscles weightlifting recovery protein carbohydrates personal training

Try Positive Resolutions for the New Year

Do you find the typical New Year’s resolutions depressing? Start off 2015 with a new type of resolution. Instead of eliminating the things in your life that you love, try developing a list of new adventures or activities to experience this year. Brainstorm a variety of activities, events, recipes, or exercises that you find interesting or worthwhile and stick to it.

Take the time this year to really try something new for yourself and no one else. With each new experience, keep in mind the purpose and outcome you hope to achieve. Be confident and open-minded, and aware of your response in each situation. Keep track of your experiences, and who knows: something new this year may become part of your daily routine.

8 New Things to Try

something_newHere are some ideas to consider for the New Year:

  • Attend a new group fitness class.
  • Participate in a partner training session with a friend.
  • Try a new restaurant.
  • Walk a different route than your everyday commute to the office.
  • Prepare a recipe using fresh ingredients.
  • Attempt a new hobby, such as running, swimming, sewing, or biking.
  • Prepare a budget for the new year.
  • Learn a new sport.

By diving in and trying new things, you are taking it upon yourself to develop a more self-centered lifestyle. So many times we rely on others’ descriptions or evaluations of something instead of trying it for ourselves. With a new type of resolution, one that helps reinforce a healthy lifestyle, you can move forward during the New Year without regrets. Focusing on different activities and facing different challenges than what you may be used to will add variety to your days.

Tips for Achieving Your Goals

Remember these helpful tips when working toward your goals:

Try to develop simple, one-step tasks and take pride in each item you mark off your list in 2015. Choose tasks that are positive and promote overall health, rather than creating restrictive goals or limitations. Keep a running tally of your accomplishments and hold yourself accountable for each item on the list. Feel free to continue adding new events throughout the year based on successful or satisfying experiences.

Whether you are pledging to be healthier, happier, skinnier, less stressed, or more active, these tips can help. Don’t think about each task for hours on end, “just do it!” and move on (here are tips for finding motivation when you need it). If it is something you enjoy, evaluate it and go back for more. The main goal of this practice is to find new and fun activities that bring a sense of satisfaction to your life. You never know if you will like something until you try. The power that comes from accomplishing a goal only helps to reinforce one’s ability to keep moving forward. Keep that in mind, and work toward a healthier, happier future this New Year!

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Topics: Be inspired motivation goal setting new year New Year's Resolutions in Action resolutions

5 Tips for Sticking to Your New Year's Resolutions

setting smart goals resized 600First and foremost, let’s make some things clear about resolutions. When you make a resolution, you have to remember that it is not just a commitment for January 1; it is for 365 days. Make sure from the beginning it is something that is a long-term goal and a change you want to see. If it is something you have repeatedly tried to do each year, it may be time to reevaluate and come up with a different strategy this year. Otherwise, you will set yourself up to fail.

Don’t be the object of the new year’s resolution jokes. Come into the new year with the mindset that resolutions are achievable if you set yourself up for success. Here are some ways that you can do this.

Make Your Resolutions SMART Goals

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time bound:

  • Specific: Make resolutions clear, concise, and well-defined.
  • Measurable: Make sure you have a way to measure your progress and success. Goals should have time frames, dates, amounts, and other quantifiable numbers.
  • Attainable/realistic: Your goal should be something that is manageable, and something you believe you can succeed in reaching.
  • Time bound: Have a starting point and an end point. Resolutions that will take place over the entire year should be broken down into short-term and longer-term goals.

Choose the Right Resolutions

If you decide to do something, it has to be something that you want to do. Pick something that has meaning behind it for you personally. Oftentimes resolutions come from outside sources and pressures. If the idea originates with you, you’re more likely to commit.

Stick Your Resolutions with Existing Habits

The easier you make the habit, the more likely you are to stick to it. If your resolution is to take a vitamin every day, put the vitamin container next to your toothbrush that you use each morning. Make the new habit part of an existing one.

Give Yourself a Trial Run

Try your resolution for at least 21 days (it takes at least this long to create a habit). Give yourself these days as a trial period. This will give you some room to make mistakes and tweak your goal to make it more realistic.

Measure Your Progress

Many of us get frustrated and give up on resolutions because we have tunnel vision to the end result, which may take all 365 days to achieve. If your resolutions and goals are smart, it should be easy to track the progress you are making, which will help keep you motivated. 

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Topics: motivation behavior modification goal setting new year New Year's Resolutions in Action

Corporate Fitness Center: The Other Side

young couple working outGenerally speaking, there are 3 “sections” to each fitness center. On one side, you have the cardio area. On the other side is the resistance area. And somewhere in the corporate fitness center is usually a group exercise room. The latter can be used for just about anything so we’ll leave that alone for the time being. That leaves us with the cardio and resistance areas.

When you walk into the fitness center, who do you see in these areas? Women jogging on the treadmills (cardio) and men lifting weights (resistance), right? But why? It makes no sense! If you get a general consensus of the various goals of each gender, you’ll come up with a list that probably resembles something similar to this:

Female Goals                                               Male Goals

Lose Weight                                                  Get Stronger

Tone Up                                                        Get Ripped

So now you’re thinking, “What’s the problem? That looks about right to me. Why wouldn’t they be in their respective areas if these are their goals?”

This is why.

Women: Chances are you are probably already relatively thin. You may only need to lose another 10 lbs. or so. Well guess what, you’re not going to tone any trouble spots (i.e. that muffin top or bingo arm) by walking on the treadmill for 2 hours. You have to put those things to work! Get over on the resistance side and do some squats and work those triceps with some pushups. (And yes, you can do squats and pushups.) Cardio is, in fact, good for burning fat and you should continue doing it. But at this point you need to get the majority of your cardio through resistance training.

Men: You’ve been doing the bench press and bicep curls for 20+ years now. Let’s give it a rest. The strength is there, it’s just that fat is hiding it. Your fat is selfish. It wants to keep those muscles to itself. Well I say NO! It’s time to unleash your muscles to the world. Jump on the treadmill for a half hour. Go for a bike ride. Get that cardio in b/c yes, we can tell you’re strong, but we can also tell you like a good beer. I’m pretty sure you want people thinking your wife is pregnant, not you. Continue your resistance training, but get your heart rate up already and do some cardio.

So the next time you go to the gym ladies and gentleman, give the other side a try. You’ll be amazed.

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Topics: cardio health and wellness goal setting Fitness Center muscle endurance

NIFS Nutrition News: Making Resolutions Stick

2013By June 2013 only 46% of people will still be sticking to the resolutions they vowed to keep as the ball dropped and we said goodbye to 2012.  A recent study showed that the three most popular resolutions are finding more family and friend time, increasing or starting an exercise program, and trying to lose weight.  The tips below will help you stick to those resolutions so they will last all year long.

1. Spend more time with family and friends:

Say “no” to commitments that are not a priority.  Schedule weekly family time into your planner.  Play games, sit down at the dinner table together, and ask everyone about their day.  Make it a priority.  Also, aim for more time with friends.  Start a book club, meet for a walk or a cup of coffee, check out a new restaurant.  Make it a recurring event like the second Tuesday of the month, so it is easy to plan into your schedule.

2. Fit in fitness: 

Have a positive attitude when it comes to exercise.  Think of it as time you will have to yourself for the day, a way to boost your energy level, or simply a break from the stress of the New Year.  Make the most of the time you have allotted for exercise.  Include high intensity cardiovascular activities, resistance training, and stretching. Add activity into your busy day by taking the stairs, parking farther away, walking the dog, shoveling snow, and hand delivering a message to a co-worker instead of calling or emailing them.

3. Drop the weight:

Set small, realistic goals when it comes to weight loss.  A reduction of only 500 calories per day is a smart goal to set and is the equivalent of 1 pound of fat loss per week.  Do this by cutting out regular sodas or calorie-heavy beverages like flavored coffee and juices.  Swap vending machine snacks like candy bars and chips for fresh fruit, fat free yogurt, string cheese, and cut up veggies.  When eating out, decrease portions by taking half of the entrée home.  Each week try to tackle a new goal.  Keep adding new goals throughout the spring, summer, and fall!

 

Fresh starts like the New Year are a perfect opportunity to better ourselves.  Take your resolution seriously this year and work on these goals to improve your quality of life. Did you miss our NIFS Fitness Management Staff Resolutions blog?  Check it out here!

Topics: NIFS behavior modification goal setting new year New Year's Resolutions in Action health resolutions family

How to Set Corporate Fitness Goals That Lead to Success

goal setting, corporate fitness, resultsAnother new year is here, and with that come high fitness expectations that your corporate wellness participants place upon themselves. When members come to us with New Year’s resolutions, our first step is to teach them how to set appropriate goals that will lead to success. Once you have the general picture of what your clients are hoping to achieve as well as why it’s important to them, you can help in fine-tuning their goals.

Let’s use the SMART acronym model to walk through goal-setting for the typical New Year’s client who says, “I want to lose weight.”

S = Specific

Steer away from vague goals. Not only will it help keep your client focused and on track, but it will help you, as the professional, create an appropriate exercise program for them. In our example, since the client’s goal is weight loss, she could say, “I want to lose 50 pounds.”

M = Measureable

You can’t set a goal without knowing how to measure success. Preferably, you’ll use numerical data. In our example, we can measure pounds. If a client has a goal of “getting in shape,” have him or her choose once specific item that can be measured, such as blood pressure or minutes spent walking.

A = Attainable

Setting a goal that can’t be attained in the first place is bound to fail and lead to discouragement. Tell clients when certain goals may not be possible or healthy for their bodies. Let’s pretend that for our fictitious client, a weight loss of 50 pounds would be a stretch, at best, and possibly put her in an underweight category for her body frame. We could suggest that a different amount might be more attainable, so her new goal is, “I want to lose 30 pounds.”

R = Realistic

Here is where you can help your clients evaluate whether their goals are realistic for their individual lifestyles. If other priorities or any other issues might get in the way of achieving a goal, you could scale down the goal into smaller mini-goals in the beginning.

T = Time-bound

There must be an end date to the goal; otherwise members can easily get distracted and push aside the goal until before they know it, another New Year’s is here. Set a date and mark it on the calendar to keep a constant focus on progress. The more lofty the goal, the longer the timeframe that should be dedicated to accomplishing it. Our client’s complete goal is now, “I want to lose 30 pounds by July 30, 2012.”

Smart goals = success!

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Topics: corporate fitness program corporate fitness weight loss goal setting new year resolutions