Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Trick or Treat? Corporate Wellness and Philanthropy

Now playing at NIFS-managed corporate fitness centers all over the country:

halloween operation gratitude image

Simply put, corporate wellness and philanthropy go hand in hand.  This is one great example.  What are you doing to cultivate giving back as a measure of good health?

Topics: corporate wellness healthy workforce corporate fitness

Free Workout Friday: Indy 500 Endurance Workout

Free Workout FridayLadies and Gentlemen: Start your engines! As the whole town of Indianapolis gears up for the Indy 500, you can test out your endurance abilities with this 500 workout!

Start by completing the following exercises for the designated amounts of time. At the end, you will have completed 500 seconds of strength exercises! Choose weights that are light to moderately heavy, because you will be doing most of these exercises for a full minute.

  1. Basic squats: 60 seconds
  2. Rows: 60 seconds
  3. Alternating lunges: 60 seconds
  4. Chest press: 60 seconds
  5. Crunches: 60 seconds
  6. Alternating shoulder press: 60 seconds
  7. Hammer curls: 60 seconds
  8. Wall sit: 60 seconds
  9. Plank: 20 seconds

Finish with a 500-second (8 minutes, 20 seconds) run around the track! Take “pit stops” when you need to by walking for 30 seconds or stopping for a quick water break. 

After you’ve made it to the finish line of your workout, make sure to refuel with more water and a healthy snack, like a banana with peanut butter or whole wheat crackers and string cheese!

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Topics: exercise at work healthy workforce exercise Free Workout Friday fitness

Free Workout Friday: Upper and Lower Body Combo Exercises

Free Workout FridayOnce you have learned basic strength moves separately and have mastered the form for each, consider trying a workout where you combine both a lower and upper body strength exercise into one. Combo exercises have many benefits, such as burning more calories and increasing your physical and mental coordination. They also allow you to pack more into a certain amount of time, making your workout thorough and efficient. On busy days, this can be a good way to squeeze your normal 40 minute workout into 20!

There are many ways you can combine separate, basic strength moves into a combo exercise: upper body paired with lower body, lower body plus core, two arm exercises combined, etc. Even combinations of more than two are possible, for example a squat with a bicep curl into a shoulder press. Get creative, as long as you are using proper form for all exercises. Here are five upper body/lower body combos to try today:

1. Squat w/ tree-hugger - placing a band behind your back (or ancor if possible), sit back into a squat while bringing your extended arms out in front of you as if you were hugging a tree.

2. Deadlift w/ upright row - maintain a straight back while performing the deadlift, as you return to standing position, perform an upright row leading with your elbows.

3. Step-up w/ bicep curl - stepping up onto a box or bench while performing a bicep curl, maintain proper form keeping knee in line with the ankle.

4. Backwards lunge w/ front raise - as you step back into a lunge simultaneously perform a front shoulder raise with manageable weight, strive to maintain proper form.

5. Shoulder press w/ leg extension - can be performed sitting or standing, if standing you will balance on one leg lifting the opposite knee. You will perform a shoulder press while simultaneously extending the lifted leg at the knee and lowering.

Take a 10 minute break today and work through these exercises for worksite wellness.  Be sure to complete exercises on both sides where applicable.

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Topics: employee health healthy workforce exercise corporate fitness employee wellness Free Workout Friday fitness corporate fitness centers Fitness Center exercies at your desk

Corporate Fitness: FREE Workout Friday

Free Workout FridayIt’s been a long week, it is cold outside and you don’t feel like doing much of anything, right?  Join the club.  You don’t have to stress about your workout. At the end of the week maybe you just need a good stretch!

Stretching Tips:

  • Improved flexibility occurs when the muscles are warm, never stretch a cold muscle.  March in place and step side to side to get your blood pumping to warm the muscles.
  • Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds.  Only stretch until you feel mild tension, you don’t want to over stretch.
  • Breathe while stretching.  Taking deep breaths will assist in relaxation.
  • You should stretch 2-3 times per week.

group stretchingComplete the following stretches to de-stress and relax your muscles.  Worksite wellness can be easy by simply taking a moment to stretch at your desk!

Chin to Chest: Seated or standing, look straight ahead and slowly drop chin to chest.  Hold, and return to starting position.

Ear to Shoulder: Seated or standing, look straight ahead and slowly drop your head to one side toward the shoulder.  Hold and slowly move to the other side.

Upper Back and Rotator Cuff: Raise arms out in front of the body at shoulder height, place hands together.  With your palms out, push away from your body until you feel the stretch across your shoulder blades.

Tricep and Shoulder:  Stand with arms overhead.  Bend one arm at the elbow reaching behind your head toward the middle of your back.  With the opposite hand, gently pull the elbow to the point of tension.  Switch arms.

Inner Thigh:  Sit on the floor with soles of feet together.  Sitting straight up, keep your shoulders back with chest and chin up.  Press knees towards the floor to the point of tension.

Hips and Glutes:  Lie on your back with both knees bent.  Cross one leg over the opposite thigh, grasp the back the thigh and gently pull the leg towards you.  The stretch should be felt on the outside of your hip and glute.  Switch legs.

Lying Quadricep:  Lie face down on the floor and bring your right foot up towards your glute. Grasp the foot with the right hand and gently push your foot into your hand to feel the stretch in the back of your leg.  Slowly release and repeat on the left side.

When it comes to relaxation and stretching, what do you prefer... simple stretches or an organized class such as Yoga?

Topics: exercise at work healthy workforce stress employee wellness Free Workout Friday fitness exercies at your desk stretching

Wellness starts at home

bullying

Let me begin by stating that this blog is written from my voice that (at least today) is equal parts parent and health promotion advocate.  Our readers probably don't subscribe to this blog looking to commiserate over shared parenting experiences, but I suspect that we're not the only family dealing with the issue I describe below.  I invite and encourage you to join into this conversation by sharing your stories and your solutions below.

 It started a few months ago at school.

Our second grader came home from school a few months ago and shared that he had been teased at lunch by his peers.  They were mocking him for having fresh cut red, yellow, orange, and green peppers in his lunch.  At the time, I didn't think much about it.  My son doesn't pack his lunch often, and I figured kids will be kids.

Recently however, while participating in the district-offered winter break care program, he came home one afternoon in a horrible mood.  After some careful prodding, we learned that he had been taunted by "bigger kids" during lunchtime for (again) having fresh cut veggies as part of his lunch. 

We spent a good bit of time with him that evening getting more information and helping him come up with some strategies that might help him feel like he had some control.  Ultimately, he decided he was okay with fruit in his lunch, but that he'd forego lunch veggies and just double up at dinner.

What are we teaching our kids?

After we triaged through what was most important for our son, my husband and I started talking about the bigger picture in this situation.  Right or wrong, I'm a less concerned about the general taunting and more concerned about the subject of the mocking.  I realize that he is my first school-aged child, and perhaps I'm hopelessly naive.  But I was shocked to learn that children would make fun of a peer over having a healthy lunch. 

Then it hit me...eating healthy still isn't the norm.

Kids tease and taunt about anything that isn't "normal" or typical.  The sad truth is that veggies for kids (or grown ups, for that matter) still isn't routine.  Despite the easy-to-digest science,  most of us don't get enough fruits and vegetables in our daily diet. 

Having spent years in a corporate wellness environment for NIFS clients, I can speak with some confidence that culturally, we're still swimming upstream to make the healthiest choice the easiest choice for our workforce. 

Despite some remaining significant gaps in the availability of healthy foods across the US, improvements have been, and continue to be made.  School lunches have improved too under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.  Unfortunately, we have a long (oh, so very long) way to go when it comes to both teaching and providing our children with the tools they need to live well. 

It starts at HOME.

Teaching your kids to be tolerant of differences, inquisitive instead of acusatory, and embracing of diversity (in ALL forms) is not easy.  We grown ups have a lot to learn about these actions.  But really - really, teaching your child to embrace a variety of foods, fascilating your child's exposure to new food experiences, and support their individual choices while maintaining nutritional standards and expectations should not be that hard.   

If nothing else, teach your children the old adage, "You are what you eat" by practicing what you preach.  Put a little color on your plate (and I don't mean taste the rainbow of skittles), and enlist the support of others.  Let Wayne Brady rock it out for your kids!

Topics: corporate wellness healthy workforce healthy mom worksite wellness kids

Avoiding Chemicals and Germs for Workplace Wellness

hand sanitizerCould your office be to blame for making you sick? This article refers to a recent study that found certain types of furniture, carpet and paint can contain harmful chemicals called PFCs, or polyfluorinated compounds. These chemicals are so widespread that 95 percent of Americans have been found to carry at least some level in their blood. The workplace, however, was the environment found to have the highest amount of PFCs in the air.

Interestingly enough, the study found that employees working in the buildings with the newest carpet, paint, and furniture showed more exposure to PFCs than employees working in buildings with older office surroundings. If you find yourself in the position of purchasing new carpet, paint, or furniture for your workspace, it could be worth asking the manufacturer whether there are any known substances in the materials that could be harmful in high level of exposure.

Chemical exposure isn't the only risk of working in an office environment. Offices are also breeding grounds for viruses and bacteria. Here are some things you can do to avoid catching germs in the workplace:

  • Keep a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer at your desk and use it periodically throughout the day.
  • If you use a shared computer or phone, wipe down items like the computer mouse and phone receiver regularly with an antibacterial wipe.
  • In restrooms, use automatic flush, sinks, soap dispensers, and paper towel dispensers where available. The less contact your skin has with these items, the better.
  • In the office kitchenette, appoint one person per week to clean surfaces such as countertops, sink faucets, and handles on the refrigerator, microwave and coffeepot. General housekeeping may not be cleaning these items.
  • In your corporate fitness center, clean all machines and other equipment before and after use.
  • Exercise and eat a healthy, balanced diet to boost your immune system no matter where you go!

 

Topics: corporate wellness employee health healthy workforce Wellness in the Workplace worksite wellness common cold allergies disease prevention healthy habits

Corporate Wellness, Employee Engagement, ROI, oh my

Pardon me while I use our blog to rant.  It doesn't happen often, but apparently there was no amount of pounding the pavement (aka running) that was going to get this out of my head.  Lacking other healthy tools to cope with very bad corporate wellness practice, I'm turning to the blog to pound it out on the keyboard.  You should stop reading if you don't care about employee engagement, human capital, and ROI in corporate wellness.  Shamelessly, this blog is more for me than it is for you. 

Ok - disclaimer provided.  Here we go.

There's so much buzz around corporate wellness, it's dizzying.  Who can keep track of all the apps, gadgets, providers, platforms, and statistics in employee health promotion?!  We're too busy helping people make better choices to keep track of this stuff.  Thus, I join other organizations who provide me with updates in the industry periodically; it takes the burden off me feeling like I always have to be search, search, searching for what's up and coming.

It all started with an email.

So the other day I got an email, much like many other emails, in which a promotion around employee engagement was being peddled.  You get these emails, I know you do.  This one, in particular, was from a well-known clearinghouse of resources for corporate wellness professionals, and my hunch is that they have a HUGE reach across the US.  Provider organizations pay to be promoted by via email to the membership list for this "clearinghouse organization". 

Let me be clear - I'm not begrudging the organization who sent me the email, or the provider company who paid to reach my inbox. (Though I do feel a little sorry for both who may not know the painful truth about outbound marketing.) The marketing message in that email, however, is at best suspect, and at worst, completely misleading and disingenuous to the hard fought, small gain work that is employee health promotion. 

"Got Engagement" 

This was the focus of the marketing email - the vendor was offering their product/service and promoting that they had the key ingredient for employee engagement.  Maybe they do (it's kind of the silver bullet in corporate wellness...who knows, maybe this groupcorporate wellness recipe has it all figured out).  But to promote it in a way that engagement from employees is something you go "get", that it's algebraic or formulary, that there is something you simply add to your corporate wellness strategy recipe, is completely off the mark.  You don't add a vendor, a worksite fitness center, a health coach, or change a policy about flex time and BAM!  Engagement! (Cue triumphant music.)

No, ladies and gentlemen, absolutely not.  The battle for employee engagement in corporate health promotion is won in relationships and over time, and with the evolution of trust and loyalty in the workplace.  Offering biometric screenings and cool online HRA that gives you a personal wellness score isn't enough.  An onsite fitness center isn't enough. (Believe me... for NIFS business, I wish it was!)  And you can't buy your way into the hearts of your employees with trinkets and trips, and other incentives.

If you want engagement in your workforce around your corporate wellness initiatives, you start with relationships.  You have to work at it by working with your workforce to understand them, their needs, their fears, their hopes.  You have to give a little, learn a little, and step out on that relationship-building edge a little. 

(I feel a sappy song coming on, so I'll wrap it up here.)

You want your workforce to engage?  Treat them like people, get your head out of the corporate wellness ROI clouds, and for crying out loud, quit referring to your workforce as "Human Capital".

Want to confess...I mean comment on this post?  Have an entirely different point of view?  Share it below.  Maybe it'll be the start of a beautiful relationship!

 

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Topics: corporate wellness healthy workforce Wellness in the Workplace worksite wellness corporate fitness centers; return on investement control healthcare costs

How does the Health of Dependents Impact Employers

sick kids, illness, insurance costsRecently, the cost of health care has risen to over $2.5 trillion and is projected to increase, on average, 6.1 percent per year until 2019.  These costs have also risen for employers who pay for their employees' health plans.

Rates are rising due to employees' family members also becoming ill.  This forces employees to use more money and potentially miss work when a family member is sick.  An ill child can take a toll not only on the parents, but the company they work for.

The Cost of Unscheduled Absenteeism

The average annual cost for a company due to unscheduled employee absenteeism is estimated to be over $760,000.  These unplanned absences include personal days, or days one must stay home to care for an ill child.

Loss of productivity and administrative costs are the main issues when it comes to these missed days.  The extra work is then taken on by other workers, or less-effective replacements, therefore causing a loss of efficiency in the company.  Also, these replacements cost the company extra money, or the company needs to pay another employee overtime for their service.  Unplanned absences are responsible for 21 percent of productivity loss per year versus 15 percent for those absences that were previously planned.

Sick Child Care Helps Avoid Unscheduled Absences

A possible solution for companies to avoid spending an overabundance of money on these absences, would be to offer sick child care.  These services are becoming more popular among businesses.  Placing a child care program in a business has an immense impact on the company's expenditure.  When a child care assistance program is in place, the company spends less money than if the parent were absent from work.  This type of program can have an enormous impact on a company and may be worth the investment. 

Topics: healthy workforce healthy mom healthy baby Wellness in the Workplace worksite wellness common cold

How to Initiate Workplace Wellness

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

wellness at work, healthy work environment, corporate fitnessApproximately 65% of the U.S. population is overweight or obese, which should tell us that some sort of a wakeup call concerning health is crucial. What if this wakeup call took root at work?

It’s common knowledge that happy, healthy employees will be more productive and have lower health insurance costs, which satisfies employers. However, implementing a successful wellness program in the workplace can sometimes be a bit of an uphill battle.

Provide Access to Health Screenings

We all know how difficult it can be to overcome bad habits, and if you have a group that is particularly set in their ways, starting small is key. Many individuals will not acknowledge they’re unhealthy until they are presented with hard proof; for instance, a diagnosis of pre-diabetes or high blood pressure may be what propels them to act.

How do they receive the testing necessary to identify these conditions? It may come in the form of a health fair with screenings, which can be less invasive and less intimidating than a doctor’s visit. A follow-up doctor’s appointment can be the next step, if necessary, and with proper education about nutrition and exercise, that employee will hopefully be on the road to better health.

Create a Healthy Workplace Environment

If you’re an employer, consider implementing a program that provides employee access to health professionals (anywhere from a doctor to a fitness professional) who can guide them in setting goals and achieving (and then maintaining) healthy habits.

Also, creating a healthy environment in the workplace (nutritious food options, active employee outings, etc.) always helps! Involve company leaders, which enhances the effectiveness of these types of initiatives.

Take a look at your workplace. What sort of action would be best suited to its employees?  

Topics: healthy workforce worksite wellness

Steady Obesity Rates Good News in Fight for Healthy Workforce

This blog was written by Bethany Garrity. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

A recently released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report noted that obesity rates in the U.S. were steady last year compared with 2008 rates. This is good news because once we stop the health decline, we can start to make improvements.

Even better news from this report is that more Americans report Girl on mat resized 600being physically active--up to 34.7 percent compared with 31.9 percent in 2008. This is also good news; moving more can’t be bad. Regular exercise is a key to successful weight loss and weight management. If that doesn’t motivate overweight employees to move more, note some of the many other scientifically proven benefits of engaging in regular exercise.

We're cautiously optimistic. Health professionals across the country are doing great work to help address the obesity epidemic. Workplaces are driving much of that meaningful work in their communities with onsite corporate fitness centers, corporate fitness programs, wellness-focused benefits, healthy food options in cafeterias, and health cultures and policies that support good choices.

More work needs to be done. What are you doing to build a healthy workforce and help overweight employees lose pounds?

Topics: employee health corporate fitness program healthy workforce overweight employees health culture