Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

How to Revitalize your Fitness this Summer

Do you feel like every summer is the same: take the kids to summer camp, go to work, pick the kids up, go home, make dinner, and then start all over again the next day? What about you? What do you do for yourself and your health, wellness and fitness? Here are few tips for how to revitalize your fitness this summer.

  • ThinkstockPhotos-507114390.jpgPick up a new sport or try a new fitness class. Get social! Sign up for a group fitness class that you wouldn’t normally try and bring a friend. Ask your local fitness center what summer programs they have planned. Prefer a team aspect to your fitness? Check out a local sports league in your area and get involved.
  • Buy a new pair of shoes. If it’s been over 6 months since you bought new running shoes, now is the perfect time to invest in a new pair. Even regular walking can cause wear and tear on shoes and also your feet and legs. Visit your local running store and get fitted for the right pair of shoes for you. Then get outside and get moving!
  • Update your workout gear. What goes well with a new pair of shoes? New workout gear! We all love to show off new clothes, right? What better place than on your local running path or in your local gym? Also think about purchasing other equipment such as a good hat or visor to protect your face from the sun.
  • Change up your diet. Not only do you need to switch up your activity, you also need to modify your diet. The summer brings fresh fruit and veggies and a lot of color and nutrition available to add to your diet. Try new things, spice it up, and see what’s out there that you never knew you were missing! You might even try a healthy summer picnic.

As you think of new ways to revitalize your summer, make sure things like water, sunscreen, relaxation, and activity are all constants for safe summer workouts. Increased sunlight and heat provide more opportunity to develop sunburn and dehydration. Take the necessary precautions to avoid any mishaps that will prevent you from enjoying the outdoors.

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Topics: nutrition shoes hydration equipment summer wellness and fitness

Hydration Is Key for Health and Wellness

Quick! What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “water”? Is it the beach? Rain? Thirst? How about hydration? Most people have heard that on average the human body is made up of about 60 percent water, but what exactly does that mean? Why is water so important to the human body? Well, let’s look at the facts.

ThinkstockPhotos-119492687.jpgWhy You Need to Drink Water

Water plays several important roles in the human body.

  • Water regulates body temperature through sweating and respiration. It helps to lubricate the joints for movement.
  • Water carries oxygen, nutrients, and hormones to various body parts for adequate functioning, and removes toxins and waste.
  • Water especially helps to maintain regularity of the bowels and prevents unwanted body aches and conditions such as heartburn, migraines, ulcers, kidney stones, and backaches.

Consuming adequate amounts of water each day can also help to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as reduce cholesterol levels. How? Well, the more water you drink throughout the day, the more fluid leaves your blood vessels. When this happens, your blood vessels are able to relax. When the vessels relax and dilate, a decrease in blood pressure occurs. When the blood vessels remain relaxed and pressure lowers, the risk for other serious cardiovascular conditions decreases as well. Reduction in blood pressure specifically helps to decrease the risk of stroke and heart attack.

How Much Water Does a Person Need?

With all of these different body systems relying on water to help them run optimally, how do you make sure you are consuming enough? Recommendations vary on this topic, but remember that water comes from more than just the bottle we drink throughout the day. It is believed that about 80 percent of water intake comes from drinking, and the other 20 percent comes from the food you consume throughout the day. The most recent recommendations suggest that women should consume 9 cups and men 12.5 cups of total beverages each day for optimum hydration.

Considerations That Affect Hydration

So you know why you need water and how much, but what factors affect hydration changes besides how much you consume? Additional considerations relating to hydration include your physical activity level, current health state (such as if you have a cold or flu), heat, and humidity. Sweating during activity is your body’s way of maintaining an adequate temperature. If you are working out and sweating, your body is losing water. So remember to hydrate before, during, and after a workout. If you feel ill and experience a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea, fluid intake should also increase to prevent dehydration. Lastly, be aware of your environment and how you feel. If you become uncomfortably warm or are exercising in hot or humid climates, be sure to consume above-average amounts of water. 

Water’s Role in Weight Loss

Lastly, water works with your metabolism to help with weight maintenance. If you are hungry, drink a glass of water. If your body is lacking water, thirst can easily be mistaken for hunger. Increasing your water consumption can help contribute to a healthy weight-loss plan while providing your body with the many elements it needs to survive.

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Topics: weight loss hydration water disease prevention health wellness high blood pressure

A Simple Nutrition Checklist to Keep You Healthy and On the Move

couple_cooking-1.jpgMarch is National Nutrition Month! It may be time to revisit and reestablish your New Year’s diet resolutions. I wanted to pass along a basic guide to healthy eating and lifestyle habits that can also be used for weight loss.

Following is a checklist of six healthy habits to guide you on the path to better dietary health. If you are continually skipping any of these steps, you are probably missing opportunities to keep your weight in check or to keep your body healthy and your metabolism strong.

1. Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day.

Every person is different, so the need for more water comes with extra weight and increased levels of activity. But 64 ounces is a good baseline for hydration. Unsweet tea and zero-calorie drinks count. Diet sodas and coffee do not. WARNING: Don’t jump from 20 ounces a day to 64 ounces! Your bladder will not appreciate the drastic change. Instead, increase by 8 ounces every week until you reach 64 ounces.

2. Make your breakfast, lunch, and dinner plates look like the ChooseMyPlate diagram.

When trying to lose weight, go with half a plate of vegetables for meals (especially lunch and dinner) and save the fruit for snacks. Feel free to go off the beaten path and give veggies a try for breakfast. Who says you have to have breakfast food for breakfast? Try scrambled eggs with chopped veggies, or top a baked sweet potato with Greek yogurt and chopped nuts.

3. Include snacks.

If you are going 4+ hours between meals or find yourself hungry between meals, add a snack. The time between lunch and dinner is most often the biggest gap between eating during the day—sometimes 5 to 7 hours. Cravings tend to sneak up on you during this time as well. Fight cravings and trips to the vending machine by having healthy snacks readily available. Make sure they include at least two of the groups from the ChooseMyPlate diagram, such as:

  • Grain + Protein
  • Protein + Fruit or Vegetable
  • Dairy + Fruit

4. Moderate Portions.

A couple of ways to do this:

  • Use a salad-size plate instead of a regular dinner plate.
  • Track what you are eating. Use free online tools like www.myfitnesspal.com to determine how many calories, protein, carbs, and fat you are consuming. This includes weekdays and weekends. Note: Do not go below 1,200 calories without medical supervision. 
  • Women typically stay between 1,200 and 1,800 calories for weight maintenance and weight loss. Older, more sedentary women should eat closer to 1,200 calories. Younger, more active women can eat for maintenance and weight loss, eating closer to 1,800 calories.
  • Men typically fall between 1,800 and 2,200 calories for both weight loss and maintenance. Older, more sedentary men should eat closer to 1,800 calories. Younger, more active men can lose or maintain weight eating closer to 2,200 calories. Teenagers and young guys who are very active may need well above this amount. This range is relevant to those with desk jobs who get in a decent 30 to 45-minute workout during the day.

5. Make sure you are active throughout the day.

Think 3 minutes of activity (walking, walking in place, desk exercises, taking a flight of stairs up and down) for every 60 minutes of sitting. If you have time for a longer walk or workout, great!

6. Get your sleep.

Missing out on sleep can interfere with your mental acuity as well as your weight loss/maintenance efforts. Lack of sleep increases cravings for simple and refined carbohydrates that contain little nutritional value but lots of empty, unsatisfying calories. Give up the late-night shows and get your 7 to 8 hours of Zzzz’s. The benefits go well beyond more productivity at work.

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There you have it! Were you able to check off all of the above? Great! Keep up the hard work. If not, celebrate National Nutrition Month by choosing one of the above recommendations and implementing it consistently. Once this behavior becomes second nature, adopt a new habit to practice. Remember, long-term success requires sustained practice and patience. Don’t let a small or even big bump in the road discourage you from moving forward. Your health is worth the effort!

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Topics: nutrition weight loss hydration water sleep calories new year healthy habits

Corporate Fitness: How to Prepare for a 5K Race

This blog was written by Jenna Pearson. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

running, 5K, corporate fitnessIf you’ve always wanted to run in a 5K road race (or any road race, for that matter) but haven’t because you are not a runner, listen up: You do not have to be a “runner” to run. Anyone can run! Get yourself ready for your first 5K by following these guidelines:

Start slow: Doing too much too soon is likely to result in injury. It may sound obvious, but if you are a beginner, opt for a training program that was designed for beginners, such as Couch to 5K. Have realistic expectations. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Don’t compare yourself to other runners—we are all different and will progress according to our own body’s schedule.

Warm up: Warming up prepares your body for aerobic activity. It gradually revs up your cardiovascular system and increases blood flow to your muscles to ensure that they are getting the nutrients and oxygen supplies they need to sustain an activity such as running. Warming up is also crucial for minimizing injuries.

Cool down: Immediately after your workout, take time to cool down. This gradually slows your heart rate back to resting and slowly reduces the temperature of your muscles, which may help reduce muscular injury, stiffness, and soreness.

Stretch: After you cool down, your muscles will be warm and pliable, making it a perfect time to stretch. Regular stretching increases your flexibility, improves circulation, and helps maximize range of motion in your joints. Simply put, stretching makes moving easier. It may also help reduce injuries.

Stay hydrated: If you prefer not to bring a water bottle with you on your run, make sure you are adequately hydrated before you hit the pavement. It is also important to make sure you hydrate after your run to replace the fluids you lost through sweat. If you do not properly hydrate, you could fall victim to muscle cramps, prolonged time to recovery, and other dehydration-related ailments.

Now that you know how to prepare, which race have you been dreaming of running?

Topics: corporate fitness hydration running stretching

Corporate Fitness: Stop Muscles from “Cramping” Your Style

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

stretching, muscle crampsWe’ve seen muscle cramps strike athletes on the basketball court, football field, and during running events, and many of us have experienced them first-hand. This sharp, sudden pain can be so fierce that it is temporarily crippling. A cramp may also be physically manifested by a hard lump under the skin.

While muscle cramps generally resolve themselves and don’t cause any lingering damage, their onset can be extremely frustrating, not to mention painful, when they choose to strike in the middle of a crucial game or important workout in the corporate fitness center.

When mild cramps occur, the best treatment of the symptoms is to hydrate, rest, and stretch. But it's even better to stop them before they happen. Let’s look at the most common causes of exercise-related cramps and how to prevent them:

  • Cause: Dehydration
  • Remedy: Stay well hydrated during exercise (even during colder months) by drinking plenty of water. Consume a diet rich in fluids and fresh fruits and vegetables.

 

  • Cause: Electrolyte Imbalances
  • Remedy: Consume foods containing potassium (avocados, nuts and seeds, beans, dried fruit, bananas, potatoes), calcium (dairy, dark leafy greens; fortified cereals, juices, or grains), and magnesium (bran, nuts or seeds, dairy, fish and seafood, spinach, beans, whole grains). A sports drink may be appropriate, especially for high-intensity exercise lasting longer than an hour.

 

  • Cause: Environment
  • Remedy: Limit workouts in extreme heat and humidity. Take frequent breaks to hydrate and seek shade.

 

  • Cause: Fatigue
  • Remedy: Deconditioned individuals should start an exercise program slowly. Consult a doctor, if necessary.

 

Topics: exercise corporate fitness hydration fitness injury

Employee Health: How to Drink More Water Throughout the Day

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

drink more water, water consumption, healthyThere is no doubt about it: water is good for you in several different ways. How much water is needed per day varies from person to person. Water needs vary because you need to take into account how active someone is or how much they sweat on average. So if the staff at your onsite corporate fitness center makes you sweat a lot during class, you need to be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Not drinking enough water can decrease your energy level and cause health issues.

Key Reasons to Drink More Water

Here are some key reasons why you should drink more water:

  • To stay hydrated and keep energy levels up.
  • To help with muscle recovery after a hard strength workout.
  • To help with digestion.
  • To make you feel full so you eat less.
  • To lubricate the joints for less pain.

Tips for Drinking More Water

I try to keep a full water bottle on my desk while at work. Before I know it, it’s time to make another trip to the water filter for a refill. Add lemons to your water to spruce it up and add a little flavor. Some days I make Crystal Light, which is a sugar-free, flavored powder that you just add water to. This helps me to add some variety to my water intake. I also like to drink hot tea in the winter.

Surprisingly enough, you get water from food, too! For example, a healthy salad with lettuce and fresh vegetables adds water to your diet. Lower-sodium soups are another good source of water.

What tips and tricks do you have to make sure you're drinking enough water throughout the day?

Topics: employee health nutrition hydration water corporate fitness centers