Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

NIFS: Eating Cherries to Reduce Pain and Inflammation

Move over blueberries! Cherries are the new food superstar! Recent research from the American College of Sports Medicine has shown that tart cherries may have the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food out there. The fruit’s bright red color as well as the antioxidants it contains are connected to reduced levels of inflammation that compare to the capability of many pain medications.

Many corporate wellness clients are dealing with ailments such as osteoarthritis and general chronic pain due to inflammation, so cherries could be a natural way to assist them in pain management. The article says that athletes in particular are more prone to osteoarthritis due to the wear and tear of their joints, so cherries could benefit this population as well.

Tart cherries are currently in season, but you can also find them in the dried or frozen variety during winter months. To read about the “Go Red Instead” campaign and to find more recipes like the one below, go to the Choose Cherries website.

bowl of cherriesCherry Berry Smoothie

Ingredients:
1/2 cup frozen tart cherries, pitted
1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon cherry juice concentrate
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
8 ice cubes

Garnish:
1 tablespoon slivered toasted almonds
1 tablespoon chopped, dried tart cherries

Directions:
Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth. Pour into two chilled glasses. Garnish with almonds and dried cherries. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition Info:
Nutritional analysis for one serving: Calories 164, Total Fat g 3, Sat Fat g 1, Chol mg 5, Sodium mg 57, Total Carb g 30, Fiber g 1, Sugars g 27, Protein g 5

Topics: nutrition antioxidants arthritis joint health inflammation

Pick Your Arthritis Battles: How Exercise Can Help

Arthritis. When you exercise, it hurts. When you don’t exercise, it hurts. This widespread issue is affecting people of all different ages and driving these arthritis sufferers right to the couch. It just hurts no matter what, so what should you do? Pick your battles.

I understand that it’s painful and can leave you hesitant to do anything to potentially worsen the ache, but doing nothing at all will certainly not help. In fact, it will make it worse. You cannot let arthritis get in the way of your quality of life. 

I’ve spoken with people everywhere along the spectrum, from those in slight pain and avoiding any activity to those who are bone on bone but keep moving along. I am in no way recommending the “no pain, no gain” rule, but I am encouraging you to get active in order to increase the longevity of your joints.

For Arthritis, It’s Better to Stay Active than to “Baby” Your Joints

Your joints will love you so much more if you choose moving over “babying.” Don’t believe me? Check this out: Exercise strengthens the muscles surrounding that arthritic joint, which can reduce pain and improve the joint’s mechanics. It also compresses and releases cartilage, which brings oxygen to the joints.

So, now you’re looking at not only decreased pain and postponing surgery, but you’re also improving your overall health. Plus, if surgery is required, you will drastically speed your recovery. Is this starting to sound like a win-win?

Top 4 Exercise Types for Arthritis

Now you’re wondering, “But what exercises can I do?” There’s a plethora, but before I give you my list, I will tell you the most important factor: alignment, alignment, alignment! Please check with your senior fitness specialist to make sure you’re in a proper alignment while performing exercises. This helps minimize strain on the joints and will make a world of difference! After I correct my own clients’ alignment, they look at me like I’m a miracle worker. (Spoiler alert: I am not.)

dealing with arthritisNow, on to my list of the top 4 arthritis-friendly exercise modes:

  • Low-impact cardio: These heart-happy exercises are easy on the joints and will burn a lot of calories. Popular machines for this include ellipticals, bicycles, and rowing machines.
  • Aquatic exercise: Not a great swimmer? No problem! There’s a lot more that you can do in the water. It’s also very kind to your joints. The buoyancy reduces stress on the joints and spine, and provides resistance without equipment.
  • Yoga: Yoga is an excellent way to strengthen and lengthen the body. Both are essential in improving alignment, which is critical in taking the strain and stress off of your joints. Try out a class before you pop in a DVD at home. That way, the instructor can see your position and guide you if needed.
  • Tai chi: This traditional style of Chinese martial arts includes slow, controlled movements, which put little force on the joints, to improve balance, strength, and flexibility. Like yoga, try a class first to get some feedback from an instructor.

Learn more about arthritis and how to alleviate the symptoms by searching articles at Discovery Health and Lifescript.

Like what you just read? Click here to subscribe to the blog.

Topics: exercise swimming cardio arthritis joint health senior fitness yoga

Corporate Fitness: FREE Workout Friday

free workout fridayIf you’ve spent time in a gym, you know “that guy,” the one who doesn’t work his lower body and just focuses on upper body. Lower-body strength training is just as important as upper-body. The largest muscles are located in the lower body. Working larger muscles tends to get your heart rate up higher and burns more calories. More important, the muscles in the lower body are used for everyday movements and help with balance and coordination.

Regular lower-body strength training helps to increase bone density and strength. Strengthening the lower-body muscles around the joints also helps to strengthen the joints, decreasing the risk of injury in the hips and knees. The lower body is the powerhouse for most sports and activities, so try this workout for maximum results!

Eventually work your way up to going through this workout twice. (See the video link for specific instructions on form.) All you should need for this workout is a set of dumbbells and a step/bench/chair. I love lower-body workouts, so join me for this one and let me know what you think.

  • Side/lateral lunges (12 to 15 reps each side)
  • 45 seconds skater lunges
  • Repeat
  • Squat―alternating knee crunches (1 minute)
  • 30 seconds squat hops
  • Calf raises―toes straight, in and out (15 reps each direction)
  • 30 seconds calf jumps (stay on toes)
  • Straight leg deadlifts―form is very important! (15 reps)
  • Single-leg squats (15 reps each leg)
  • Single-leg squat hops
  • Right leg lunges (10 reps), lunge hold (20 seconds), lunge pulses (20 seconds)
  • Left leg lunges (10 reps), lunge hold (20 seconds), lunge pulses (20 seconds)
  • Squat hold (30 seconds) staying in a squat―hop feet out and in (30 seconds)
  • Lunges with back foot elevated on step/bench (12 reps each leg)

You can also refer to the demonstration video for details on which exercises are to be used with weights. Toward the end of the workout, if your legs get too fatigued, just set the weights down and do the lunges/squats with no weight. Don’t forget to stretch at the end of all workouts!

Topics: corporate fitness Free Workout Friday balance joint health strength training bone density

Employee Wellness: Healthy Joints, Healthy Body

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

healthy jointsYour joints play an important role in all of life’s activities. They connect bone to bone, which allows your body to move during everything from sports and exercise to everyday functions such as playing with kids, lifting groceries, performing yard work, and even sitting at a desk.

However, factors such as age, injury, diet, and lifestyle can negatively impact the joints over time, leading to stiffness, pain, and possibly even the onset of arthritis. Keep your joints mobile with the following tips:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Shedding a few pounds can help take the pressure off of lower-body joints, including the knees, which seem to suffer the most from weight gain.
  • Mix up the aerobic exercise routine. Running and playing sports can help build bone density, but too much impact can hurt your joints. Mix in lower-impact exercises such as biking and swimming.
  • Pump iron. Strength training builds up the muscles that support joint health. Mix together upper-body, lower-body, and core exercises.
  • Keep it moving. Sitting for too long invites stiffness. Take stretching or walking breaks at the office, when watching your child’s sporting event, or when watching TV or reading at night. When you do find yourself at your desk, practice good posture.
  • Stretch. Stretch after exercising. You may also find yoga, Pilates, and t'ai chi soothing for sore joints.
  • Eat for joint health. Consume foods rich in calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A, C, D, and K.
Topics: nutrition weight management arthritis pain relief joint health yoga injury stretching