Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Compression Stockings: Not Just for Swollen Ankles and Seniors

ThinkstockPhotos-177502133.jpgCompression stockings are used for a variety of reasons, one of which is to reduce fluid pooling within the lower extremities; and to protect against the potential for developing phlebitis and thrombosis, which can eventually lead to the formation of life-threatening blood clots (deep vein thrombosis, or DVT). Many athletes of all abilities can even be seen wearing compression sleeves and stockings, with the idea that the compression aids in athletic performance.

Ankle Swelling Causes and Effects

The sensation of swollen ankles is often described as a burning or itching feeling, or even as having your legs feel achy or tired. If you have leakage of fluid from your capillaries and it is not resorbed back into your bloodstream, this may result in the swelling of your ankles or feet. However, if you can increase the pressure in and around the capillaries, it is far more likely that the fluid will be resorbed back into the lymph system and naturally eliminated by the body. When there is less pooling of fluid in the legs, the result is increased blood flow in the legs back up toward the heart.

Compression stockings may also be worn following surgery to lower the risk of developing a blood clot, or for any period of time when someone is less active. A doctor may actually prescribe compression stockings if you have varicose or spider veins, or if you have just had surgery for them. Both Sigvaris and Jobst (makers of graduated compression stockings) even note the health benefit of wearing them for travel. Take this into consideration: sitting for a four-hour period or longer can increase your risk for DVT by four times, regardless of your lifestyle, age, or weight. (Here are some ideas for breaking up your sitting time.)

How to Wear Compression Stockings

Listen to your doctor’s recommendations as to how to wear your compression socks and for how long. Some general guidelines are the following:

  • Put your stockings on in the morning.
  • Roll the stocking down and slide it onto your foot to the heel and then roll it up the rest of the leg.
  • Ensure that there are no wrinkles in the stocking after placement, and smooth out any that may have developed while you were rolling it on.
  • Knee-length stockings should come up to two fingers below the bend of the knee.
  • DO NOT stop wearing compression stockings before consulting with your doctor first.

Always talk to your doctor about wearing compression stockings first to ensure proper use, and be sure to report any discomfort you may have while wearing them. 

Compression stockings come in a variety of strengths, ranging from light to strong pressure. Compression stockings are graduated in strength, meaning that the greatest compression is found in and around the ankle with the pressure progressively decreasing up and around the calf. The stockings also come in a variety of fun colors and styles. Trained professionals can best size and fit you based on your specific need.

For more information, talk to your healthcare professional or visit the manufacturers’ websites (Jobst and Sigvaris).

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Topics: injury prevention sitting blood clots travel DVT seniors

Change Your Commuting Habits for Improved Employee Health

Depending on where you live, if you drive yourself to work, your daily commute could be up to 90 minutes each way. The average American will spend 25 minutes commuting to work according to U.S. census data. Unfortunately, this is taking its toll on your overall health in more ways than the obvious: accumulating even more minutes of sitting throughout your day.

Let’s talk about what is really happening to your health as you are driving yourself to and from work each day, and what you can do about minimizing those negative effects by replacing them with positive habits you can incorporate into your commute.

Traffic Jams, Weather Delays, Road Rage = Another Opportunity for Stress!

ThinkstockPhotos-178516386.jpgThere are things that happen on our commute that we did not plan on that put us behind on our already hectic schedules or just annoy us. It is easy to become anxious when these things happen and start or end the day with added stress from the experience. The truth is these things are typically 100% out of your control, so this should not be a source of stress.

Next time you find yourself in this situation, simply take a few deep breaths. According to the American Institute of Stress, to decrease the damaging effects of stress on the body you should take focused and intentional deep breaths. This will allow you to truly relax by decreasing your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure, thus decreasing your overall response to the added stress.

Commuting Can Be a Pain…Seriously

When you have to sit for long periods of time, make sure you are sitting correctly. This comes back to ergonomics, but setting up your car to meet your needs has many elements to consider. The USDA APHIS Ergonomics Program does an excellent job of teaching you how to set up your driver’s seat properly as well as the risks associated with not setting it up correctly: increasing your risks for low back pain, neck strains, and many other common musculoskeletal injuries. Take a few minutes to properly adjust your vehicle to prevent these issues from occurring.

The Link Between Longer Commutes and Increased Prevalence of Obesity, High Blood Pressure, and Low Cardiovascular Fitness

Research from Washington University has shown a high correlation between longer commutes and increased prevalence of various health conditions such as metabolic syndrome, obesity, and high blood pressure. An obvious way to combat this is to ride your bike or walk to work, but realistically this is not always possible for many adults. Sometimes the commute is simply too long, or the city you are working in does not have the infrastructure to support this.

When commuting by foot or bike is not possible, it is even more important to find time for physical activity at some point during the day to help minimize these risks. One way that you can do this is to use a fitness facility on your way to or from work. This is a great option because not only will it allow you to access activity, but it will break up the time you are spending in your vehicle. 

Take This as an Opportunity to Make Time for Your Well-Being

If you have the option of using public transportation, your options here can be endless! One study has shown that people who use active travel (walking, public transportation, and biking) compared to those who drive themselves to work report higher levels of positive well-being. If active travel is not an option, maybe you enjoy listening to music, audiobooks, podcasts, or just being alone with your thoughts. The commute can provide a great opportunity to do these things. Many take this time as an opportunity to learn more in an area that they are interested in but just can’t seem to find the time to do, or to simply just unwind from their hectic schedules.

Although the commute is likely not your favorite part of your day, it does not have to completely derail your employee health if you take these things into consideration. Take a few minutes this week and reflect on your commute and think about where you may be able to incorporate some of these healthy habits to improve upon and maintain your good health.

Consider how you can provide better wellness and fitness services to your employee, click below for ideas from NIFS.

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Topics: biking walking stress health staying active sitting high blood pressure

3 Tips for Improving Posture for Employee Health

Most of us spend the majority of our lives working and commuting to work. In our spare time we also enjoy activities such as reading, watching television, and spending time with our loved ones. What do most of these activities have in common throughout our lifetime? Sitting!

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The Toll Sitting Takes on Your Health

A large portion of life as an employee requires extended periods of time seated in a chair, driving to work, and spending time with loved ones sitting at the dining room table. As we age, being in the seated position can have negative effects on our posture, which will also have a negative effect on our health.

As human beings we are structured to walk, run, and swim (if you learned) to accomplish tasks on a daily basis. We used to hunt, forage, farm our own food, and use our own feet when traveling from one location to another. This strengthened the muscles we needed when growing up and maintained our muscles as we aged. In our modern society, most professional careers have become sedentary and require less physical activity to get the job done.

Aging Well with Better Posture

One of the most apparent characteristics our body shows as we age is our posture. We remember the days in our youth when we stood tall, our shoulders were back, and we were probably a few inches taller. As we age, we and our loved ones begin to notice a change in posture in most individuals who had a sedentary profession. Even though some individuals remained active with a sedentary profession, other might not have taken the right steps to ensure good posture during the senior years, when it matters most.

The old saying is practice makes perfect; the new saying is perfect practice makes perfect! Even as many of us stay active, we are not performing the right exercises to maintain posture. Older individuals must perform the correct exercises to improve and maintain a healthy posture.

Tips for Improving Posture

Here are three tips for improving posture that you can use right away.

  • Stretch often, and stretch the right muscles! Muscles that become tight from working most desk jobs and commuting in vehicles are our chest muscles, neck muscles, and leg muscles. Being hunched over for several hours a day contributes to muscle tightness in these areas. Bringing your arms out to the side and stretching your chest four to five times a day can stretch the affected chest muscle. Learning how to stretch the leg muscles (quadriceps and hamstrings) in both the seated and standing position will give you more flexibility and prevent poor posture as you age. Neck muscles become tight from staring at computer screens, sitting at desks and carrying stress from demanding jobs. Learn stretches that loosen the neck and take the weight off of your shoulders.
  • Stand up every 30 minutes throughout the workday. Many of us get focused on our work and forget to stay active throughout the day. Standing up will stretch tight muscles, increase blood circulation, and give you a mental break before continuing the rest of your work.
  • Strengthen the muscles that improve and maintain your posture. Muscles that support an upright posture need to be activated and stimulated to maintain their strength and endurance throughout a lifetime. Many of these muscles are weak and inactive during working hours, which can lead to being inactive for lifetime. Strength training exercises focusing on posture include TheraBand rows, hip extensions, and lateral shoulder raises, which have been shown to maintain correct posture in senior populations.

Download our eBook, The Cure for the Sitting Disease to see how our staff get results from combatting the sitting disease, click below.

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Topics: employee health posture sitting

Make Time for Micro Breaks from Sitting in the Office

Everyone has been told that a sedentary work environment will put you at an increased risk for a variety of health and ergonomic issues. However, it may not always be possible for you to leave your desk and go for an extended walk a few times a day due to the nature of your job. If this sounds like you or the majority of your employees, it’s time to introduce micro breaks to your workday routine.

A micro break is a short break that allows the mind and body to reset. It is important to understand that micro breaks do not replace your daily workout or having a workstation that has been set up to meet your ergonomic needs, but they should be incorporated if you have a desk job. There are more opportunities than you probably realize to take advantage of a time to squeeze a micro break into your day. 

Just Stand

You may be surprised by how often you can actually do your work from a standing position. A few ways that you can incorporate standing without disrupting your work are to take phone calls or read over documents. If you have the opportunity to have a sit-to-stand desk, you should definitely request to have one put into place. Standing all day is not good either, so being able to switch back and forth between sitting and standing is ideal in a desk environment. Make it a goal to stand up once every 30 minutes, even if it’s just for 30 seconds.

Yoga at workLook Away from the Computer Screen

Yes, computer vision syndrome is a real thing. It is critical to exercise your eyes if you stare at a screen all day. Techniques such as palming your eyes, moving your eyes in various directions, and taking time out to focus on items at varying distances are a few of the techniques that you can incorporate to give your eyes a beneficial rest from screen time. If your eyes have been locked to your screen for more than two hours, you are past due for one of these breaks.

Deskersize

If you perform repetitive actions (including sitting and typing) throughout your day, you need to be completing appropriate exercises that counteract your repetitive movement to prevent overuse injuries. The National Institutes of Health provides a great resource of exercises to meet your specific needs. If you feel a brain block coming on, take a few minutes to do a few exercises and you will likely find your brain block is gone when you return to your work.

Make an Effort to Move Often

Send your print material to a printer across the floor, walk to an co-worker’s desk instead of sending them an email, fill your water bottle on another floor, and do anything that you can think of to have a legitimate reason to get up and sneak in a few extra steps around the office throughout the day. You will feel less stressed and your joints will appreciate the movement, even if you can only walk for a few minutes.

Next time you find yourself stuck at your desk for too long, try these tips for increased workplace wellness!

Interested in offering more wellness opportunities for your employees?  Download our whitepaper, Cure for the Sitting Disease to help get your workforce moving.  Click Below!

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Topics: corporate wellness exercise at work sitting