Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Improve Your Senior Living Exercise Program: Focus on Chronic Disease

ThinkstockPhotos-585600458.jpgThe benefits of regular activity for individuals throughout their lifespan is clear through the many (many, many) studies that outline how much movement is enough and which elements of health are improved with activity. However, despite the research, people in the U.S. still simply don't get enough activity to sustain health benefits, and the rate of inactivity in the older adult population is even more startling.

Sedentary behavior as we age can be linked to chronic diseases like arthritis and heart disease. Although these conditions are common in older adults—and in many cases, regular exercise can help individuals manage those health issues—seniors often feel limited by their chronic illnesses. If you're having trouble growing participation in your community exercise program, you might be missing this important audience. Improve your senior living exercise program and focus on chronic disease to address these health concerns.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Help Residents Manage Chronic Illness with Exercise

  • Arthritis: Exercise is one of the most crucial options for arthritis management. Regular activity helps lubricate the joints and can help reduce overall pain and stiffness that is often present among individuals with arthritis. Moreover, obesity is a risk factor for the disease, and increasing physical activity levels can help better manage the debilitating symptoms of arthritis.

[Related Content: Pick your arthritis battles: how exercise can help]

  • Heart disease: Heart disease is one of the biggest causes of death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that about one in every four deaths is attributed to heart disease. More people exercising later in life can help reduce the number of individuals with heart disease through the management of blood pressure and blood glucose, and decreasing LDL cholesterol.
  • Metabolic Dysfunction (type II diabetes and obesity): Type II diabetes and obesity are two closely related diseases in which the body is in metabolic dysfunction. Exercise can help maintain proper body weight and help regulate blood glucose and insulin levels to make the body more efficient.
  • Cancer: Exercise has been shown to help lower overall cancer risk among a variety of different forms of cancer. Studies have shown a 30 to 40 percent reduction in breast cancer risk among women who perform moderate to regular exercise.
  • Hypertension: Exercise can help lower systolic blood pressure significantly through moderate-intensity physical activity. Try breaking up exercise into three bouts throughout the day lasting for at least 10 minutes each to receive blood pressure–lowering effects.
  • Depression: Exercise can have a beneficial effect on personal mood. Studies suggest that group exercise classes can help reduce symptoms of depression by 30 percent or more in exercising older adults. The modest improvement in depressive symptoms can help maintain an overall greater vitality later in life and help prevent negative feelings or thoughts that are common with aging.
  • Dementia: Dementia is a disabling condition affecting many older adults. With a wide range of mental disorders categorized as dementia, there is a great need to understand how to prevent the condition. Exercise is one prevention strategy that can help slow the mental decline. One study showed a 37 percent reduced risk and a 66 percent reduction in risk of dementia when older adults performed moderate-intensity exercise, suggesting every adult ought to exercise to help lower the risk of mental decline and to help prevent mental disability later in life.
  • Insomnia: Certain medications and life events can prevent the body from proper sleep. Higher levels of physical activity can help tire the body enough to place it in a position for restful and lasting sleep. Avoid strenuous exercise two hours before bed to obtain these benefits, and aim to meet the daily activity recommendations.

Need help ramping up community exercise programs to reach a broader audience? Find out more about NIFS consulting service where we bring our expertise to your community.

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Topics: diabetes heart disease cancer sleep senior living arthritis hypertension dementia depression exercise program CCRC Programs and Services chronic disease

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 Wellness: Sleep Ergonomics

sleep_positionHave you ever woken up and felt like you never slept at all and could hibernate for weeks upon weeks? You know, it’s similar to that back-to-work Monday feeling. The average person spends one third of their life sleeping, so it may be good to consider your bed posture being as important as your daily posture. Your bed, sleeping position, and use of pillows are key to more than one night of good sleep.

Starting off with your bed, mattresses come in all sizes, designs, and firmness. They say the more firm the better. A firmer bed will provide your back with more support and has the ability to keep your spine in better alignment. A mattress’s life span is about 8-10 years and can range anywhere from $800 for a queen to about $1000 for a king size bed. Go big or go home I guess, right? The bigger the bed, the more room to switch up your sleeping positions from starfish to the fetal position. Kidding! Find a mattress that fits your budget, but remember that it has a huge role in how well you sleep!

Secondly, the type of pillow you lay your head on at the end of a long day or for a quick power nap can change your bed posture and result in a terrible night of sleep. Depending on your neck depth, you’ll need to find a pillow that fits it. Yes, everyone has a different neck depth. Your sleeping position also affects the type of pillow you need. If you're a back sleeper, you'll need a pillow that fills the space between your neck and bed, but not too high because you don’t want to be able to see your feet. The side sleepers should find a pillow that fills the space between their ear and bed. You may find that this pillow needs to be thicker than the ones for sleeping on your back. For all you stomach sleepers, your pillow should be quite thin and only thick enough to level your head while sleeping. This pillow should only fill the space between your head and mattress. There are several ways to modify your pillow to fit your sleeping position. You can add towels or foam to fill thickness and trim foam or remove padding to make it thinner. 

Lastly and more importantly is your sleeping position. The pressure on your back varies to the position you sleep in. The position with the least amount of back pressure is lying on your back and then your side. The worst and most stressful sleeping position is on your stomach. If you sleep on your back or stomach, it is recommended you place a pillow under your knees as well and if you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your knees.

Who knew there were so many tips and tricks to a smooth sailing night of sleep? I know I didn’t! No matter how you choose to sleep, just be sure to keep that spine in alignment. If your body has trouble adjusting and needs some stretching to loosen up, stop by your corporate fitness center and ask a Health Fitness Specialist for recommended stretches!

Working to build your corporate fitness program and need a little help?  Click below to download our guide to successful corporate fitness centers to get the tools you need for successs.

  Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers

Topics: sleep wellness

Corporate Wellness: Bail Your Body Out of Sleep Debt

This blog was written by Mara Winters. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

tired, headache, sleep debtYou know the feeling. The alarm clock is ringing and you're thinking, “If only I had one more hour to sleep.” Americans tend to lose about an hour of sleep per night (about two full weeks of slumber per year), pushing our bodies into sleep debt.

The side-effects of sleep deprivation are not fun to experience: impaired memory, foggy brain, worsened vision, and impaired driving. Long-term effects of lack of sleep can include obesity, insulin resistance, and heart disease.

Work Out Wisely to Improve Sleep

If you’re like many people, you are looking to get out of sleep debt. Exercise can help you sleep more soundly. Consider the following when exercising:

  • Morning exercise can relieve stress and improve your mood. Coupling exercise with the natural morning light reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle, improving your night’s rest.
  • The most beneficial exercise time is mid-afternoon to early evening. Vigorous exercise during this time raises your body temperature a few hours before bed. Then as you get ready for bed, your body temperature is falling, allowing a natural wind-down for the night.
  • Vigorous exercise before bed is not good for sleep. It raises your temperature and stimulates your brain and muscles, making winding down more difficult.

Understand the Importance of Sleep to Your Health

With some practice you can repay your sleep debt. Just like with exercise, the amount of time and intensity you sleep is important. Add an extra hour or two of sleep a night to ensure that you spend more time in deep sleep. Go to bed when you are tired and allow yourself to wake up naturally.

Sleep is vital to restorative health, so bail your body out of sleep debt by being active and catching up on your Zs!

Topics: exercise heart disease sleep worksite wellness stress obesity memory