Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

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

NIFS: Back to School, Back to a Routine

great_ideaFor the past couple of months, we have been able to enjoy the nice, warm weather, cookouts, vacations, and even those occasional lazy days.  While summer is not quite over, this time of year marks getting back to your everyday grind, preparing children to go back to school and hopefully including fitness in both of those plans. Why is it important to include fitness you ask? Well, it is no secret that obesity is on the rise in our country not only for adults, but children alike. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 17% (or about 12.5 million) of children and adolescence ages 2-19 are obese. If this scary statistic for children is anything like the obesity trend in adults, then we only know it will get worse. Why not set your children up for success this school year by not only getting them ready for their education but also their health and well-being! There have even been numerous studies that highlight the benefits of physical activity in regards to improved academics. If you want to read them for yourself, the website, SPARK, is a great resource. They are a research-based, public health organization dedicated to creating, implementing, and evaluating program that promote lifelong wellness for children and adolescents in schools. Of course, once the school year starts, time is a factor especially with making sure they get their homework and projects done.  So when adding fitness to your routine why not incorporate time as a family as well to make it a fun time together. This also helps you to achieve the time you need to be active as well. If you find it difficult to incorporate this routine or even need some great ideas, keep reading!

  • Either organization or chaos can come from the amount (or lack of) of proper planning and preparation. The best idea is the make a schedule of your family’s activities then plan your fitness time in just like you would do any  other event. Remember, if you don’t plan time to do it, most likely it won’t get done! Even 10 minute increments will work.
  • Your fitness doesn’t need to happen in a corporate fitness center or local gym to count. You can do a lot of activities with just your bodyweight or even get a quick cardio session in. Parks also provide some good places for fitness; some were even built for that reason. Working out at kids’ practices counts too; just as long as you are moving and not sitting in the bleachers.
  • Pack your bag the night before, so you won’t rush in the morning and potentially exclude it out of your routine. It also serves as a great reminder to work out that day.

Lastly, with all of these activities going on for your family, still make sure to schedule “me” time. There’s nothing worse than getting burnt out on different activities. Schedule time to yourself and even time for the kids to relax. You will greatly appreciate it!

Subscribe to NIFS blog

Topics: wellness health and fitness

Active Aging: Read for Brain Health

woman in library resized 600Often when we think or talk about having good health, it consists of eating healthy foods and exercising. There are many areas of our lives that we could improve upon health wise—often it seems like there is so much to work on to keep track. However, one segment of health that seems to go by the way side is mental health. Just as muscles lose strength or cardiovascular fitness declines with age, your brain can lose agility and decline in the way that it functions. There is no one way to prevent degenerative diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer’s, but you can start today with the way you live your life to help make your brain healthier. Here are a few tips for great brain health:

  • Stay physically active – being active maintains good blood flow to the brain and can encourage new brain cells.
  • Adopt a brain-healthy diet – there has been research done that high cholesterol can contribute to brain cell damage and stroke. A healthy diet that is low in fat and cholesterol is desirable along with dark vegetables and fruits with antioxidants which can help protect brain cells.
  • Stay socially active – this can help reduce stress levels and maintain healthy connections among brain cells.
  • Stay mentally active – new nerve cells can be created by getting involved in mentally stimulating activities; this can also strengthen brain cells.

I want you to focus on the mental component of staying healthy and giving you ways improve your mind game. Try any of these easy ways to fit more mental activity into your daily routine:

  • Never stop learning! Maybe you wanted to take up doing a new hobby or even wanted venture out and do a new sport, commit to it and learn about your new adventure.
  • Take up writing and working on crossword puzzles to keep you mentally stimulated.
  • Enroll in a few college courses to keep mentally active in a structured way.
  • Play games with your friends and family.
  • Even try memory exercises or games that can help with your mind game!
  • Lastly, read books that are interesting to you. Who wants to read a boring book just to mark it off of your list? Head to the library and pick up a book for FREE!

Your public library is a great resource that is within your community; however some don’t take full advantage of it. First of all, it’s FREE; it’s easy to sign up for a library card; and there are so many books to interest anyone, you just have to do a little digging.

So check out your local library during National Library Week April 13-19 and read for excellent brain health!  Visit our facebook page and share what book you are currently reading!

Topics: active aging nifs fitness management brain health wellness mental health

NIFS Nutrition News: Intermittent Fasting

NIFS BB
Interested in providing staffing at your corporate wellness site?  Contact us about how we provide great staff and programs to our clients!
Topics: nifs fitness management NIFS wellness health education

NIFS: Ten Myths that Fool the Smartest of Exercisers


Some of you may have already been the brunt of an April Fool’s joke today.  Let’s clear up some fitness myths so you are not the brunt of any more jokes, especially in the gym.

1. The gym negates a bad diet- You cannot out exercise a bad diet. Don’t try it; I promise your diet will win every time! Hours and hours can be spent in the gym yielding few results because a person is only changing one piece of the puzzle. They use the excuse that they can eat whatever they want because their exercise offsets the excess calories taken in. The body does not work this way. Most people do not realize the amount of calories they actually consume and the amount of time it would actually take to burn it off at the gym. It takes much, much longer to burn off that cookie than it does to eat it!

2. Spot reduction works- Don’t feel like a complete fool if you have believed this one; it is not completely untrue. You cannot pick which areas from which you want to burn fat, but you can strengthen certain muscles by performing exercises focused on particular muscle groups.  By strengthening these muscles, you will tone areas and create shapely muscles. Now comes the second piece of the puzzle; to see these muscles you must burn off the excess layer of energy or “fat” to expose these beautiful muscles you have been working so hard for. Again, the gym does not outweigh your diet.

woman using exercise band resized 600

3. I’ve never been flexible and never will be- You make yourself inflexible by never training yourself to be.  Yes, your muscles may have been tight all your life, but this is because you have never worked to train them to be anything but tight.

4. Weight training bulks you up- If you want to change the composition of your body you have to weight lift. Yes, even you, ladies; it’s not just for the guys. Lifting will not make you bulky; things like your diet and the way you train can lead to bulk. Female bodies are lacking enough testosterone to gain as much muscle mass as a male. Lifting weight will change your body composition by increasing the percentage of muscle throughout your body, leading to a higher metabolic rate and a lean, shapely figure.

5. If I’m not sore or in pain, I’m not working hard enough- Don’t seek soreness. It can come from many different factors that have nothing to do with the quality of your workout. Judge your workout by more than how sore you are. How do you feel mentally? Are you smiling? Relaxed? Have more energy? Feel accomplished?

6. Cardio and resistance training are two separate activities- Mixing the two together can be the best combination for fat loss and save you tons of time! While lifting in the gym take fewer breaks between sets or add cardio intervals in between sets. This will allow your heart rate to stay elevated and give you the weight training you set out to do with the added cardio component.

7. I need machines to get a total workout- Why not think of your body as a machine? Machines and free weights serve their purpose and can be an essential part of your routine, but don’t limit yourself. You will get stuck at some point if all you use is machines. There will be a time when these are not available to you. When performing body weight training, you are in full control of the weight (your own body weight). You are recruiting muscles, especially stabilizing muscles that tend to go unused during machine workouts. Body weight training allows you to mimic movements that you will actually perform in real life.

8. Muscle weighs more than fat- Muscle does not weigh more than fat. A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat. The difference is their density. As we gain muscle and lose fat, our weight may change very little even though our body composition is changing and we are becoming leaner. Don’t become discouraged if the scale is not going in your favor. That being said, don’t assume you are at a healthy weight; the number is just higher on the scale because of your muscle mass. Get tested! A body composition test is the only true measure of what your weight is actually made up of.

9. Recovery time is social time- Don’t let distractions get in your way. Hopefully you came to the gym with a purpose in mind. Do what you came there to do. Turn off your cell phone, put in your headphones, and stick to your plan. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish in half the time when you are focused, then you will have more time to rest or socialize after your workout.

10. A tired mind is a tired body- Answering emails and phone calls, long meetings and appointments can make you feel drained after a full day at the office. Ditch the tired excuse. You might be tired of the work you have been doing, but your body may be looking to get rid of built up energy from the day. A tired mind does not mean a tired body! A workout can give you the extra energy and clear mind you are searching for.

Don't fall for those old tricks, re-establish your health for a better you!  

Subscribe to NIFS blog

Topics: wellness April fool's day exercise myths exercise and health

NIFS Confessions of a Health Coach: The Right Shoe

lacing up shoesTen years ago I decided to run my first half marathon. I have never been much of a runner, so I wanted to challenge myself. I went straight to my local department store and bought a new pair of shoes and hit the pavement. After a few weeks, I started to notice some knee pain. It got worse as I went into longer runs and eventually my back started getting the aches as well. When the pain became too much, I went to see my physician. His first reaction was for me to buy new shoes and a pair of inserts. Could this really be the only reason for my excruciating pain?

YES.

I went to a running store and had my foot analyzed, ran on a treadmill, and tried on a new pair of kicks. I found the right fit according to the employees along with inserts for extra support. Then I went back to my training. The pain magically went away and I was able to complete my half marathon with ease.

Turns out, since I am a woman with hips, my knees were curving inwards as I ran. Without the extra support for my arch to straighten me out, it was causing the pain.

Moral of the story? Get the right shoes for you. Every activity requires a different type of footwear. Make sure that you are coordinating properly for your exercise whether it's in your corporate wellness center, or out in your neighborhood.

A few tips as you shop:

  • Try on shoes at the end of the day when your feet are more swollen
  • Lace them properly to make sure the fit is not too loose or tight
  • Stand on your toes to make sure your heel doesn’t pop out
  • Wear socks you plan on exercising in to have the right thickness

What is your foot type? Normal, flat, or high-arched? What kind of stride do you have? Do you over pronate and roll your foot inward, or do you under pronate and not roll your foot in enough? Or is your stride normal? An employee at a fitness store near you will be able to help you get these answers and find the best fit. Make sure you run around the store to make sure it’s comfortable. Wiggle your toes and make sure you have enough room.

Try to avoid an all-purpose shoe. This won’t give you the right backing for each activity. Running, walking, hiking, and other sports all have different criteria and need different support. Having a proper shoe for each activity will help with comfort and prevent injuries and pain.

It is also important to replace your shoes every 300-500 miles. Pay attention to how the shoe feels as you go. If you aren’t getting the same support, it might be time to get a new pair. It never hurts to have your foot analyzed each store visit and to try different shoe brands. They are constantly evolving with new options.

Lace up and be pain free!

Learn more about our program

Topics: exercise wellness proper shoe fit health and fitness

NIFS: Post Game Diet Damage Control

game day foodDid you enjoy yourself a bit too much while watching the big game on Sunday night?  Did you vow to stop at three chicken wings and one beer?  Did the wings and beer turn into a dozen chicken wings, plus two pieces of pizza, and more artichoke spinach dip then you’d like to recall?  Despite our intentions to practice some self-control, we all over-do-it with food and alcohol sometimes. Don’t let one night or even several days of poor eating habits discourage you from chasing after the goals you set for yourself this year. 

 

Here is your guide to getting back on track after a night of over-indulging:

  1. Forgive yourself. No one is perfect including you.  You may feel disappointed that you ate too much, but demanding perfection of yourself isn’t going to make you feel better and it’s certainly not going to help you reach your goals. Acknowledge your feelings and move on.  You can’t change the past but you can determine how you’re going to move forward.  
  2. Don’t get on the scale.  You’ll be tempted to see what the “the damage” is by weighing yourself but if the number is up, it may only serve as more ammunition to make you feel bad.  This is not helpful if you are trying to practice step #1.   Most importantly, it’s unlikely that you actually ate enough calories to gain significant amount of body fat. So, that inflated number you may see is not a reflection of true weight-gain.  The truth is, most of the food we eat when we’re watching football is very SALTY.  Any additional pounds you might see on the scale or feel when you put on your pants likely reflects water your body is retaining because of the higher sodium foods you ate.
  3. Get back to normal.  Starting today begin eating your typically healthy diet and exercising again. “Punishing” yourself with near starvation and putting in more time at the gym for the next 24 hours is not reasonable or helpful. 

Skipping meals leads to blood sugar crashes which can send down the road of over-eating once again.  Eat a normal healthy breakfast to begin the day.  Wanting to eat a bit lighter is a good idea and may make you feel better.  Aim for fruits and vegetables and don’t be scared to include sources of protein to help maintain even blood sugar levels throughout the day.  And finally get rid any left-overs that may be in the house and calling your name.  I suggest storing them in the trash can!

When it comes to getting back to your exercise routine you may not feel like completing that two mile jog if you’re feeling bloated and full.  Start with something simple if you don’t feel well like a low intensity walk.

  1. Drink up. Drink, Drink, Drink that water to help flush the body of water it’s retaining.  Staying well hydrated is also helpful for combating cravings that can occur post-binge.
  2. Review your goals and learn from your mistakes.  As in step # 1 don’t demand perfection from yourself.  You didn’t exactly stick to your plan so ask yourself what you can learn.  Did spend too much time in the kitchen grazing the buffet all night?  What will you do differently the next time you face a similar situation? Don’t forget to commend yourself for the things you did well.  Creating a positive mindset starts with a positive thinking.

If you’re a recovery junk food junkie trying to develop healthy eating habits realize it is a skill that must be practiced.  Don’t forget to review the goals you set for yourself this year. If you didn’t write them down, do that now. Keep your goals in site, review them frequently, and determine what must be done in order to reach them.  If you find yourself modifying and adjusting as you go along, don’t get discouraged, this is only a sign of determination.

Subscribe to NIFS blog

Topics: exercise healthy habits wellness smart goals

NIFS: Game Day Healthy Food Swaps

Article written by Alyssa Furman, Intern in Educational Services at NIFS.

footballThe countdown begins as the league’s top-ranked defense of the Seattle face the leading Denver offense on February 2nd. With the matchup set, there are no clear favorites this year, making this the must see game of the season. For football fans this means hours of what hopefully is a really great game. For food fans, this means a delicious feast to be shared among family and friends. If you are neither, well at least you can get a good laugh during commercials.

With a room filled with scrumptious eats and endless temptations, many people find themselves wreaking havoc on their New Year’s resolution diet.  Who can resist those mouth watering chicken wings or 7 layer taco dips? I know I sure can’t, but I also don’t want to spend countless hours filling up on greasy food, only to feel sick by half time.

I pulled together a few tips and swaps to help kick off your party. Your friends and family won’t even know the difference when you trade out for these healthy dishes (trust me I tested them on the pickiest of eaters) and you can indulge guilt-free all day long!

First off, some tips and tricks to make the best of your party:

1.    Workout on game day:

Score a first down by adding games that include physical activity.

  • Dance along with the music during half time or put on your own half-time show.
  • Take the fun outside and play a game of half-time tag football.
  • Make your own cheers with your favorite moves.

OR go on a morning run, leaving a little extra wiggle room for another sweet treat.

2.    Create a food-free zone:

Research has shown that if food is nearby and visible you are more likely to eat this food. Try to keep snacks and other party eats in another room, helping your guests cut back on unnecessary calories and mindless eating in front of the big screen.

3.    Downsize your dishes:

Instead of leaving out large bowls full of chips, try serving in small individual size cups so each person can stick to a serving on their snack instead of grazing over the bowl. Also leave out small plates making people feel they have a lot more than they actually do.

4.    Mindful eating:

Be mindful to not stand over the food table and graze. If you want to try a little bit of everything (like I do) fill up ¾ of your plate with healthy options, such as fresh veggies and fruit, and about 2 Tablespoons of dip. The left over ¼ of your plate can be used for sweet treats.

5.    Keep track of your drinks:

If you are going to drink, keep in mind that a beer or glass of wine has around 100 calories. So try and break up your drinks with a glass of water or low cal drink to save some calories.

Now for some food swaps… Whether you are hosting the party or simply a party guest, give these recipes a try (don’t tell your friends about the swap and see what they say) and eat guilt-free all night!

What are your favorite game day healthy treats?
Topics: nutrition football big game healthy food choices wellness