Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Employee Health: Healthy Eating on the Night Shift

Many shift workers struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and it’s easy to understand why. The body’s natural routine, or its “circadian rhythm,” is significantly disrupted when they work the night shift.

When you have less access to fresher, healthier foods, eating well can be a challenge. Shift workers may also be unable to find an eating schedule that suits them. One idea that may work well is to eat a main meal before the start of a shift in the evening. Since this meal can be eaten unhealthy food options resized 600at home, you have more control over its nutritional content and the cooking methods used.

Once at work, it’s imperative that you bring along healthy snacks; avoid the vending machine and its processed, high-fat food at all costs! Some type of protein mixed with a small amount of carbs and fat is best because it helps you remain alert. Snacking and a light meal at break time can prevent hunger, and another light meal with healthy carbohydrates after work but before sleeping will promote rest and relaxation.

Avoiding caffeine toward the end of the shift is a must. It’s also a good idea, regardless, to replace coffee and pop with plain water or decaf tea.

Employers can help their night-shift workers in a number of ways, such as providing healthy food options, preventing tobacco use, offering 24-hour worksite gyms, and making employee wellness education available at a variety of times.

Topics: employee health nutrition worksite wellness employee wellness sleeping patterns

Corporate Wellness, Employee Engagement, ROI, oh my

Pardon me while I use our blog to rant.  It doesn't happen often, but apparently there was no amount of pounding the pavement (aka running) that was going to get this out of my head.  Lacking other healthy tools to cope with very bad corporate wellness practice, I'm turning to the blog to pound it out on the keyboard.  You should stop reading if you don't care about employee engagement, human capital, and ROI in corporate wellness.  Shamelessly, this blog is more for me than it is for you. 

Ok - disclaimer provided.  Here we go.

There's so much buzz around corporate wellness, it's dizzying.  Who can keep track of all the apps, gadgets, providers, platforms, and statistics in employee health promotion?!  We're too busy helping people make better choices to keep track of this stuff.  Thus, I join other organizations who provide me with updates in the industry periodically; it takes the burden off me feeling like I always have to be search, search, searching for what's up and coming.

It all started with an email.

So the other day I got an email, much like many other emails, in which a promotion around employee engagement was being peddled.  You get these emails, I know you do.  This one, in particular, was from a well-known clearinghouse of resources for corporate wellness professionals, and my hunch is that they have a HUGE reach across the US.  Provider organizations pay to be promoted by via email to the membership list for this "clearinghouse organization". 

Let me be clear - I'm not begrudging the organization who sent me the email, or the provider company who paid to reach my inbox. (Though I do feel a little sorry for both who may not know the painful truth about outbound marketing.) The marketing message in that email, however, is at best suspect, and at worst, completely misleading and disingenuous to the hard fought, small gain work that is employee health promotion. 

"Got Engagement" 

This was the focus of the marketing email - the vendor was offering their product/service and promoting that they had the key ingredient for employee engagement.  Maybe they do (it's kind of the silver bullet in corporate wellness...who knows, maybe this groupcorporate wellness recipe has it all figured out).  But to promote it in a way that engagement from employees is something you go "get", that it's algebraic or formulary, that there is something you simply add to your corporate wellness strategy recipe, is completely off the mark.  You don't add a vendor, a worksite fitness center, a health coach, or change a policy about flex time and BAM!  Engagement! (Cue triumphant music.)

No, ladies and gentlemen, absolutely not.  The battle for employee engagement in corporate health promotion is won in relationships and over time, and with the evolution of trust and loyalty in the workplace.  Offering biometric screenings and cool online HRA that gives you a personal wellness score isn't enough.  An onsite fitness center isn't enough. (Believe me... for NIFS business, I wish it was!)  And you can't buy your way into the hearts of your employees with trinkets and trips, and other incentives.

If you want engagement in your workforce around your corporate wellness initiatives, you start with relationships.  You have to work at it by working with your workforce to understand them, their needs, their fears, their hopes.  You have to give a little, learn a little, and step out on that relationship-building edge a little. 

(I feel a sappy song coming on, so I'll wrap it up here.)

You want your workforce to engage?  Treat them like people, get your head out of the corporate wellness ROI clouds, and for crying out loud, quit referring to your workforce as "Human Capital".

Want to confess...I mean comment on this post?  Have an entirely different point of view?  Share it below.  Maybe it'll be the start of a beautiful relationship!

 

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Topics: corporate wellness healthy workforce Wellness in the Workplace worksite wellness corporate fitness centers; return on investement control healthcare costs

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

Tackling Workplace Fitness at Lunchtime

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

workout at work, lunchtime yogaDo you find it difficult to make exercise part of your daily routine? You may be surprised at just how easy it is to squeeze in bouts of activity. Lunchtime is one such opportunity. Not only will you torch a few calories, you’ll tackle your afternoon tasks with a clear mind and increased energy levels.

Hit the Corporate Fitness Center

Consider visiting a local or corporate fitness center to complete your own workout or take a class. Just be sure to increase the intensity (think circuit training) to compensate for the fact that you may be performing a shorter workout than normal. Leaving your office for a walk or a run is also an appealing option to many people. Don’t want to do it alone? Organize a walking group! On days like these, it’s probably a good idea to bring your lunch from home to ensure you have enough time to eat.

Exercise in Your Office

No time to get away from your home or office? Mix bodyweight strength-training exercises such as pushups, squats, lunges, and sit-ups with cardiovascular exercises like marching, jumping jacks, stationary jogging, or jumping rope. Small hand weights or resistance bands can be tucked away in a drawer for a workout at a moment’s notice.

Just Get Moving at Lunch

At the very least, get up and get moving on your lunch break. At work, walk a few flights of stairs or do some laps around the building. If you need to purchase your lunch, skip the company cafeteria and walk to a restaurant (a healthy one!) that’s farther away.

Topics: exercise at work worksite wellness corporate fitness centers exercies at your desk

Corporate Fitness Center Turns 20 Years Old!

This blog was written by Bethany Garrity. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

A few weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure of joining one of our long-time staff members at his corporate client’s fitness center for their 20th anniversary.  In the last 20 years, that location has relocated once, and evolved significantly; the offerings have changed as trends in the fitness industry have changed. 

Step aerobics has been replaced by indoor cycling offerings, and Zumba fills a spot once held by more “old school” group class formats.  They’ve gone through several treadmills, and other types of equipment.  (Though they still have a few original cardio pieces that are kickin’ it!)

Perhaps most importantly, we’re proud to say that the manager of the facility has NOT changed…and his members love him for it.  NIFS knows how important personal relationships are to successful corporate health initiatives, and Scott has helped more than his share of associates make positive lifestyle changes over the last several years. 

SW old  SW new 

The 20th anniversary celebration was marked with fun carnival-type games (great for ANY fitness level!), fun prizes (necessary for any celebration!), and brand new selectorized strength equipment from Cybex.  They've been a great partner for us with great equipment, and solid service.

Corporate Fitness Games Cybex strength

NIFS is proud to be a long standing provider of fitness center management services for this client, and we’re grateful to Scott for his long service to his members.

Topics: exercise at work corporate fitness program exercise corporate fitness Wellness in the Workplace worksite wellness employee wellness corporate fitness centers business fitness solutions

Employee Health: How to Increase Fruit and Veggie Consumption

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

You probably know that eating fruits and vegetables is part of a healthy lifestyle, but did you know that eating sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk for heart disease, certain cancers, and type-2 diabetes? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal. The actual amount of fruits and vegetables a person needs varies by age and gender. Use the table below to find out how much you should be eating, and visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ for more information.

Fruits

Vegetables

 

Age (years)

Amount

 

Age (years)

Amount

Women

19–30

2 cups

Women

19–30

2½ cups

31–50

1½ cups

31–50

2½ cups

51+

1½ cups

51+

2 cups

Men

19–30

2 cups

Men

19–30

3 cups

31–50

2 cups

31–50

3 cups

51+

2 cups

51+

2½ cups

From http://www.choosemyplate.gov/

If you consider yourself to be a picky eater, or don’t particularly like fruits or vegetables, try using these tips to help boost your consumption:

  • Add extra vegetables to sauces and soups. You can even grate them in so they go undetected!
  • Top your pizza with extra veggies, not extra cheese.
  • Add grated carrots or zucchini to muffins and homemade bread.
  • Serve up a smoothie for a nutritious snack or dessert! Use fresh or frozen fruits as your main ingredient.
  • Top your cereal with fruit, not sugar. You will get the same sweetness, and a lot more nutrients!
  • Grate or dice vegetables to add them to main dishes such as chili, lasagna, or casseroles. You can even puree cauliflower, carrots, and squash and add them to macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes.
  • For more ideas and recipes, visit sneakychef.com
Topics: employee health nutrition worksite wellness

Misunderstood Carbs Are Not the Enemy of Corporate Wellness

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

carbs, sweetsCarbohydrates, carbs for short, is generally a misunderstood term among your corporate wellness members. When people hear the word “carb,” they instantly think of breads, cookies, chips, or other treats that, in their heads, automatically equate to extra pounds on the body. Many fad diets, such as Atkins, focus on the elimination of this nutrient, so it’s no wonder that the general population thinks of carbs as a five-letter dirty word.

There's More to Carbs Than Breads and Sweets

The first step in educating those in your corporate fitness center is to remind them that the carbohydrate food group is much wider than just breads and sweets. This group includes vegetables, fruits, and plenty of healthy grain options. Our bodies are made to function best when carbohydrates comprise about 55 percent of our diet. When we overload on the two other nutrients—protein and fat—health problems can occur.

Carbs Are an Important Source of Energy

Secondly, carbohydrates are the main source of energy for exercise as well as your body’s daily functions. Carbs support your body’s central nervous system, so it’s easy to see why people on low-carb or no-carb diets can have trouble focusing on daily tasks, may become irritable, or always seem tired.

There's a Difference Between Complex Carbs and Simple Carbs

Lastly, educate members on the difference between complex carbs, which are higher in fiber and carry more nutrients, versus simple carbs like refined or processed foods. Steer away from phrases like “good carbs” and “bad carbs,” because both versions can be incorporated into a healthy diet. Carbs are not the enemy!

Topics: corporate fitness nutrition worksite wellness

How does the Health of Dependents Impact Employers

sick kids, illness, insurance costsRecently, the cost of health care has risen to over $2.5 trillion and is projected to increase, on average, 6.1 percent per year until 2019.  These costs have also risen for employers who pay for their employees' health plans.

Rates are rising due to employees' family members also becoming ill.  This forces employees to use more money and potentially miss work when a family member is sick.  An ill child can take a toll not only on the parents, but the company they work for.

The Cost of Unscheduled Absenteeism

The average annual cost for a company due to unscheduled employee absenteeism is estimated to be over $760,000.  These unplanned absences include personal days, or days one must stay home to care for an ill child.

Loss of productivity and administrative costs are the main issues when it comes to these missed days.  The extra work is then taken on by other workers, or less-effective replacements, therefore causing a loss of efficiency in the company.  Also, these replacements cost the company extra money, or the company needs to pay another employee overtime for their service.  Unplanned absences are responsible for 21 percent of productivity loss per year versus 15 percent for those absences that were previously planned.

Sick Child Care Helps Avoid Unscheduled Absences

A possible solution for companies to avoid spending an overabundance of money on these absences, would be to offer sick child care.  These services are becoming more popular among businesses.  Placing a child care program in a business has an immense impact on the company's expenditure.  When a child care assistance program is in place, the company spends less money than if the parent were absent from work.  This type of program can have an enormous impact on a company and may be worth the investment. 

Topics: healthy workforce healthy mom healthy baby Wellness in the Workplace worksite wellness common cold

How to Initiate Workplace Wellness

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

wellness at work, healthy work environment, corporate fitnessApproximately 65% of the U.S. population is overweight or obese, which should tell us that some sort of a wakeup call concerning health is crucial. What if this wakeup call took root at work?

It’s common knowledge that happy, healthy employees will be more productive and have lower health insurance costs, which satisfies employers. However, implementing a successful wellness program in the workplace can sometimes be a bit of an uphill battle.

Provide Access to Health Screenings

We all know how difficult it can be to overcome bad habits, and if you have a group that is particularly set in their ways, starting small is key. Many individuals will not acknowledge they’re unhealthy until they are presented with hard proof; for instance, a diagnosis of pre-diabetes or high blood pressure may be what propels them to act.

How do they receive the testing necessary to identify these conditions? It may come in the form of a health fair with screenings, which can be less invasive and less intimidating than a doctor’s visit. A follow-up doctor’s appointment can be the next step, if necessary, and with proper education about nutrition and exercise, that employee will hopefully be on the road to better health.

Create a Healthy Workplace Environment

If you’re an employer, consider implementing a program that provides employee access to health professionals (anywhere from a doctor to a fitness professional) who can guide them in setting goals and achieving (and then maintaining) healthy habits.

Also, creating a healthy environment in the workplace (nutritious food options, active employee outings, etc.) always helps! Involve company leaders, which enhances the effectiveness of these types of initiatives.

Take a look at your workplace. What sort of action would be best suited to its employees?  

Topics: healthy workforce worksite wellness

Workplace Wellness: Prevent Injuries with Stretching and Ergonomics

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

relaxation, meditating, corporate wellnessCorporate fitness professionals as well as other health and safety organizations in the workplace stress the importance of preventing injuries, not just curing them. The recent strategy discussed among many worksites today is to engage employees in stretching and proper ergonomics training before an injury occurs.

The study referred to in this article found that just stretching alone was not as beneficial as incorporating ergonomic training as well. Teaching employees safe ways to sit, stand, and lift while at work, especially when doing repetitive motions, is the key to keeping proper musculoskeletal alignment and preventing overuse injuries. Stretching, then, plays a role in maintaining flexibility and releasing tension from muscles that have been held in a contracted state for long periods of time.

Most of our corporate wellness programming includes flexibility training, for example in the form of a yoga class or a stretching session at the end of a group fitness class. But, while we can provide programs like these, employees still spend the overwhelming majority of their workdays performing their actual job function, whether sitting at a desk, standing at a manufacturing line, or doing manual labor. So, the stretches and exercises they perform in their short visits to the onsite fitness center may be negated by hours spent in unsafe body postures.

Does your company or corporate wellness programming involve any new-hire training for proper ergonomics?

Topics: worksite wellness injury stretching ergonomics