Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Should Cardio or Weight Training Come First in Corporate Fitness?

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann, MS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

cardiovascular exercise, treadmill, corporate wellness, senior fitnessBoth cardiovascular exercise and weight training are important forms of exercise in a balanced, well-rounded workout routine. Cardiovascular exercise is great for keeping the heart and lungs functioning well, whereas weight training is best for building or maintaining muscle, preventing injuries, and improving strength.

If you perform both forms of exercise on the same day, you may have asked yourself which to perform first for the greatest benefit. Well, it depends. Don’t you love that response?

It depends on your exercise goals. If your goal is to improve your 5K race time or you’re training for a specific sport such as soccer, your primary goal is probably to get your cardiovascular system working efficiently for an extended period of time. If this is the case, performing your cardiovascular exercise first when you’re fresh rather than a bit (or a lot) fatigued from weight training ensures you perform the activity with optimal energy.

If your goal is to improve your strength or build a firmer, leaner body, the opposite will be true. You want to train your muscles before they are fatigued from other activities.

Encourage your employees to start making healthy changes, whether cardio or weight training, with a worksite health promotion program. A qualified personal trainer or fitness professional should take not only your fitness goals into consideration, but also your level of skill, to create a program that incorporates strength training and cardiovascular exercise.

Topics: corporate fitness worksite wellness cardio weight training

NIFS Wellness Manager Does Philanthropic Work

Our onsite fitness center managers and staff not only ensure the safety and well-being of your employees; they go beyond what is asked simply out of the kindness of their hearts. 

Our Roanoke wellness manager has repeatedly organized and collected items for local organizations in her community. From candy and magazines to shoes, she collects and gives with the help of her wellness center members.

Shoes for the Homeless

Initially at a health fair in May 2010, she was able to offer a gym bag or socks to every associate who donated a pair of slightly used athletic shoes and turned them in at her booth. She continued to collect for the following two days, resulting in a collection of 75 pairs of shoes. All of the shoes were donated to the Rescue Mission. Since then she continues to collect shoes at her onsite fitness center and regularly donate them. Since beginning her collection, her team has been able to donate approximately 400 pairs of shoes to the homeless in the Roanoke Valley!

philanthropic work, employee wellness, community serviceMagazines for Retirement Homes

Another great idea is to recycle rather than throw away old magazines. Every month this wellness manager cleans out her magazines as the new issues come out. With the help of one of her dedicated wellness center members, she has been able to donate them to a local retirement home for their use. Thus far they have donated 100 magazines!

Candy for the Troops

Operation Gratitude, the nonprofit organization that sends care packages and letters to U.S. troops overseas benefited from the 34 pounds of candy she collected from her wellness center members last fall. Not only did she save her members from eating all those calories, I am sure they brightened the faces of those troops serving our country. Our manager was able to pair up with a local participating dentist who covered the cost of mailing all of that candy!

Wellness Manager Encourages Others to Promote Social Wellness

Each week this big-hearted manager sends out e-mail communications to her members promoting volunteer opportunities for charities, races, and more. What a great way to promote social wellness. Keep up the great work!

Topics: Be inspired worksite wellness

National Employee Health and Fitness Month Celebrations

This blog was written by Kara Gootee-Robinson. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

National Employee Health and Fitness Day, stress relief, stretching, group exercise, employee wellnessEvery May our NIFS Fitness Management staff celebrates National Employee Health and Fitness Month with celebrations at our client sites. The creative staff implements activities that encourage employees to be active in different ways while promoting their onsite fitness centers.

Here are some examples of the different ways the NIFS staff celebrated this past month.

  • Food: Who doesn’t enjoy a free snack? Some staff chose to provide healthy snack options for their members. Healthy trail mixes are always a hit, or try something really different like Black Bean Brownies! Simply replace the oil and egg with a can of pureed Black Beans for more fiber! Trust me, they were moist and delicious!
  • Quick Challenges: Participants like to try new things that are quick and easy. How about a push-up challenge? Members were entered into a drawing for participating. Other ways to incorporate quick, heart-pumping activities include hula hoop, jump rope, a timed plank challenge, or even fun on the Nintendo Wii.
  • Stretch/Relaxation Breaks: Remember that all aspects of wellness are important. Manage your stress with relaxation breaks. One NIFS manager provided a dark, quiet area where members could sit and relax to music while another NIFS manager provided stretch breaks outside in the sun.
  • Treadmill Marathons: Those hearts will pump along with the treadmill! Treadmill marathons are always a hit. Simply dedicate a treadmill, decorate it, and see how many miles can be completed by different members in a day! You would be amazed at what those active employees can complete!
  • Health and Wellness Fairs: With some advanced planning, provide a health fair for your employees! Bringing in outside vendors, doctors, and drugstores such as CVS or Walgreens to help provide a variety of screenings for your employees. This is also a great way to promote your corporate fitness center. The NIFS staff was able to provide membership information and reach out to employees who weren't using the onsite fitness center.

These are just a few of the great ways employee health was celebrated in May. NIFS is the preferred provider for fitness center management in corporations across the U.S. Contact us to find out how we might work together to make your fitness center a healthy success.

Topics: corporate wellness employee health worksite wellness motivation business fitness solutions

Weight Watchers' New Points System: Great for Corporate Wellness

This blog was written by Veronica Hofmann. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

weight loss, corporate health, wellness, dietingAfter I had my daughter six years ago, I was faced with 30 extra pounds and no idea how to get rid of it. I began working out regularly and in turn felt entitled to eat more: Hey, I just ran a mile and a half and I deserved it…right? WRONG. I realized very quickly that working out alone was not going to get rid of the weight―especially if I was eating more.

Joining Weight Watchers and Losing Weight

Enter Weight Watchers. I joined the online community and studied point values and began tracking everything I ate each day. This completely changed my view on many foods that I was eating on a regular basis. I also weighed food to ensure proper portions. I found myself eating many prepackaged snacks to control portions. The program worked and the weight came off….hooray.

I then began wondering if the foods I was eating were the healthiest choices. Many snack foods were the same point values as fruits and other foods that were much healthier choices. I then decided to stop counting points and start incorporating more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables into my diet. Weight Watchers is a great program because you can eat anything in moderation. For the average person this is a great fit, but I felt it was not teaching me to eat better.  

Weight Watchers Revamps Points System to Favor Healthier Choices

I was excited to hear that they were making changes in their points system to correct the very issue I noticed. Now most fruits and vegetables are zero-points foods. This should encourage people to pick up that apple or banana instead of a 100-calorie processed snack.

I would often recommend Weight Watchers to corporate wellness clients and friends interested in losing weight, always warning about making an effort to eat healthier. The new program is teaching folks to eat smarter and that is very important. Now I will feel much more confident in recommending the program.

Consider Weight Watchers At Work

Weight Watchers At Work is a great way to encourage a worksite health promotion program! Consider holding a meeting at your worksite. It is much easier to follow a program when you have support from others.

Topics: overweight employees weight loss worksite wellness

Worksite Wellness: Commit to Be Fit

This blog was written by Kara Gootee. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Like most people, have your resolutions fallen to the wayside, or have you simply forgotten them? It’s no secret that it is easier to be more active during the warmer months. The ability to get up off the couch and get outside is motivation from the sun! Start the month off right by reevaluating your current lifestyle habits and commit (or recommit) to be fit!

Here are some simple ways to commit:

  • corporate wellness, family health, scheduling, goal settingSet a goal. Having something to strive for can help keep you on track to achievement and success. Consider what you enjoy and set a SMART goal.
  • Schedule time. If you plan ahead and incorporate physical activity into your schedule, you may be more apt to stick with the plan. Pack your gym bag the night before.
  • Walk at lunch. Motivate your coworkers to commit to be fit! Let others know you plan to walk at lunch and ask them to join you. Worksite wellness programs are a perfect place to learn how to incorporate exercise into your day.
  • Engage your family. After dinner, strive to get the family involved in a bike ride or a walk through the neighborhood.

How do you make time for physical activity, or what does your company do to encourage employees to have healthier lifestyles?

Topics: exercise worksite wellness motivation

Emphasizing Preventive Care in Corporate Wellness

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

While more Americans gain access to healthcare in the next decade, and more senior citizens are eligible for Medicare, one-third of physicians will be due for retirement. Experts predict this will create a shortage of medical doctors. This is alarming news, if it comes to fruition. Now is the time to stress preventive care in corporate wellness programs.

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Preventive care includes scheduling all regular screenings specific to your age and gender; for example, mammography, colonoscopy, and dental checks. People should schedule as many of these screenings as can fit into one doctor appointment, assuming they fall under the physician’s scope of qualifications. They shouldn't wait until they discover something irregular to make that doctor visit because it may become increasingly hard to secure timely appointments.

Practice Self-Care

In taking preventive measures, there is also a component of self-care that requires no physician. Remind your corporate fitness center participants that exercise and nutrition are perhaps the two biggest methods of self-care.

After you exercise, the immune system is elevated for 24 hours, says the American Council on Exercise. A workout regimen including impact and weight-bearing activities enhances bone health, reducing the need for osteoporosis treatments.

The most well-known fact is that exercise improves all the body’s workings related to the heart, decreasing the chance of cardiovascular disease.

Proper nutrition, including vitamins and minerals, is related to a decreased risk of developing almost all forms of cancer. Also, don’t discount self-exams. While a physician has a better-trained eye for abnormalities, regular self-exams including breast self-exams, skin cancer self-exams, and more can supplement the annual doctor’s assessment.

Make Preventive Health a Priority

Teach your employees to make their own health a priority. Using corporate wellness programs to prevent rather than cure is less costly to the company and the individual.

Topics: corporate wellness employee health worksite wellness disease prevention control healthcare costs

Worksite Wellness and the Healthy People 2020 Goals

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Each decade the Department of Health and Human Services identifies a list of health goals to strive for over the next 10 years to improve the health of all Americans. You may be familiar with Healthy People 2010. Now that 2010 has come to an end, Healthy People 2020 has just been released with an updated list of goals.

Take a look at the following objectives taken from Healthy People 2020 followed by the Workplace Action for contributing to this goal while also improving the health of your employees.

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Objective: Increase the proportion of employed adults who have access to and participate in employer-based exercise facilities and exercise programs.

Workplace Action: Provide your employees with an onsite wellness center staffed with certified fitness professionals who can provide safe, effective fitness routines.

Offer incentives for employees who regularly participate in worksite exercise programs.

Immunization and Infectious Disease

Objective: Increase the proportion of children and adults who are vaccinated annually against seasonal influenza.

Workplace Action: Provide onsite flu-shot clinics so that employees can get immunized for the seasonal flu at work. Provide discounts or reimburse employees for flu shots for family members.

Tobacco Use

Objective: Reduce tobacco use by adults.

Workplace Action: Offer a free onsite smoking-cessation program for employees who use tobacco. Provide discounts for nicotine replacement therapy products for employees wishing to quit smoking.

What are you doing to help us meet the Healthy People 2020 workplace goals?

Topics: exercise at work corporate fitness worksite wellness disease prevention tobacco cessation

Leverage “Biggest Loser” to Spur Employee Health and Weight Loss

WeightLoss holdingpants resized 600NBC’s reality TV show The Biggest Loser has taken America by storm since 2004. The show is now in its tenth season and still largely popular due to its relatable concepts and life-changing power. Why not take the themes of The Biggest Loser and transform them into your own employee health incentive? Here are some ways to safely launch your worksite weight-loss program:

  1. First things first: To avoid legal trouble, rename your program so that it doesn’t bear the trademark The Biggest Loser name, but is still recognizable, for example, "Lose to Win."
  2. Don’t vote anyone off. Yes, there should be an overall winner to make it a true competition, but participants should be given the opportunity to continue through the entirety of the program, reinforcing lifelong habits.
  3. Avoid singling out individuals in a negative way. If a participant has a bad week of weight loss, discuss what factors may have been inhibiting them and move on with an action plan toward the next weigh-in.
  4. Do push your participants out of their comfort zone into more strenuous workouts, keeping in mind their physical limits. Watching the show can give you many new ideas of exercises, but not all of them can be appropriate for your clientele. Remember, the show has trained medics on standby at all times.
  5. Do record all baseline health measurements at the beginning of the program and periodically throughout. On the show, Dr. Huizenga performs extensive assessments on the players, telling them their body’s age, showing scans of their fat distribution, and so on. At the very minimum, record weight, percent body fat, girth measurements, BMI, resting heart rate, and blood pressure.
  6. Do encourage participants to understand the root of their weight gain and possible underlying issues that have made them unsuccessful at past weight-loss attempts. Jillian Michaels, trainer on The Biggest Loser, takes this to a bit of an extreme, making it her personal goal to emotionally break down each player to his or her point of realization and future empowerment. Get to know your clients' lifestyles and remind them that weight loss is such a multifaceted process that emotional and relational issues play a role.
  7. Lastly, be realistic. Remind participants (and yourself) that you most likely aren’t going to see more than 10 pounds of weight loss in one week. Your corporate participants also have a job, a family, and other obligations that The Biggest Loser's players are removed from during their time at the ranch.

If there’s one theme from the show worth stressing to your clients, it’s a line in the theme song: “What have you done today to make you feel proud?”

Topics: corporate wellness employee health overweight employees worksite wellness

Three Ways to Create Worksite Fitness Opportunities with TRX

TRX is billed as "the original bodyweight Suspension Training system consisting of 12 feet of nylon-webbed straps, handles, and various anchors that can be attached to any sturdy weight-bearing base." Here are some ideas for using it in your corporate fitness program.

  1. TRX adds a new and fun way to take workouts to the next level. At my corporate fitness center, we just bought a TRX for our members, and it’s created quite a buzz both for Man PullUp resized 600members and my staff. In fact, the first time I ever used it I couldn’t walk very well the next day due to muscle soreness. I had worked my muscles in a new way and it was a great feeling (at least to me!).
  2. TRX doesn’t take up much space. It can be placed around a secure post or pole, or you can purchase door anchors for the unit. You can put it up and take it down easily. You really only need enough space to complete the exercises. If you have available meeting room space or a storage closet, the TRX is a great way to convert that space into a worksite fitness center.
  3. TRX is great for cardio and strength. For example, you can do a one-leg burpee followed by a pushup, and then go into a knee tuck for an abdominal exercise. These unique upper- and lower-body exercises will help keep your body from reaching a plateau.
Topics: exercise at work corporate fitness program worksite wellness exercise at home

Three Tips for Keeping Worksite Wellness Resolutions

Your employees will soon be considering their New Year’s resolutions. And there’s a good chance that, shortly after they make those resolutions, they’ll break them. The failure rate for resolutions—75% or higher, according to a Wall Street Journal report—is startling.

Don’t miss this chance to maximize the New Year as an avenue toward a healthy workforce. Consider the following tips to create easy healthful opportunities for your employees:

  1. Create ways for your employees to exercise. Bring group exercise onsite. Make a worksite fitness center out of unused meeting-room space. Establish a walking program or partner with a local commercial fitness center for reduced-rate memberships.
  2. Get creative with signage at work. Fran Melmed of Free Range Communications offers an intriguing blog on ways to maximize signage at work to help employees make better choices. My favorite idea is to post notes on vending machines indicating how many minutes on a treadmill will be required to burn off the choice candy bar that costs more than $1.describe the image
  3. Encourage healthy food choices. Speaking of food, a study just came out indicating that when people use cash to pay for food, they tend to make healthier choices. Apparently those in the study were less likely to make impulse buys on unhealthy foods when they were paying cash for their groceries. Perhaps worksite cafeterias should initiate a cash-only payment policy.

How will your worksite leverage New Year’s resolutions to create a healthier workforce?

Topics: exercise at work corporate fitness program healthy workforce nutrition worksite wellness