Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

What Happened When I Stopped Doing Cardio; Increased Strength Training

ThinkstockPhotos-80699669.jpgSix months ago, a friend dared me to give up cardio for three months and focus on strength training. My initial response was, “No way! I’m a runner, I’ve always been a runner. There is no better exercise than running!” My friend was relentless and eventually I agreed to take a brief hiatus, although I was convinced that I would turn into a mushy ball of goo if I didn’t get in my daily run.

How I Changed My Workouts

Fast-forward six months. During this time, I’ve followed a low-impact exercise routine, which includes four days of low-impact strength activities such as yoga, one day of cardio, and one day of heavy weightlifting. And I have to say, the results are completely the opposite of what I expected.

How the Change Affected How I Look and Feel

What happened when I stopped doing cardio:

  • I gained 10 pounds, but my body measurements decreased. This was perhaps the most surprising change that I noticed. Muscle tissue takes up much less space than fat. After nearly six months of strength training, I’ve added 10 pounds to my frame and my clothes are fitting better than ever—not to mention it feels good to look in the mirror.
  • My energy levels skyrocketed. There is a reason why running burns so many calories: It’s HARD work! And when your body works that hard, you’re going to feel fatigued. Even if you sleep seven to eight hours a night, the physical strain of high mileage takes a toll on the body. I must admit that my energy levels are higher than they’ve ever been, even though I have a 5am alarm to fit in my exercise before work. In fact, I feel more fatigued on the days I don’t exercise!
  • I’m not as hungry. This was a “well DUH” moment for me. Many people tend to focus on the calorie-burning power of running without stopping to think that your body will want to replace all those calories. Several weeks after I stopped running, I noticed that I had a much easier time regulating my food intake. I didn’t need to eat as much, but I felt fuller with the foods I did eat.
  • I’ve noticed improvements in other areas of physical fitness. Previously, I was focused on distance, time, and miles. To me, a run wasn’t “a run” unless I ran at least four miles. Now I’m focused on how many pushups I can do with proper form (I’m getting close to 30!), how long I can hold a plank (nearly five minutes!), and how many pullups I can do (well, let’s just say I’m still working on this one).
  • I have fewer injuries. Focusing on low-impact exercise and strength training has helped my body recover from more than two decades of intense, running-focused exercise programs. My legs no longer ache if I stand for more than an hour. My tight hip flexors are starting to relax, particularly as I focus on improving the flexibility and strength of my hamstrings and glutes.

In sum, to everyone out there who is worried about limiting their cardio because they don’t want to risk gaining weight, try it for three to four months. You might just be surprised at how different you feel and the gains you make!

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*Weight loss claims or individiual results vary and are not guaranteed.

Topics: running NIFS cardio strength training yoga weightlifting

Top 10 Fitness Trends for 2017

ThinkstockPhotos-615414964.jpgEvery year the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) conducts a survey across the United States to determine what trends will be seen in the coming year. Completed by over 1,800 fitness professionals, the survey has found the following to be the top 10 fitness trends for 2017. 

10. Wearable technology, such as activity trackers, smart watches, heart-rate monitors, smart eyeglasses, and GPS tracking devices.  Check out this blog post about the challenges with high tech wellness.

 9. Bodyweight training requires minimal to no equipment and can be done anywhere, which makes it an inexpensive way to stay fit.  Check out @NIFSquickfit on instagram for inspiration to use your bodyweight to train at home.

 8. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves short bursts of exercise followed by a short period of rest or recovery and can take 30 to 60 minutes, or longer, to complete.

 7. Educated and experienced fitness professionals are becoming more available as the ways to get certified and educated grow. Finding professionals who have gotten certified through nationally accredited programs can help consumers make an important decision more easily.  Looking to staff your onsite fitness center, check out how you can get back to business and let the professionals handle your fitness center. 

 6. Strength training has been trending since the first survey was published by ACSM in 2006. Strength training can help many to improve or maintain current levels of strength.  Grab your co-workers and get fit at lunch.  

 5. Group training is designed for participants with varied levels of fitness. Group fitness instructors specifically program these classes for a fun, motivational, and effective large-group experience. 

 4. Exercise Is Medicine is a global health initiative based on the belief that exercise can be preventative as well as a way to treat diseases. This initiative brings health care professionals together with exercise professionals to include physical activity as treatment.

 3. Yoga can be practiced in many forms, including but not limited to Power Yoga, Yogalates, and hot Yoga. Yoga uses specific types of postures to help with flexibility, relaxation, and health.  Can't make it to Yoga?  Take a moment to stretch at your desk.  Making time for a five minute stretch break will help you ease tension and relax the mind.

 2. Personal training has not left the top ten since the first survey was published in 2006. Personal trainers will continue to be an integral part of the professional staff in all areas of health and fitness centers.

 1. Exercise and weight loss combine calorie restriction and exercise programming to control weight loss.

The full list of top 20 trends is available in the article "Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2017.”

Looking to improve the health and wellbeing of your employees this year?  Let us handle your program and you get back to doing what you love to do.  Click below for our quick read to find out how we make corporate fitness easy.

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Topics: exercise weight loss strength training technology yoga group fitness personal trainng bodyweight HIIT

Senior Wellness: Elder Falls Linked to Obesity

fall_riskObesity is an epidemic in our society today. Those who are obese have greater risk of diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke, and arthritis.

This article discusses obesity in the elderly and how it increases their risk of falling. As might be guessed, the greater an individual's degree of obesity, the greater the risk of falling. A fall may also bring about greater disability for an elder’s ADLs (Activities of Daily Living).

The Risks of Falls for Elders

For more mild cases of obesity (BMI 35.0–39.9 kg/m (2)), an elderly person is at greater risk for long-term disabilities after falling. If an elder is more of a “weekend warrior” type, this claim makes sense. They are obese and need to make lifestyle changes, but they aren’t in such bad shape as to be completely sedentary (inactive). If they attempt a very strenuous activity, they could very well cause themselves a long-term disability.

One claim the article makes is that obesity may reduce an elder’s risk of injury from a fall. This claim doesn’t make sense from an orthopedic perspective. What do most of us do when we fall? We put out our hands to try to catch ourselves, right? Imagine the shoulder and wrist injuries that even a healthy, active athlete could sustain in such a fall. An obese elder is most likely going to have been sedentary (inactive) for at least several months. Being sedentary will have caused atrophy (wasting of muscle tissue) throughout the person’s body. Wrist and shoulder injuries, and perhaps even head and neck injuries, could be expected in an obese elder suffering a fall.

Prevent Injuries Through Exercise and Diet

Practicing prevention is much easier than being laid up with an injury. Strength training, yoga, Pilates, and other forms of exercise, combined with a healthy diet, can help keep us all more fit and active in our later years.

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Topics: weight control senior fitness obesity yoga injury

Yoga in the Workplace for Employee Health and Productivity

workplace yogaTwenty years ago, would you have ever thought you would be checking out the break-room bulletin board and coming across a yoga class being offered in the office or onsite gym? Chances are it would have been highly unlikely, not to mention overlooked because it did not have the buzz or trendy reputation it does now.

Hopefully, most of us now know that the benefits of yoga practice in a chair, studio, or corporate fitness center go beyond meditation, headstands, flameless candles, thin sticky mats, and soothing music. I have seen yoga become an increasingly positive influence in workplaces all over the country with a melting pot of populations. You might even see children and pets taking advantage of the yoga inspiration.

The interest in increasing productivity and improving employee health has weighed heavily on corporate America. Long hours at a desk, aching back, neck pain, burnout, and emotional discontent are all repetitive stressors corporate employees face each day. Did you know that this, in turn, amounts to less productivity? What is your company doing about it?

Think about this, as an employee: What would you do with an extra 15-minute mandatory stress break built into your day?

Offering free stress-relief options such as yoga is a simple and convenient way to help employees find stress relief in the office. True, it’s up to each individual to start their practice, but I promise once you start you won’t stop. The great thing about yoga at work is that it’s a time to take a break from your desk and relieve stress. It’s convenient, and it feels good!

Chair yoga is becoming popular among executives as a boardroom break; this is a great alternative to unit meetings or exercising at your own desk. That’s the greatest benefit of yoga: it can be done anywhere and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time!

Yoga won’t cure all, nor will it be chosen by all. But it sure has shown to be a great addition to corporate wellness offerings. Many of the yogis tell me they love doing yoga at work because they can practice in a noncompetitive and nonjudgmental atmosphere and experience it with coworkers. Many of the participants enjoy the multiple benefits. After final relaxation, it helps guide them to a calmer state of being as they return to work. It also helps improve core stability and balance, and helps increase total body strength. We try to make sure all energy is left at the door. Each person is focused on their own practice of the day.

Get your groove on with NIFS group fitness classes

Topics: corporate wellness exercise at work employee health stress productivity yoga stress relief

Pick Your Arthritis Battles: How Exercise Can Help

Arthritis. When you exercise, it hurts. When you don’t exercise, it hurts. This widespread issue is affecting people of all different ages and driving these arthritis sufferers right to the couch. It just hurts no matter what, so what should you do? Pick your battles.

I understand that it’s painful and can leave you hesitant to do anything to potentially worsen the ache, but doing nothing at all will certainly not help. In fact, it will make it worse. You cannot let arthritis get in the way of your quality of life. 

I’ve spoken with people everywhere along the spectrum, from those in slight pain and avoiding any activity to those who are bone on bone but keep moving along. I am in no way recommending the “no pain, no gain” rule, but I am encouraging you to get active in order to increase the longevity of your joints.

For Arthritis, It’s Better to Stay Active than to “Baby” Your Joints

Your joints will love you so much more if you choose moving over “babying.” Don’t believe me? Check this out: Exercise strengthens the muscles surrounding that arthritic joint, which can reduce pain and improve the joint’s mechanics. It also compresses and releases cartilage, which brings oxygen to the joints.

So, now you’re looking at not only decreased pain and postponing surgery, but you’re also improving your overall health. Plus, if surgery is required, you will drastically speed your recovery. Is this starting to sound like a win-win?

Top 4 Exercise Types for Arthritis

Now you’re wondering, “But what exercises can I do?” There’s a plethora, but before I give you my list, I will tell you the most important factor: alignment, alignment, alignment! Please check with your senior fitness specialist to make sure you’re in a proper alignment while performing exercises. This helps minimize strain on the joints and will make a world of difference! After I correct my own clients’ alignment, they look at me like I’m a miracle worker. (Spoiler alert: I am not.)

dealing with arthritisNow, on to my list of the top 4 arthritis-friendly exercise modes:

  • Low-impact cardio: These heart-happy exercises are easy on the joints and will burn a lot of calories. Popular machines for this include ellipticals, bicycles, and rowing machines.
  • Aquatic exercise: Not a great swimmer? No problem! There’s a lot more that you can do in the water. It’s also very kind to your joints. The buoyancy reduces stress on the joints and spine, and provides resistance without equipment.
  • Yoga: Yoga is an excellent way to strengthen and lengthen the body. Both are essential in improving alignment, which is critical in taking the strain and stress off of your joints. Try out a class before you pop in a DVD at home. That way, the instructor can see your position and guide you if needed.
  • Tai chi: This traditional style of Chinese martial arts includes slow, controlled movements, which put little force on the joints, to improve balance, strength, and flexibility. Like yoga, try a class first to get some feedback from an instructor.

Learn more about arthritis and how to alleviate the symptoms by searching articles at Discovery Health and Lifescript.

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Topics: exercise swimming cardio arthritis joint health senior fitness yoga

3 Must-Haves in Group Fitness Instructors for CCRCs

considerations for hiring group fitness instructorsMany Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) offer a variety of group fitness classes to their residents. The community personnel who hire the group fitness instructors (GFIs) may benefit from a few pointers on hiring standards beyond someone’s personality alone. Don’t get me wrong, the right personality and ability to build relationships with residents is crucial for making a class successful. However, a narrow focus on personality alone may not provide your residents with the maximum benefits of participating in the activity and could create a dangerous environment.

Certifications and Insurance

To protect participants in group exercise classes (whether in commercial gym, church, school, or CCRC settings), fitness industry standards require that GFIs maintain current instruction certifications and CPR/AED certifications. Contracted GFIs should also carry proof of personal liability insurance. Well-qualified GFIs are aware of these standards and likely would not be in the practice of instructing without maintaining those certifications. For community personnel hiring these individuals, that may be your first sign. If someone applies for the position and cannot provide proof of current certifications and liability insurance, they likely aren’t the best fit for meeting the fitness program standards for your community.

Furthermore, communities should make sure that they are maintaining current copies of certifications from their existing GFI staff. If you find that existing instructors do not have current certifications, it’s likely time to establish a timeline within which your GFIs can obtain a certification to continue with their instruction.

Experience in Senior Fitness

It’s also important to make sure that GFIs have experience teaching an older-adult population. When looking for an instructor, you might contact local senior centers, churches, or YMCAs and share information about your opening and provide the requirements and qualifications you are looking for in a GFI. This may provide you with a better candidate pool than having to sift through GFIs who teach boot camp, kettlebell, or kickboxing-type classes.

Personality

Looking at certifications and experience instructing older adults is the best starting point when looking for a GFI. However, as previously mentioned, the personality of the GFI is also critical for the overall enjoyment of the participants. When replacing an instructor or recruiting an instructor for a new class format, you might consider surveying your residents on their desired qualities in an instructor and in a class.

For example, if you are searching for a yoga instructor, residents may have feedback on enjoying the relaxation benefits of the class. This could allow you to question candidates on elements of relaxation they build into their class. While you may not have the expertise to recognize the specific details on the relaxation elements they are discussing, you should be able to gather feedback on their style of instruction: Is it soothing, focusing on breathing and guided imagery and providing a sense of calming for participants? Or does the instructor focus on deep stretching or strengthening throughout the class?

Establishing standards for GFIs in your group fitness program can benefit more than just your residents. Sharing these standards with prospective residents can be a great marketing tool to promote the dedication and focus your community places on its wellness programming.  

  Watch Resident Testimonials

Topics: group exercise senior fitness management CCRC fitness center senior fitness yoga

Employee Health: Take Your Exercise Routine on Vacation

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

travel activitiesPreparing for a summer vacation? Be sure to bring workout attire! Instead of letting your exercise routine take off several days as well, check out some of the following fitness ideas and embrace the opportunity to be rejuvenated both physically and mentally.

Outdoor Fitness

Want to take advantage of the great outdoors? Here are some ways to exercise outside while on vacation:

  • Explore a new city on foot (or on two wheels): take a run, walk, or bike ride.
  • Bring the entire family to sightsee.
  • Have a beach nearby? A sunrise or sunset can set the stage for a great run. Incorporate pushups, lunges, squats, and core work in the sand.
  • Beach volleyball and a Frisbee or football toss will appeal to kids.
  • Seek out opportunities for surfing, paddle surfing, swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving.
  • Hiking, tennis, and hitting the links (sans cart!) will burn calories while you enjoy the sunshine.

 Gym Fitness on the Road

Not ready to give up your gym-junkie habits? Here are some ways to get in a fitness center workout:

  • Most hotels will have a fitness center, although you may have to get a bit creative since the equipment selection can be limited.
  • Swap the stairstepper for the real thing: climb the stairs at the hotel.
  • No hotel gym? Check to see whether they offer passes to a local fitness center.

 Staying Fit in a Hotel Room

 Stuck in the room? You can still stay active:

  • Bring a mat to practice yoga.
  • Strength train with resistance bands or body-weight exercises (pushups, squats, tricep dips, etc.).
  • Stationary exercises like jump rope, jumping jacks, burpees, and squat jumps will get your heart pumping.
Topics: employee health exercise fitness yoga

Employee Wellness: Healthy Joints, Healthy Body

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

healthy jointsYour joints play an important role in all of life’s activities. They connect bone to bone, which allows your body to move during everything from sports and exercise to everyday functions such as playing with kids, lifting groceries, performing yard work, and even sitting at a desk.

However, factors such as age, injury, diet, and lifestyle can negatively impact the joints over time, leading to stiffness, pain, and possibly even the onset of arthritis. Keep your joints mobile with the following tips:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Shedding a few pounds can help take the pressure off of lower-body joints, including the knees, which seem to suffer the most from weight gain.
  • Mix up the aerobic exercise routine. Running and playing sports can help build bone density, but too much impact can hurt your joints. Mix in lower-impact exercises such as biking and swimming.
  • Pump iron. Strength training builds up the muscles that support joint health. Mix together upper-body, lower-body, and core exercises.
  • Keep it moving. Sitting for too long invites stiffness. Take stretching or walking breaks at the office, when watching your child’s sporting event, or when watching TV or reading at night. When you do find yourself at your desk, practice good posture.
  • Stretch. Stretch after exercising. You may also find yoga, Pilates, and t'ai chi soothing for sore joints.
  • Eat for joint health. Consume foods rich in calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A, C, D, and K.
Topics: nutrition weight management arthritis pain relief joint health yoga injury stretching