Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Food and Your Mood

GettyImages-1084344284There is a very clear, well understood relationship between food and physical health, but
are you aware of the connection between food and mental health? You’ve probably found that feeling happy, sad or bored can make you more (or less) inclined to eat, sometimes even triggering cravings for specific foods. However, not only does your mood affect your food choices, but your food choices can affect your mood! For example, did you know that more than 90% of serotonin, the hormone that plays a role in controlling sleep, digestion, mood and more, is produced by bacteria in the gut? Low levels of serotonin may contribute to depression, anxiety and other mood problems, which is why it is essential to maintain a healthy gut!

One of the most important things you can do to balance your gut microbiome is to ensure you consume plenty of pre- and probiotic rich foods, such as the following:

Prebiotics (“food” for already existing beneficial bacteria in the gut; helps to increase the
good amount of bacteria in the gut) found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as:

  • Apples
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Beans, chickpeas and lentils
  • Garlic
  • Oats
  • Onions

Probiotics (beneficial bacteria in the gut) found in many fermented foods, such as:

  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tempeh
  • Yogurt
  • Certain cheeses

Consider keeping a food journal if you find your food choices are a result of your mood.  When logging your food along with how you are feeling at the time you select the food may give you insight to your own connection between your mood and food.  Consider speaking with a registered dietitian or your physician for assistance with your food habits.Don't miss the next Dietitian Connection Subscribe to our blog

Topics: food Dietitian Connection

Taking Time for Your Mental Health

GettyImages-1307095695Mental health has been a growing topic of conversation over the last few years, and for good reason. The first step of mental health awareness is being comfortable enough to talk about it. This topic is no longer taboo, and people are learning to prioritize their mental health. According to the CDC, “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act.” Mental illness effects millions of people in the U.S. each year. It’s important to measure how common mental illness is so that we can recognize that no one is alone in their battles.

  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year.
  • 1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year.
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year.
  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24.
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34.

 

Mental and physical heath are equal components of overall health, and they often go hand in hand. For example, chronic exposure to stress hormones can cause an increased risk for heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes as well as many other negative health effects.

It is important that we take time to focus on our own mental health, and here is a list of ways you can prioritize your mental well-being:

  1. Get Active - Exercise has been proven to boost your mood, improve self-esteem, improve sleep, reduce stress, and diminish feelings of anxiety and depression.
  2. Establish Boundaries - If you agree to everything, you won’t have time to relax and decompress. If you say yes to everything and are constantly on the go, you won’t have time to prioritize your mental health. You need to set boundaries.
  3. Avoid Negative Self-Talk – Negative self-talk will increase feelings of anxiety and depression. It can cause an increase in stress levels and lower self-esteem.
  4. Create Support System - Keeping your mental health struggles from loved ones doesn’t help anything. The sooner you open up about these struggles, the sooner you can receive treatment.
  5. Become Aware of your own feelings – Many people will ignore and avoid their feelings and go about their day like nothing is wrong. If you don’t address your feelings, it will build up until you reach a breaking point.
  6. Eat nutritious meals – A healthy, well-balanced diet can help us think clearly and feel more alert. It can also improve concentration and attention span. A poor diet can lead to fatigue, impaired decision-making and attention span. It can lead to an increase in stress and depression.
  7. Reach out to a professional – Therapy is a great way to help identify your stressors, learn about your emotions, and receive a plan to address those issues.

Getting stressed out at work if perfectly normal, but when stress and anxiety is persistent and overwhelming, it needs to be managed properly. It is important to seek help when these feelings are taking over your daily life.

Topics: employee wellness mental health selfcare

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Seniors, Do they Mix?

GettyImages-1293496205High intensity interval training (HIIT) sounds like something that is best for the 20-40 year old or athletes, however research begs to differ. Studies show that high intensity interval training is good for all ages, even if there are chronic health issues and you’re not a lifelong exerciser. In fact, HIIT workouts may be able to provide more benefits than other less-intense modes of exercises, such as steady state cardio.

Steady state cardio vs Interval training vs HIIT

When most people go to the gym, they get on their favorite piece of cardio equipment set the speed and move at the same rate throughout their workout. This type of cardio is known as steady state cardio. Sometimes, people will use the different functions on the machines such as hills, weight loss or interval training. All of these have a different levels of high and low intensity. This is known as interval training. HIIT workouts are similar to interval training with the primary difference being the intensity of interval. With a HIIT workout the intensity is between 80-95% of your maximum heart rate. (220-your age= your maximum heart rate)

Benefits of HIIT Workouts

Increases Muscle Size and Strength

Did you know it is common to lose eight pounds of muscle as we age? Maintaining or improving muscle mass is not only important for everyday physical tasks like picking things up, reaching for something, getting up out of chair, but healthy muscles are essential for organ function, skin health, immunity and your metabolism.

Stronger Heart and Better Lung Capacity

Numerous studies have found that HIIT workouts are more beneficial than steady state cardio at improving cardiorespiratory. A study published in Cell Metabolism found that cycling between short periods of intense exercise and periods of recover, improved both cardiovascular and respiratory health in older adults. The over-65 group specifically experienced an impressive 69 percent increase in their ability to take in oxygen.

In addition, research shows that HIIT and interval workouts put less stress on the heart when compared to steady state aerobic exercise.

Lower blood sugar and insulin resistance: We know exercising is beneficial for losing weight, however according to a report by the Aarhus Hospital in Denmark, a short 10 minute HIIT routine three times a week, is one of the most effective forms of exercising for reducing type-2 diabetes risk and lowering blood glucose levels to healthy levels.

Improves Memory: Memory loss is something that can affect us all, however as we age our memory recall seems to fade. HIIT exercises are very beneficial for improving memory. Specifically, it improves the high-interference memory—the kind that helps you tell two similar things or memories apart.

Ready, Set, Go: Before starting any new exercise regimen, make sure to get clearance from your doctor. The best way to integrate HIIT workouts into your current exercise plan is to start with longer rest periods, such as 1 minute high intensity followed by a 3 minute recover. As your recovery improves, work on shortening the recovery time. Remember to have an effective HIIT workout, giving yourself time to recover is key.

Some ways to add HIITS to your current workout routine

Walking: Start by walking at a comfortable pace. Then for one minute walk as fast as you can and pump your arms and/or raise your knees. If you’re on a treadmill, increase the elevation. Then walk at a pace that will allow your breathing and heart rate to come down.

Swimming: Swim a few laps at your normal speed, then swim one lap at an all-out sprint. Go back and swim at your normal or a little slower speed.

Bike/Nu Step: Start by peddling with little or no resistance. To raise the intensity you can either increase your speed, increasing resistance or both. After your sprint, go back to the speed/resistance you started with.

Looking for some other ways to increase the effectiveness of your workouts? Subscribe to the NIFS Fitness blog.

Subscribe to our blog

Topics: active aging senior fitness improving senior fitness

Finding the Right Shoe for You

GettyImages-525863765The correct footwear plays a vital role in your time running on the road or just walking around at home or work. But what makes a good running shoe? With a wide variety of options it can be hard to determine the best fit for your foot type. Knowing if your foot is normal, flat, or high-arched can play a role in the type of shoe best for you.  An employee at a fitness store should be able to help you determine the best type of shoe for your foot.

Here are some tips for finding the right fit:

  1. You should look for a shoe with a low heel to toe drop. This means the heel cushion should not be significantly larger than the toe cushion. A Larger difference places stress on the front of the leg and can cause imbalances in the front and back of the lower leg, which may lead to pain or discomfort while running.
  1. All shoes don't fit the same. Your shoe size may be different depending on the style and brand of the shoe. You should have a thumbs width, or about ½ inch of room in the front of the toe box when the heel is slid to the back of the shoe. Anything less can put unneeded stress on the toes and foot, and a larger space may allow the foot to slide, causing blisters and inflammation of the foot. Be sure to wear socks you plan on exercising in to have the right thickness and consider trying shoes on later in the day when your feet are naturally more swollen.
  1. Find a shoe with a neutral fit. There should not be extra pressure on your arch or the outside of the foot. This can alter your normal foot running pattern and can lead to pain and injury in feet, ankles, and even your knees.
  1. Replace your shoes every 500 miles or so, depending on your activity. When shoes wear, the sole can become more rigid. This can change movement mechanics and may lead to pain or injury. Pay attention to how they feel, if you aren't feeling the same support, it might be time for a new pair.

New call-to-action

Topics: shoes wellness and fitness fitness tips

Active Aging: Why and How do I Stay Hydrated?

GettyImages-1207205175These are both great questions and very important to the older adult population. I hear all the time that people don’t like to drink water because they will need to go the restroom more. This can be an inconvenient especially during the night but in the long term we need to make sure we stay hydrated. Proper hydration is essential in keeping multiple systems of the body functioning properly. Most people need to drink at least three liters of water per day. You can get this water from many different sources including vegetables. If you can get one liter from what you eat during the day with a fruit and vegetable rich diet, then you will only need to drink two liters.

You need to make sure that your fluid needs are also based on activity levels. If you are more sedentary you will not need to consume as much water as if you are out doing intense activity or spending time in the heat. Fluid intake also will need to be increased during times of illness and dehydration. Medication can also increase the need for water intake. As always make sure you are having some of these discussions with your physician. The signs of dehydration can be headaches, fatigue, low blood pressure, dizziness, and nausea. Dehydration occurs when you are losing more water than you take in. When you do feel thirsty make sure to drink water as soon as possible. Delaying water intake will result in dehydration faster. Fad diets can also increase the need of water. When you feel thirsty you want to drink water as soon as possible.

It can be very beneficial to start your day with at least one glass of water. You can have this before breakfast or with your breakfast. This will help to get you on the right track for the rest of the day. I try and have another glass around 10am and then one before lunch. If you are trying to lose weight, drinking water will help you to not overeat as you will feel full sooner. In addition if you are exercising or working outdoors, make sure you have water close by and regularly drink to replace the fluids you are losing through activity.

They make all sorts of flavoring for water to help avoid the same bland taste or you can add sliced fruit for added flavor. I also try to drink a glass of water about half an hour before I go to bed, this allows enough time for me to use the restroom before I go to sleep not disturbing me during the night. This will also help to keep you from dehydration during the night and make sure your body is functioning at its highest level. Interested in better tracking your water intake? You can also purchase a water bottle that will have a measurement to show how much you should drink per hour or allow you to track overall ounces through the day as you drink and refill.

New call-to-action

Topics: hydration senior wellness active aging

6 Seated Stretches That Can Be Done Every Day to Improve Flexibility

GettyImages-180841421‘’I am so stiff”. This is a statement heard quite often. More than likely, that stiffness or any type of unknown muscle pain may be result due to the lack of muscular flexibility. Flexibility is crucial in preventing muscle shortening while maintaining muscle length. Some additional benefits of flexibility are improved posture, physical performance, and strength. Stretching does not have to be done before or after an intense work out but should be incorporated within our everyday routine. If our muscles are warm, stretching can be done. I’d suggest immediately after a warm shower. Be sure to be grab a chair also. Yes, you can obtain the same results without being in a standing position.

Here are 6 basic seated stretches that can be done daily to improve flexibility:

  1. Sit and Reach: This stretch is designed to target your hamstrings which are on the back of your thigh. Tight hamstrings are one of the most common areas of stiffness seen in seniors due to the shortening of the muscle group. To begin slide to the edge of your seat. Starting with one leg out straight and the other at a 90-degree angle, take your hand on the same side of the leg that is out and reach for your foot. You want to make sure that your leg is completely straightened. Your knee should be locked. You may not be able to touch your foot in the beginning, but with practice and consistency that will eventually be your result.
  2. Torso Twist: This stretch targets your mid-section/torso. Sitting with great posture at the edge of your seat, take your left hand and place it on the outside of your right knee. If you have an arm rest place your right hand on the arm rest. If an arm rest is not available, place your right hand behind you. You’ll then want to twist at your torso as if you were looking over your shoulder. Repeat these instructions upon twisting to the left.
  3. Seated Cat Cow: Cat Cow is a stretch that targets your midsection and your back. Sitting up nice and tall, place your hands on your knees. You will alternate slowly between rounding your back and arching your back. Repeat at least five times.
  4. Upper Back Stretch: This stretch focuses on your upper back and shoulders. Wrap both hands around yourself as if you were giving yourself a big hug. You’ll then want to take your hands a pull your shoulders forward and hold.
  5. Triceps Stretch: Our triceps are often neglected when exercising, as well as stretching. Start by placing your hand behind your shoulder. You will then take your other hand and place it on the back of your arm, pushing your arm back as far as that muscle allows.
  6. Head Tilts: This stretch will target the sides of your neck. By leaning your head to either the right or left, you will begin to feel a stretch down the side of your neck. Try your best to keep your shoulders relaxed. Lifting your shoulders will defeat the purpose of this stretch.

Now that you have this take-home list of stretches, how will you incorporate stretching into your everyday routine?

Click below to learn more about our senior fitness programs and how we elevate the wellbeing of residents with our engaging approach. 

Learn More

Topics: active aging senior fitness flexibility

Taking the First Step, Setting a Goal

Goal setting can sometimes be easier said than done. There are a lot of ambiguous health goals out there like, “I want to lose weight,” “I want to eat more greens,” or “I want to sleep better.” Honestly, those ambiguous health goals are a good place to start! Breaking these goals down to determine your “why” will help get you started. Utilizing the SMART goal technique will allow you to determine what you specifically want to work on and how you can successfully achieve it.

Let’s start with the “I want to lose weight” goal example. Asking the question, “why do I want to lose weight?” is a good starting point. Do you want to lose weight to improve your cholesterol numbers? Will improved cholesterol numbers result in not taking your medication anymore? Will it help improve your self-esteem? Do you want to lose weight to keep up with your kids? There are so many options, so determining your reasoning is key and remember, you can have more than one reason.

GettyImages-1286490450Once you determine your “why” you want to use that to help set your SMART goal and create your plan. The SMART goal technique can be used in many aspects of life, from fitness goals to work goals to even relationship goals. It helps to determine your long-term goal along with smaller short-term goals to achieve along the way. Think of these goals as stepping stones towards the success of your long-term goal. They should be built into your plan and will help keep you accountable along the way.

What is a SMART goal? 

S- Specific; you want your goal to be as specific as possible.

M-Measurable; your goal should have a way to measure your success.

A- Achievable; your goal should provide a challenge, but well defined enough to be achieved.

R- Realistic; given the time and resources, your goal can be accomplished.

T- Timely; your goal should have a start and finish date.

Continuing with the “I want to lose weight” goal example, let’s break it down to determine our “why” and create our SMART goals.

Fitness Goal Example:

Long-term goal: I am hopeful that by January 2023, my cholesterol will be in the normal range, and I will be off my cholesterol medication.

Short-term goal: Improve my cholesterol numbers by my next doctor appointment on August 5. I will re-evaluate my goals after this doctor appointment.

Short-term goal: Starting next week, April 4, I will complete a 30-minute cardio group fitness class on Monday and Wednesday from 4-4:30 PM. On Fridays, I will join the 30-minute strength training class from 11:30-12 PM. I will block these times on my Outlook calendar and will add 10 minutes so I have time to change and make it over to the gym.

Short-term goal: Starting next week, April 4, I will improve my step count from 5,000 steps per day to 8,000 steps per day. I will accomplish this by taking 15-minute walking breaks every 2 hours while I am at work. I will do a lap on my floor and walk up/down 2 flights of stairs.

Short-term goal: By next Friday, I will set up a consult with our dietician to review my eating habits and how to make changes to see success.

 

How to fix Not-So-Healthy Eating Habits that Lead to Overeating

GettyImages-912446890At some point in our busy lives we eat a quick meal, or get so busy we forget to eat.  Our jobs can leave us working while eating lunch, not truly taking the time to sit for the meal.  Check out these four "not-so-healthy" habits and how you can work to fix them to avoid overeating during your meals. 

Not-So-Healthy Habit #1: Eating too quickly. You may have heard that it takes approximately 20 minutes for your body to send a signal to your brain that it is full. While the exact amount of time likely varies from person to person and the amount of food consumed, it is typically true that satiety doesn’t occur immediately after consuming something and therefore, if you’re still hungry right after eating something, you should allow yourself a few minutes to see if satiety kicks in, or if you truly are still hungry. Additionally, eating too quickly can cause you to swallow air, which may result in GI discomfort such as gas and/or bloating, and poses a risk for choking.

THE FIX: To help slow down the rate at which you eat, try taking smaller bites, chewing more slowly and thoroughly, putting your utensil down between bites, including sips of water between bites, and making conversation throughout the meal if eating with others.

Not-So-Healthy Habit #2: Skipping meals. Overeating can also result from skipping meals or following irregular eating patterns. For example, some individuals may use compensatory thinking after skipping meals, such as, “I didn’t eat anything all day, so it is OK for me to eat whatever I want tonight.” Similarly, skipping meals may lower your inhibitions, making it more likely for you to choose unhealthier food options. Additionally, skipping meals can disrupt your metabolism, blood sugar levels, and mental and physical performance.

THE FIX: To prevent skipping meals, it is important to establish a regular eating schedule. There is no “one-size-fits-all” eating regimen: three meals a day may suffice for some, while others prefer 5-6 “mini meals” or snacks. If an irregular appetite is the issue causing you to skip meals, try eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. If you find that time is the problem, plan your meals/snacks in advance (i.e., the night before) and keep plenty of portable snacks on hand (ex. granola bars, apples, oranges, trail mix).

Not-So-Healthy Habit #3: Eating while distracted. Similarly, to when an individual eats too quickly, eating while distracted may interfere with the body’s ability to signal satiety to the brain, thus increasing the odds of overeating. If you aren’t focusing on what you are eating and how you feel while you are eating, you may not recognize when you’ve had enough.

THE FIX: The next time you’re eating a snack or meal, be sure to sit down in a quiet, comfortable setting and unplug from all distractions such as your cell phone, computer, or TV.

Not-So-Healthy Habit #4: Over-restricting intake. Over restricting your intake can also lead to overeating. For many people, the idea of not being able to have something only makes them want it more. The same is true with food. Restricting certain food groups can also restrict certain nutrients that your body needs to function properly. For example, when an individual aims to restrict all carbohydrates, they are also restricting the good components of carbohydrates, such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

THE FIX: Rather than banishing the foods you love and depriving yourself of them, try allowing yourself to have them more frequently - just in moderation. For example, if you’re someone who finds yourself swearing to never eat ice cream again at the top of every week, only to find yourself indulging in an entire pint by Friday, try allowing yourself a small bowl or serving of ice cream several times each week to satisfy your cravings.

Take the time to enjoy your meal using these tips to avoid overeating at lunch today! What tips did you find to be helpful?

Subscribe to our blog

Topics: diet and nutrition healthy diet Dietitian Connection

Tips for Improving Sleep

GettyImages-1213868395Did you know? An ongoing lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep increases your risk of health problems such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and obesity.
Are you finding yourself…to be irritable? Having memory problems or being forgetful? Feeling depressed? Having more falls or accidents? Then you may not be getting a good night’s sleep.

Despite popular (false) belief, older adults need about the same amount of sleep as all adults, 7 to 9 hours each night. Unfortunately, many older adults often get less sleep than they need. One reason is that they often have more trouble falling asleep. A study of adults over 65 found that 13 percent of men and 36 percent of women take more than 30 minutes to fall asleep.

Here are some ideas and tips for helping get a good night sleep:

  • Follow a regular sleep schedule. (Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day)
  • Avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening. (Try limiting your day naps to 15-45 minutes)
  • Develop a routine for bedtime. (Try to develop soothing bedtime rituals such as taking a bath, playing music or practicing relaxation techniques)
  • Avoid electronics, as their lights may make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
  • Keep your home at a comfortable temperature. (That is not too hot or too cold)
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet and dark and use low lighting in the evenings.
  • Avoid eating large meals close to bedtime. (May lead to indigestion)
  • Stay away from caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, chocolate) late in the day.
  • Participate in regular exercise [150 minutes total a week]. (A study at Northwestern University found that aerobic exercise resulted in the most dramatic improvement in quality of sleep, including sleep duration, for middle-aged and older adults with a diagnosis of insomnia.)

Sleep problems not related to age**

At any age, it’s common to experience occasional sleep problems. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms on a regular basis, you may be dealing with a sleep disorder:

  • Have trouble falling asleep even though you feel tired.
  • Have trouble getting back to sleep when awakened.
  • Don’t feel refreshed after a night’s sleep.
  • Feel irritable or sleepy during the day.
  • Have difficulty staying awake when sitting still, watching television, or driving.
  • Have difficulty concentrating during the day.
  • Rely on sleeping pills or alcohol to fall asleep.
  • Have trouble controlling your emotions.

Evaluate your habits and implement some of the tips above into your routine to see if you can improve the quality of sleep. If you still experience problems with sleeping, speak with your doctor about your difficulties and share with them what lifestyle changes you have attempted to make improvements. Quality sleep is essential for optimal health and should be an open part of dialogue with your doctor!
Subscribe to our blog

Topics: sleep sleeping patterns sleep habits

Meal Prep for Success

GettyImages-1162988487Are you hoping to start meal prepping to allow for more time during the weeknights? Meal-prepping is a great way to ensure you are eating a well-balanced diet, even when you are on a time crunch throughout the week. It can be a daunting and time-consuming task at first, so here are a few tips to get you started.

Organize your meal plans ahead of time and go grocery shopping ONCE.

First things first, decide what you want to prepare. Search through cookbooks or Pinterest for healthy meals that will reheat well. Write all of the required ingredients on your grocery list so that you only need to go shopping once. Once prepared, store your food in glass storage containers, if possible. Your food will reheat more evenly, and your hormones will thank you later!

Start small.

Instead of trying to prep EVERY meal for your entire week, start with just a few meals! If there are a few days of the week that you know will be busier than the rest, prioritize having meals ready-to-go for those specific days. As you get comfortable doing a few meals a week, you can decide whether you want to prep a little more at a time. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing!

Prioritize protein and vegetables.

Protein is key both for weight loss AND for gains. Choose proteins such as chicken breast or thighs, ground turkey, salmon, tuna, cod, beef, or even plant-based options such as quinoa, chickpeas, and beans. Incorporate plenty of colorful vegetables and healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and cooking oils such as grass-fed butter, avocado oil (for high-heat) and olive oil (for dressings and low-heat). Sprinkle in complex carbohydrates full of fiber such as brown rice, quinoa, white or sweet potatoes with the peel, or orzo.

Keep lots of spices on-hand!

When you prep meals ahead of time, it may not take very long to get tired of eating the same foods. If you have a variety of spices in your kitchen ready to go, it can be a fun way to keep your meals new and exciting. This is a great time to experiment with seasonings such as curry, sazón, chimichurri, and more!

Prep your pantry with healthy snacks, too.

While pre-packaged foods are easy-to-grab, they often don’t provide many nutrients. Cut up some fruits and vegetables at the start of the week for grab-and-go snack options. Do the same with nuts and seeds – and put them all in easy, one-portion storage containers.

Subscribe to our blog

Topics: healthy food choices portion control meal planning food choices