Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Knowing Family Health History Helps Identify Employee Health Risks

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

We all know of cases where an individual in seemingly perfect health has a sudden heart attack or cancer diagnosis. The unfortunate truth is that genetics can sometimes outweigh a person’s healthy efforts. This is not meant to discourage your corporate wellness participants, but to stress the importance of knowing their family health histories.Grandpa to Grandson resized 600

Ask Corporate Fitness Members to Fill Out a Health History Questionnaire

Before joining a corporate fitness center, all members should fill out a standard Health History Questionnaire (HHQ). In my opinion, “family history of heart disease” may be the risk factor on this form that individuals and health professionals overlook most often. Encourage your participants to examine their family health history, searching especially for diseases that may be rare―such as certain forms of cancer or any heart disease at an early age.

Have Employees Interview Family Members About Health Issues

This AARP article suggests conducting interviews of sorts among family members to see what health problems arose, at what stage of life, what factors could have contributed, and what treatment option was taken. I would add to this list finding out what symptoms were first experienced so that other family members can have a heightened awareness before a disease progresses.

Designate a month out of your corporate health and wellness programming for members to find out their health histories. Make a form, maybe even similar to a family tree, where participants can make notes on their relatives, starting with immediate family.

Encourage employees to discuss any alarming discoveries with their physicians. Just like the campaign for knowing your numbers, this information can be lifesaving.

Topics: corporate wellness employee health disease prevention

Employee Health and Fitness: Should I Work Out on an Empty Stomach?

This blog was written by Megan Jack. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Some people believe that there is a benefit to working out on an empty stomach. This concept is derived from the idea that exercising first thing in the morning or in a “fasted state” will cause your body’s energy systems to burn more fat instead of carbohydrate stores. 

Why the Empty-Stomach Workout Doesn't Work

As a corporate fitness manager, I hear this theory on a weekly basis, and it is simply just an urban fitness myth. ThEmpty Stomach resized 600e main problem is that fat as a fuel source is not the same thing as burning fat off of your body. Fat burning has more to do with the total amount of calories burned than the type of energy your system uses.

Another key problem with this theory is that many times without adequate nutrition, you will not be able to exercise as long or as hard. As a result, you will burn fewer calories.

Benefits of Eating Before Exercise

According to an article by Paige Waehner on, there are additional benefits to eating prior to a workout:

  • “It boosts recovery and strength gains.”
  • “You can sustain longer, more intense workouts.”
  • “It helps you avoid feeling dizzy or nauseous from low blood sugar.”
  • “It makes workouts more enjoyable” (because you’re not constantly hearing your stomach growl).

Some of my corporate fitness members feel too full or weighed down with a full meal prior to exercise. Some need a snack prior to strength training, but are fine completing a cardio workout on an empty stomach. What really matters is to find something that works for your body and for your schedule.

Most importantly, don’t go hungry simply because you think you’ll burn more fat. Focusing on your growling belly can cause your workout intensity or duration to suffer and that will in turn reduce your caloric burn.

Topics: corporate wellness exercise at work corporate fitness nutrition exercise at home

Do Flexible Work Conditions Make for Better Employee Health?

How many times have you told yourself that if you were only allowed some flexibility at work, you could actually utilize the worksite fitness center, participate in a corporate wellness program, or be able to reduce your stress simply by walking outside? It has been found time and time again that worksites that allow flexible arrangements and promote healthier workplaces benefit in more ways than one.

The Ways Flexibility Improves Employee Health

corporate wellness in meetingsFlexible working conditions not only have been found to reduce employee blood pressure and absences due to illness, but can increase job performance, productivity, and overall morale. Additionally, giving employees more control over their schedules has been shown to have positive effects on mental health, sleep duration, sleep quality, alertness at work, and heart rate.

Ask for Some Work Schedule Flexibility

If you are employed by a company that offers flexible schedules, take advantage of it! However, if you don’t have this option, speak with those in charge of scheduling and make a valiant attempt to work something out.

Who wouldn’t want to improve their mental and physical health? If a little flexibility can help you feel better and work more efficiently, it's a win-win proposition.

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Topics: corporate wellness employee health productivity health culture improve absenteeism

Employee Health: Are E-Cigarettes a Healthy Alternative to Smoking?

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

As a part of my profession and my lifestyle, I have personally chosen not to smoke, and I encourage others not to smoke. As a nonsmoker and fitness professional in a corporate fitness center, the word E-Cigarette was completely foreign to me until about a month ago.

Are E-Cigarettes a Smoking-Cessation Aid?

After reviewing some of the claims and benefits on numerous E-Cigarette websites, it is not a tobacco-cessation aid as I originally thought. The product is marketed as an alternative to the very dangerous nicotine–, tar–, and carbon monoxide–containing cigarette.

What Is an E-Cigarette?

The electronic cigarette is a battery-operated device that looks, feels, and tastes like a traditional cigarette. It mimics the mechanical motions that smokers get so used to doing. It even emits a smokeless vapor. According to E-Cigarettes Choice, the vapor is “a result from the heating up or atomizing of the liquid inside the cartridge.” The more challenging information to find is what exactly composes the liquid.

What's in an E-Cigarette?

None of thcigarette resized 600e sites selling the electronic cigarette fails to mention the thousands of additives and chemicals from cigarettes that they don’t contain. But hardly any of them actually mentions what they do contain. Of the products that do list the ingredients, with a few variations in between, the liquid seems to be composed of nicotine, water, and propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is commonly found in antifreeze, hand sanitizers, cosmetics, and certain medications.  

So is this better than smoking a traditional cigarette? According to, the answer is yes. Because the product is fairly new, there are few studies on the short- or long-term effects of its use. This organization is basing its answer on the proven fact that real cigarette smoking is so harmful, and “almost anything is certain to be safer.” The overall cost and detrimental health effects so far seem to be less. The key words here are so far.

Benefits of Tobacco Cessation Outweigh Benefits of E-Cigarettes

Some of the main points manufacturers use to sell the product include “no more standing outside in the cold; no more lost productivity, cigarette butts, secondhand smoke, or smoker’s breath.” Oddly enough, these along with others are the same benefits you would experience if you just quit smoking completely.

I see picking up electronic cigarettes as trading one addiction for the other. And with so few studies, why take the risk? Why not just avoid the risk of detrimental effects, save the money, and quit altogether? As we all know, smoking is an addiction, and it’s not easy to quit. Don’t feel like you have to do it alone. If you need help quitting, visit Smoke Free to find what works best for you.

Topics: employee health tobacco cessation

Wii Fit and Wii Sports: Why They're Good for Senior Fitness

This blog was written by Sean Holbrook. 

What comes to mind when you think of somebody standing on Nintendo Wii's balance board challenging themselves in an interactive video game? I imagine the first thing you thought of wasn't an individual in their 70s or 80s; but the Wii's popularity continues to grow among the senior community.

Wii Is a Great Solution for Senior Fitness Programs

The Nintendo Wii provides senior wellness programs and retirement fitness centers a low-cost, commercially available interactive gaming system that gives immediate visual feedback in balance training and provides a fun and engaging way to increase physical activity for seniors.Seniors   Wii Fit resized 600

Nintendo Wii's balance board for the Wii Fit game enables a user to test his or her center of balance with a visual display onscreen that shows what percentage of their body weight they carry over each foot. Those with an uneven center of balance will unnaturally compensate for their imbalance, which can cause their posture to become misaligned, increasing the level of stress on their bodies.

The game allows users to learn about their balance and provides them with tips for improving an uneven center of balance with several different training modes, including yoga, strength training, balance games, and aerobics.

Wii's Use Expanding in Senior Community Wellness Programs

Many senior community wellness programs are starting to incorporate the Nintendo Wii as a way to increase physical activity among residents. At the American College of Sports Medicine's 2010 world conference on Exercise is Medicine, Dr. Elizabeth Orsega-Smith discussed her recent study that compared the level of calorie expenditure for various Wii Sports games during 30-minute training sessions for Wii bowling, tennis, and baseball.

Dr. Orsega-Smith's results showed a calorie expenditure of 46 to 102 kcal, depending on the game. This may not be enough activity to combat chronic diseases associated with physical inactivity. But when combined with a regular exercise program, it can improve daily activity levels.

The physical benefits of using Nintendo's Wii have already been noticed by many senior wellness programs. Research from the scientific community continues to support what many seniors have already begun to discover.

How have you used Nintendo Wii to improve your senior fitness program's physical activity?

Check out NIFS 5 tips for how you can evaluate the quality of your resident wellness program, click below to grab our quickread.

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Topics: senior wellness programs senior fitness

Does Avoiding Nighttime Eating Lead to Weight Loss?

This blog was written by Lisa Larkin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

I’m sure most people would love it if all they had to do to lose weight was not eat two hours before bed. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s that easy. There are other things that go along with not eating large amounts of carbohydrates before bed.

Late Night Binge resized 600Working at an onsite corporate fitness center, I do a lot of nutrition consultations. Most people struggle with eating healthy. I have a lot of people tell me they eat healthy while at work, but at night is when it all goes downhill.

It is best to eat larger, higher-carbohydrate meals in the morning. This gives your body energy throughout the day; plus, your body will have time to burn off those carbs. But what’s most important is that you are not taking in more calories than you’re burning.

It really doesn’t matter what time of the day you’re eating, as long as you are staying active and not eating more than the recommended amount of daily calories for your body.

It’s also not good for your body to go all day without eating and then eat one large meal at night. This could cause your body to go into starvation mode. That could end up slowing down your metabolism, which is not what you want!

So eat your carbs in the morning, stay active, count calories, and don't starve yourself.

Topics: overweight employees nutrition

How Corporate Wellness Can Partner with Cafeterias on Calorie Posting

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

Do your corporate wellness clients know how many calories they are eating when they go out for lunch? A new law from the FDA will start requiring restaurants to post calorie listings and provide more detailed nutritional information upon request.

New Law Makes Calorie Information Easier to Find

While you can already find many restaurants’ caloric content online through a simple search, making this information more visible inside restaurants or on menus is a reasonable thing to ask. You don’t go into a restaurant and order a meal without knowing the price, so why blindly order an item that might exceed your entire calorie budget for the day?

Extending Calorie Count Transparency to Corporate Cafeterias

Let’s take this one step further for worksite healtemployee choose fruith promotion. Many corporations have an onsite cafeteria whose management most likely has access to the nutritional content of their offerings.

At my site, we have partnered with our cafeteria vendor to advertise the calorie breakdown of its staple items as well as daily specials. This information is displayed visually in the cafeteria via posters and brochures and is also available online. Further, our cafeteria vendor has a “sticker system” where color-coded stickers mark the items that are low-fat, low-calorie, and low-carb.

Keep in mind as you set out to partner with a cafeteria vendor or a restaurant that they are businesses and therefore must make a profit .While their managers may be open to introducing healthier selections, they will keep their top-selling items, whether they have 200 calories or 1,200.

Here is where you can suggest to your corporate wellness clients the concept of moderation on their lunch break. Indulging every now and then is okay, but staying informed is the key to sustainable health.

Topics: corporate wellness overweight employees nutrition

Can Cash Tip the Scales Toward Employee Health?

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

There's been some hubbub lately about whether employers can Scale resized 600find their employees' monetary sweet spots when it comes to losing weight. Various articles such as this one tell of efforts to use money as a corporate reward to motivate overweight employees to shed pounds.

But let's face it: If losing weight were really that simple, most people would successfully lose (and keep off) weight without having to be paid to do so. The truth is that weight loss is incredibly complex and most people make the mistake of trying to manage their weight without engaging in regular exercise. The science proves that effective long-term strategies for weight management include dietary balance as well as regular exercise.

If you want your employees to have a healthy body weight, you have to help them focus on exercise. Throwing money at them won't fix it, but revamping workplace policies, establishing a health culture directed by your leadership, and creating opportunities for exercise at work will get them moving in the right direction. NIFS offers a variety of exciting programs that can help.

The benefits of a healthy workforce go far beyond the ability to control healthcare costs and improve absenteeism. Employees who feel better are simply able to do their jobs better.

Topics: employee health overweight employees control healthcare costs corporate rewards health culture improve absenteeism

How Are You Motivating Better Employee Health?

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

All too often, those of us working in corporate fitness find ourselves catering to the 15 percent of employees who would work out anyway—whether or not we, the stellar management staff, were onsite to assist and train them. That often leads me to ponder how we might creatively capture the attention of the other 85 percent.

Gimmicks and Creative Employee Health Promotions

I think the anemployee health incentiveswer to that question depends significantly on the demographic and the corporate culture in which we’re working. But by and large, it seems that gimmicks (sadly) go a long way, as does making fitness fun. Those who might dabble in offerings at their worksite fitness center (a.k.a. fence sitters) could be nudged into regular participation with a desirable prize (a.k.a. money) or if we fitness professionals (a.k.a. magicians) could convince them it was fun.

I can say with confidence that NIFS staff member continue to generate unique, creative, and inviting opportunities for their audiences all over the country. Their enthusiasm for reaching that 85 percent never seems to wane. They are the experts!

Why Is It So Hard to Motivate Employees to Be Healthy?

I am left to wonder, though, what is it about human beings that makes changing behavior (particularly health behavior) so hard? We’re capable of being tricked into choosing better health, but we seldom do it without a nudge (intrinsic or extrinsic).

If you’re working to improve employee health (in a corporate fitness center, or from the human resources office), what works for your audience?

Topics: corporate wellness employee health motivation

The Effects of Strength Training on Senior Fitness

This blog was written by Dan Walker. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

The numerous benefits of strength training for the musculoskeletal system are well documented, but could it provide additional benefits? Besides leading to increased strength and muscle endurance, better balance, and improved health of the muscles and connective tissue, what effect could it have on cognitive function, if any? Researchers in Canada recently set out to determine just that.

Strength Training Sharpens the Mind 

While we all could use a little more brain power, it is crucial for older adults to maintain a high level of cognitive functioning to keep their inddescribe the imageependence. Regular strength training can help them do this from a physical standpoint, but maintaining their cognitive abilities is equally important. Interestingly enough, a loss in cognitive abilities is a risk factor for falls.

Fortunately, though, the “Brain Power Study” found that progressive resistance training improved executive cognitive functioning (which is needed to maintain independent living) in women ages 65 to 75. And even one year later, the benefits were still notable. This makes for just one more reason for grandma and grandpa to hit the weights!

Take Advantage of Senior Wellness Programs

Many retirement communities now have a fitness center available, complete with onsite fitness center management specializing in senior fitness classes, senior wellness programs, and senior fitness management. Balance classes, strength classes, and aqua aerobics classes are just a few of the many ways to get in regular physical activity during the golden years.

It might be a little intimidating at first, but encourage the loved ones in your life who are getting older to begin a regular fitness routine that works for them. It will not only help maintain their physical health, but evidence is emerging that it can do just as much for their cognitive health.

What are some of the other ways you or your loved ones have found to keep moving, even as time goes on?

Topics: exercise senior wellness programs senior fitness management senior fitness independence

Corporate Fitness Programs Can Motivate Employees to Exercise at Work

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

Are your employees spending too many hours per week at work and not enough hours being active through the week because it's hard to find time to exercise? If your answer is a resounding yes, consider using their "too much time at work" to your employee health advantage. 

It's well known that adults in the U.S. do not get enough exercise daily. But that’s even more likely to be the case for adults with children at home under 18. Throw a 50+-hour-per-week job into the mix and getting regular exercise can seem all but impossible.

You can't do much to change the dizzying schedule of working parents, but you can make it easier for your captive audience (aka your employees) to choose to be an active audience when they are at work.

Building an onsite corporate fitness center might be the way to go. But if that seems expensive, intense, or impossible, think about offering a corporate fitness program that includes group classes (such as these offered by NIFS), walking groups, or incentives for running or cycling commuters. Start an "exercise with the execs" program where employees can join the C-suite folks for a walk and a chance to chat about how the company is doing, where it’s headed, and so on. 

With the right mix of creativity, hard work, and resource support, you can turn your captive audience into an active audience--and help improve their work-life balance.

Topics: employee health corporate fitness program business fitness solutions corporate rewards health culture

Steady Obesity Rates Good News in Fight for Healthy Workforce

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

A recently released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report noted that obesity rates in the U.S. were steady last year compared with 2008 rates. This is good news because once we stop the health decline, we can start to make improvements.

Even better news from this report is that more Americans report Girl on mat resized 600being physically active--up to 34.7 percent compared with 31.9 percent in 2008. This is also good news; moving more can’t be bad. Regular exercise is a key to successful weight loss and weight management. If that doesn’t motivate overweight employees to move more, note some of the many other scientifically proven benefits of engaging in regular exercise.

We're cautiously optimistic. Health professionals across the country are doing great work to help address the obesity epidemic. Workplaces are driving much of that meaningful work in their communities with onsite corporate fitness centers, corporate fitness programs, wellness-focused benefits, healthy food options in cafeterias, and health cultures and policies that support good choices.

More work needs to be done. What are you doing to build a healthy workforce and help overweight employees lose pounds?

Topics: employee health corporate fitness program healthy workforce overweight employees health culture

Why Wellness Programs Should Tackle Childhood Obesity

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

We’ve all heard the staggering facts: One in three children is overweight or obese. This rate is three times higher than it was 30 years ago. If these trends continue, nearly 50 percent of the child population could be obese in a matter of years. 

Why Is Childhood Obesity a Problem for Employers?

But why does childhood obesity matter to employers? Does childhood obesity even come to mind when employers think of worksite wellness? It should. Why? Because employers’ health insurance covers every member of the family up to a certain age—and that includes kids. And obese kids are at risk for a variety of complications and serious illnesses.

Making Kids Part of the Health Culture

Hot dog lunch resized 600I know it can be difficult to target programs toward children, especially if you have age restrictions at your onsite fitness center. One of the things NIFS did recently was put on a Kids' Camp, offering summer-camp–style workout sessions for children. Parents got to drop off the kids and work out at the facility while the kids had fun getting their recommended daily 60 minutes of physical activity.

When employers show that they care about the health of the entire family, they’ll appeal to the parents. This, in turn, may lead to more involvement in the corporate wellness program. Meanwhile, making kids and parents healthier helps control healthcare costs.

How do you incorporate families in your worksite wellness offerings?

Topics: corporate fitness program control healthcare costs health culture

Can Recess at Work Increase Worksite Wellness?

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

According to Playreport, an international project focused on children, families and play, children in a recent study overwhelmingly preferred to play with their parents versus watching TV or getting on the Internet. Sadly, 25 percent of parents interviewed reported feeling too stressed to play with their children. Further, 45 percent of parents don't feel like they have enough time to play with their kids.

Maybe parents have forgotten hPlayground resized 600ow to play. Maybe our work-life balance is so poor that we work too hard, sleep too little, or sit too long to remember what it's like to have fun playing games. Or maybe we just need a little reminder.

Remember recess? What if your employees engaged in occasional recess at work? What if you took the concept of worksite wellness or corporate fitness programs to a whole new level and invited everyone to get crazy with a game of kickball in the parking lot. What if you hosted a Wii tournament in the cafeteria? Even better, what if you had a hula-hoop challenge or a treadmill marathon to raise money for a corporate-sponsored charity?

Maybe, just maybe, if employees remembered how to have fun being active, they could engage more at work and at home.

Have you incorporated play at work yet?  What are you waiting for?

Topics: corporate wellness employee health corporate fitness program

What Matters More in Weight Loss: Food Types or Calories?

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

CNN recently reported on an experiment by Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition, who attempted to prove that weight loss is dependent only on calorie restriction. To test his theory, for 10 weeks he followed a diet of two-thirds “convenience store” foods (mostly Twinkies, but also Doritos, Oreos, etc.) and one-third vegetables and protein. He restricted himself to 1,800 calories per day and dropped 27 pounds, lost a significant body fat percentage, and improved his cholesterol levels.

Will the Twinkie Diet Work for You?

Many people fall into the trap of thinking that because they eat healthy foods—including fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains—they are healthy. In reality, these people may still be overeating and thus gaining weight because they never find the balance between calories in versus calories out.

Haub lost hiWoman Reading Food Labels weight because although his past diet consisted of healthier foods, it was simply too much food for his body. However, he admits that he would not recommend this diet to anyone and is “not geared to say this is a good thing to do.”

Calories Matter—But So Do Nutrients

This article presents a great reinforcement that calories do matter. But before you load up your grocery cart with Hostess and Little Debbie goodies, consider your overall quality of life beyond the pounds. Many of these foods contain trans fats, which are notorious for clogging arteries and increasing bad cholesterol (LDL). These snacks are also low in fiber and protein, two nutrients that keep the stomach fuller longer, discouraging overeating.

So the fact remains: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Topics: overweight employees nutrition

Employee Health: Aerobic Exercise Improves Sleep

This blog was written by Lisa Larkin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Sleeping at Desk resized 600Sleep and exercise can be a vicious cycle. The more tired you are, the less motivation you have to exercise. Working in a corporate fitness program, I see a lot of tired and stressed people. The onsite fitness facility seems to help improve their moods.

When I’m tired, the last thing I feel like doing is exercising. But then I feel worse because I didn’t exercise. Even getting up and going for a 15-minute walk can help to improve your mood, stress level, confidence, and sleep patterns. Most people will tell you they feel better after exercise. 

Physical activity can help to clear your mind and concentrate better at work, which will help you sleep better at night, too.

Even though sleep is important for health and daily functioning, the average person doesn’t get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night. So, why not get up and start exercising now to help you sleep longer and better tonight?

Topics: exercise at work corporate fitness exercise at home productivity

Burning Calories in Wellness Center Cardio Workouts

This blog was written by Lisa Larkin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

It’s nice to see the number of calories burned increasing along with the time on your cardio machine. But when your machine reaches a certain number, don’t always believe what you read.

Getting the Most Accurate Calorie Count

Most machines give you a general number of calories burned that you can use as a guide. But do not think that is your exact number. It is important to always enter your age and weight to have a more accurate calorie count. Everybody burns calories differently, so I recommend that you use a heart-rate monitor to get the most accurate count.

Mix Up Your Workout and Burn More Calories

It may not seem fair, but the more you weigh, the more calories you burn in a cardio session. Also, the more fit you are, the fewer calories you will burn because your body gets used to that activity level. In other words, mix up your workouts to keep your body guessing and burning the most calories. Teaching group fitness classes at an onsite corporate fitness center gives me the opportunity to mix up the workouts for our wellness program members.

To burn the most calories, I recommend using machines that move your arms and upper body. You can also try not to hold on when walking on the treadmill or using the stair climber. This will increase the intensity, which will increase the amount of calories burned.

Topics: overweight employees corporate fitness

Employee Health and Weight Loss Tips for the New Year

This blog was written by Samantha Whiteside. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Supersize portions. Hydrogenated and over-processed foods. Lack of activity and responsibility. Decreased nutrient-rich foods in school systems. All of these reasons and more have led America to be the most obese country in the world.

The Risks and Consequences of ObesityObese man resized 600

Obesity is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or more. Obesity a risk factor for not just heart disease and high blood pressure, but also for osteoarthritis, gallbladder disease, high cholesterol and triglycerides, respiratory problems, cancer, sleep apnea, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and a decrease in life expectancy.

How much of a drain is this epidemic on our society? Obesity kills approximately 300,000 people in the United States every year and we spend $117 billion annually on obesity-related healthcare.

Do I have your attention yet?

Tips for Living a Healthier Life

Wonder what you can do to lead a healthier life? Here are a few tips to take you into 2011 and beyond:

  • Get more active—every day.
  • Focus your diet on fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and low-fat dairy.
  • Participate in corporate wellness programs.
  • Sign up for a gym; or if your company has a worksite fitness center, begin using it.
  • Take part in employee health fairs, classes, and health promotion trainings.
  • Stay educated. If your employer has onsite wellness staff, use them as your go-to resource.
  • Reduce your daily stress. Take advantage of worksite stress-management classes.

Obesity is no longer a silent epidemic. Obesity is screaming, shaking both fists, and asking everyone to step up to the plate and make a change.

After all, how much value is really in a value meal?

Topics: corporate wellness healthy workforce overweight employees

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.

Schedule Health SBlood Pressure Screening resized 600creenings

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

My NIFS Nutrition Coaching Session

This blog was written by Lori H. as a guest blogger with NIFS.

Just a few days after Christmas, I met with NIFS Wellness Coordinator Angie Scheetz, a Registered Dietitian, to go over the food diary I kept earlier in the month and get an assessment of my dietary habits.

Getting a personal nutrition coaching session is something I have been wanting to do for myself for several years. But that didn't keep me from being nervous about it. I enjoy fatty foods and lead a fairly sedentary life. I wasn't looking forward to being told to lay off the potato chips!

Meeting the Registered Dietitian

But Angie put me at ease from the very first minute of our meeting. I never felt like I was being judged. She had analyzed my food diary and found that I was actually not far off the mark in terms of calories consumed. But to reach my goal of losing 25 to 30 pounds, she said, I needed to be getting more calories from protein and less from fat. She also said I wasn't getting enough fiber.Pasta Salad resized 600

We talked about what foods I like (cheese) and which ones I really don't like (fish). She told me how to select cheeses that are lower in fat and higher in protein. We talked about ways to get more fiber into my diet, such as brown rice and high-fiber cereals. (My usual favorite cereal bars are out the window and Fiber Plus cereal is in.) She also told me to have skim-milk hot chocolate for breakfast instead of sugared-up hot tea. (That's a switch I can make easily.)


Angie worked up a good plan for optimal meals and snacks, giving me ideas of some healthy alternatives, and ways to still eat my favorites in moderation and paired with more fruits and veggies.

We talked about how, when I was keeping my food diary and noting everything I ate, I was reluctant to eat unhealthy things because I would have to write it down. As it turns out, that trick serves dieters well. She directed me to My Daily Plate, where I can continue to track what I eat and get nutritional reports on it.

One casualty of the meeting was my daily indulgence of one soft drink per day. It's much better to have water instead, and Angie told me to try adding thin slices of lemon or cucumber to flavor it. She also suggested high-protein Greek yogurt instead of the sweeter varieties I have recently learned to like.

Three Power Rules for Healthy Eating and Weight Loss

She ended the meeting with some high-impact rules to keep in mind:

  • Eat three food groups at every meal.
  • Eat every four to five hours (this means two healthy snacks a day in addition to meals).
  • Drink 64 ounces of caffeine-free fluid per day.

It was a cruel irony to go into my final family Christmas celebration armed with all of this information. Check back in a few weeks to see how I'm doing!

Disclosure: NIFS discloses that it does remit monies to Lori H. for other nonrelated services. However, this venture with the nutritionist is being conducted at the will and request of Lori H., and Lori H. is not being compensated for the authorship of this blog.

Topics: overweight employees nutrition

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