Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Employee Health and Nutrition: Pumpkin’s Powerful Punch

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

pumkins, nutrtion, health, employee wellness, nifsNothing brings about that glorious feeling of fall like crisp air, sunny days, brilliant foliage, football, apple cider… and all foods pumpkin!

The Health Benefits of Pumpkin

We are awed by the beautiful shades of red, yellow, and orange of the changing leaves, but let’s consider nature’s colors in terms of health; did you know that a pumpkin’s deep orange hue is an automatic giveaway that it is a nutrient powerhouse? The next time you indulge in a tasty pumpkin treat, consider what one serving of pumpkin, which is low in both fat and calories, can provide:

  • 100% of your daily value of vitamin A (from the healthy dose of beta-carotene in the pumpkin)
  • 20% of your daily value of fiber
  • A handful of antioxidants that help fight disease

How to Get More Healthy Pumpkin into Your Diet

The type of pumpkin that is generally best for consumption is that which comes from a sugar or pie pumpkin; Libby’s brand specifically uses the Dickinson variety. However, your jack-o-lantern is certainly good for something: its seeds! Roast them in some olive oil and seasoning and enjoy. They contain healthy fats, protein, fiber, zinc, magnesium, and iron. 

For unique ways to sneak pumpkin into everyday foods to make them healthier, check out these ideas. And try these healthier pumpkin recipes that are perfect for a fall day.

Topics: employee health nutrition antioxidants

Employee Health: Healthier Trick-or-Treating

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

The calories found in Halloween candy can be, well, scary! Make this year’s holiday a little more health-friendly for you as well as your corporate fitness participants.

150-Calorie Halloween Treats

This article in October’s issue of Shape magazine lists candy options that fall at or under 150 calories—a reasonable-sized snack. Here are several options for 150 calories worth of treats:

  • 6 Dum Dums suckersemployee health, candy, wellness
  • 3 mini York Peppermint Patties
  • 5 snack-size Twizzlers
  • 3 mini Twix
  • 3 treat-size boxes of Nerds
  • 6 rolls of Smarties
  • 7 Hershey’s Kisses
  • 2 fun-size packs of milk chocolate M&Ms
  • 6 mini 3 Musketeers

Healthier Alternatives to Candy

Looking for an even healthier route for the children who might ring your doorbell this Halloween? Consider alternatives to candy. Several people hand out snacks such as packaged fruit or granola bars. But you can even think outside the box of food. I’ve heard of people who pass out items like small containers of Play-Doh to children, which is well received by parents.

Green Halloween has other ideas for non-candy, non-food, and healthier candy options. See this page on the website for their other treat ideas!

Topics: nutrition

Corporate Wellness and Healthy Cafeteria Choices

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

workplace cafeteria, corporate wellnessBy late morning, you’re sitting at your desk and all of a sudden it’s hard to concentrate because of the aromas coming from the cafeteria, and you start thinking about what you want for lunch. Hopefully you’re not located near or in the same building as the cafeteria. I sit just below the area creating all the wonderful smells, and it’s an ongoing battle of what I want to eat and what I should eat. Some may think it makes no sense to have the onsite corporate fitness center located near the cafeteria, but a lot of onsite cafeterias now offer healthy choices.

Of course there will always be the pizza, pasta bar, onion rings, and fries. It may take some willpower and motivation, but spending a few more minutes to search for the healthier options is worth it. For example, a lot of cafeterias now have whole-wheat pasta, veggie pizzas, fresh salad bars, turkey and bison burgers, and more for healthier options. Some locations are now starting to label lunch items that are under 300 to 500 calories. Check with your cafeteria because they may have a punch card that gets you one free healthy item after you purchase 10.  

Need a little help with making healthy choices? Schedule an appointment with your onsite corporate fitness/wellness staff for a nutrition consultation. Write down everything you eat for three days and take that food log with you when you meet with the corporate fitness center staff. Your three-day food log will help us to give you advice on changes you can make when heading to the cafeteria for breakfast or lunch. Schedule that appointment today and start making healthier choices!

Topics: nutrition corporate wellness

Corporate Wellness: Rewarding Healthy Employee Behavior

reward, incentive, employee healthThis blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

One commonly known benefit of corporate fitness centers is that when employees are encouraged to maintain healthy lifestyles, the company’s total costs for medical insurance and absenteeism decrease. Some agencies have chosen to take this one step further and pay for their employees to exercise.

Some state agencies in Kentucky have chosen to offer paid exercise breaks. Leaders in these organizations don’t feel like they are losing productivity because, “Often these employees are discussing work issues while they are exercising.” They also see a boost in these individuals’ morale. The amount of time that employees are permitted to exercise on the clock ranges from 90 minutes to five hours per week, depending on the agency.

Other organizations have similar motives, but different ways of compensating employees for their healthy habits. One well-known bank offers employees cash for various wellness activities. Fitting in at least one workout per month earns employees $20, taking a wellness assessment earns $50, and completing blood work or a physical earns $25 each. This particular company also pays employees for preventive care, for example flu shots and mammograms. The reward money is capped at $200 per employee.

Does your company have a system to reimburse employees for their time spent exercising or otherwise bettering their health? Or perhaps a money incentive for those who utilize the corporate fitness center?

Topics: exercise at work disease prevention productivity corporate wellness

Employee Health: Stretching and Ergonomics Prevent Injuries

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

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

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

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

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

Topics: injury stretching ergonomics

Senior Health & Wellness: Staying "Home Sweet Home"

This blog was written by Melissa Sherman. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

senior wellness, retirement, seniors at homeAs the first wave of baby boomers are turning 65 this year, there is a rush to the finish line in the technology field to see who can come up with the best ideas to keep elders healthy, happy, and in their own homes.

With the array of senior-living care available between group housing, nursing homes, and assisted-living establishments, you may be wondering what the importance of keeping seniors in their homes might be, but experts now believe that quality of life for seniors is significantly better when they are able to stay in their own homes. This is not to mention much cheaper for society keeping them at home is than these senior-living homes or institutions.

Studies are being conducted by the Oregon Center for Aging and Technology at Oregon Health and Science University in order to come up with new ideas and technology to keep elders in their homes without jeopardizing their safety and health. The research lab in Oregon includes a model home with all the latest gadgets, such as motion sensors along hallways and ceilings to record gait and walking speed, a back door monitor to observe when one leaves the house, a refrigerator monitor to keep tabs on how one is eating, and even a bed that assesses breathing patterns, heart rate, and general sleep quality. Some other gadgets include a pill box with electronic switches that records when medication is taken. In the works are several other items such as software to help dementia patients find their way home if they get lost, devices that interpret facial expressions, and robotic "pets" that have lifelike interactions with seniors.

There is still much to be done, though, and many hills to climb before you will see this technology on the shelves. Families would have to spend several hundred dollars or more to get these sensors, and monthly monitoring fees can top $100, with little to no help from insurance or Medicaid. However, if these new devices can help keep seniors happier and healthier, as well as help to save society money in the long run, why shouldn’t we all have the opportunity to spend our golden years right where we have always belonged: “home sweet home”?

Topics: technology independence senior wellness programs

Employee Health: Breast Cancer Awareness

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

breast cancer awareness, nifs, screenings, health and wellnessIn 2007, 11.7 million Americans were reported to have some form of invasive cancer. Men have a greater than 44 percent chance of developing some sort of cancer during their lifetime—this means that almost one out of every two males will be plagued by cancer. Furthermore, statistics show that more than 23 percent of men will end up dying from cancer (that’s nearly one out of every four). Women fare slightly better with a 38 percent chance of developing cancer (one in three) and a 19.6 percent chance of dying from cancer (one in five).

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Why dedicate a whole month to breast cancer awareness? Of the more than 11.7 million cases of invasive cancer, about 2.6 million were breast cancer. More than 12 percent of all American women have breast cancer right now (that’s one out of every eight). Of those women, almost 3 percent will die from breast cancer (1 in 36). Early detection and awareness provide great defense against breast cancer. Health professionals estimate thousands of lives are saved each year through regular screenings and self breast exams.

Who Is at Risk for Breast Cancer?

Essentially, anyone with a pulse can develop breast cancer. Following are specific risk factors:

  • Although men can be affected, being a woman is the main risk factor for developing breast cancer, as women are about 100 times more likely to have breast cancer than men.
  • Age also plays a role in breast cancer development, with increasing age heightening your risk. About one out of every eight invasive cases occurs in women under the age of 45, whereas two out of three cases are found in women over 55.
  • Five to ten percent of all cases are thought to be hereditary, or genetic, resulting from gene defects.
  • Those with a positive family history of breast cancer are also at a higher risk (approximately three times more likely) than those having no immediate relatives affected by the disease.

Visit www.cancer.org to find out more about the risks for developing breast cancer.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

Support breast cancer fighters and survivors by participating in a “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” event. Visit the American Cancer Society online to find an event near you.

Topics: employee health disease prevention cancer