Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Doing Chores for Exercise When You Can't Get to NIFS

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

chores for exercise, nifsIf you're having trouble finding time to keep up with your household chores and do your workouts, why not combine them?

My Chore Workout

Time to work out! I begin with dusting to work my forearms, followed by vacuuming to work my biceps, triceps, and abdominals. I scrub the floors, feeling more and more like Cinderella while working my shoulders and biceps, among other muscle groups.

While in the kitchen I notice that the pile of dishes in the sink is beginning to look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, so I do the dishes and target my back and arm muscles, making sure to alternate hands. Now for laundry: to wash, to dry, to fold, providing a full-body challenge. After all this I sit down, feeling exhausted.

More Ways to Burn Calories Around the House

By doing common chores such as dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing the floors, dishes, and laundry, you can burn several calories. Other tasks can be a great workout as well. For example, mowing the lawn with a push mower, or shoveling snow can be a full-body workout. Painting, if you include a squatting motion and alternate hands, can also use most muscle groups. Even pulling weeds can provide you with health benefits by improving grip and the muscles of your forearm and biceps.

Depending on your weight and how intensely you go about these tasks, you could burn as many calories as if you went to NIFS for a workout. Can’t make it to the fitness center today? Consider cleaning your house…I mean, look how buff Mr. Clean is!

Topics: exercise at home NIFS

Corporate Fitness: The Best Time of Day to Exercise

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

morning exercise, early rise, fitnessWhat is the best time to exercise?” is a question I receive more often than not when people are looking to begin or alter an exercise routine. It may just be wishful thinking that your body is going to burn more calories depending on the time of day you choose to exercise; there is no reliable evidence to show that calories are actually burned more efficiently at certain times of day.

However, there are some things to consider when choosing your exercise time:

  • Your personal body clock: Are you a night owl or an early bird? If your schedule allows, use this to help you decide when you are best suited to get your workout in. It may help make your routine more consistent if you exercise at the time of day you feel best.
  • Perks of morning exercise: If your biggest problem is consistency, morning may be your best time to exercise. The biggest benefit of morning exercise is that there are no other conflicts, meetings, schedules, or mishaps that can creep in during your day. Most corporate fitness centers are open early to accommodate morning exercisers.
  • Don’t let exercise interfere with sleep: Your energy levels need to stay consistent if you want to feel good and maintain a consistent exercise routine, so adequate sleep is important. Exercising right before bed will increase your body temperature and your heart rate, which can make it difficult to fall asleep.

For more tips on choosing your best time to exercise, see this article. Still not sure when you should exercise? Try different times to see which works best for you, but keep in mind: No matter what time of day you choose, the best time to exercise is any time that you fit your workout in consistently!

Topics: exercise corporate fitness

Employee Health: Easy Ways to Relieve Stress

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

holiday stress, work related stressWith the holidays fast approaching, we are rolling into a busy and hectic time of the year. Stress can take a heavy toll on employee health. Here are some quick and easy ways your employees can de-stress and rebalance their minds and bodies.

  • Take slow, deep breaths. This takes no time at all and can have some beneficial side-effects. We tend to breathe more quickly, taking shallow breaths, when we are stressed. Focus on your breathing, making sure to take slow, deep, fulfilling breaths. Relaxing your body physically can have a positive effect on your mental state.
  • Stretch it out! This is another exercise that can be done in a relatively short amount of time or while doing other activities that can have a big impact. Stretching will help to get the blood flowing and relieve any built-up tension you might be holding in your body. Focus on areas such as your neck, shoulders, core, and wrists.
  • Phone a friend. It can help to have a mini venting session by talking to someone you love and trust.
  • Fit in physical activity. Even if just for 10 minutes, give your stress to the pavement or the treadmill in the corporate fitness center and let it go from your body. Staying active can help elevate your mood and reduce stress.
  • Eat healthy. Health and well-being are promoted by healthy eating, which can help enhance your resilience to stress.

Really looking to distress? Try a massage, take a warm bath, or take a weekend getaway!

Topics: employee health stress corporate fitness centers

Workplace Wellness: Prevent Injuries with Stretching and Ergonomics

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

relaxation, meditating, corporate wellnessCorporate 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 just 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 function, whether sitting at a desk, standing at a manufacturing line, or doing manual labor. So, the stretches and exercises they perform in their short visits to the onsite fitness center may be negated by hours spent in unsafe body postures.

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

Topics: worksite wellness injury stretching ergonomics

Join Your Corporate Fitness Center's Walking Groups

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

exercise group, walking groups, walk at workI think walking, no matter what speed, is good for your health. Granted, you are going to burn more calories, get your heart rate up higher, and cover more ground if you pick up the pace while walking. Walking is low impact and doesn’t require equipment or a gym membership. All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes and possibly a walking partner.

Research shows that regular, brisk walking can better your heart health just the same as jogging or vigorous exercise. It can be gentler on your joints than other forms of activity. There is also a decreased risk of injury with walking compared to other forms of exercise.

A brisk walk can help clear your mind after a stressful day at work and help to decrease your waistline at the same time. Walking on a regular basis can help to improve your mood and self-esteem, which will lead to a happier and longer life for you!  

Check with your corporate fitness center to join walking groups this summer and fall. Working in corporate health and wellness, I’ve created walking/running route maps so that members can get some fresh air while being active at work.  

Topics: exercise at work corporate fitness program disease prevention

Debt Affects Your Health

money stressA recent AP/AOL poll of 1,000 Americans showed increased debt was directly related to increased perceived stress. Among those polled, individuals with the greatest debt exhibited the most physical and psychological health problems linked to their stress levels.

Debt Causes Physical Symptoms

For example, 33 percent of those polled with high debt said they had suffered from high blood pressure, compared with 26 percent of their less-debt-laden peers. Additionally, 51 percent of those with the greatest debt load reported suffering from low back pain and muscle tension. Only 31 percent of their reduced-debt counterparts reported similar symptoms.

Debt Leads to Unhealthy Behaviors

When bank accounts run low and personal debt (credit cards, lines of credit, and so on) runs high, Americans trend toward a host of unhealthy behaviors. Excessive use of alcohol, tobacco, and food (overeating) become coping mechanisms for the super-stressed. It's also common for sleeping patterns to be interrupted as levels of stress rise.

Debt Produces a Self-Care Freeze-Up

In addition, those under financial strain may perceive that they lack funds for self-care, so they choose not to seek medical help for what appear to be small health issues. Those concerns grow with unrelenting stress (they are often linked to one another) so that a small, easily remedied health problem eventually becomes a significant medical concern.

If you are experiencing stress related to being in debt or keeping on budget, follow our Fiscal Fitness Email Series for more tips. You may also want to find someone you know who seems money savvy and get some ideas from them or look online for free resources.

Topics: cholesterol stress disease prevention financial fitness

NIFS Collects Toys for Tots Donations

This blog was written by Diane Miller. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

toys for tots, christmas giving, spiritual wellnessDecember is all about giving―not only to our loved ones, but also to others in our community. As we celebrate and come together, it is important to remember those who are less fortunate. If you are looking to give or start a new tradition with your family, think about donating to your local charity. Donating time, food, money, or even toys this holiday season is a great way to bring your family together and help others in need.

Families that struggle to meet basic needs have a hard time giving gifts to their children during the holiday season. Each year the U.S. Marine Corps heads up the local Toys for Tots event to collect gifts for Indianapolis children. Thousands of toys were donated last year; and still some families were left without.

NIFS is doing its part by hosting a drop box in our first-floor lobby. Bring in new (unwrapped) toys before December 15 and help give a child a Christmas filled with memories and joy. For more information, visit Toys for Tots.

December is also Safe Toys and Gifts month. Last year over 250,000 toy-related injuries occurred in the United States. Of those, most of the injuries occurred in children under age 15. As you buy toys for your family and Toys for Tots, visit the Prevent Blindness America website for more tips on how to have a safe holiday for our children.

Have a happy and enjoyable holiday season!

Topics: NIFS

NIFS Employee Among Jingle Bell Runners for Arthritis Research

This blog was written by Diane Miller. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

jingle bell run, arthritis, NIFSIf you’re looking for a run/walk event this December, why not try the Jingle Bell Run? The Arthritis Foundation will host its 23rd annual event this year in downtown Indianapolis on December 10. Runners and walkers of all ages and abilities gather together for this 5K (3-mile) event dressed in crazy costumes and ready to support the foundation as it searches for a cure for arthritis.

As someone living with arthritis, I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this event. Having had back pain for nearly 10 years, I was finally diagnosed in 2010 with osteoarthritis (a degenerative joint disease). With at least five vertebrae affected, it has made daily living more difficult. My love of running and racing in events has been well rewarding but has taken a toll on my body.

After weeks of tests and a doctor telling me not to race, I decided that I wanted to compete in my biggest race to date, a half-Ironman. Seven hours into the race, I finally crossed that finish line and was overwhelmed by one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced. Tears of joy ran down my face as I completed the unthinkable. Unfortunately, days after the race, I paid the price; the back pain was terrible.

I hope that one day we can find a cure, not only for myself but for other generations so they can reach their ultimate goals and live pain free. I am happy to be a part of the Jingle Bell Run and can’t wait to wear my best holiday-inspired costume. See you at the start line at 9 a.m.!

Topics: winter fitness triathlon running arthritis

Senior Fitness: Exercise Helps Reduce Arthritis Pain

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

senior fitness, arthritis pain, senior fitness managementPain, swelling, and stiffness associated with arthritis do not make physical activity fun or easy. Research has shown, however, that exercise is a vital tool for managing discomfort associated with arthritis.

In fact, avoiding exercise can increase joint pain and stiffness as the supporting muscles get weaker. By moving and using the muscles, bones, and other tissues that surround joints, people who suffer from arthritis can expect to protect themselves from further damage and pain.

Activity such as weight training promotes joint strength and stability, while aerobic exercise can help keep body weight down, which also relieves pressure on joints. Stretching exercises are useful for maintaining joint range of motion.

Arthritis is a leading cause of physical disability in the U.S., and people who are obese and physically inactive are at higher risk for developing this chronic condition. As our aging population grows, the need for senior fitness programming and management for this group does, too. Qualified health and fitness professionals can guide senior members or residents through a safe and effective exercise program designed to improve strength, reduce pain, and maintain the function of joints among arthritis sufferers.

Topics: exercise senior wellness programs arthritis senior fitness obesity

CEO Participation Drives Corporate Wellness Results

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

CEO support, corporate leadership, corporate wellnessInvesting time and other resources in an employee wellness program as part of your broader business strategy can certainly lower increasing health care costs. Active, healthy employees also have fewer hospital admissions and disability claims. Providing employees with a corporate fitness center, group exercise classes as well as health seminars to teach them how to choose better health motivates workers to take advantage of what is available. You may also find that you reap other unintended but positive outcomes like improved employee morale through increased networking opportunities between upper management and employees.

While a corporate wellness program is primarily voluntary, many will choose to do so if the cost is low or free and if their upper-level executives are motivating them to do so. And that’s the key: upper-level executive support.

Simply drafting an email about your newly branded, hot-off-the-press wellness program that’s designed with the employees in mind is not enough. It’s a good start, but that’s it―it’s only a starting point. You have to show support with your active participation in the healthy offerings at your organization. You have to actively cheerlead your organization to better health.

Hire a great team to develop and implement the strategy. But stay tuned in enough to communicate your support in a variety of ways. To help you better visualize the myriad ways you can support organizational well-being, check out our acronym:

  • S = Stop hiding in your corner office; walk the talk.
  • U = Understand that your employees need to see healthy behavior modeled.
  • P = Put down your smartphone and interact with your employees at a health-related event.
  • P = Pull on the gym shoes and hold a walking meeting.
  • O = Open up about your results at your company’s screening events and then commit to your own plan for improving or maintaining your health.
  • R = Remove barriers for your c-suite leaders by encouraging wellness-focused goals as part of their performance bonuses.
  • T = Tune into what your employees need to be successful and then leverage your creative organizational leaders to create those opportunities through your wellness strategy.


Topics: corporate wellness motivation