Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Benefits of Short Bouts of Cardio in the Corporate Fitness Center

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

When it comes to fitting workouts into your busy schedule, you need to find whacorporate fitness treadmillt works best for you. You will be more likely to stick to the plan if it’s convenient and works with your schedule. Not having enough time for exercise is the number-one excuse.

But studies are being done on the effectiveness of short bouts of exercise as opposed to being on the treadmill for 45 minutes at a time. Shorter, 10-minute bouts of exercise are just as effective. And for most, they are a more practical way of getting your workouts in throughout the day. You are still burning the calories and fat, which your body needs to maintain.

Here is a list of benefits to shorter, more intense bouts of cardio:

  • Lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood-sugar levels.
  • Helps to cut the fat in the bloodstream.
  • Easier to fit in when you only have to find 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
  • Better for people with lower fitness levels because going for longer bouts may not be ideal.

Try kicking up the intensity and get two or three smaller, intense bouts of exercise in your corporate fitness center tomorrow!

Topics: corporate fitness cardio

Employee Health: Get Fit with Your Kids!

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

family fitnessDo you sometimes feel tired after work, but your children have plenty of energy to burn off? Do you find it difficult to find time for fitness and family life? Try combining them for a new, fun outlook on physical activity. You and your children will benefit! It helps them burn off energy and you will hopefully gain some energy.

I’ve listed some fun and creative ways to get the family involved in a healthier lifestyle:

  • Kids love video games, so look for good deals to purchase a Wii. There is fitness, dancing, boxing, and several other active games to get the entire family involved.
  • Pull out some of your fitness DVDs and make a game out of who can do the most or go the furthest on the workouts.
  • Be a kid again! Play games like kickball, dodge ball, and tag at the local park. Get other neighborhood kids and families involved, too!
  • Find a good trail for a family bike ride.
  • Depending on the season, find an indoor or outdoor pool for swimming and fun pool games.
  • Light strength training is also good for the kids. They don’t need heavy resistance because their bodies are still developing. If you have an onsite corporate fitness facility, talk to the fitness staff for good strength training exercises for kids.
  • Try to walk as much as possible―for example, to the park, to the restaurant, or to school.

What other fun activities have you incorporated while spending time with the kids?

Topics: employee health exercise at home fitness corporate fitness centers winter fitness energy level kids staying active

Corporate Fitness: How to Prepare for a 5K Race

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

running, 5K, corporate fitnessIf you’ve always wanted to run in a 5K road race (or any road race, for that matter) but haven’t because you are not a runner, listen up: You do not have to be a “runner” to run. Anyone can run! Get yourself ready for your first 5K by following these guidelines:

Start slow: Doing too much too soon is likely to result in injury. It may sound obvious, but if you are a beginner, opt for a training program that was designed for beginners, such as Couch to 5K. Have realistic expectations. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Don’t compare yourself to other runners—we are all different and will progress according to our own body’s schedule.

Warm up: Warming up prepares your body for aerobic activity. It gradually revs up your cardiovascular system and increases blood flow to your muscles to ensure that they are getting the nutrients and oxygen supplies they need to sustain an activity such as running. Warming up is also crucial for minimizing injuries.

Cool down: Immediately after your workout, take time to cool down. This gradually slows your heart rate back to resting and slowly reduces the temperature of your muscles, which may help reduce muscular injury, stiffness, and soreness.

Stretch: After you cool down, your muscles will be warm and pliable, making it a perfect time to stretch. Regular stretching increases your flexibility, improves circulation, and helps maximize range of motion in your joints. Simply put, stretching makes moving easier. It may also help reduce injuries.

Stay hydrated: If you prefer not to bring a water bottle with you on your run, make sure you are adequately hydrated before you hit the pavement. It is also important to make sure you hydrate after your run to replace the fluids you lost through sweat. If you do not properly hydrate, you could fall victim to muscle cramps, prolonged time to recovery, and other dehydration-related ailments.

Now that you know how to prepare, which race have you been dreaming of running?

Topics: corporate fitness stretching running hydration

Corporate Wellness and the War on Junk Food

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

The advertising world has come a long way. Think back many years ago when cigarette ads could be found in magazines or on television. Many studies have concluded that banning cigarette ads led to less demand for cigarettes. Most recently, various groups are calling for junk food ads to be banned from media. You might wonder if advertising is really powerful enough to influence these lifestyle factors, but a study done in Quebec showed that when junk food ads were banned, fast-food expenditures dropped by 13% each week!

The shift I’ve notice the most when it comes to food advertisements is that certain unhealthy products have realizBoy eating poptart resized 600ed they can’t compete with the health benefits of some more nutritious items. So, to market their products, they’ve chosen to highlight the “fun” aspect of eating their foods. Take Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts, for example, with their taglines, “Made for Fun” and “Joylicious.” Their commercials depict cartoon kids frolicking around with rainbows and hearts. What child watching that commercial wouldn’t want a Pop-Tart? Same with Frito-Lay and their tagline “Good Fun.”

Our job as corporate wellness professionals should be to educate our clients to look past creative marketing techniques and realize that eating isn’t simply a fun hobby. Eating should be enjoyable, yes, but also nutritious enough to fuel the body.

When it comes to advertisements, look for phrases like “100% whole grain,” “fiber,” “heart healthy,” and others that signify a product is more nutritionally dense. Still, be careful, and don’t believe everything you see or hear!

Topics: nutrition corporate wellness

Why Women Need Strength Training at the Corporate Fitness Center

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

women strength trainingAt lot of women shy away from strength training for fear of bulking up. But strength training is especially important for women to help build strong and healthy bones. Because of our low levels of testosterone, most women can’t bulk up. Strength training will also help to burn more calories and fat while at rest. Here are some more reasons why strength training is important for women:

10 Reasons Women Should Do Strength Training

  1. Lose body fat
  2. Gain strength without bulking up
  3. Decrease your risk of osteoporosis
  4. Improve your athletic performance
  5. Be physically stronger
  6. Reduce your risk of injury, back pain, and arthritis
  7. Reduce your risk of heart disease
  8. Reduce your risk of diabetes
  9. Benefit from starting at any point in your life
  10. Improve your attitude and fight depression

How to Do Strength Training

Running on the treadmill for several minutes each day might not show a lot of results, but adding in some strength training will get results faster. There are several different ways to strength train, and it doesn’t have to involve walking into an intimidating all-male weight room. You can use resistance bands, weight machines, free weights, kettlebells, or your own body weight.

Schedule an appointment with your corporate wellness staff to figure out the best type of strength training for you. And don’t avoid your strength classes at your onsite corporate fitness center!

Topics: exercise at work fitness corporate fitness centers weight training women

Obesity Is Still Prevalent, but Corporate Wellness Can Help

This blog was written by Mara M. Winters. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Hit TV shows about weight loss such as The Biggest Loser and My 600-lb Life continue to excel in ratings, and we are bombarded daily with new information about how excessive weight negatively affects health. However, U.S. obesity prevalence remains high.

Recent studies show that overall obesity prevalence in the U.S. is 35obese employee.7 percent in the adult population and 16.9 percent in children. Over the past two years (2009–2010), there were significant increases in obesity for men of all ethnic backgrounds compared to data from the previous studies (1999–2010). There were no significant increases among women overall, but researchers found statistically significant increases in African-American women and Mexican-American women. Another sobering finding of the studies is that children are going into adulthood weighing more than ever before.

While this report seems a bit grim, there is hope. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that over the past 12 years, the obesity rates among adults and children are not increasing.

While no one can say exactly why there has been a stall in the obesity rates, most experts are hopeful that national campaigns in promoting healthy eating and exercise are having some type of effect. We know that obesity costs the U.S. $147 billion every year and is a major health problem.

Many corporate wellness centers offer unique ways to curtail obesity, such as the following:

  • Body composition screenings and health assessments
  • Weight-loss contests and incentive programs
  • Group fitness classes
  • Educational telesminars about healthy living

While it seems U.S. weight gain has leveled out, we will still feel the effects for a while. Take advantage of wellness services available to you to reduce problems caused by obesity.

Topics: overweight employees corporate wellness obesity

Senior Fitness: Make a Splash for Your Health

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

Swimming has long been a heralded exercise due to the fact that it provides a solid cardiovascular workout while remaining gentle on the joints. The water can provide a stable environment, free from harsh elements, that keeps swimmers from overheating during a workout. These features make swimming attractive to older adults, and new research that shows it can lower blood pressure boosts its stock even more.

swimming older adult resized 600The small study, conducted at the University of Texas, found a decrease of almost 10 mm Hg in the systolic blood pressure (the number “on top”) of seniors who had borderline high blood pressure but were not receiving any type of treatment for their condition. As a bonus, researchers also found improved elasticity in the arteries of the participants, which is beneficial for preventing stroke and heart disease. These positive results were exhibited after three to four days per week of various swimming exercises for a total of twelve weeks.

If you’re an older adult seeking a lifestyle change that can help decrease blood pressure or someone simply wanting more variety, consider trying swimming. Or, perhaps you’re looking to get a parent, grandparent, or other loved one involved in an exercise program. Due to swimming's popularity, use of a swimming pool and aquatic programs is offered at many fitness centers associated with senior living communities. Other local fitness centers and community pools may also provide an opportunity to reap the benefits of swimming.

Topics: senior fitness exercise swimming

Walking for Employee Health

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

April is the perfect month to start walking for exercise, or to simply ease back into a workout regimen. It is easy to do and can be done anywhere. All you need is a good pair of tennis shoes.

There are many health benefits associated with walking. It helps to lower LDL levels (“bad cholesterol”), raise HDL levels (“good cholesterol”), lower blood pressure, reduce risk of type-2 diabetes, manage weight, improve mood, and increase overall fitness level.

How to Start a Walking Programwalking shoes

Remember to begin slowly when starting a walking program. Take a few minutes to prepare yourself at the beginning of every walk. Wear comfortable clothing and protective shoes. Begin each walk with a five-minute warm-up at a comfortable pace and then stop to stretch major muscle groups. This will increase your heart rate and help prevent injuries. After each workout, cool down for five minutes at a comfortable pace.

It is important to follow proper technique when walking. Head should be held high, shoulders down and relaxed, arms swinging naturally at side, and feet should be shoulder-width apart.

Setting Exercise Goals

Setting realistic goals will keep you motivated and more focused on the end result. Make a few short-term goals such as “I will walk three times each week.” Also set a long-term goal so you know what you are working toward. An example of a long-term goal is, “I will be able to walk three miles after three months of walking.”

Tracking progress will help keep you motivated. It will also show improvements over time. Record in a notebook the date and how long each walk was.

The most important thing is to have fun! If you enjoy what you are doing, you will continue doing it. Change your walking route often to prevent you from getting bored. Try walking at lunch and invite a few coworkers to join you!

Topics: employee health exercise at work exercise walking adapting to exercise

Corporate Fitness: Kettlebell Exercises

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

What are the benefits of incorporating kettlebells into your workouts?

Kettlebells resized 600Kettlebells have a comfortable, easy-to-use handle, which I feel is a little safer if you are swinging them around your head, although others may think because the weight is on the bottom, one slip of your grip could lead to an injury.

Kettlebells allow you to get a greater range of motion, and force you to use more stabilizer muscles. The more muscles you use, the more calories you burn! Performing a lot kettlebell exercises will help to strengthen your core as well. Core muscles play a major role in stabilizing your body.

Kettlebells in the Corporate Fitness Center

Working at a corporate fitness center, we teach a lot of classes and work with a fit population overall. Our participants like to be challenged using the kettlebells. They are good way to mix up workouts instead of always using traditional dumbbells. These fun-looking weighted balls with a handle are also easy to store and don’t take up a lot of room, which is good for group fitness classes.

Best Kettlebell Exercises

A squat kettlebell swing is one of my favorite exercises. This single exercise strengthens the lower body, core, and shoulders, and gets the heart rate up. What’s not to love? I’ve listed a few of my other favorite kettlebell exercises. Try them today!

Topics: muscle toning corporate fitness centers weight training

Corporate Wellness: Is Nighttime Eating a DO or a DON'T?

binge eating, late night snackThis blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Snacking before bedtime has long been a hotly debated subject. Although we’ve learned that weight control is largely dependent on the balance between calorie consumption and calorie expenditure, late-night eating must be done with care. Otherwise it may damage your weight loss or maintenance efforts. Follow these simple tips for nighttime eating.

Nighttime eating is a DON’T if…

  • You eat out of boredom or habit; not because you are hungry.
  • It leads to mindless consumption of excessive calories, especially of foods void of nutritional value such as potato chips, candy, cookies, ice cream, etc.
  • You tend to suffer from nighttime heartburn, indigestion, or acid reflux.
  • You tend to reach for foods that contain caffeine, such as chocolate.
  • You wake up feeling too full in the morning to eat breakfast.

Nighttime eating can be a DO if…

  • Heavy, greasy foods with a high fat content are avoided.
  • It has been several hours since your last meal.
  • The snack is light and nutritious and contains a mix of carbs and protein (examples: whole-grain cereal and milk, a piece of fruit with cottage cheese, low- or non-fat dairy, popcorn, a small turkey sandwich, whole-grain crackers and cheese or hummus, etc.).
Topics: nutrition weight loss weight control