Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Corporate Fitness: The Battle of BMI vs. Body Composition

scaleBody Mass Index (BMI) vs. Body Composition: These measurements are used in the healthcare and corporate fitness worlds to help identify risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. But which is best? Many experts reason that both tools can be useful in different circumstances.

BMI

BMI is calculated by dividing weight (kg) by height (m²). Although it takes into account only these two factors, it can generally identify levels of fatness in most people, and has more of a place when a simple, general assessment of a larger group is needed. Labels of “underweight,” “healthy,” “overweight,” and “obese” are used to describe BMI ranges.

The drawbacks of BMI are manifested in a couple of ways. Someone who possesses a great amount of muscle mass may be classified as overweight or obese, when in reality they are in superior shape. An unconditioned individual can be classified as being at a healthy weight when muscle mass is actually lacking. This is where measuring body composition is valuable.

Body Composition

Body composition separates fat mass from lean mass and provides a better assessment of an individual’s health status. The limitations of body composition are that it’s not quite as simple and may not be practical for use in assessments of large groups. The simplest means of measuring it are by scale, handheld device, or skinfold testing and include some margin of error. While most accurate, underwater weighing or air displacement can be complicated and time consuming.

When embarking on a fitness program, it’s a good idea to track your body composition to help you measure your progress. This will allow you to have a much better idea of how your body is changing for the better with the effects of resistance training and cardiovascular exercise.  

Evaluate how you can do better for your employees with fitness offerings at your worksite.  Check out these 4 tips to improve your services, click below.

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Topics: overweight employees corporate fitness Body Mass Index BMI hydrostatic weighing body composition weight control obesity

Weight Loss: Reducing Calories, Not Taste

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

cooking healthyThe puzzle pieces of successful weight loss or maintenance are not limited to gym visits. They include healthy eating habits as well. Adopting a nutritious diet can seem daunting, so making small changes that add up is often an effective strategy.

Look into how you can incorporate some of the following tips into your own cooking and eating habits:

Cooking:

  • Swap cream and whole milk for skim milk in your coffee and cereal.
  • Substitute egg whites for whole eggs.
  • Use applesauce in baked goods in place of oil.
  • Choose lower-fat versions of yogurt and cheese.
  • Use nonstick cooking spray instead of oil or butter.
  • Trim the fat from meat, remove the skin, and prepare it through baking, grilling, or broiling instead of frying.
  • Use spices to pump up flavor.

 Smart Choices:

  • Eat whole grains instead of refined. They’re nutritious and will keep your stomach satisfied longer.
  • Pile on the veggies in sandwiches instead of cheese, extra meat, and mayo.
  • Use condiments like mustard, ketchup, vinaigrette, and hummus more often than mayo and high-fat creamy dressings.
  • Create bulk on a salad with extra veggies―not bacon bits or cheese.

 Eating Out:

  • Order a cup of soup prior to the meal. This will reduce your appetite.
  • Split an entrée with a spouse or friend.
  • Ask for dressings and condiments on the side.
  • Order grilled or baked foods instead of those that are breaded or fried.
  • Choose a baked potato or salad as a side dish.

 What other tips do you have that work for you?

Topics: nutrition weight loss calories weight management

Employee Health: The Reality of the Weight Loss Rule

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

healthy weight lossSlow and steady. These are the two words that participants in the Pound Plunge, Richmond Wellness Center’s weight-loss contest, frequently hear from me as I coach them through eight weeks of total body transformation. To the dismay of many, weight loss is not an instant process. Many wish they could achieve their ideal weight in only a couple of days, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a one- to two-pound per week weight loss rate is successful and safe.

Can you lose more than two pounds a week? Yes, it is possible. Most often, in the beginning of a weight-loss program, you may see that it is easy to lose more weight. As you diet and exercise, your weight loss will slow down and you may hit a weight-loss plateau.

The Wrong Ways to Lose Weight Fast

But how do people rapidly shed pounds? We see celebrities do it all the time; however it takes extreme measures that are not recommended.  

  • Starvation: There are many starvation diets that call for very low calorie intake. You may lose weight, but side effects of this type of dieting include emotional changes, slower metabolism, weight regain, and of course the uncomfortable feeling of being hungry all the time. Low-calorie diets are hard to stick to.
  • Overtraining: You could spend eight hours a day working out. That would burn a huge amount of calories. However, most people cannot dedicate such a large amount of time to training. This type of workout regimen is hard to follow and can lead to overuse injuries, which don’t leave you feeling good, either.

Safe Weight-Loss Alternatives

Try lowering your calorie intake without starvation. With nutritional control plans such as Weight Watchers®, you can have a variety of foods and feel good, too.

The one- to two-pound a week weight loss rate allows for greater adherence to a weight-loss program. You are able to focus on manageable ongoing lifestyle changes through diet and exercise. Greater long-term success is seen with gradual weight loss.

Slow and steady may not be the most exciting method, but a wise turtle once said it always wins the race.

Topics: employee health overweight employees nutrition weight loss weight control weight management

Exercise Your Brain for Corporate and Senior Wellness

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

brain healthWhile exercising the brain is of great importance in retirement wellness centers to aid in preventing or reversing memory loss and dementia, it’s never too early to start actively increasing your “brain fitness.” Occasional memory loss happens to anyone, young or old. It often occurs in moments of fatigue, nervousness, or anxiety.

There are exercises you can do to increase memory and other cognitive skills. Just as you should incorporate variety and extra challenges into your physical exercise routines, you should do the same for your brain.

A few mental exercises suggested in this article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer are

  • Learn one new word per day and find ways to work it into normal conversation.
  • Learn a new language.
  • Perform routine tasks in a different way.

Often in retirement or corporate fitness centers, we challenge clients by asking them to close their eyes or stand on only one foot while they do basic strength exercises, thus heightening their proprioceptive awareness and teaching better balance. Similarly, the article says that when you change up simple daily tasks, such as unlocking your front door with your eyes closed, you are activating more senses and key areas of the brain, keeping your mental function at its top level.

Make it your goal to add one mental exercise, such as a crossword puzzle, to your daily routine!

Topics: productivity senior wellness programs corporate wellness memory brain health

Employee Health and Nutrition: New Risks of Diet Sodas

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

diet drinksMany people feel that drinking diet sodas is a healthy alternative to regular sodas. While we may believe artificially sweetened beverages may help cut daily calorie intake and therefore minimize weight gain or aid in loss, there is evidence that they can put employee health in danger.

Some studies have suggested that diet colas are actually linked to weight gain. Another study claims that people who consume one diet cola each day may also have a significantly increased risk for cardiovascular events compared to those who do not drink sodas.

While the full story about what links diet soda to heart disease may not be fully revealed, you certainly aren’t missing out on any vitamins, minerals, or other health benefits by not consuming these beverages. Some experts suggest that minimizing these types of beverages and including more water in your day may not only cut risk for cardiovascular disease, but also provide health benefits.

Want to know what you can do to help your employees make better nutritional decisions that not only prevent significant health issues but also protect their health? A qualified corporate fitness management company can help you and your organization guide your employees toward daily activity and nutritious choices.

Topics: corporate fitness employee health nutrition weight control water

Employee Health: Take Your Exercise Routine on Vacation

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

travel activitiesPreparing for a summer vacation? Be sure to bring workout attire! Instead of letting your exercise routine take off several days as well, check out some of the following fitness ideas and embrace the opportunity to be rejuvenated both physically and mentally.

Outdoor Fitness

Want to take advantage of the great outdoors? Here are some ways to exercise outside while on vacation:

  • Explore a new city on foot (or on two wheels): take a run, walk, or bike ride.
  • Bring the entire family to sightsee.
  • Have a beach nearby? A sunrise or sunset can set the stage for a great run. Incorporate pushups, lunges, squats, and core work in the sand.
  • Beach volleyball and a Frisbee or football toss will appeal to kids.
  • Seek out opportunities for surfing, paddle surfing, swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving.
  • Hiking, tennis, and hitting the links (sans cart!) will burn calories while you enjoy the sunshine.

 Gym Fitness on the Road

Not ready to give up your gym-junkie habits? Here are some ways to get in a fitness center workout:

  • Most hotels will have a fitness center, although you may have to get a bit creative since the equipment selection can be limited.
  • Swap the stairstepper for the real thing: climb the stairs at the hotel.
  • No hotel gym? Check to see whether they offer passes to a local fitness center.

 Staying Fit in a Hotel Room

 Stuck in the room? You can still stay active:

  • Bring a mat to practice yoga.
  • Strength train with resistance bands or body-weight exercises (pushups, squats, tricep dips, etc.).
  • Stationary exercises like jump rope, jumping jacks, burpees, and squat jumps will get your heart pumping.
Topics: employee health exercise fitness yoga

Employee Wellness: Healthy Joints, Healthy Body

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

healthy jointsYour joints play an important role in all of life’s activities. They connect bone to bone, which allows your body to move during everything from sports and exercise to everyday functions such as playing with kids, lifting groceries, performing yard work, and even sitting at a desk.

However, factors such as age, injury, diet, and lifestyle can negatively impact the joints over time, leading to stiffness, pain, and possibly even the onset of arthritis. Keep your joints mobile with the following tips:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Shedding a few pounds can help take the pressure off of lower-body joints, including the knees, which seem to suffer the most from weight gain.
  • Mix up the aerobic exercise routine. Running and playing sports can help build bone density, but too much impact can hurt your joints. Mix in lower-impact exercises such as biking and swimming.
  • Pump iron. Strength training builds up the muscles that support joint health. Mix together upper-body, lower-body, and core exercises.
  • Keep it moving. Sitting for too long invites stiffness. Take stretching or walking breaks at the office, when watching your child’s sporting event, or when watching TV or reading at night. When you do find yourself at your desk, practice good posture.
  • Stretch. Stretch after exercising. You may also find yoga, Pilates, and t'ai chi soothing for sore joints.
  • Eat for joint health. Consume foods rich in calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A, C, D, and K.
Topics: nutrition injury stretching yoga arthritis weight management pain relief joint health

Corporate Wellness: Bail Your Body Out of Sleep Debt

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

tired, headache, sleep debtYou know the feeling. The alarm clock is ringing and you're thinking, “If only I had one more hour to sleep.” Americans tend to lose about an hour of sleep per night (about two full weeks of slumber per year), pushing our bodies into sleep debt.

The side-effects of sleep deprivation are not fun to experience: impaired memory, foggy brain, worsened vision, and impaired driving. Long-term effects of lack of sleep can include obesity, insulin resistance, and heart disease.

Work Out Wisely to Improve Sleep

If you’re like many people, you are looking to get out of sleep debt. Exercise can help you sleep more soundly. Consider the following when exercising:

  • Morning exercise can relieve stress and improve your mood. Coupling exercise with the natural morning light reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle, improving your night’s rest.
  • The most beneficial exercise time is mid-afternoon to early evening. Vigorous exercise during this time raises your body temperature a few hours before bed. Then as you get ready for bed, your body temperature is falling, allowing a natural wind-down for the night.
  • Vigorous exercise before bed is not good for sleep. It raises your temperature and stimulates your brain and muscles, making winding down more difficult.

Understand the Importance of Sleep to Your Health

With some practice you can repay your sleep debt. Just like with exercise, the amount of time and intensity you sleep is important. Add an extra hour or two of sleep a night to ensure that you spend more time in deep sleep. Go to bed when you are tired and allow yourself to wake up naturally.

Sleep is vital to restorative health, so bail your body out of sleep debt by being active and catching up on your Zs!

Topics: worksite wellness exercise memory stress obesity heart disease sleep

Senior Wellness: Exer-games Provide Cognitive Benefit

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

senior fitnessMost people would agree that regular exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle, but how much of an impact does physical activity really have on one’s health and well-being?

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has been advocating exercise as medicine since 2008, and when you look at the statistics, the reasoning behind their now-famous Exercise is MedicineTM initiative becomes clear. Studies have shown that regular exercise does the following:

  • Lowers the risk of stroke by 27 percent.
  • Reduces the risk of developing type-2 diabetes by 58 percent.
  • Reduces the incidence of high blood pressure by approximately 50 percent.
  • Can reduce mortality and the risk of recurrent breast cancer by approximately 50 percent.
  • Can lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60 percent.
  • Can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by approximately 40 percent.
  • Can decrease symptoms of depression as effectively as Prozac or behavioral therapy.

Newer research also suggests that certain exercise provides cognitive benefits. Specifically, exer-gaming may delay—or even prevent—dementia, and has been shown to improve cognitive function in normal aging. Such exer-games include CyberCycle by Expresso and Shadowboxer ACTIVE.

Exer-games are also beneficial to physical aspects of health, as they shift one’s attention from the sometimes monotonous mindset of exercise to the task at hand, allowing them to put forth greater effort. Exer-games may also be more enticing for those who are easily bored by traditional exercise, thus helping them to more easily commit to a regular exercise routine.

Topics: motivation senior fitness senior wellness programs memory cognitive function dementia

The Importance of Breakfast for Employee Health

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

breakfast, healthy startIt’s okay to eat breakfast food for dinner, but is it okay to eat non-breakfast foods in the morning? I don’t think it matters what you eat, as long as you eat something healthy to get the body and brain ready to start your day. Breakfast is the most skipped meal of the day, but the most important!

Skipping Breakfast Makes You Gain Weight

Eating breakfast helps to control weight gain. Some people skip breakfast thinking it’s going to help them lose weight, but it could cause you to overeat later in the day. It is very important to at least eat some low-fat yogurt and fruit in the morning to get your metabolism started. Breakfast will also help you to concentrate better at work and help with memory.

Make Time for Breakfast

Another reason people skip breakfast is that they don’t have enough time in the morning. It’s better to get out of bed and have five extra minutes to eat breakfast than hitting the snooze button. Make something quick (for example, a piece of wheat toast with peanut butter) you can eat on the way out the door. Or, pack a few things for breakfast the night before to have it ready to go in the morning.

Try to avoid eating such a large dinner that you’re not hungry in the morning. Eating an earlier dinner and avoiding late-night snacks will help to increase your appetite in the mornings, and help to prevent weight gain. We all know preventing weight gain also protects you from heart disease and other health issues. So try it tomorrow morning: Eat a healthy breakfast to start your day!

Topics: employee health nutrition weight management breakfast