Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

What You Can Do to Keep Your Parents from Falling (Part 2 of 2)

senior_woman_balancingNow that the less obvious tips have been addressed in part 1 of this series, let’s dive into some physical approaches that you can guide your parents through. There are so many exercises that can be practiced in the comfort of their own home to improve stabilization, gain independence, and build confidence. Our last, but certainly not least, tip:

Get your parents active! Talk with your parents about what they are currently doing to stay active, whether it’s a lifestyle activity, like gardening, or an intentional exercise such as strength training. It is important for your parents to stay active through all areas of wellness, but for now, let’s focus on the physical to keep your parents from falling. Here are some exercises that you can coach your parents through to help with fall prevention:

  • One-Leg Stance: Stand  on one leg at a time for 20 seconds and then gradually increase the time as it becomes more comfortable. Start by holding on, and then try to balance with  your eyes closed or without holding on.
  • Tandem Stance (Heel to Toe): Stand on your toes for a count of 5, and then rock back on your heels for a count of 5. When comfortable, progress to a count of 10. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
  • Hip Circles: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hands on your hips. Make a big circle to the left with your hips, and then to the right. Repeat 10 times.
  • Abdominal Squeezes: Sit forward on a chair and sit up straight with shoulders back. Tighten your stomach for a count of 2 and relax. Repeat this 30 times, rest for 1 minute, and repeat 2 times.
  • Sit-to-Stand: Start by sitting in a hard, upright chair (like a breakfast or dining room chair) with your feet hip-width apart, ankles right below your knees, and toes pointing straight forward. Reach your hands out in front of you or place your arms across your chest and stand up. Then return to a sitting position. Make sure that you sit slowly and do not “plop down” in the chair. If needed, you can use the arms of the chair but focus on using your lower-body strength to stand upright. Repeat 2 sets of 10 repetitions. 
  • Tandem Walk: First, find a place where you can take forward steps with something next to you that can give touch support, like a countertop or the back of a couch. Start with your feet together with your side to the support surface. Standing tall, take forward heel-to-toe steps as if you were walking on a balance beam. Take 10 steps or walk until the end of your support surface, whichever comes first. Once you feel more comfortable with this, challenge yourself by walking heel-to-toe backward! Repeat 2 times.
  • Balance Stance with Eyes Closed: Stand with your feet together and arms across the chest. Keeping a tall posture, close your eyes and hold this position for about 20 seconds. As this gets easier, progress by increasing the amount of time by 5-second intervals.

If these exercises are too much at once, just pick a few to get your parents started. Once they are comfortable with that, begin introducing more at an appropriate pace. If they need to rely on holding onto a handle or surface to try these exercises, especially in the beginning, that is perfectly fine. Their safety comes first, but remember: falls can be prevented! What are you doing to help prevent your loved ones from falling?

Watch the Video: The Balance Challenge

Topics: senior living balance fall prevention balance training exercise for elderly

NIFS Member Speaks: Stepping out of her comfort zone

My StoryThis month marks one year of having the pleasure working with Marisol Bruno. When I started working with her I was already blown away by her weight loss progress she achieved on her own and I had no doubt that she was going to continue to impress me. For the past year, Marisol and I trained three days a week and she never missed an appointment. Every morning she walked in the Wellness Center ready to work. She was so motivated and really understood the programs I created for her. She has made this a part of her lifestyle and there is no turning back for her. Each day she gets healthier and stronger physically, but most importantly mentally. She has gained a new sense of confidence and has become an idol for her coworkers. Not only has she chosen a healthier lifestyle, but she has motivated many others to join her in this way of living

Everyone has the ability to improve their health. Marisol is living proof that anything is possible with determination and dedication. I can’t wait to see what other milestones she achieves in the future. I hope her success story inspires you all as much as it inspires us here at our Wellness Center:

MBruno2 resized 600

It was April of 2013 and I knew I had put on some weight over the winter but was in denial because I was enjoying the eating more than I wanted to drop the extra pounds. I used the same old excuses: I don’t have the time, the kids, the husband, the house, they need me. I couldn’t possibly take time out of my busy day for me! My husband finally said to me, “we do need you, but we need a healthy you, so go make time for you.” I was left with no excuses; I guess it was time to get to work!


So, I took a leap of faith and emailed Lindsey Corak, the NIFS staff member at my location. When Lindsey and I met I was nervous and a little scared at the level of excitement & energy she brought. We talked about goals, focusing on my overall health and wellness. Some goals I never fathomed accomplishing. I thought to myself “Oh my, what have I gotten myself into!” Our first fitness evaluation I could hardly walk the treadmill, do a sit-up and failed on a single push up. I felt bad the poor girl had her work cut out for her!


MBrunoWe set up sessions 3 days a week working on cardio & strength training. I thought I was going to pass out after each session; I had never pushed past my comfort zone before. Within weeks, I saw improvements. I began to run on the treadmill, and a few months later I was running my first 5k with Lindsey running right alongside of me. It was the beginning of my new way of life. Since I was working so hard in the gym I decided to make changes in food choices for both my family and I.  Pretty soon my entire household was feeling and looking better than we’ve ever have. It’s been one year since I started training with Lindsey and I’ve not only met each goal I setup on that initial evaluation, but I’ve exceeded my own expectations. Today, I am proud to say I’ve lost 10% body fat and met my goal weight. I no longer feel the need to step on that scale every day.


I now take 3 morning group exercise classes offered at the gym and have incorporated functional training with Lindsey two times a week. I work out between 4-5 days a week and am the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life. I am thankful everyday to work in a company that not only gives me a great fitness facility but has a great staff that cares about us and guides us to lead a healthy life every day.

*Weight loss claims or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.

Help your employees be successful like Marisol. 

Check out our webinar series below for our quide to successful corporate fitness centers. 

Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers

 

Topics: NIFS members speak wellness testimonials corporate wellness success

Making Fitness Fun in Corporate Wellness

Recess

Your employees may see your corporate wellness offerings as the same thing over and over.  They might even feel pressure to participate which can often lead to them not participating at all.  Consider what might engage employ

ees in a way that makes it fun, a break from work, or even stress relief.  Our corporate fitness staff take client employees back to the days of elementary school RECESS!!!  Recess

Whether it be a single day event, a scheduled group fitness class, or even one day a month throughout the summer consider creating physical activities for your employees that create a fun and welcoming environment for them to be active.  Our staff established recess workout events with a carefree kid-like mentality to engage employees in a full body workout.  Recess events were established to help increase strength and agility while releasing that inner child to get outside and have some fun.

Sample Recess Ideas:

·         Fitness Freeze Tag – a great way to warm up, just like when you were a kid get employees moving with a game of tag.

·         Staff Says – just like Simon says, but insert the leader’s name.  Participants do whatever this individual instructs employees to do, think exercises!  For example, Simon says, do 5 pushups and once a person is out they do a walk/run lap around the area.

·         Red Light, Green Light – get your heart rate up with a game of red light, green light! 

·         RecessDuck, Duck, Goose – add a twist to the old school game, have participants hold a plank or perform sit-ups while one individual walks around deciding who will be goose. 

·         Kickball – get moving by setting up some bases and get a friendly game of kickball going at lunch time.  Nothing says recess like a game of kickball

·         Ultimate Frisbee – split into teams and take it out doors for some ultimate Frisbee.  Add a twist to the game and if they drop the Frisbee they have to complete a designated number of pushups. 

·         Hula hoop - competitions are another great way to take it back to the day of recess fun.  What a great core workout hula hooping can be.  Simply turn it into a contest for a little competition among co-workers.

Plan for Recess Success:

·         Budget and organize in advance – plan activities ahead of time to help outline what you need to purchase and incorporate into your budget.  An investment in hula hoops, a kick ball or Frisbees can be utilized again in the future.

·         Promote accordingly – spread the word to promote your recess event, send an email, post flyers, utilize CCTV if available, announce the event during other organized meetings, group fitness classes, etc.

·         Ask for feedback – connect with participants following the event whether verbally or via a survey.  Collecting feedback, both positive and negative, is one of the best ways to improve your programming in the future.

 

Not only did the employees like the change in their workout, they had a lot of fun.  Check out what participants had to say about the Recess Program:

“The staff keeps fitness fun and entertaining! ….The RECESS class was the perfect mix of childhood memories, fitness, and fun.  Kickball and musical resistance bands were my favorite!“ – Karen E.

“This was a great break from the routine. The games were creative, but the exercises still demanding.” – David C.

“Thanks for showing us corporate types that we can still have fun at work!” – Don H.

“Both of the Recess classes got me out of bed at 5:30! I was wonderfully surprised how effective and fun the workouts were…. The whole time though, everyone was smiling.” – Jennifer P.

“Absolutely loved it!  Felt good to just be goofy (duck, duck, goose, and tag) and enjoy a fun game of kickball.” – Donna K.

“It is hard to top a day that starts with chasing and throwing water balloons at your coworkers!”  - Irma T.

For more of our best practices, click below and recieve 10 other programming ideas implemented by our corporate fitness staff!

NIFS Best Practices Corporate

Topics: employee health corporate wellness best practice

What You Can Do to Keep Your Parents from Falling (Part 1 of 2)

senior_balancingHave you noticed your parents sitting more and more? Throughout the aging process we tend to become less physically active, therefore decreasing our overall strength. This can lead to many health issues, including loss of balance and eventually falls. Falls in seniors are the number-one cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries. As we all know, the older we get, the harder it can be to recover from any type of injury, so let’s help mom and dad prevent what could potentially alter, or even take, their lives.

Prevention is the keyword. Take a look at these tips to see whether you can do anything for your parents before an accident occurs and you find yourself saying, “This could have been prevented.”

  • Speak with your parents about their overall health. Discuss medications and their side effects, as well as health conditions that could cause falls, such as eye or ear disorders. Some medications alone can cause dizziness, while others may have negative interactions when combined, and visual and vestibular impairments and disorders can be large culprits when it comes to falls. It is also important to keep open communication about previous or current falls. This can be embarrassing for the parent, so it is important that they understand that it is not a burden to you, nor should it be an embarrassment to them. Do not take any fall lightly, because not all injuries are obvious or can even be seen without medical testing.
  • Make an appointment or two. Encourage your parents to make an appointment with their doctor to discuss their overall health and risk of falls. If possible, ask to sit in on the appointment to help yourself better understand what you can do to motivate your parents to work on fall prevention.
  • Help your parents with a home safety checklist. This is as simple as checking your parents’ home for possible hazards that could cause a fall. For example, ditch the throw rug, remove electrical or phone cords from walkways, or add night lights in their bedroom, bathroom, and hallways. Refer to this CDC link for a comprehensive checklist.
  • Discuss possible upgrades to existing amenities in their home. Oftentimes, the bathroom can be an easy place to take a tumble, so find out how you can help prevent these types of falls. Speak with your parents about raised toilets, grab bars, and shower or tub seats. Refer here for a more complete list of safety care product suggestions for the bathroom.
  • Chat about whether their home is the best place for them. Is downsizing realistically a safer and more convenient environment? This can be a very hard and sensitive topic to discuss but could prevent issues down the road. Consider alternatives, such as smaller homes, condominiums, retirement communities, assisted living communities, etc. Making the decision may be difficult, but it is critical, and the change becomes much easier once they have adjusted. Check out this blog to read about the “Someday Syndrome” that keeps some seniors from making the move.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this series, where I give another important tip that can singlehandedly make a significant change in fall risks.  Check out our Balance Training Whitepaper for the importance of balance training for seniors.

Download Balance Training Whitepaper

Topics: senior living balance fall prevention balance training exercise for elderly

NIFS: Celebrating Fatherhood

fathers dayWe as Americans like to celebrate lots of things, but two things come to my mind, summer weather and Father’s Day. At least, you might have been thinking of the first idea and expanding on that (with the first official day of summer being June 21st). My initial thought of Father’s Day is that it’s been around pretty much since existence and it was an official holiday before the Mother’s Day (even though Mother’s Day chronologically comes first). Quite the contrary, after doing some research on this holiday, I found out how it came to be. Sit back and relax as I share some insightful history with you on how Father’s Day came to existence.

While Mother’s Day came to be a commercial holiday in 1908, it wasn’t until 1914 that President Woodrow Wilson made it a nationally celebrated holiday. Then it was still another 58 years before Father’s Day was on the same national level of recognition. You see, Father’s Day, didn’t get as strong of a campaign to be a nationally celebrated holiday like Mother’s Day. Men were not as thrilled with the holiday; there were thoughts that the holiday was an attempt to domesticate manliness and it was a commercial gimmick to sell more products (which were more often paid for by the fathers themselvesJ) However, the thought to make Father’s Day a holiday originated from one woman that was one of six children raised by a widower when her mother passed away. It was 1908 after Sonora Smart Dodd was listening to a memorial sermon to honor fathers that had died in an explosion when she thought to drum up support for an equivalent of Mother’s Day for fathers. She wanted to show appreciation for her father in raising six children solo. She went to local organizations and was successful! Then slowly but surely, this holiday started to spread. There was even an attempt to connect both Mother’s and Father’s Day calling it Parents’ Day to show that both parents should be respected and loved equally. However, since this was during the Depression, there were efforts against combining the dual holiday and keep each separate. Businesses that struggled during this timeframe made hard efforts to make Father’s Day a “second Christmas” for fathers. At last, in 1972, did the holiday become officially “official” when President Nixon signed a proclamation making it a federal holiday.

So in this month of June, celebrate your “old man”! Here are some creative ideas from The New York Times articles below:

1. Together, watch the video of two male Barbary macaques playing with a baby, and then watch a family video of your father playing with you when you were an infant. Do you see any similarities?

2. Watch the trailer for the new documentary “The Evolution of Dad” and then make your own short tribute video about your dad’s role in your life.

3. Make an audio recording of your father – holding a conversation, telling (or reading aloud) a story or joke, singing a song, even just laughing. Make a plan to listen to it every year, and each time you do, write down what the recording brings to mind and how it makes you feel.

4. Write a short personal essay, letter or poem about an enduring memory you have of your father – and ask your dad to write one too, perhaps about a key moment or event in your childhood. Then read each other’s pieces. Were you surprised by what each other said, even about shared moments that you both remember?

5. Jot down some of the major lessons your father has taught you and create a handmade book – perhaps in the spirit of a textbook or how-to manual – complete with your own (and/or his) illustrations. Put it on the shelf in the family library.

6. If a video crew filmed your family 24/7, what do you think the film would reveal? Do you get enough time together without distractions? Or do you tend to be using digital media most of the time? Set aside some genuine, unplugged “together time” – and consider making it a regular thing. Of course, you might also watch television or a movie or play a game together.

7. Show your appreciation. Tell your father (or father figure) how you feel about your family and your parents’ involvement in your life. Do you understand and appreciate each other? Do you sometimes feel like there’s a generation gap between you? How does your father view your generation?

8. Use your camera to capture a family moment, or just look through old family photos and talk about the “stories” they tell.

9. Go pie-in-the-sky, and fantasize together about how life would be different if you made a major sacrifice for charity (you might even make a donation) – or if you had your dream house.

10. Spread the pages of the paper all over the dining table or living room rug – or the virtual equivalent – and just read and talk about the news together.

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Topics: family family health social wellness

The Rap on Wraps: Do slimming wraps work?

There’s the old saying, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is”. As a Health Fitness Professional, I spend a lot of my time sorting through what works and what doesn’t. Usually to find out what works you look at research, studies, personal experience…etc. What doesn’t work usually sorts itself out or they stop airing the infomercials. But what about these “slimming wraps? What are they? Do they work?

Slimming wraps are a not so recent trend of wrapping parts of the body with plastic or cloth and being amazed by the loss of inches afterward. The wrap company I’m using as an example says their product will trim, tone, tighten and help reduce cellulite. To be fair, they have a fairly lengthy disclaimer section stating the wraps are for cosmetic use only and do not help with weight loss.

But is there anything backing up these claims?

No. It may not come as a surprise, but very few studies have been done on the effectiveness of slimming wraps. This also includes almost all home-based treatments for cellulite. Be careful when searching for honest reviews online, as most reviews are essentially paid advertisements.

Do they work?

Yes, but only temporarily. No long term benefits are associated with slimming wraps. Much like spray tans, the “results” will eventually go away. I could go in detail about this and tell you all about the amazing anatomy of the human body. Or we can perform a little experiment.

Are you wearing socks? Yes, good! (no, go find someone who is). Now lift up your pant leg and pull your sock down. Is there an imprint where your sock was? Is your leg slightly smaller in that area? Awesome! That’ll be $19.99 please.

veggies weights water resized 600What does work?

Healthy eating and exercise. Use that $59.99 to buy some personal training or group exercise passes. Slimming down any part of your body with exercise is going to take time and anything that promises “inches in minutes” is trying to sell you something. There is no replacement for clean eating and exercise.

Replace your processed foods with fresh fruit and vegetables along with lean meat.  Your portion sizes could probably use some revamping; try measuring out proper portion sizes for a week to get a better understanding of what you are actually eating.  Start a food log to help track when you are eating and why, maybe you eat when you are bored or tired.  This will help you understand triggers that cause you to eat.

Want to trim down your midsection the old fashion way? Try this beginner workout to get started:

  • .25 mile run/walk

  • 1 minute seated Core Twist

  • 1 minute Plank

  • 30 second Mountain Climbers

  • Repeat 2-3 times

I'm curious to know if you have tried a wrap and if it encouraged you to adapt a healthier lifestyle through diet and exercise.  Comment and share what you have found to work for you.


Topics: employee health weight loss fitness trends

High-Touch Versus High-Tech in Corporate Wellness

fit techThere’s been a lot in the media lately about wearable technology having a strong presence in corporate wellness. Employee wellness programs have provided a whole new market for some wearable manufacturers, and one research firm indicates that upwards of 13 million wearables could become part of employee wellness initiatives in the next five years.

The Challenges with  High Tech Wellness

This specific high-tech phenomenon is fairly new and relatively unresearched in terms of long-term effectiveness at helping adults make sustainable health behavior change. But technology in corporate wellness has been around for years and it has evolved to keep up with perceived wants and needs. Years (and I mean years) ago, we used to take health risk assessments (HRA) on paper. Then those moved to this thing called the internet. Eventually, we got “smart” feedback on those HRAs and our fingerstick data was integrated with our self-report HRA responses to create a profile.

Now we have web capacity to integrate with pedometers and other higher-tech wearables like Up® by Jawbone® and various products by Fitbit. The data syncs up to a company site where we can compete with our peers, and it links with our own tracking tools on our phones. We have access to a lot of information about our movement. Still, I wonder if data is really king when it comes to health behavior change. Are high-tech solutions enough to help someone move their own needle?

You probably have anecdotes where someone’s health was profoundly changed with the help of a wearable, an app, or some combination. You, like me, may also know stories where a wearable began an obsession with data and quickly sucked all the fun out of measuring the movement. So effectiveness may very well be in the arm of the wearer (so to speak). Still, there are definite limits to today’s tech solutions. Maybe someone will solve them down the line, but right now, as I see it, there are barriers on tech that limit potential impact on improving health. There’s a great outline of these limits in this Forbes article.

There are other issues with a high-tech-only solution that have come to light recently, as well. For example, while more and more boomers (who are still in your workforce) are adopting technology solutions in various areas of their lives, they still lag behind Gen X and Millennials in their rate of adoption. This article makes the case that boomers may be the demographic most likely to benefit from, and most willing to pay for health-related technology, but the market isn’t designing for them.

And while the technology certainly supports what seems to be the unquenchable thirst for data, there is still the tricky math involved in determining whether your employee wellness device translates to actual company savings on health care.

How High Touch Wellness Helps

When you look at the challenges identified in the Forbes article, many (dare I say all) of them can be worked through or even remedied by a human being with a brain and some capacity for nuance. And here’s where high-touch in corporate wellness steps up.

The right people powering your corporate wellness program should be

  • Both capable of and passionate about helping your employees establish healthy goals and effective plans to achieve those goals.
  • Compassionate motivators who have the right skills to nudge participants toward finding their own intrinsic motivation.
  • Nuanced enough to know when to step in to provide a course correction when your employees stop engaging or when their efforts aren’t achieving the carefully crafted goals.
  • Savvy at helping participants understand their data in a way that’s meaningful and impactful.

Using people in a high-touch capacity to bolster and back up your high-tech tools can be an effective way to help your employees achieve better health. 

CORP Initiatives

 

Topics: corporate wellness employee health technology corporate wellness staffing counting steps