Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

NIFS Nutrition News: Top 5 Worst Snacks to Eat While Watching Football

football_foodIt’s that time of the year again: football season. With every year comes a clean slate for each team. Rosters are changed, stars have yet to emerge, and the underdog team is nowhere close to being discovered. With the changes the football season brings, have you ever considered your dietary habits for the season? Similar to the new football season ahead, do you plan to change your eating or drinking habits for football Sunday?

You really can keep nutrition and wellness in mind while enjoying a game party. Here are some of the worst snacks to eat while watching football, followed by suggested alternatives.

The Top 5 Worst Foods to Eat While Watching the Big Game

  1. Heavy or dark beer: Heavy or dark beer is loaded with calories and often has more alcohol per volume than a lighter beer. Consuming a six-pack of this type of beer in an afternoon can easily equal half of your daily caloric intake allowance and set back your hard work over the previous few months.
  2. Fattening ribs: Ribs are often loaded with fat and sodium, two culprits of poor heart health. Ribs tend to have flavorful dipping sauces and marinades that are primarily sodium infused. One serving of ribs can quickly tack on a load of sodium, which is known to cause water retention in the body.
  3. 7-Layer Bean Dip: Tortilla chips, guacamole, shredded cheese, sour cream, and refried beans are all loaded with calories. If this is combined with ribs and some dark beer, it’s a diet’s worst nightmare.
  4. Original potato or tortilla chips: A one-ounce serving of original-style potato chips contains about one fifth of your daily fat intake. There is even more in tortilla chips. When combined with bean dip and fatty ribs, potato chips are the straw that broke the camel’s back.
  5. Nachos: Nachos often include ground beef, refried beans, sour cream, guacamole, cheese spread or whole cheese, and olives. While this may sound appetizing to some, it can quickly add up to a weight-gaining mess. If you are eating out at a local bar for the Sunday game, avoid nachos as an “appetizer” because based on the total calories in one meal, it could be considered two meals.

 The Top 5 Best Foods to Eat While Watching the Big Game

  1. Light beer or wine in moderation: Light beer contains a fraction of the calories in dark brew. In addition, wine is full of flavonoids and contains fewer calories than a dark beer. Remember to exercise moderation when having any alcohol regardless of the “strength” of the source.
  2. Grilled salmon: Grilling does not always need to be bad for you. In fact, grilling can be a much better option than baking. Exchange ribs for a nice piece of salmon. Salmon is full of good fat and it can fill you up quickly.
  3. Fat-free onion or spinach dip: Homemade dip that includes fat-free sour cream and a dip mix can save loads of calories from entering the body. Try out your favorite flavor and mix it up frequently.
  4. Baked chips or sweet potato chips: If chips are going to be consumed, buy ones that are baked. Baked chips have less fat and less sodium than fried. If you are more inclined toward the healthiest option, try fat-free and low-sodium chips.
  5. Assorted vegetable tray: An assorted vegetable tray is a great snack for the game. Veggies can be dipped or used as a side dish. Swap out the nachos for veggies and try this as your appetizer instead.

For more tips for a fumble free football party, check out this article. For more help making healthy eating choices, find out more about NIFS Personal Nutrition Consulting.

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Topics: nutrition healthy food choices

NIFS: The Substitute; Don't Fear an Unknown Group Fitness Instructor

instructorsStand on the street and ask 100 random people their feelings about going to school as a child and you will get 100 different answers. If I were asked my response would have sounded something like this, “I just want to graduate and get a job so I can be done with homework and live the easy life like adults.” I’m shaking my head as I write this, but that is how I truly felt back then. No matter whom you are certain days in school were destined to be fun, and those days were when we had a SUBSTITUTE. Well today I am going to be that sub, except I won’t be in a classroom with books, I will be on a track with kettle bells, plyo boxes, and resistance bands; I’m subbing for an outdoor boot camp class.

Personally I love to cover other instructor’s classes, because I am guaranteed to encounter something different. The something different part is what we should all look for no matter our profession, new experiences break the monotony of our every day schedules and will positively affect our brain function. As I’m preparing for class my mind is racing and I love it, what music should I play, I wonder how many people will come, how fit are they, what if they can’t do an exercise, what if we don’t have enough equipment?  Are just a few of the questions racing through my mind, but instructing the class and facing those questions gives me the opportunity to hone my skills, meet new people, travel to new places, and hopefully become a better instructor for the classes I already have, and for  those I will sub for in the future.

I hope the same benefits I receive from instructing a new class is passed on to the class I am leading. Any fitness professional will tell you to vary your workouts to reduce boredom and to aid physiological changes. Well nothing will change things up for a group fitness program like being led by a different instructor. No matter how similar two instructors are, there will always be some differences, for example a different cadence will require a higher level of mental focus so that you can stay in sync with the instructor. Often people who have been working with the same instructor for long periods of time can go into “auto-pilot” or turn their brain off during class because they are so familiar with the routine that their body just moves without much thought as to what they are doing.

This blog is not meant for just group fitness instructors and exercise class goers, it’s meant for everyone. Break your everyday cycle and try something different. It will affect an area in your life positively. For all my class goers: when that sub does walk through the door, don’t pout, your instructor will be back, but in the mean time act like a kid again, let all that energy out and have a great class, after all it’s only a sub!

Get your groove on with NIFS group fitness classes

Topics: group exercise group fitness for seniors

Top 10 Reasons Exercise Is Important for Senior Health

seniors_walkingOver the years, it is easy to forget about exercise when it’s not routine. Remaining sedentary over life can lead to metabolic disorders and other diseases associated with physical inactivity. A recent study suggested that about 67 percent of the older population is sedentary for at least 8.5 hours each day, suggesting a need to improve activity levels for senior health.

Exercise for elderly people should be something performed regularly, and making it fun and a routine can help in the long term. Moreover, there are numerous health benefits the older adult can receive from long-term exercise. Following are 10 reasons seniors should continue to exercise.

  1. Arthritis: Exercise is one of the most crucial options for arthritis management. Regular activity helps lubricate the joints and can help reduce overall pain and stiffness that is often present among individuals with arthritis. Moreover, obesity is a risk factor for the disease, and increasing physical activity levels can help better manage the debilitating symptoms of arthritis. (Here’s another NIFS blog post about exercise and arthritis.)
  2. Heart disease: Heart disease is one of the biggest causes of death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that about one in every four deaths is attributed to heart disease. More people exercising later in life can help reduce the number of individuals with heart disease through the management of blood pressure and blood glucose, and decreasing LDL cholesterol.
  3. Metabolic Dysfunction (type II diabetes and obesity): Type II diabetes and obesity are two closely related diseases in which the body is in metabolic dysfunction. Exercise can help maintain proper body weight and help regulate blood glucose and insulin levels to make the body more efficient.
  4. Cancer: Exercise has been shown to help improve overall cancer risk among a variety of different forms of cancer. Studies have shown a 30 to 40 percent reduction in breast cancer risk among women who perform moderate to regular exercise.
  5. Hypertension: Exercise can help lower systolic blood pressure significantly through moderate-intensity physical activity. Try breaking up exercise into three bouts throughout the day lasting for at least 10 minutes each to receive blood pressure–lowering effects.
  6. Depression: Exercise can have a beneficial effect on personal mood. Studies suggest that group exercise classes among older adults can help reduce symptoms of depression by 30 percent or more in exercising older adults. The modest improvement in depressive symptoms can help maintain an overall greater vitality later in life and help prevent negative feelings or thoughts that are common with aging.
  7. Dementia: Dementia is a disabling condition affecting many older adults. With a wide range of mental disorders categorized as dementia, there is a great need to understand how to prevent the condition. Exercise is one prevention strategy that can help slow the mental decline. A recent study showed a 37 percent reduced risk and a 66 percent reduction in risk of dementia when older adults performed moderate-intensity exercise, suggesting every adult ought to exercise to help lower the risk of mental decline and to help prevent mental disability later in life.
  8. Quality of life: Maintaining functional independence is something many older adults want. A regular exercise inclusive of strength and balance training can help accomplish this. Aim to be physically active for 30 minutes every day and to strength train at least two non-consecutive days per week.
  9. Insomnia: Certain medications and life events can prevent the body from proper sleep. Higher levels of physical activity can help exhaust the body enough to place it in a position for restful and lasting sleep. Avoid strenuous exercise two hours before bed to obtain these benefits, and aim to meet the daily activity recommendations.
  10. All-cause mortality: Exercise is known to reduce death from all causes. In fact, a recent study showed a 30 to 80 percent reduction in all-cause mortality when individuals exercised at an intensity level greater than 4 METS, suggesting that exercise can help delay premature death from various causes.

Looking to improve balance for your residents, or yourself?        Click below to download our content.

fall prevention training NIFS

Topics: senior fitness exercise for elderly

Corporate Fitness: How to make fitness fun with pumpkins


We are always looking for ways to keep workouts fresh and members engaged. Holidays are a great time to play off of the holiday theme and create unique workouts. Although some may think of them as cheesy, once they get into the workout they realize we haven’t forgotten what they came for – a challenge! Each year around Halloween we plan a pumpkin workout for our corporate fitness members. Why pumpkins? They are everywhere this time of year; why not include them in a workout? The pumpkins act as weights and props. They are less expensive than most gym equipment and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, allowing for a variety of fitness levels to participate.

Around this time each year we start brainstorming how/when we will do our annual pumpkin workout. Once a date and time are picked, we send out a registration link to our members as a “special invitation” to join us. The link also helps us keep track of how many people we will have participating, so we know how many pumpkins to purchase. Through word of mouth, a few flyers, and emails, we’ll typically have a group of 20-30 people!

Planning the workout is where our creativity is put to the test. We try to incorporate the pumpkin as much as possible while making sure the exercises are safe and effective. A few things to consider:

  1. Weight - Each of the pumpkins will be a different weight, so make sure the exercises can be performed with a variety of weights. (Medicine or Dynamax ball are good to have on hand for a quick swap when the pumpkin is not the appropriate weight.)
  2. Shape - All of the pumpkins will have a different shape (some round, some more oval). Take this into consideration when incorporating certain exercises.  

cherelleThere are endless exercises that can be performed with the pumpkin. Start by thinking of go-to exercises that you would incorporate into one of your group fitness classes (pushups, squats, lunges, etc.). Now, think about how a “weight” or pumpkin can be added. For example, hold the pumpkin at your chest while performing a squat, put one hand on the pumpkin for an added challenge during a set of pushups, or push the pumpkin overhead after performing a lunge. Structure your workout so every major muscle group is targeted by the end. Also, throw in some cardio bursts, such as running with the pumpkin, bear crawling while rolling the pumpkin along at your side, or performing mountain climbers with your hands grasping the pumpkin. Add some core exercises as well (planks with a pumpkin roll, Russian twists, sit-up with a press, single leg v-ups).  Think about the amount of space that you have and plan accordingly.

AnnaSo, now you’ve secured participants and planned the exercises; don’t forget about one of the most important parts – pumpkin preparation! In the past, we’ve purchased our pumpkins a few different ways. A visit to the local supermarket allowed us to hand-pick the pumpkins sizes, but you’ll need some muscle power and a large car.  We’ve also gotten our pumpkins from a distributor – this proved to require less hassle as the pumpkins were delivered right to our door, but also resulted in less variety in sizes.

Depending on the condition of your pumpkins, they may need a quick cleaning to remove dirt and in most cases will need their stems cut so that no sharp edges remain.  A basic saw or knife works well for this – just don’t wait until the last minute to make sure your pumpkins are ready to go! We advertise that pumpkin selection for the participants is first come, first served, but as mentioned above, we have extra medicine balls on hand if someone needs to switch out. 

Now, you’re ready to give your participants a SPOOK-tacular experience with a souvenir pumpkin to remember it by! Looking for other ways to make fitness festive this October?  Check out NIFS Fitness Management's Best Practice: SKELETONE!

NIFS Best Practices Corporate

Topics: employee health corporate fitness

Corporate Fitness: Increasing Fitness Participation with SKELETONE

SKELETONEYou want to see your corporate fitness center investment being used by your employees and you depend on your fitness center management team to do so.  What if I said one of our managers did exactly that with a simple, fun (and yes, silly) program.  Check out this data:

  • Increased monthly visits by 23% over the previous month
  • Demonstrated a 40% increase in active members who attended the fitness center at least eight times or more compared with the previous month

If you ask me, those are some pretty decent increases in participation compared to the prior month.  Now what if I told you it was done with a fun little incentive called SKELETONE!  It is amazing to think what a bunch of adults will do when you put a fun and silly program on the wall to get them competing with each other to see who can complete building their skeleton first.

The program was simple, after signing up you receive your skull and each time you visit the fitness center and complete a SKELETONE workout you receive a bone to build your skeleton.  The goal was to receive all nine parts to complete the challenge, which for us was more about members visiting the fitness center eight or more times in the month.

I’m sure you’re wondering how this basic program was so successful.  Our corporate fitness center manager knew he wanted to increase monthly visits and really get people to visit more than a handful of times for the month.  Promoting the program was going to be key and he needed to do so outside of the fitness center to get members to enroll.  The client site was having a wellness fair the month prior which created the perfect opportunity to use it as a spring board for promoting what was coming in the fitness center.  When evaluating the program after the fact, he felt that promoting SKELETONE at the event really “salted the jar” and got people interested.  The event alone resulted in 52 participants signing up for the program in advance.

Programming is essential for the big picture in corporate fitness; consider what else you can achieve when you have the attention of members.  Group fitness is a popular at this particular site and with some unfamiliar faces pre-registered for the program it was a great opportunity to promote classes and increase participation for the month.  By adding a twist to the program where participants receive an extra bone for their skeleton when they attended a group fitness class, participation in the group exercise program jumped 51% over the previous month!

Our corporate fitness staff utilizes fun programs such as this one to keep our members engaged.  Adding fun to the workout makes participants want to complete their workout, step away from their desk, and enjoy fitting exercise into their day.  Interested in other ways our staff engage clients?  Check out our Best Practices and see why NIFS Corporate Fitness Management staff is top notch!

NIFS Best Practices Corporate

Topics: Corporate Best Practices,

Corporate Fitness: 5 Tips for Staying Motivated

couple_working_outWe all know that exercising is good for us.  It keeps us full of energy, lowers our risk for disease and helps us look our best.  For some people, these reasons alone are enough to keep them going and motivated to stay on track with their fitness goals.  On the other hand, we all know somebody who struggles to stay motivated enough to adhere to, or even begin a fitness regimen.  Maybe this person is a family member, a friend, a co-worker or even yourself!  Whatever the case may be, I am here to offer five tips that can help even the most unmotivated individual get going. 

Change your Perspective!

Look at your time exercising as your time away from all other distractions.  This is a time that you have set aside for your own personal gain and shouldn’t be spent stressing or worrying about daily issues!  Allow this time be a highlight of your day and use different means to find something that works for you!

Use Your Pets

One of the easiest ways to stay motivated to get some extra activity in is to use your dog!  They will always be a friendly reminder of when nature calls and this can be a cue for you to get up and take a walk around the neighborhood.  This is a great way to get going and enjoy time with your pet while keeping the intensity low and being able to enjoy the outdoors.

Grab a Buddy

Sometimes all you need is that little nudge to get you going.  Get with a friend or co-worker to help keep you honest and agree on a weekly exercise schedule and hold each other accountable!  Support each other on walks or jogs, play a sport or game, or head to the corporate fitness center together to work out and encourage one another.  Work together to make it fun!

Grab Some Headphones/Find a book!

Music is a great motivational tool to finish that cardio session or to finish that last repetition.  Pick some music you can enjoy with a higher tempo you can follow along with.  Are you the type who would rather be swept up in a good story?  Pick up a couple audio books by your favorite author and make a goal to listen to so many chapters during your session.

Be an Inspiration!

Maybe you have children, family members, or friends that would also benefit from developing positive health choices and fitness routines.  Seeing you succeed and commit to a regular exercise routine could be all that a loved one needs to also make a positive change in their lives as well!  What is better than being someone else’s inspiration!

I encourage you to be a motivator, grab fellow employees and go for a walk at lunch, or head to your corporate fitness center to make today your day to live a healthier lifestyle. 

Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers

Topics: corporate fitness employee health and fitness

NIFS: Food and Bribery in Education

childhood_obesityIn 2012, more than a third of children and adolecents were obese meaning they have excess body fat... MORE THAN ONE THIRD!  It's crazy to think that the days of kids running around burning all their energy has turned into kids on tablets, playing video games, and just sitting too much.

Parents, those with younger siblings, and teachers, have you ever had to experience those annoying, never ending tantrums or the unwillingness of others to do a task without a reward? How are you able to persuade one to do what you want or need them to do? Some may say prizes, small gifts, money, candy, or food work the best. A big concern in the news lately is rewarding food to kids for a job well done.

A local news station recently reported on the wellness guidelines in local area schools. Food will no longer be used as a reward for kids and will begin to create a healthier environment in which kids are in a majority of their childhood. For example, a local Indianapolis teacher will now be handing out crayons, jump ropes, offering lunch with the teacher, or the opportunity to be class leader for recognition of the students’ hard work. Instead of pizza parties, ice cream socials, suckers, and candy this school will be receiving sports equipment. This is such a great motivator for kids. I believe that if you get started on the right foot, they will continue to live a healthy and active lifestyle down the road.

If more schools follow the new wellness guidelines, it could turn into a widespread effort. I would prefer sports equipment and fun tools for activities over food or candy, but that’s coming from me, a young adult who has an athletic background and works in corporate fitness. Adults have a larger influence on kids’ choices than we seem to realize. Kids look up to adults and the choices they make. Setting a positive and healthy example could be steps towards a decrease in childhood obesity. If the nation works together as a team towards the same goal, America could be healthier, obesity rates could decrease, and the future could have the possibility of fewer health problems.

Does your child get rewarded with food at school? How would you like to see a reward system change?  Hopefully this is a step towards decreasing America’s childhood obesity epidemic.

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Topics: obesity