Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Why should you shop at your farmer's market?

ThinkstockPhotos-526124862.jpgOne of my favorite things to do during summer in Indiana is to visit the various farmers’ markets around town. As a dietitian I am a sucker for the fresh fruits and veggies, but I also love the homemade desserts, candles, pasta, kettle corn, fresh flowers, and other wonderful items you can find.

Why Should You Shop at Your Farmer's Market?

Here are my top 5 reasons why visiting your town's farmer’s market is a must.

  1. Support the local community. Since the produce is grown and purchased locally, the money remains in the community and stimulates the economy. Also, when you shop at the farmers’ market you are cutting out the middle man, and the product is generally less expensive than if you purchased it in the grocery store.
  2. Eat foods that are in season. Farmers’ market produce is picked ripe and sold soon after picking. Supermarket produce, on the other hand, can take up to two weeks to travel from the farm to the store, even when it is in season. The produce tastes richer and more flavorful and the nutrients are better retained. This handout for Indiana allows you to see which produce is in season so you can plan ahead for meals and shopping on your next outing. If you don’t live in Indiana, check with your local government websites to see if they have a similar calendar.
  3. It’s good for you. The average American eats 4.4 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The current recommendations are 9 servings per day. Picking up multiple servings of fruits and veggies and incorporating them into recipes, meals, and snacks is a great way to get closer to the 9-serving-per-day-goal. This will guarantee you are meeting your recommended vitamin and mineral nutrition requirements, increasing your daily fiber intake, and acquiring cancer-fighting antioxidants. Locally grown produce is also lower in pesticides and chemicals.
  4. You can talk to the farmers who grew the food you are about to eat. You can meet the farmers who grew your food, ask when it was picked, how it was grown, and ways to prepare it. When else do you get the opportunity to learn so much about what you are putting in your mouth?
  5. There is certain to be one that fits your location and schedule. I love being able to go to the local farmers’ market close to work on my lunch break mid-week to grab items to get me through the rest of the week. Saturday mornings it’s off to the farmers’ market closer to my house to purchase goodies for the weekend and first part of the next week. To find out farmers’ markets close to you, check out the Farmers Market Directory on the USDA website.

An Inexpensive Path to Healthy Eating

Whether you are picking up items for tonight’s dinner or for the whole week, the farmers’ market is an inexpensive, healthy alternative to the grocery store that enables you to participate in eating local. Try to get there early to get the best variety and options. Not all vendors accept credit cards, so be sure to have cash on hand. Finally, bring along your own reusable grocery bag to put all of your goodies in so it is easier to carry home your fresh, delicious finds.

Not sure where to start on your path to a healthier diet?  Check out this quick read for how you could benefit from meeting with a nutrition coach!  Click below.

Benefits of meeting with a nutrition coach >

Topics: nutrition vegetables summer healthy eating eating local

Modifying Senior Fitness Programs for Assisted Living

Maintaining a well-run, popular senior fitness program in a CCRC can be tough. Often just managing the independent living fitness center is a full-time job for someone. Then, as residents move through the continuums in a community, they often start to miss out on the robust programming that was offered to them in independent living. So, what happens when a manager wants to extend programming into assisted living without adding a huge burden on themselves?


One answer could be to simply modify existing programs to better fit the assisted living population. This way, managers save some time with planning and can use many of the same program materials (which means saving money, too).

Here are a variety of tips for modifying senior fitness programs for assisted living: 

1. Make it a team effort.

One of the simplest ways to change an incentive program is to take it from an individual effort challenge to a team goal. For example, if the goal of the program in IL is to have a resident achieve 15 group fitness class visits over the course of a month, maybe the goal for AL would be to have the entire group achieve 35 group fitness classes over the month. Obviously, the goal numbers will depend on availability of classes and residents who want to participate, but you get the idea. Take it one step further and create a tracking poster to keep in the assisted living fitness area so residents can keep up on their progress.

2. Get volunteers involved.ThinkstockPhotos-533552808.jpg

Another way to make sure your assisted living program is successful is to involve some volunteers. Let’s say you’re doing a one-mile walking event for IL and you want to run the same event in assisted living. For IL, you can probably just market the event, promise some water and granola bars at the “finish line,” and residents will come out to participate. You could try the same thing in AL, but it certainly wouldn’t go over as well.

Instead, try recruiting volunteers (either staff or residents) and pair up with people while they walk. This way, your walk becomes not only about physical health, but also about social wellness and emotional wellness. Plus, most people would think of this event as an activity rather than just exercise, and so they are more likely to attend.

3. Recognize participants.

This isn’t actually a modification because it works equally well in both levels of care, but it’s still a great way to make the program a success. People love a recognition for their work. In assisted living, this can mean getting a little creative. Yes, you can stick with the typical throw-a-party-for-participants-at-the-end-of-the-program reward. Or you can try something a little different.

One of the simplest but most effective examples of this was during our Fitness Freeze last year. During this program, residents earn snowflakes for visits during the month of December. Instead of hanging them in the fitness center, one manager hung the snowflakes earned by assisted living residents on their doors. This resulted in two major positives:

  • When family and friends visited, residents could brag about their fitness center participation.
  • It brought more attention to the program and other residents started asking about how they could earn snowflakes.

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What other ways can you think of to modify existing independent living programming for other areas of the community?

Interesting in knowing how our staff can impact your fitness program?  Download our quick read, simply click below.

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Topics: assisted living senior fitness independent living programming

How to Revitalize your Fitness this Summer

Do you feel like every summer is the same: take the kids to summer camp, go to work, pick the kids up, go home, make dinner, and then start all over again the next day? What about you? What do you do for yourself and your health, wellness and fitness? Here are few tips for how to revitalize your fitness this summer.

  • ThinkstockPhotos-507114390.jpgPick up a new sport or try a new fitness class. Get social! Sign up for a group fitness class that you wouldn’t normally try and bring a friend. Ask your local fitness center what summer programs they have planned. Prefer a team aspect to your fitness? Check out a local sports league in your area and get involved.
  • Buy a new pair of shoes. If it’s been over 6 months since you bought new running shoes, now is the perfect time to invest in a new pair. Even regular walking can cause wear and tear on shoes and also your feet and legs. Visit your local running store and get fitted for the right pair of shoes for you. Then get outside and get moving!
  • Update your workout gear. What goes well with a new pair of shoes? New workout gear! We all love to show off new clothes, right? What better place than on your local running path or in your local gym? Also think about purchasing other equipment such as a good hat or visor to protect your face from the sun.
  • Change up your diet. Not only do you need to switch up your activity, you also need to modify your diet. The summer brings fresh fruit and veggies and a lot of color and nutrition available to add to your diet. Try new things, spice it up, and see what’s out there that you never knew you were missing! You might even try a healthy summer picnic.

As you think of new ways to revitalize your summer, make sure things like water, sunscreen, relaxation, and activity are all constants for safe summer workouts. Increased sunlight and heat provide more opportunity to develop sunburn and dehydration. Take the necessary precautions to avoid any mishaps that will prevent you from enjoying the outdoors.

FREE DOWNLOAD: 7 Ways to Add Exercise to the Workplace >

Topics: summer wellness and fitness nutrition hydration equipment shoes

Staying Active and Healthy on Vacation

Summer is a time for vacation getaways and family adventures.  Don’t let your plans get in the way of your health and fitness goals. Here are some suggestions for staying active and healthy on vacation this summer whether you are out of town or having a “staycation.”

  • ThinkstockPhotos-627280116.jpgWalk the airport instead of sitting and waiting for your flight. Get your vacation started off on the right foot and finish on a good note. There are endless opportunities to get in your daily dose of steps at the airport. Just be sure to keep correct posture as you move, especially if you are carrying or dragging a bag.
  • Do an entire workout from your hotel room. No need for a gym; you can do body-weight exercises, such as lunges, squats, push-ups, triceps dips, wall sits, planks, etc. The list goes on. Just be creative. Pack a resistance band in your suitcase for even more exercise options.
  • Take a bike tour. Sightseeing by bike can be a fun and exciting way to see the world around you. Some places require a reservation, so be sure to do your research to find a tour of the area in which you are staying. If you can’t find a tour, search for a local bike rental; then you can decide exactly where you want to go and what to see on your own schedule.
  • Try new things. Whether it’s a faraway destination vacation or a “staycation,” try things you’ve never tried before. Some examples include hiking a new trail, paddle boarding, kayaking, and golf. Another idea is to just take your workout outdoors and enjoy the beautiful summer weather. Try yoga on the beach or Pilates in the park.
  • Pack snacks and water. Don’t let bad nutrition habits ruin your healthy vacation; pack your own snacks. If you are driving, be sure to have plenty of healthy options so you’re not tempted to pull over at the closest drive-thru. If you are renting a condo, you can even do your own grocery shopping and cook your own meals. When you do eat out, try to plan where and when you are going, and what you will eat. It is vacation, however, so plan to splurge a little. Everything in moderation.
  • Plan ahead for an active vacation. Be sure to pack appropriate clothing, make any reservations for activities beforehand, and do some research to find out more about the area you will be visiting.
  • Make the most of your vacation time. Stay off your cell phone, close the computer, and turn off the TV. Spend your time doing activities that you enjoy. Spend time outdoors. Spend time with friends and family (or get some well-deserved alone time!). Be sure to get the most “bang for your buck” out of your vacation time.

Vacations don’t have to derail or throw off your healthy lifestyle. You just need a little planning and an adventurous spirit! What are your healthy vacation plans?

Check out NIFS picks for nutrition apps to keep you on track during vacation, click below for the free download!

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Why Wearable Fitness Trackers Aren't Your Wellness Program

ThinkstockPhotos-470428334.jpgConsidering how long it can take to make a global shift in corporate America, the rise of wearable fitness trackers in wellness has been meteoric. A recent study reports an anticipated 13M wearables will enter the corporate wellness market by 2018. Despite the rapid adoption of this technology by businesses for their employees, there remains healthy skepticism about what exactly is being measured and who is privy to that data.

It would be tempting, I think, for an employer to see wearable tech as the answer to their questions about how to have an employee wellness program. The devices are relatively inexpensive and generally easy to use. And many adults already use a device without it being connected to a corporate wellness program, so there is no introduction of something foreign to which the workforce must adapt.

But the easy answer isn't always the right answer. Here are three reasons why wearable fitness trackers aren't your wellness program.

1. It's not always about the numbers.

Despite the continued drumbeat for measurement, ROI, and quantifying value in wellness, providing opportunities for your employees to live well isn't always about the numbers. If you're offering a wellness program and your only goal is to save money on healthcare costs for the business, you're (dare I say) probably doing employee wellness for the wrong reasons.

Your employees are people—people with complicated and busy lives. If you want them to live well, you may want to rethink your desire to hook them up with a tracking device that's going to report on everything from steps to sleep. You might view it as a perk, while employees see it as more pressure.

If you insist on wearables in your wellness program, consider them as an option among many other tools your workforce can choose from to live well in ways that are meaningful to them.

[Related Content: Why Employee Purpose might be the Heart of Corporate Wellness]

 

2. Like most programs under the corporate wellness banner, one size does not fit all.

If you're a fan of using a tracker personally, it may come as a surprise that they're not a good choice for everyone. Some people are quickly defeated by the constant barrage of information, so instead of serving as a device to motivate individuals, they have the opposite effect. Other people quickly turn to obsession with the data, constantly feeling like they need to do more, move more, sleep better, etc., to the exclusion of other more important activities (like work). As eloquently stated in this personal account, "...there is a fine line between health consciousness and a health obsession...."

While this study on wearables points to a 53% adoption rate for the under-40 employee crowd (note that the adoption rate for the over-50 employee group was at 36%) as a good thing, I'm left to wonder...what about the other 50+% of your workforce? If you insist on wearables in your wellness program, understand the potential reach as well as the potential concerns among your employees. Diversity in your offerings acknowledges the varied interests and passions of your employees.

3. High-tech has a place, but so does high-touch.

I've written about high-tech vs. high-touch in corporate wellness before. Wellness isn't an either/or proposition when you consider high-tech and high-touch options. You need sophisticated tech solutions to understand what is and isn't working in your wellness program. Still, there are limits to what technology can do for your business when it comes to helping employees live well.

For the employee who is caring for his parents who are aging in place with dementia, the wellness tracker does not get him more engaged at work or taking more steps; it only leaves him feeling more alone in his caregiving situation. It doesn't provide support for him while he struggles to figure out how he's going to get dinner to his parents and still make it to his son's baseball game. But if he has a relationship with the wellness manager (high-touch), he might open up about this personal situation. Then the wellness manager can help him find resources through the EAP or the local-area agency on aging.

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Your amazing employees are complex and they need a variety of tools at their disposal to live well. Wearables aren't the answer; they're just a piece of the puzzle. Need to think outside the wearable option? Grab these seven ideas for how to make movement easy at work.

Looking to add exercise options to your corporate wellness offerings?  Check our out free download to help get you started!

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Topics: wearables technology fitness trackers corporate wellness ROI