Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Using Wellness to Decrease Employee Turnover in Senior Living

NIFS | Employee Turnover | Employee WellnessTurnover in senior living is notoriously high for a number of reasons. One of the tools leadership can use to increase tenure for employees in community settings is offering balanced and thoughtful wellness programs. What follows are suggestions for how to elevate wellness in your corporate strategy so that your workforce understands you care about them beyond the day-to-day work they provide to keep the community running.

Employee wellness is about much more than a walking program.

How you position wellness in the organization can determine whether it sinks or swims. Physical health is only part of the picture. That's not to say you shouldn't offer a walking program. It can be a very simple way to help employees be more aware of how much they're moving during the day. But keep in mind that much of your community's staff members are on their feet most of the day serving the residents; a walking program for them may feel like "one more thing to do" in an already busy, service-oriented day. And giving everyone a wearable fitness tracker doesn't always communicate a "we care about you" message, either. The CNA scraping by on $12.50 an hour might rather have a small raise than a fancy wristband.

[Read More: Why Employee Purpose Could Be the Heart of Corporate Wellness]

Consider the health challenges across your workforce.

Your administrative/leadership team will have different obstacles in achieving good health compared to what you might see for your physical plant staff and nursing aides, and the community's approach to wellness needs and what it will take to address that range. The wearable/walking program I mentioned above is a good example of a well-intentioned offering that often falls flat for hourly staff. But, if you provide compensated exercise time for employees, you might be onto something in terms of a message that truly says, "We want to make it easy for you to live well."

Be careful if you intend to use biometric screenings and health risk assessments as the pillars of your wellness program. They have become hallmarks of a good "outcomes-based" wellness program in recent years, but that title may be misplaced. If you're just getting started on a wellness program for your community employees, it could be tempting to latch onto such screening tools as the place to begin. But there are challenges with these offerings that should not be glossed over.

Also keep in mind how important social determinants of health are for your workforce. The health habits that your crew practice at work are only part of the picture of how well they live. Where employees live can have a profound effect on their well-being. Access to healthy foods, reliable and convenient transportation, safe living environments, cultural norms and other issues have a strong influence for all of us on how they engage with healthy choices, and your workplace wellness program may be butting heads with those strong social factors. Maintaining realistic expectations about the ways your workforce can engage at work will help set your program on the right path.

Align your wellness strategy with the rest of your business strategy.

If your organization is already built on a model of caring for employees, infusing a message that you want to help employees live well should resonate positively. But if employees feel that the culture is punitive and as if their every move is being watched, "wellness" is quite likely going to sound like one more management hack designed purely to cut costs. Here are some suggestions for improving retention through a supportive relationship-based approach. You'll need to get the overarching company culture in place first before you add in a wellness component if you want your message about employee health to resonate with the staff.

Where to look next.

If you're more confused than ever about how to get an employee-centered wellness program off the ground for your workforce, you're not alone. The variable shifts, the wide range in roles (many of which are quite physical in nature), and the simultaneously gratifying and exhausting nature of the work you do, complicate how to both establish and deliver a wellness message and programming. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:

  1. If you don't know what makes your employees tick, start by getting to know them a little better. They may have interests they could share with colleagues that would buoy the whole department or organization.
  2. Connect with employees working in a variety of settings across the community to find out what would help them feel supported to live well. You probably won't be able to execute on all of the ideas, but you will likely get suggestions you couldn't have imagined on your own.
  3. Start small and with the right messaging. (Hint: You can craft the right messaging when you have information from tip #1.) Always lead with words and actions that communicate a desire to help employees live well. If you say it in words and your actions don't align, employees won't engage.
  4. Learn from other similarly situated organizations. There are communities out there doing this work with their employees, and they can help you avoid some of the pitfalls they've already climbed out of.

It's not easy work, but don't let that stop you. Doing well for your employees helps them do right by your residents, and that's a community where everyone benefits. Need a little more information to get your wellness program started in the right direction? Check out the blog below.

Blog: doing corporate wellness for employees

Topics: senior living staffing wellness programs corporate wellness employee turnover

3 Ways to Use Surveys to Improve Your Corporate Fitness Program

In a seasoned corporate fitness program, sometimes it's hard to figure out where to look next for improvement in the services, staffing, or overall offering. In NIFS almost three decades of providing corporate fitness management services, we've continued to evolve our use of surveys well beyond the typical satisfaction ratings. Below are three tested survey styles that we use on a regular basis to improve our corporate fitness centers and  ensure our staff are doing everything they can to sustain a positive and inviting fitness atmosphere for employees.

The New Member Experience Survey

We know that creating a positive and welcoming first experience for employees in corporate fitness is crucial to winning loyal members. And we value customer service skills in our staff as much as we value sound exercise science knowledge. In order to capture our staff's effectiveness at using strong customer-focused skills with new members, we began implementing a new member experience survey. We use the tool in a monthly welcome email with new members to get a better picture of any potential barriers members may experience as well as to better understand how well our staff are implementing expected procedures for orienting new members. Results from this survey offer strong talking points in semi-annual review discussions or more frequently if needed to both praise and correct staff, based on member feedback.

 View a sample of our new member experience survey

The Quality Assurance Surveys

When we contract with a business to provide fitness center management services, part of the package includes managing liability within the fitness environment. We have several components in our quality assurance program that support this activity, including a monthly emergency procedures survey which our managers fill out. It provides a nudge to ensure they're checking emergency equipment, stocking first aid kits, and documenting any missing or broken supplies in a timely fashion. We also have an annual risk management survey and a semi-annual emergency survey where staff work through emergency scenarios and take an emergency preparedness quiz.

View a sample of our monthly emergency procedures survey

The Satisfaction Survey (with a twist)

I suspect that most vendors like us provide a satisfaction survey to share with clients how the staff, services, and spaces are being received by their employees. It's foundational to measuring our commitment to the client; in fact, portions of our satisfaction survey sometimes translate into service level agreements between us and the client. We've made tweaks to our standard survey over the years, and we recently added a Net Promoter Score question as a new twist that provides us with more of an industry benchmark for the way our staff are connecting with members to build loyalty. 

NPS.png

Even if you're unfamiliar with NPS, there's a good chance you've answered a product or service survey question that generated an NPS for the provider. It's usually worded to ask how likely you are to recommend X service/product to a friend and the answer is given on a 0-10 scale. The responses then are broken down into three categories:

  • Detractors, rate their likelihood to recommend between a 0-6. They are considered likely to stop using your product/service and/or share negative feedback about your product/service.
  • Passives, rate their experience as a 7-8. They’re neutral to your brand; they might continue to use your product/service, but they aren’t likely to invite others into the fold.
  • Promoters, rate their experience as a 9-10 and they are considered evangelists for whatever you’re selling; they LOVE you and will tell others about how great you are.

The industry average NPS for fitness centers as tracked by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub association (IHRSA) is 43. That score includes commercial gyms, so it’s not quite apples to apples, but we are talking about a very similar scope of services where members are entrusting their physical health to the fitness center staff and carving out their very precious personal time to spend time at the gym.  Since we added an NPS question to our survey over the last few years, we have far exceeded that industry benchmark and we are regularly looking at strategies to continue growing member loyalty.


This overview provides a good snapshot of the types of information we gather through surveys, but I haven't touched on how we use the survey responses to coach our staff, improve our client relationships and manage customer liability. To dig more deeply into these topics, grab our white paper.

Make better use of surveys in your fitness program >

Topics: corporate fitness center employee health and fitness service level agreements for corporate fitness corporate fitness survey tips

A Warning About Wellness Data in Senior Living & How We Can Do Better

NIFS | senior living wellness Special thanks to Sara Kyle as a co-author for this piece.  You can read more about her experience in senior living here.

Over the last several months, the senior living industry has seen more published data on wellness offerings. A few examples include this report from Senior Housing News (SHN), and the 2017 ICAA/Promatura Wellness Benchmarks report. I'm thrilled that organizations are taking a stronger and more consistent approach to measuring the impact of wellness for older adults in senior living. We can all benefit by being more informed; but I want to suggest a few cautionary notes about the data. 

As you read the reports, articles, and posts, it's easy to get swept up in the headlines and colorful images. Instant validation seems logical when the numbers back up our own experiences. But just beneath those captivating soundbites are sample size issues, a lack of consistent definition of terms and problematic comparisons between a study population and real world groups. We've seen these research challenges for years in corporate wellness (check out this blog for a consistent digest of how the corporate wellness industry has routinely gotten it wrong). I'd hate to see senior living go down that same path.  

Here are a few examples from the above noted reports that spark additional questions when you dig a little more deeply into the numbers:

Who makes up the sample and how many of them are there?

In the SHN report, authors note that 308 adults age 65 and older were polled using a Google survey. We lack key information about these 308 respondents. For example, we don't know if those surveyed are employed, if they're community-dwelling, if they have health issues, if they're living with government assistance, what their faith background is, etc. And while 308 respondents seems like a significant contribution, it may/may not be enough to declare data from that sample to be statistically significant. These missing elements don't mean the survey findings are unimportant, but it does mean we need to take a measured approach to digesting what's offered.

We also need to ensure that study limitations (like sample size) are included in the write up because those limitations impact how we process the information for validity, reliability, and transferability into other populations. Limitations don't necessarily render the research incorrect or useless, but they do provide important context for the findings as well as how we might move forward to study a similar topic.

What do we mean by engagement?

It's common to see terms like engagement and participation when reviewing data related to wellness in senior living, but those terms often aren't clearly defined. In one case, I found (after some digging and discussion with the publishing organization) that participation was defined as residents choosing at least one activity per month. When NIFS staff report to communities about participation rates in the fitness program, we're providing data on resident who visit 1x, 5x, and 8x per month. It's easy to see how a lack of standard definition for participation could skew a comparison between the two different data sets. 

You might think participation is fairly cut and dry. And I suppose if our single focus is measuring the number of behinds in the seats, then participation is clear. But, we also know that headcounts don't always mean the individuals are involved in the activity. I would argue that sleeping through a stretching class requires a very generous view of participation to assume that the resident received the intended benefit from the class. And that's where engagement comes in; it's definitely a moving target. It's highly subjective and very individual. But the individual who is engaged in the stretching class is moving his body, making eye contact with the instructor, and is responsive to feedback or changes in the activity. While some people use engagement and participation synonymously, they are not the same thing. 

Is selection-bias an issue?

It might be. Here are a few ways I saw it play out in the two reports I've mentioned:

  • The ICAA notes that 89% of older adults living in Life Plan communities who are tracked through their bench marking tool, self-rate their health as good or excellent while only 68% of age-matched older adults who are non-community dwelling, rate themselves the same. That's a huge boon for housing operators, but this data suffers from a self-selection bias where a variety of factors well beyond the community's control may contribute to the higher scores for residents and the lower scores for non-residents.
  • The SHN report profiles a fall prevention program where the program operators note the baseline data showed that 38% of residents in the community had suffered one or more falls.  One year following the implementation of their initiative targeted at reducing falls, they noted that the incidence rate had gone down 10%. What wasn't noted in the report was a listing of potential reasons for the decreased rate of falls that are completely unrelated to the initiative such as variations in the pre and post-sample, and the increased likelihood for residents to not report falls (particularly when they know they're being watched for falls). The program providers indicate that they've saved the community $500,000 with this fall prevention initiative, but that savings would indicate that we can assign value to that which we prevented. I'm not aware of a concrete way to value prevention; it's one of the great shortcomings of preventive health strategies.

How can we do better?

While there are some holes in the data that has been coming out on wellness in senior living, I think the research should continue, and below are a few areas where we could all improve the quality of what we're releasing for the greater benefit of the residents we're serving.

  1. Let's ’s get industry clarity about how we define wellness because right now we see it as the “wellness gym”, the “wellness nurse”, the “wellness staff” who are really fitness center staff, the “resident wellness committee” who plans activities that may or may not be tied to purposeful living. Gaining a more clear and shared definition of what we mean when we say resident wellness gets us all started on the same page. 
  2. Let’s get clarity about how we define engagement and participation. To me, defining participation as 1x per month to seems kind of low, but if we’re going to agree to that baseline, then at least it's a starting point.
  3. Let's find value beyond hard numbers. The ICAA does a great job of profiling and recognizing fantastic programming provided by 3rd party providers as well as directly by housing operators. There are similarly interesting initiatives throughout the SHN report.  Continuing to share meaningful lifestyle offerings is a win for everyone.
  4. Let’s use data where it’s significant and less subjective. For example, one of the programs outlined in the SHN report showed where one operator demonstrated a 50% improvement on average for residents who did baseline fitness testing and repeat testing. In-between their testing periods, participants engaged in exercise prescribed for them by a trained fitness professional. This isn't a complicated initiative, our staff offer something similar in our client communities, and the data is hard to dispute.

When you're paying to download a report that promises reliable numbers, and meaningful information, it's okay to ask questions about what's being offered and whether it will translate to your environment. It's also okay to question the study design to better understand definitions inherent to the outcomes. 

We have a long way to go as an industry to tighten up research so that our evidence-based practices are better. Do you have other areas in senior living research or in wellness specifically where you think we can all do a little better? Comment below to keep the discussion going. 

Topics: senior fitness senior living community wellness for seniors senior living wellness programs older adult wellness

Healthy Party Food for Football Fans

Attention football fans: its playoff time, and with the playoffs comes squeezing into man caves, yelling at the television, eating pizza and wings, and drinking beer. But what if we could change how we hosted football parties to make them healthier for you and for friends and family? I’d like to offer some healthy alternative recipes to make your football events a blast for your friends without expanding your waistline.

First things first, always buy your own food from your local grocery store instead of going to the local pizza joint or fast food restaurant. Cooking at home with fresh ingredients gives you a lot more control over how food is prepared so that you might avoid extra calories or less-than-desirable ingredients that can come in fast food items. Also, always have a veggie/fruit plate handy! We all love to graze so be prepared for healthy grazing items for your fans. Now for some fun, and healthy recipes!

Ginger Garlic Shrimp

Nutrition Facts: Serving Size 1 Cup, Calories 110, Fat 1.5 Grams, Cholesterol 85mg, Sodium 234.5mg, Potassium 110mg, Protein 10.6g.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped basil
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 1/2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined

Cooking Instructions: 

  1. In a large bowl, mix the vegetable oil with the parsley, garlic, basil, ginger, lemon juice, salt and crushed red pepper. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 4 hours.    
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the vegetable oil. Stir in the ginger, garlic and lemongrass and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Season with salt. Transfer the sauce to ramekins.
  3. Light a grill. Loosely thread the shrimp onto 10 skewers. Grill over moderately high heat, turning once, until lightly charred and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to plates and serve with tomato sauce.

Teriyaki Sesame Chicken Skewers

Nutrition Facts: Serving Size 2 Skewers, 110 calories, Total Fat 2g, Saturated Fat 2g, Carbohydrates 2g.GettyImages-637145496.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 15 ounces teriyaki sauce (no more than 2g sugar per serving)
  • 6 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Cooking Instructions: 

  1. Special equipment: 30 (8-inch) bamboo skewers
  2. Soak bamboo skewers in water for 1 hour to keep from burning later.
  3. Mix all marinade ingredients together in a non-reactive container large enough to hold all of the chicken. Cut chicken into 1/2-inch strips and submerge them in the marinade, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  5. Thread 1 chicken strip on each skewer towards end of the stick, and line up on a sheet pan. Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until fully cooked through. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

Sweet Potato Skins

Nutrition Facts: Serving Size 1 Ounce, Calories 140, Total Fat 7g, Saturated Fat 2g, Cholesterol 5mg, Sodium 140mg, Carbohydrates 15g, Dietary Fiber 3g, Protein 4g, Sugar 3g.

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 3 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
  • 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup salsa Verde
  • 1/2 avocado, pitted and cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup black bean chips, crushed

Cooking Instructions: 

  1. Position an oven rack in the top of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F. Put the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until fork-tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely. (The potatoes can be baked, cooled and refrigerated a day ahead.) Split each in half lengthwise, and scoop out most of the flesh, leaving about a 1/4-inch border all around. (Save the scooped-out flesh for making mashed sweet potatoes later.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put a rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the potato skins skin-side up on the rack, and brush with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Bake until the skins are slightly browned, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely, then cut each in half crosswise.
  3. Arrange the pieces skin-side down on the rack, and sprinkle each with mozzarella, Parmesan and scallions. Bake until the mozzarella melts, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the potato skins from the oven, and drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Top each with some salsa Verde and avocado. Sprinkle with crushed chips.

Notice how these dishes are very similar to regular party cuisine? Just tweaking a couple of ingredients can make a big difference to the quality of the recipe. If you compare the chicken skewers to buffalo chicken dip, the average amount of calories per serving size is around 1000 calories compared to 110 for 2 chicken skewers. These recipes are not only good for you nutritionally, but these recipes are a unique way to stand out from your other friends while rooting on your favorite team. Now get out there and give these recipes a try or try transforming YOUR favorites!

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Topics: healthy food choices healthy eating diet and nutrition nutrition healthy party food

Why Outsourcing Senior Fitness Management May Be a Good Investment

 Of course, it’s horribly self-serving for us to say that staffing your senior living community fitness center isn’t a DIY (do-it-yourself) project. I'm not necessarily above shameless self-promotion, but the truth is, the consequences of choosing to provide your own staff for the senior fitness center can be costly. 

Let me start with an analogy. Think about your car and the routine oil change that's needed every 5,000 miles. It's not a terribly complex job to change the oil, and yet, do you do that work yourself? Most of us don't, despite the plethora of YouTube videos available to coach us through the relatively simple process. Instead of adding that job to our list, we drive to a shop and have a technician do the work.

In a similar way, fitness center management isn't super complex. But it does require some expertise for both the staff doing the work and the leadership charged with evaluating the overall success of the fitness program. If you're lacking in either area, there is likely room for improvement in your exercise offerings.

What follows are three key reasons I think working with a partner to provide the very best exercise program possible for your residents is a great investment for your community.

Reason #1: Your Actual Dollar Cost Is Only Part of the Cost/Benefit Picture

If you’re reading this thinking, “Outsourcing is expensive—way more expensive than hiring my own personnel,” you’re right. Of course, costs come in two types: direct and indirect. So don’t stunt your thinking about this by looking only at the invoice from the partner against your compensation profile for your own employee.

(KGR - call out park springs case study for improved service with NIFS vs with their own professional)

Reason #2: Outsourcing Fitness Center Management Provides Expertise You Can't Build on Your Own

Managing a fitness center isn't rocket science, but it does come with its own challenges (like most careers), not the least of which is making sure we're doing everything we can to support the customer, who in this case may be an 87-year-old woman who has never exercised. To that end, there is a benefit to having a pool of likeminded peers who are doing the same type of work, sharing in successes, problem-solving through challenges, and brainstorming new ideas together. When you hire an outsourcing organization like NIFS to provide your staffing, they have that built-in peer support.  When you hire your own wellness professional, they’re essentially on their own to build a peer network of support.

GettyImages-682517288.jpgReason #3: Outsourced Partners Are Experts in Fitness So That You Don't Have to Be

Risk management related to both the physical spaces and the programming connected to those spaces is an important consideration, and when you work with a professional organization to have your fitness center and related services managed, you don't have to lose sleep over the liability exposure. If your partner is worth their salt, they'll have the longevity and expertise to know the industry standards for waiver language, pre-activity screening, industry-appropriate certifications, subcontractor liability management, etc. 

Not sure where to start?  Get your checklist for managing fitness liability by clicking below to download.

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If you’re the “I’ll fix my own brakes” or “I’ll build my own home addition” type, then you’re more adventurous than I, and perhaps you should hire your own fitness professional. If you’re looking for an outsourcing solution that is more trustworthy and reliable than your mechanic, less expensive than your home addition, and offers a better return on investment, consider checking NIFS fitness management out. 

Is outsourcing fitness center management right for your community?

 

 

Topics: senior living community outsourcing fitness managment nifs fitness management return on investment

When It's Time to Expect More from Your Corporate Fitness Program

GettyImages-873616226 (1).jpgCorporate fitness centers are pretty low on the totem pole for most organizations. And that's how they end up just "existing" with the rest of the benefit items; they're on the list of nice things to have, but there's nothing about the corporate fitness program itself that tells leadership it's really thriving or performing well for the employees. If that resonates with you and what you're seeing in your worksite fitness program, it might be time to change things up.

Here are three signs that indicate it's time to take a fresh look at what's possible in your corporate fitness program.


#1: If You Haven't Seen Your Fitness Center Staff Out and About...

...its time to check in on how the staff are serving all of the employees (not just the corporate fitness center members). While it's likely that your fitness center staff are well degreed and credentialed for exercise, they also probably have some skills for promoting other areas of health. If they're not leaving the fitness center to provide additional worksite wellness programming, it's possible they were told that their domain is the fitness center and they should not be doing other health-related programming in the building. That's an easy one to correct; have the conversation with them and see what they can start offering across your campus to support employee health.

One of the beyond-the-fitness-center initiatives our staff members provide allows the employees to put up a signal at their desks that they'd like a quick consultation with the fitness staff. In one case, it was fun stress balls that were the signal; in another case, it was little green army men. Employees picked them up at a promotional table along with a flyer describing the at-your-desk exercise service. Then at designated times, NIFS staff walked the work areas looking for employees who had left out their signals. They provided brief consultations and exercise/stretch recommendations for employees at their desks, and they dropped off a membership application for the fitness center. In just one offering of this program, our staff interacted with an average of 40 new employees each week and picked up 15 new fitness center members directly from their consultation conversations with employees at their desks.

#2: If You're Not Getting Monthly Updates on How the Fitness Center and Related Programs Are Performing...

...it's time to at least ask for the data to see what the fitness management provider can produce. If the vendor isn't in the practice of tracking at least monthly visit and participation data, you may want to rethink the partnership because it will be a steep hurdle to get them thinking about data collection if that isn't already part of their business model. In truth, you should be able to count on at least two types of data from your corporate fitness center:

  • Monthly fitness center numbers: Total visits, unique users, frequent users (we track 5 or more and 8 or more visits per month), along with appointment volume and group fitness participation.
  • Program outcome data: Executive summary–style reporting that shows key outcomes from the initiative along with a program overview and plans for improvement in the next offering.

#3: If No One Has Really Raved in a While About the Staff or the Fitness Center Programs...

...it might be a good time to confirm how strong of a relationship the staff members have with your employees. We believe the foundation of our successful corporate fitness center partnerships is relationships. While it can take a while to build strong connections, once established, you should expect to hear periodically from your employees about how the fitness center staff are doing great work, helping to motivate them to do more than they would on their own, etc. If you're not getting those kinds of comments, your corporate fitness program might be in a rut and it's time to breathe some new life into what's possible for your employees' health through an exercise program.

***

Ready to dig a little deeper into what's possible for your corporate fitness center?  You're in luck - we have a whole guide on the topic designed to walk you through three key opportunities to build a more successful program.

Get Our Guide to Successful Fitness Programs

Topics: corporate fitness staffing worksite fitness employee health data

Fitness Tips to Jump Start Your New Year's Resolutions

If you've been considering a New Year’s resolution, "starting a regular exercise program" may have been on your list.  And why not? Starting an exercise program is a healthy choice that can help you feel better physically, mentally and even emotionally. In this blog we'll discuss four simple fitness tips that can help you stay on track with becoming more active.

ThinkstockPhotos-200554312-003-768x512family jump rope-5.jpg

First, start with an exercise plan and write it down on your calendar. This simple step of asking yourself to make a commitment can provide a regular reminder to keep you on track with your schedule and goals.  Ask yourself a few questions before solidifying your plan to ensure your fitness routine is maintained.

When and how will I exercise? Reserving the same time to exercise on a weekly basis will ensure you make your new fitness program a priority. Make sure the times to exercise are suitable for you and can be repeated without interruption. Choose activities you will enjoy to increase the likelihood that you'll keep coming back to your routine.  If you think exercising alone might make it hard to stick to your plan, then consider group fitness classes. Also, be realistic about your capabilities. If you can only exercise for 10-15 minutes then work within that time frame.  Some movement is better than none.

[Read More: 4 Fast Exercises For When You're In A Hurry]

Let's talk about some tips for ensuring success, staying on track and most of all making sure you continue to enjoy your healthy choices. Exercise doesn't have to be a pain or a nuisance. If you can find enjoyable activities, set reasonable goals you're much more likely to succeed and make this a lifestyle change, not just a New Year's resolution. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you go. 

Slow and steady wins the race. See your resolution as a lifestyle changer. You will be less likely to continue in the long-term if you are too hard on yourself and increase the intensity without proper preparation. Starting off with a low intensity program for only 10 minutes a session, 3 times a week is a good way to prevent injuries, avoid burnout and make your new routine a healthy habit. Keep your eyes on the prize and only worry about your capabilities. Comparing yourself to others physical abilities may discourage you and we all had to start somewhere!

Set the bar low (at least initially). When creating a healthy resolution focused on adopting regular exercise, set a goal that isn't focused on body weight. Becoming regularly active isn't an end game; it's a lifestyle choice and your goals should reflect that.  Life is busy and things happen that may modify our exercise program throughout the year. Setting a goal such as walking a 10k by June is more achievable than simply focusing on weight. As you feel good striving towards your goal, other achievements will be gained along the way. Remember you can also modify your resolution as long as it’s initially a reasonable expectation.

Bring a friend. Working out with a friend or partner can be the push you need to stay consistent. Consistency is key to achieving your goals and having a friend or partner is added support. Friends keep us accountable, motivated and in some cases a dose of healthy competition!

No matter the goal, remember that a fitness resolution is taking a step in the right direction to improve your quality of life. Keeping your eyes on the prize will reap benefits such as increased energy, healthier bones, and a positive attitude! Cheers to a healthy and active year!

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Topics: new year fitness resolutions fitness tips healthy habits resolutions fitness goals

Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes

The Transtheoretical Model (TTM) takes place every day in everyone’s life. It’s up to you, though, to move up the ladder on that model and make a healthy lifestyle change. The TTM is based on six stages. There is another stage that doesn’t appear on the model that people talk about, but we’ll get to that later.

The stages of the TTM in order are the following.

GettyImages-664155982.jpgPrecontemplation

This stage is where someone doesn’t see themselves changing within the next six months. Nothing will motivate the individual to become healthy at this point. This becomes a problem because some of these people are underinformed or not informed of what risk factors they are carrying. These people are just unmotivated and very resistant about talking or doing anything else that will essentially help increase their quality of life.

Contemplation

Contemplation is where individuals are ready to start exercising and realize that they need to make a change in their habits. These people want to take charge of the situation within the next six months because they understand the benefits of healthy living and that they need to decrease their risk factors in order to increase their quality of life. With that said, people start to do some research to figure out the costs involved in becoming healthy. A fair amount of people tend to stay in this stage due to the costs involved. These people are individuals who don’t have a lot of money to spare. So people tend to get stuck and go into what is called chronic contemplation.

Preparation

Preparation is the stage in which people will be ready to start making a change within a month. These people are individuals who have purchased workout equipment, joined a gym, talked to or made an appointment with their physician, and have bought other necessary essentials to get off to a great start. These individuals are very serious about change and take the right steps to be well prepared for it.

Action

The action stage is where people have made several changes to their lifestyle within the last six months that have significantly reduced the risks of disease. This stage is one of the most important stages because six months can determine whether an individual wants to achieve more, or it can be that breaking point in which that person decides to quit altogether. This is known as relapse.

Relapse

Relapse is a stage that anyone could hit. People will stop what they’re trying to achieve because their mindset is that they’re missing what they used to have, and what they’re doing is taking up too much time or is becoming difficult. In this case, exercising got too hard to complete. This usually happens within the first three months.

I myself have seen this occur when something unfortunate happens in someone’s life. These unfortunate events include loss of a job, loss of a loved one, not enough time in the day, exercise is not motivating anymore, and so on. Of course those things make you unmotivated to do anything. I get it, but when quitting anything, there are consequences. When losing a job, you’re out of a job and have no income. With no motivation, you tend to eat more and exercise less. Relapse can also happen after the maintenance stage. Someone might just want to take a break after getting into great shape, and then they’ll slowly go back to where they started.

Maintenance

Maintenance is where people have made a lot of changes in their lifestyle and are working even harder to maintain what they’ve been doing so that they don’t end up relapsing. People in the action stage are far more likely to relapse than someone in maintenance. The maintenance phase can last an estimated six months to five years. What people tend to do within that time is build up more confidence in order to make sure they are consistent with exercise and keeping away from poor habits. So although the action stage is the more likely time for someone to relapse, it’s still important for people to realize that a single craving and action to cater to that craving is more likely to happen at 12 months rather than five years.

Termination

This stage is a good stage in which to be. Termination is where someone is 100 percent into what they are doing and they don’t want to change because of the benefits of what they’re getting out of their choices in life. They are driven and confident individuals who don’t want to go back to what they once had where nothing motivated them (the Precontemplation stage).

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It’s up to you what you want to do with your life, but remember that one decision can change everything. Make your weaknesses strengths, get involved in your community, exercise with a friend or spouse to help you stay motivated, and talk to your doctor, a counselor and a personal trainer to help get you on the right track to a better life. 

Start the New Year right and set some goals and get started!

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Topics: motivation equipment healthy lifestyle change quality of life