Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Five Reasons to Set a Fitness Goal for Racing

Finish line GettyImages-534921733.jpgIt’s true, signing up for a 5K or a triathlon can be fairly intimidating for a first-timer. The fear of going too slow, finishing last or even not finishing at all can hold someone back from completing their first race. The fact is, very few competitors are attempting to come in first place. Most are just trying to finish! The benefits of racing are countless and most have absolutely nothing to do with how fast you go. Here are my top 5 reasons why you should complete a race:

 

[Read more: 5 Ways to Avoid Injuries While Running]

  1. MOTIVATION: As a fitness professional, I’ve encountered several clients who admit that motivation is the number one reason why they cannot commit to a regular exercise routine. Having a date circled on your calendar marked as “race day” can be one of your biggest motivators. Put some skin in the game by signing up and paying for the race well in advance, and register for a training program to hold you accountable in the weeks leading up to the race. By doing both of these, the likelihood of you sticking with it are much greater.
  2. CAMARADERIE: Spending 10-12 weeks with the same training group is bound to lead you to new running or walking buddies. Whether it’s during a training program or at the start or finish line, you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people with at least one common interest.
  3. SUPPORT A GOOD CAUSE: Most races donate the registration proceeds to foundations ranging from curing chronic diseases, to disaster relief. You’ll get to conquer your goals with friends while donating to a good cause.
  4. FREE RACE SWAG: Races are getting extremely creative these days. Most races will reward you with a free shirt and medal, but other freebies like hats and water bottles are becoming even more common. Who doesn’t like free stuff right? In additional to free swag, there are yummy treats and beverages at the finish line!
  5. FEELING OF ACCOMPLISHMENT: Completing a race can be one of the most exhilarating feelings you’ll experience; crossing that finish line for the first time is something you’ll remember for a very long time. Even if it’s your 100th time crossing the finish line, the rush never gets old.

I don’t believe that anyone can ever grow inside their comfort zone. If you’ve never completed a race, now’s your time to step outside your bubble and make a change. If you’ve completed several 5K’s but a half marathon seems like a daunting task, commit to proving yourself wrong and take the challenge to go 13.1. If you’ve completed a half-marathon or full marathon, step outside that comfort zone and try your hand at triathlon. There’s a world of creative races out there so find your niche, start your training, and reap the benefits.

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Topics: race tips wellness and fitness motivation running reasons to race

Corporate Wellness or Employee Well-being? Or Does it Matter?

NIFS | Corporate Wellness vs Well-beingI wrote a post a while ago about changing the name vs changing the notion of "activities" in senior livingAt the time, the industry was working through a naming brainstorm (“name-storming”) to determine if continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) should be renamed. For the record, the industry has moved toward life plan community as an alternative to CCRC. The whole “name-storming” thing got me thinking about the value of words. Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer that words matter. Words are indeed powerful, and we must choose them carefully to thoughtfully convey what we mean. Otherwise, we have this situation, or this oneAnd yet, getting the words right doesn’t mean we can slack on our actions behind the words. Which brings me to a debate going on in corporate wellness…or is it corporate well-being? This article says well-being is the future of wellnessThe Global Wellness Institute’s Chairman also thinks well-being is where the industry needs to move because wellness isn’t as holistic. (Interestingly, she also notes that wellness apparently isn’t associated with happiness.)

If you point your web browser to a search of well-being versus wellness, you’ll get a host of articles that are part of the current conversation. And it seems that there is a movement in favor of the more holistic “well-being” as the appropriate, inclusive, aspirational name for the corporate programming we have traditionally called employee wellness.

So let’s make that switch. Let’s all link arms and agree to change our vocabulary and put wellness where it belongs…in 2017. Wellness vendors become well-being vendors, and wellness programs become well-being programs. Employees earn well-being points instead of wellness points and wellness directors sign new job descriptions that dub them well-being directors.

Except here’s the thing. We will still have corporate wellness programs that focus primarily on physical health without taking a hard look at how the workplace environment nurtures or neglects employees. Businesses will still have program directors who come from fully clinical backgrounds and who myopically build sterile programs that lack a more human element. Practitioners will still be talking about how important stress resilience is to helping human beings thrive with very little concrete employer-provided action to truly help the workforce get a handle on the pressures of work and life.

[Read More: Why wearable fitness trackers aren’t your wellness program]

Of course, the above descriptions don’t fit every situation. There are some fabulously compassionate, effective, and well-loved wellness programs out there in corporate settings. But for those programs, it doesn’t really matter if we call it wellness or well-being. Because the focus is on helping employees be their best selves in work and life.

I do realize this is pretty rich commentary coming from an organization whose primary focus in on fitness. To be fair, we have a lot to gain by the industry holding still on the current model where “wellness” equals physical health. But I’ve been around long enough to see that having your physical self in good shape isn’t the only way to be well; we’re only part of the picture. And, the more our staff are tasked with work beyond managing the corporate fitness center, the more value I see in using our relationships with employees to help them discover how they want to live well (which may or may not include a regular workout).

That’s the change we’re making, one connection at a time. What do you want to change: the scope of your program or what you call it?

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Topics: wellness programs employee wellbeing employee wellness well-being

Why I've worked for NIFS for 16 years and counting

NIFS | NIFS Health and Fitness ProfessionalsMaybe you've seen some of the chatter online about employers shifting their focus to providing a workplace where employees enjoy what they do and where they have an opportunity to feel like they're contributing to a bigger picture. As I've done more reading in this area, it dawned on me just how much this rings true for my work.  At The National Institute for Fitness and Sport (NIFS), we hold this perspective to a high standard and it  really is the core of who we are. For years, we’ve supported staff in their work/life balance and creating positive environments where employees can show up and not just contribute, but thrive in their career.

One of the ways this positive culture shows up is in our employee tenure figures. The service sector has notoriously high turnover, but when we took a closer look at our numbers, we calculated that the average tenure in our department was almost four and a half years, more than 50% higher than the industry average. Honestly, I wasn’t super surprised at this because our standards at NIFS are unapologetically high. We have always been dedicated to providing service excellence to all of our clients; we’re similarly committed to doing our very best work for each other. 

In my 16 year career with NIFS managing corporate fitness facilities (and 11 as a supervisor), I can tell you that I’ve seen evidence of our thriving environment in the regular positive feedback from staff about how enjoyable it is to work for our organization. I’ve also experienced this enjoyment myself and I truly appreciate working for a company that is both an expert in corporate and senior living fitness, and in treating their employees with the same kindness and professionalism that we do our clients and members.

Our management team and mentors are highly experienced and extremely willing to lead the way. There's never been a moment where I felt like I didn't have the  support that I needed from my supervisor or from our organization. In fact, the support that I have received is one of the reasons I have been on board for as long as I have. Because we're a nimble organization, it's easy to find answers and guidance quickly around every corner at NIFS, which means you have what you need so this in turn builds confidence in your quest to being the best you can be in your role. If respected leadership lands at the top of your career wish list, look no further.

We don’t cut cookies at NIFS, we build sandcastles. Our programs, services, and forward thinking approach towards the future of corporate fitness management and active aging services are unique and individualized. Our ability to customize increases with each new client, and every new staff member we welcome. Because of that philosophy, our Corporate Fitness and Active Aging teams are regularly growing and we’re always looking for the right fit to join our team. If you’re inspired by what you just read, we invite you to consider our organization and stay connected with us so you can open the door to a new, exciting, fulfilling career path. 

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Topics: corporate fitness careers fitness careers job opportunities in corporate fitness

3 Techniques to Relieving Stress that Don't Involve Going Overboard 

When it comes to stress, my belief is that you need a full tool kit of remedies for the different levels and types of stress that life tends to throw your way. Daily stresses or, “good stress” is defined as eustress. For me, this form of stress is fairly manageable with a routine that keeps my body grounded and focused, and allows me to burn off that extra energy with exercise. Eustress is short-term, it can cause your body to feel excited or energized, can serve as a motivational force to get tasks accomplished and is deemed as they type of stress people can “cope” with. 

NIFS | Tips for Stress Relief

However, when life decides to start pulling back the bow, stress can get more difficult to manage. When the arrows start flying, that’s when you need an arsenal of serious stress coping tools. This is the stress we all dread and is more challenging to cope with and manage. It’s called distress; it causes anxiety, can lead to physical illnesses or pain, and it can cause a decrease in performance.

[Read More: How Stress Affects the Body and Your Health]

It can make you feel pretty crummy if it sticks around a while. Tension can build from stress so watch for signs of this in your neck, upper and lower back, temples, and head. For me, these pains are red flags that stress is starting to cross over into the distress area. Without immediate attention you can become more susceptible to developing a cold, suffering headaches, or sleeping poorly. This is an area you want to stay away from so don’t ignore these symptoms! 

You want to be armed with different tactics depending on the stress, so let’s discuss some options to help you build your own stress reliving tool box. Just as perception of what leads to positive and negative stress varies from person to person, stress management techniques are also individual. I need physical activity to help my mind decompress at the end of the day as compared to some who need to take a hot bath before bed. The key to winning the battle against stress is to find what works for you. Below are some of my tools for keeping different levels of stress at bay and how they can help your mind, body and soul get through stressful situations.

Exercise 

This can happen in many forms. My daily go to is something that increases the heart-rate and challenges the body. It offers my mind a chance to wander, to think about non-work related items, and to day dream. When I really need to pound it out, I use workouts to push my physical limits. At other times, if I have a lot of head and neck tension from stress, I don’t always choose heart-thumping cardio exercise; sometimes a Yoga class is the right choice to ground my thoughts and body.

Research has proven that exercise packs a punch when trying to reduce stress. This natural medicine can put stress in its place by increasing endorphins which help improve your mood. Exercise can also take your mind off of the daily pressures just by allowing you to divert your focus elsewhere. Other benefits of exercising can include lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety and depression and improved sleep.  

Mind, Body, Connection

There are times when your mind will just take over and it causes a disconnect from your body. Call it what you will, up in your head, the ego, losing your mind, etc. Whatever you refer to it as, the risk is that you’ve become separated from what your body is telling you. We’ve all seen examples of this. Think of the guy on his cell phone that starts to cross the street without realizing there are cars coming right at him. Or maybe you’ve had the experience of driving home from work and suddenly finding yourself at your driveway without realizing how you got there. You show up to work with two different shoes or mismatched socks, or you drop the kids off at swimming when they should be at violin practice. These are signs that your mind is probably in overdrive dealing with the stressful factors of life. Your coping abilities are being pushed to the limits.

To avoid these scenarios, meditation is a great way to clear your mind. Studies have shown that even short bouts of meditation and shutting your brain off (or even trying) can have significant impacts on stress. The benefits of meditation surpass just stress relief and tip-toe into physical and mental benefits. If you’re not in to meditation or Yoga, check out these alternatives for mental relaxation and stress relief.

Take Comfort

A little self-love goes a long way.  Consider a long bath with a splash of lavender oil and a good book!  Old-fashioned rest can be just ask effective for relieving stress for many people; put your phone down and your feet up with a bowl of popcorn and your favorite TV series or a movie. Or, maybe taking your time in the kitchen and cooking your favorite dinner brings you comfort. Sometimes a complete wind down (as opposed to a workout) is the best choice to manage your stress. Think about what will take your mind off of the daily pressures and bring joy back into your life. Literally, slowing down to smell the roses can put stress into perspective and signal to your body that everything really is going to be okay. We have other tips for stress relief so we hope you'll click below to learn more. 

12 Unconventional Tips for Managing Stress

Topics: stress relief distress eustress stress management stress

Tracking Your Fitness Progress - Is it Important?

NIFS | Writing | Tracking GoalsAs someone who exercises daily, I have fought myself on this topic. Why should I track my progress if I am feeling good about what I am doing? If I am working out every day, I will gradually see results and continue to climb that never-ending improvement ladder! Well, as it turns out, achieving goals more complicated than that.

Everyone hits a point in their exercise journey where they feel like they aren’t seeing results. In the beginning, your workouts are new and fresh! Heck, they might even be exciting! You are thinking about the endless possibilities and goals you're going to crush. Then the novelty starts to wear off around week three (at least, that is where I notice a downward trend). By the third week, you're starting to play a head game: “You’re tired. Why don’t you just take a rest today and just relax.? Its good to rest sometimes, right?” Then, it begins to snowball and eventually you notice you haven’t exercised in weeks. We have all been there.

And that's right where tracking your progress comes in. I will admit, at first I was skeptical. I thought, “I don’t need to do this. This is just an added ‘thing’ I have to do and I am already busy.”  Benefits of regularly tracking your fitness journey can include keeping your goals in sight and your accomplishments in perspective. It also helps you to become more mindful of why you are taking on regular exercise.

[Read more: Do you have a healthy relationship with exercise?]

When you have had a hard day at work, your kid(s) are screaming for attention or crying because you didn’t put their shoes in the right place, this is a great opportunity to go back and look at all the tracked progress you have made in your fitness goals – especially if you are planning on skipping out of your nightly or morning sweat session. Added stressors in our lives creep up on us and try to take over. If you haven’t laid out your goals or are not keeping a close eye on what you are trying to accomplish, then they could consume you and you may fall off the wagon.

I am not saying that tracking your goals will completely silence the “I need to quit” voice in your head. Other factors can (and sometimes will) lead to you needing to postpone your exercise routine temporarily. Fitness related injuries or family matters can require a pause. Those are outside influences we can’t control. If it happens to be you feeling like your exercise routine is just not for you anymore because you are tired and “over it,” make sure you look back and see all of the amazing progress you have made (which you can only do if you've been tracking your workouts), re-evaluate the situation, and continue to focus on your goals. Staying mindful and motivated by assessing your progress will help you realize that some of your goals have been met, and others are attainable. And of course, there's an app for that.

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Topics: fitness tips fitness goals tracking your fitness progress

Does Your Senior Living Community Wellness Program Foster Ageism?

Several months ago, I listened to an interview on NPR with Ron Christie. He talked about working with President George W. Bush, who pressed the idea of combating the soft bigotry of low expectations when it came to the achievement gap for kids in schools. Turns out, the soft bigotry of low expectations is alive and well in all sorts of domains in this country, including how we view the abilities of older adults.

“If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse; however, if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming, I help you become that.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

NIFS | Playing FrisbeeOne of the challenges that wellness program leaders in senior living communities must overcome is making sweeping assumptions about the abilities of their audience. And it's no easy task. I am in communities across the country on a regular basis where I'm routinely surprised by the stories I hear from residents about how enthusiastically they're living their lives right now. Shame on me. After more than a decade of doing this work, I am still amazed at how vibrant my elders can be. That amazement, though positive and delighting, is rooted in my ageist assumptions that older adults somehow cannot or should not live with the same enthusiasm that I choose for myself. It is representative of the soft bigotry of low expectations.

Whether or not you can see these ageist assumptions in your own beliefs, you can see it very tangibly in the activity calendars, which are the visible display of how residents are invited to live well in your community. It shows up on senior living activity calendars in these (and other) ways:

  • Unique activities? Does your calendar have fewer than 5% of activities each month that are truly unique to the month, quarter, or year? If you're not sure, try this: pull up three months of calendars and cross off every item that is routine, including standing card games, meetings, birthday celebrations, group fitness classes, etc. See what's left and consider how empty your calendar might be if it highlighted only the unique events.
  • Passive vs. active? Does your calendar have a substantial percentage of the programming designed to be passive (sit-and-listen) rather than activating residents' minds and bodies? How many events are truly resident-led where the staff are only providing assistance with room reservation and possible event communication? Which programs can you point to that facilitate meaningful social interaction for your residents?
  • Serving just the vocal minority? Are your calendar events built largely on the vocal minority requests, where the activity director serves as an order-taker instead of pulling from a broader base of residents, community connections, etc.?

[Read More: 3 Keys To Improving Resident Engagement In Wellness]

Those are not the hallmarks of programming that communicate the capability, energy, and desires of the seniors we serve. Those are very much representative of offerings for those who are retiring from life. They tend to be narrow in scope, limiting in new experiences, and focused on probably 20–30% of your population. They demonstrate our lowered expectations for what will inspire seniors to engage.

Fortunately, it seems the senior living industry as a whole is moving toward educating on ageist stereotyping and uncovering systemic challenges that make it hard to overcome the generalized belief that increasing age means decreasing value to society. LeadingAge offered this "beginning conversation" in the magazine late in 2016, and the International Council on Active Aging has been beating the drum against ageism as well.

At the community level, using a fresh lens to see what's possible from an activities standpoint is a good start. That means dropping (as best you can) any perceptions you have about the audience you serve. You can take a stab at revealing your assumptions by giving a colleague your elevator speech about what you do.

  • Do you include assumptions about what programs residents will and will not participate in?
  • Do you have an underlying assumption of frailty in your residents?
  • Does your message speak to how resistant your residents are to change?

If your focus is on keeping residents busy and entertaining them, you may be building your enrichment program on ageist stereotypes. Perhaps it's time to do better. Check out these concrete ideas for truly honoring the passions and interests of your lively and very much alive residentsOr, if you're ready to get busy evaluating what you have as a starting point for making improvements, check out our quick read on how to evaluate the quality of your wellness program.

Find out how to evaluate your program

Topics: senior wellness activities active aging ageism senior living senior living community

How I manage my stress with a 5:00am workout

NIFS | Managing Stress | Early WorkoutI know I'm not the ONLY one who exercises early in the morning.  While I don't have stats on the percent of exercising adults who workout before 7:00am, I know there are quite a lot of us; I see my tribe at the gym when I'm there at o'dark thirty.  (Seriously, why would commercial gyms open at 5:00am if there wasn't a demand for it?)  Still, whenever I get into a conversation with a friend about exercise and it comes out that I'm on the treadmill at 5:00am, I get the "are you out of your bleeping mind" look. 

The thing is, adulting is hard. There are a lot of pressures flying in (and sometimes sticking around) from different directions. We're wearing so many hats - wife, mom, friend, volunteer, employee - that without fail, when one of those important elements in life is out of whack with high stress, the other areas suffer too. 

I know it sounds cliche, but exercise is my fix.  When I'm not moving my body regularly, the carefully-laid house of cards I've built that has the appearance of everything going smoothly in my life is going to get blown over by the slightest of stressors.  Enter the 5AM workout.  I don't mean to sound dramatic, but I've tried other times of the day and it just doesn't fit for my life.  I have to be at work by 7:30am so I can leave by 4:30pm for kid pick up and once I'm in mom-mode, forget the afternoon/evening for "me" time. I suppose I could try the lunch-time thing if I thought my coworkers would be okay with me sweating in the office (even after a shower...yes, I'm one of THOSE people).

To be clear, when my alarm goes off at 4:30am it's not like I'm all bright eyed and perky.  I stumble to the kitchen, turn on the coffee pot and then sit on the couch to go through some basic seated stretches while I wipe the sleep from my eyes. I am never happy about the 5:00am workout, and I don't hit it every day, but I'm always glad when it's done and my whole day is better for it.  

I've done the early morning workout since I started adulting after college, and I've learned over the years to listen to my body so each early meet up with the treadmill, the weights, or the pool isn't always a time trial to beat yesterdays effort. I'm more forgiving for a light day and for skipping a day which has its own benefits for my psyche. 

When I managed corporate fitness centers for NIFS years ago, I used to get asked what was the best time of day to workout, and my answer was always the same: it's whatever time you actually will workout.  That's still my answer; 5:00am isn't for everyone. But there are a lot of hours in the day to choose to move your body.  Even a short 10 minute stint can be powerful for your health.  Carve out the time, no matter the hour and no matter how brief. Your body, your family, and your friends will be glad you did. 

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Topics: stress workouts morning workout making time to exercise exercise habit

Tips for a Healthier Work Environment, Part III - Workplace Relaxation

In the first two blogs from this series, I wrote about offering healthier food at work and moving more throughout the day. Our last topic in this series is the one that excites me the most because I love the idea of being able to positively influence the work space for my colleagues. Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to hire a design expert. All I’m asking is that you consider the idea of RELAXATION in the workplace (gasp).

Try closing your eyes on some of these ideas to envision what makes you feel calm and takes you away for a moment. If you can conjure up a few mental images that bring peace, just apply those to the ideas below and you’ll be in good shape. If that’s not up your alley, you could even ask for volunteers at your company. You might be pleasantly surprised with what kind of workplace wonder they conjure up.

Retreat - Relaxation or meditation rooms are a great option for giving your employees some breathing room, or a place for some peace and quiet during the day. Since our culture hasn’t given in to the afternoon siesta idea yet, I think this is a nice runner-up. If your building has some unused space, it can easily be transformed into simple room for meditation, quiet break areas, or dare I say some quick shut eye. A natural, calm color of fresh paint, a comfortable chair, a small table, non-florescent lights or a lamp, a few pieces of artwork and you’re all set. Think spa-day, massage room or Zen like atmosphere, and you’re on the right path for offering a perfect retreat. Employees can then schedule time in the room with an online calendar system. However, you may have to limit the amount of time that can be spent in the room so everyone has a chance to benefit from the space.

Kids’ corner – We all yearn to be carefree like a child again but we know that’s not possible in the world of adulting. However, you can offer a space where employees can live out there childhood pastimes and creative ventures. This also doesn’t take much to put in place, but you will need some extra room for this one as well. This nook can have items like puzzles, cards, board games, Sudoko, coloring books and fine-point markers. The goal is to make a creative, fun space for your employees to escape into the enjoyments of non-work related activities that reduce stress levels, are carefree, and offer some mental decompression from their job. Another added benefit is that your employees might run in to some social banter that they don’t get from standing in the cafeteria line. Some may enjoy the opportunity to socialize with other employees. 

NIFS | Coloring  | Stress Relief

Home away from home – Some sites are calling these hang out rooms, or community centers, but I prefer the term, living room. I think that conveys the message clearly and you immediately are taken to a comforting area where you can relax and kick up your feet. Designing a small area where employees get away from the work environment for a few minutes seems to go over really well. They might choose to have their lunch there, read a magazine or book, listen to some calming music, bring their coffee or tea, chat with other co-workers, and just momentarily escape from their everyday work responsibilities. Not only is this convenient for your employees but it’s also a beneficial way to give their mind a break so they can go back to their job refreshed and rejuvenated.

That’s it for now! I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips on improving your work environment and offering healthier more active meetings. Even if you try to implement just one of these, you could get some really positive feedback from your employees. It doesn’t take much for them to feel appreciated, so see where you can go with this and my hopes are that you’ll gain a growing fan base at your organization.

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Topics: workplace wellness corporate wellness programs corporate wellness success employee wellness stress management stress

4 Ways to Find a Healthy Relationship with Exercise

We all do it. Your friend says to you, “Alright, we have three months until Jamaica! Let’s start exercising!” Both of you are on board to start an exercise regimen and are full throttle for three months straight. You are committed and neither of you have missed a sweat session since you started. You have been eating healthier, feeling great and working towards a goal. Everything is going great and then, vacation sets in.

Bam! Was all that hard work really just for week-long trip to look good in Jamaica? This is unrealistic goal setting and it can create issues with your relationship with exercise. So, how do we get into a better mind-set that exercising isn’t just getting ready for that trip to Jamaica or to have a body like Jessica Biel?

NIFS | Healthy Relationship with Exercise

#1: Change your mentality towards exercise.

Exercise shouldn’t be a chore. It should be a release; a release physically and mentally from your crummy day at work or from that test you took and think you totally bombed. Maybe, the workout doesn't have to be all "go hard or go home"; what if it was a simple walk on the treadmill or outside to clear your head? Working out as a means to an end (like prepping for a trip, or a class reunion) creates a lot of self-imposed pressure and it leads to a built in stopping point. The added pressure can also increase your risk for injury if you start out too intensely. Why add that to all of life’s other stress? Finding a positive relationship with exercise may take time, but it will be worth it in the long run.

#2: Find the workout that makes YOU happy.

One of your friends swears by hot yoga, but you have another social circle who only workout at their CrossFit® gym. You try both avenues and totally hate them, but stick with them because, hey, that’s what buddies do, right? WRONG. You need to find what makes you tick. If hot yoga isn’t your thing, don’t do it because it’s your BFF's favorite thing to do. Maybe, you like to just take leisure walk/jogs through the park or you enjoy power lifting. You won’t know until you try. (And this leads me into the next item on the list.)

#3: Get out of your comfort zone.

I know it’s scary, but staying in a comfortable zone doesn’t create change. It also doesn’t help us figure out what we like and it certainly doesn't help us get better. Maybe you can find a buddy to go with you to your first spin class so it isn’t so daunting. Whatever it takes, get out of your comfort zone, try something new, re-evaluate and figure out what works best for you! If you have access to a gym or a corporate fitness center, talk to staff you trust to broaden your perspective on ways to move that might be fun.

#4: Get a handle on YOUR Relationship with Exercise.

We know now that “getting the perfect body” or “getting ripped for vacay” is NOT a healthy relationship with exercise. A healthy relationship with exercise is using it as a tool to relax, to feel well, and/or to use as a life-long hobby. Trust me, you won’t stick with it if you decide three months before Jamaica you want to look like Jennifer Aniston. Your goals need to be attainable and healthy; they also need to be unique to you. 

Exercise shouldn’t be a quick fix to a problem and it shouldn't be complete drudgery each time you strap on your gym shoes. If you hate moving your body, then try another approach.  It should be a life-style choice that you find gratifying and enjoyable.

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Topics: making time to exercise exercising motivation healthy living corporate fitness programming setting exercise goals healthy relationship with exercise

Tips for a Healthier Work Environment, Part II - Everyday is Moving Day

This topic may not make you drool like the first one we did on workplace food, but it is something that we know needs to be addressed. MOVING. It’s just one of those things we cannot get around in the corporate world, and no matter what you do in a typical office setting, employees are likely to be performing their job responsibilities on the phone or in front of a computer. Sitting down. All day long. So how can we make some improvements in this area without mandating walks every few hours? Below are some ideas to help employees move more during their day and to ensure they are encouraged and given the opportunity to move while attending meetings and maneuvering throughout their day.Woman at Computer Stretching GettyImages-501332192.jpg

Stretch your meetings – We’ve all either presented to an audience who’s drifting off (or we’ve been the drifters). One way to prevent this is to take short breaks during the meeting. Have your entire audience stand up, and provide some quick stretches. If you don’t feel comfortable leading the stretches, add a few slides to your presentation that will pop up as a reminder to take a break during your meeting. This will get their blood moving, out of their seats, and will help them remain focused on what you have to say. If you happen to have an onsite fitness center with staff, this is a great time to have them break the monotony with a quick stretch break for you! The same thing can be done if you manage a department of people. Have them take a quick break from calls and looking at their computer screens to stretch their necks, hands, arms and upper back. These areas can take a beating with lack of movement, and your employees will appreciate the time you’ve taken to invest in their well-being with a simple stretch break.

[Read More: 5 tips to help your employees move more]

Stand up for yourself – Literally. I mean stand up for yourself and work while you’re at it! The harmful effects of sitting have been widely published, and while a standing workstation won’t fix everything, it’s an option to help employees move more. This is an investment so consider purchasing only a few where employees can have access to it for 15-30 minutes during the day.  How else can you encourage your employees to get more movement throughout the day? Here are several suggestions. Rather than giving every desk a trash can, have a community trash area so employees have to get up to throw items away. Store your lunch in a refrigerator that’s down the hall or on a different floor. Use the stairs as much as possible, even if it is just going down, or have a 3 flight rule. If you aren’t going more than 3 flights, take the stairs, always! Encourage walking breaks or group walks. I also love the idea of an adjustable desk. This is another investment but well worth it so you can combine sitting and standing during the work day.

Sound the alarm – We’re all guilty of getting so involved in a task that we lose track of time and the next thing you know, you haven’t moved from your seat for hours. Some companies are using their intercom system to remind employees to get out of their seats for a moment. This can be a quick stretch, walk down the hall, or water break. Whatever it is, the reminder is set so we don’t get lost in time and forget to move our bodies. This can also be accomplished by setting a reoccurring Outlook reminder, or if you’re managing a department, you can pre-set several emails per day to spark your team to move. Dare I suggest that department leads also consider more interaction with their employees with a vocal prompt to stand up and move a bit during certain times of the day. Now we're getting somewhere! 

I'll let these ideas jog through your mind until next week when I offer the last part in this series. I will say it happens to be more slow paced. Can we afford a slow pace in today's corporate world? I believe the answer is yes. 

Tips for a Healthier Wok Environtment - Part I

Topics: healthy work environment happy employees corporate wellness workplace wellness corporate wellness programs stretching stretch break