Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Is an electric wheelchair really "taking the easy way out?"

NIFS | wheelchair challengeThere isn’t anything easy about it. Residents were put to the test during Active Aging Week 2018 by completing an electric wheelchair obstacle course. An electric wheelchair is quite an intimidating assisted device that many residents around the building use to navigate the building. This was a great chance to see how residents could handle themselves in a situation where an electric wheelchair might be a last effort chance to remain independent and mobile.

The primary goal of this activity was for residents to see how life felt in someone else’s shoes for a moment. Electric wheelchairs aren’t always an ideal way to get around. Sure, it might get you from point A to point B in a shorter amount of time, but they often get looked down upon for “taking the easy way out.” Is it really the easy way out? The only easy thing about it seemed to be the fact that one could sit down in the process. Residents were quick to find out how much dexterity and fine motor skills are involved in steering this battery operated device.

Cones were set up in a large circle in the center of the room. Residents were instructed to drive around the circle as close to the cones as possible. When they made it the entire way around, they turned into the circle between two cones, without hitting them, and circled the cones in the opposite direction. Following the completion of the change of direction, the residents were instructed to pull between two cones that were located against the wall. This exercise was designed to simulate pulling between two chairs at the dinner table. They had to stop before the wheelchair crashed into the table (in this case, the wall). Then they had to back up as straight as possible and drive back to the starting position to exchange with the next resident in line.

All of the residents noted how fidgety the steering component was on the device. It didn’t always move in the exact manner they intended. The wheels are located in the back of the chair, which produces a much smaller turning radius that threw the residents for quite a loop. Some had trouble with speed control. Some had trouble with backing up. Everyone had their own complaints or pains about using the wheelchair for those 5 minutes.

Overall, the consensus was the same. Everyone enjoyed the experience, but knew they didn’t want to use the chair full time. Each person spoke about the stigma that came with using an electric wheelchair in public. Many residents would jump to the other side of the room when someone approached them in the chair because they thought they were too dangerous. Now the hope is that people will be more considerate and thoughtful towards those residents confined to a chair for mobility and independence.

NIFS can to help initiate activities like this at your community! Click below to download our quick read on how outsourcing your community fitness center might be the right move.  

Download Now

Topics: active living senior living activities active aging electric wheelchair active aging week,

Living Your Best Life While Living with COPD

NIFS | Lung healthCOPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is a disease that makes it hard to breathe and, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), gets worse over time. COPD is also known as Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema, a progressive disease that produces large amounts of mucus and causes shortness of breath. The disease is most commonly caused by cigarette smoking. However, according to the NHLBI, up to 25% of those with COPD never smoked. They also say that long term exposure to other lung irritants like air pollution, dusts, and chemical fumes may contribute to the severity of COPD.  Although it is progressive and undoubtedly affects one’s quality of life, there are effective ways to prevent or manage this disease. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, preventing COPD is simple, “The majority of cases are directly related to cigarette smoking, and the best way to prevent COPD is to never smoke or to stop smoking now.” Tobacco cessation is notoriously difficult, and the Mayo Clinic recommends a structured tobacco cessation program for best results. Furthermore, those individuals exposed to chemicals at work should discuss any health and safety concerns with their supervisors. 

Beyond this clear path of prevention lies a not-so-clear area, disease management and living an active lifestyle with COPD. For many patients, Pulmonary Rehabilitation is an important aspect of the treatment plan. This rehabilitation describes a program that can assist the patient with techniques to help them breathe easier, and exercise regiment, education about the condition and counseling. Exercise is a key element of this rehabilitation and management process. Some of the benefits of exercise for those with COPD are; improved circulation, increased energy levels, and more efficient oxygen consumption. Given the nature of COPD as a pulmonary disease, the most impactful form of exercise is aerobic. With that said, stretching and strength training are also important for a healthy, balanced kinetic system. Breathing patterns are important for all individuals, but they are vital for COPD patients.

Before starting an exercise program, individuals should consult with their primary healthcare provider. For individuals with COPD, a deeper conversation may be required. Patients should consider how often they should exercise, how long they should exercise, and what types of exercise they should perform. Patients should also review the timing of their medications with their physician before starting their exercise sessions. Through exercise, a better quality of life is possible for individuals living with COPD and that’s a breath of fresh air!

 Like what you just read? Click here to get more great content like this!

Topics: COPD lung health smoking cessation exercise program disease management

Change Your Fitness Backdrop to Beat Boredom


NIFS | bored with exercise

Do you get bored with the same workout and find yourself feeling unmotivated in the gym at times? Yeah, it happens to me too. Exercise boredom happens to all of us at some point. It’s easy to get stuck in a routine where you almost forget that you have done the same workout for months, maybe even years. That’s fine, but your muscles need variation to grow and become stronger. I like to call this action, “confusing the body,” by switching up your exercises you prevent the body from plateauing. Exercise is meant to be enjoyed, not dreaded so why not participate in something you like!  Here are some fun ideas to combat exercise boredom.        

Take a hike

I like to hit the trails when I’m feeling stressed. It’s nice outside, and it offers the chance to change up my workout scenery. Hiking is not only good for your body, but also your mental health. Many research studies show that hiking has a positive impact on decreasing the symptoms of stress and anxiety. Fresh air, a good cardiovascular workout (weight bearing exercise) and being surrounded by nature, what is there not to enjoy? Find a local park (or National Park) and appreciate the movement your body is capable of outdoors!

Superset your exercises

Moving quickly from one exercise to another, between two different exercises can add something new to your workout. By shortening the rest period between sets, this will keep your heart rate elevated and overall increase the intensity of your workout by overloading your muscles. This keeps your workout active and exciting.   

Take your workout outside

The environment in which you work out in can become dull at times as well. Add variety to your workout by taking your sweat session outside or in a new place you have never been. Your environment affects thoughts and desires, but by changing your surroundings you can give yourself a fresh burst of motivation. Grab a pair of dumbbells, a mat, and try this workout! This can be done inside, outside, or ever when you travel. Go through both circuits 2-3 times.

Circuit 1 (30 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest)

  1. Burpees
  2. Squat to Press
  3. Downward dog push ups
  4. Dead bugs

 Circuit 2 (30 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest)

  1. Walking Lunges
  2. Plank ups
  3. Straight leg deadlift
  4. High Knees

 Read our blog [My Favorite Workout: Trying New Exercises or Activities]

 Try something different  

Have you always wanted to try rock climbing, kickboxing, or a different fitness class? Break out of your exercise comfort zone by trying something new for you and your body. By challenging your body in ways it is not familiar has its perks. Trying something new helps you overcome fear, stimulates your creativity, and you will even get to know yourself better. When we try new activities we naturally recognize who we are and where we are headed. You might find a new hobby, fitness class, gym, small studio, or meet some awesome workout partners along the way!

Like what you just read? Click here to get more great content like this!

Topics: health and fitness goals workout motivation fitness routine boredom