Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Lauren Kelsheimer

Recent Posts by Lauren Kelsheimer:

5 Ways to Include Pets at Your Senior Living Community

NIFS  | Senior with petMany senior living communities across the country are starting to recommend bringing your furry friend from your current residence to your community residence. Pets provide a sense of purpose, calmness, companionship, and security for older adults. Check out this post from Aging in Place about how having a pet can improve the aging process.

 

So what are the best ways to include pets at your senior living community? There’s no doubt that an include pets in day-to-day community life.having a pet companion not only improves quality of life for seniors, but also provides residents with opportunities to stay active and interact socially with others. Here are some ways that you can include your pet in day-to-day community life. 

Outdoor Community Dog Park

Senior living communities have invested in making specific spaces for your furry pal to get regular exercise and be safe to roam in a fenced-in area. These common areas are great for residents to socialize and interact with their pets while feeling secure that their companion won’t run off.

A few of our Active Aging sites have community dog parks and regularly host events and programs to ensure socialization and fun with pets. Tracy, a NIFS Active Aging Manager in Mystic, Connecticut, started a program once a week called YAP it UP. Residents meet at the community dog park and chat with others while exercising with their pets. Another great bonus to Tracy’s program is that residents without pets are also are encouraged to join so that they can enjoy the company of both their peers and pets. This is one great example of the many benefits that pets can bring to your community.

Have an Annual Pet Day Event

What better way to get your pet involved than with an outdoor community dog day event? This would be a great way to show off your creativity and expressiveness. There are many ways that your community can host a dog day event.

  • Best in show: Host a fun, lighthearted dog show for community leaders to judge your furry friend.
  • Wiener dog races/pet races: A wiener dog race is a fun event that can include the entire community.
  • Pet grooming event/philanthropy: Have your community host a pet grooming/bathing event to raise money for a good cause. This also could be a great opportunity to contact a local veterinary clinic to come and provide vaccinations.

Therapy Pet Visits

Many of our NIFS senior living communities host therapy dog visits to their health center and assisted living residents regularly. The animals are intended to serve as companions and have gone through programs to ensure the safety of the residents and animal. If your community is unfamiliar with therapy dogs and training's near you, the AKC has information on how to train or find therapy animals for your next event.

The Crate Escape

Many residents enjoy having a walking trail for their outdoor adventures. It’s a great way to get fresh air and enjoy a little sunshine. Why not make it more impactful and bring your pet? Dogs need social interaction and companionship just as much as people do. Bringing your furry friend on a group walk provides a sense of community. It also provides a sense of security that will get you back out with a group.

Pet + Yoga

Yoga is a very beneficial form of exercise. Yoga is known to reduce stress, increase flexibility, and help you focus on mindfulness. Make this journey even more fun by adding pets to the mix. Depending on your pet’s obedience, size, and personality, yoga can be something that you both enjoy. Our Active Aging NIFS Manager in Lakewood, New Jersey, Rachel, recently hosted an event like this during Active Aging Week. The event was so successful that her community is going to start hosting it regularly.

All of these activities are safe, impactful ways to include pets in your community. Have you hosted or participated in a pet-friendly event recently? Comment below! We would love to hear about ways that pets are part of your community.

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Topics: active aging senior living activities senior living communities staying active yoga

Knowing what makes your residents tick could improve programs

Your community is, or should be built on resident satisfaction. Your residents are your priority, but they are also your revenue. Without them, your community increases the chances of failing. It’s important to understand this when building programming at your senior living community.

Every community is different. Every resident has a specific want or need. Our job as Wellness Managers is to hone in on what those needs and wants are and to address them. How do you do this? Here are five ways to assess your wellness programs so they are continuously successful and you are meeting the demands of your residents.

NIFS | A closer look

#1 - Get to know your resident population

It takes some time to understand what your residents really enjoy. It’s also important to note that not all residents are the same. Where some may enjoy the social interaction and class environment, others enjoy solitary fitness or wellness programs. It’s important to identify these differences and make sure that wellness programs have variety and cover many different personalities and preferences.

#2 - Listen to ALL resident feedback and take action

This can be tough, but is necessary to grow and develop a program that residents enjoy. If a resident comes to you and says, “I don’t think this program is successful and this is why…,” it’s important to take a deep breath, and LISTEN. As hard as it may be to sit back as it feel like someone is tearing your hard work into shreds, they are providing valuable information to improve your programming. Be open to the positive and negative feedback so you can make the necessary changes for improvement.

#3 - Evaluate your wellness programs

Evaluating wellness programs is the key to success. There are many different ways to do this. The best way is to keep track of your data and evaluate it. How many residents participated in your event/program/specialty classes? Did it show an increase in overall participation for the month in which you ran the program? Did you make a survey and distribute it to residents that participated? These are all valuable ways of gathering information to see if wellness programs are a hit or a miss.

#4 - Make sure programs are evolving over time

Your programs should evolve with your residents. If you have been running the same wellness programs for five years and haven’t changed them at all, it becomes routine, less exciting for some, and participation may decrease. Give residents something new and fun to enjoy. I am not telling you to completely re-invent the wheel, but to simply add/take away/replace some aspect of your program to make it more enticing and fresh. You’ll be amazed by what small and simple modifications can do for the community and programs.

#5 - Ask for help

It’s okay to ask community leaders, colleagues and staff members for information and help to reignite or invent a completely new program. Team work is one of the best ways for a community to put on a great event. Don’t be afraid to ask for help throughout your planning.

Being proactive in assessing fitness and wellness programs will not only keep you informed about the impact you are making for your community, it will also show that you genuinely care about the goals you are trying to achieve. Your community will recognize that not only are you putting in the effort to make a program, but you are also putting in the groundwork to make that program successful, enjoyable, and have a positive impact for residents.

Click below to learn more about partnering with NIFS to manage your senior living community fitness center.

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Topics: senior living wellness programs active aging program evaluation programming improving senior fitness resident engagement resident wellness programs senior fitness management nifs fitness managment

Senior Fitness: Common Myths about Fitness as You Age

Aging is a natural and guaranteed process. You can’t stop getting older. This doesn’t mean you have to concede to the idea that getting older means being less than what you were in younger decades of life. Being regularly active is an important part of aging well, and yet, working in the active aging fitness industry, I have seen many older adults have come up with a plethora of excuses to not exercise. Here are some common myths that older adults use to avoid exercise and my tips for how to address them.

NIFS | Seniors Stretching

I’m too old.

I think we can agree that this is very outdated; the research tells us you're never too old to move your body. There have been many studies showing that staying physically active all of your life positively outweighs aging while sitting still. But, I think there is a hidden meaning in “I’m too old.” i think it's more about change than it is about age. People like to stick to their routines, older adults are no exception, and what folks often mean when they say, “I’m too old” is that exercise is out of their comfort zone. It’s a blanket answer to get the fitness monkey off their back.

In reality, they are scared to change and may need a boost from you to help get them thinking more positively. One of the ways that I help the residents who use this saying as their mantra is by engaging them in a non-physical meet and greet activity. I introduce them to other active aging residents who enjoy classes, recreational offerings, and the fitness center. The idea is not to talk to them the whole time about why they should join the fitness center and all of the great benefits, because, deep down, they already know. The idea is to get them around a group of people that they can turn to and make friends with. They are more likely to commit if they have a buddy.

[Read our Senior Fitness blog: What's the Point of Exercising]

I have an injury.

Injuries are not to be taken lightly and as a fitness professional, I definitely have a medical release secured prior to engaging a resident in exercise. If you receive an “all clear” from the doc, an older adult client who is still leaning on the injury excuse may be in fact fearful that their injury is going to get worse or come back if they embark on regular exercise. But if you present yourself as an educated professional (because you’ve done your research), you can coach the individual in safe and effective exercises. Despite your efforts, not everyone will get on board, but the more they trust you in your profession, the more likely you are to have them participate and start leading a healthier lifestyle.

I like to keep to myself.

This can be a difficult one. Introverts, especially older introverts, may need a little extra push to get moving. The best way I have found to engage with these individuals is by finding out what they enjoy doing. When speaking to them one-on-one, I relate to their interests and try to form a bond. Slowly, they start to come around. These residents normally enjoy one-on-one appointments or scheduled times when not too many people are in the fitness center.

Knowing your population’s needs is half the battle. Establishing a positive connection with your audience is how you are going to get them to be more active and engaged. Remember, it can be really scary to start something new. Being understanding and taking the time to help them find their niche is one of the most important things you can do as a fitness professional.

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Topics: senior fitnes active aging myths about aging exercise and aging why older adults don't exercise

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

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