Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Mara Winters

Recent Posts by Mara Winters:

Corporate Fitness Review: Insanity® (Part 2: Cons)

young woman working out resized 600Does the Insanity® workout really work? This is perhaps the most intense workout on the market today. It, along with P90X, has been put into the extreme fitness category. In my preceding post, I explored the positives of the Insanity workout. This post is dedicated to the precautions to be taken when participating in this style of workout.

Insanity is an innovative workout, using high-intensity exercise and body-weight moves to give a total body conditioning. However, some of the moves may be too advanced for the general public. As a former NCAA Track and Field athlete, I enjoy Insanity. It reminds me of the drills and training I experienced as an elite competitor. However, if you do not have a background in sports, have orthopedic limitations, or are beginning exercise after being sedentary, this program might be too intense starting out. Extreme exercise can cause unexpected results, including sprains, pulled muscles, and even broken bones.

In speaking with people who have pushed themselves too hard, I have found some common mistakes that lead to injury:

  • Poor plyometric training
  • Overexertion
  • Jumping too soon and landing too hard
  • Trying to execute difficult exercise for the first time

The Insanity program is designed for people who are already in shape. Unconditioned exercisers can participate if they take it slow and pace themselves. Get help from your corporate wellness center staff to learn safe approaches to the program. Don’t feel discouraged if at first you can’t keep up. In fact, if you take your focus off of Shaun T and watch the extras in the back, you will notice they have a tough time keeping up, too. Know your limits and gradually build up to your ability to begin and finish Insanity.    

Topics: corporate fitness high-intensity workouts DVDs

Corporate Fitness Review: Insanity® (Part 1: Pros)

man wiping sweat resized 600DIG DEEP! This is the encouraging motto of the Insanity® fitness DVD workout that is captivating the fitness world. This DVD set showcases the workout that was featured on the Dr. Oz show. All types of exercisers, from former athletes to soccer moms, are taking the challenge. It promises to burn fat and give you the toned look of a beach body.

With this workout's allure, you are probably curious to know if it's the workout for you. This post is dedicated to the pros of the Insanity series. See part 2 for the cautions to be considered for this type of training.

Shaun T, the creator of the 60-day total body conditioning plan, gives you 10 action-packed workout routines that will challenge your body through plyomeric interval training. This style of training is one of the hardest workouts on the market, characterized by high-intensity exercises with little to no rest in between. Recent studies have shown that high-intensity interval training can be just as effective as traditional exercise. If you are conditioned enough to handle the workout, it can be effective for weight loss and muscle toning. Other pros of the DVD set include the following:

  • The exercises require little or no equipment. Many are body-weight exercises that require little space to perform.
  • It includes a variety of specific workouts, which allows you to change the workout from week to week.
  • You receive a nutritional guide that emphasizes the importance of consuming the right amount of calories to sustain an intense workout regimen.

If you are well conditioned, this style of exercise can be very effective. However there are some concerns of injury associated with intense exercise. Read “Corporate Fitness Review: Insanity® (Part 2: Cons)” to learn how you can make the workout a bit saner.  

Topics: corporate fitness centers high-intensity workouts interval training DVDs

Employee Health: The Reality of the Weight Loss Rule

This blog was written by Mara M. Winters, HFS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

healthy weight lossSlow and steady. These are the two words that participants in the Pound Plunge, Richmond Wellness Center’s weight-loss contest, frequently hear from me as I coach them through eight weeks of total body transformation. To the dismay of many, weight loss is not an instant process. Many wish they could achieve their ideal weight in only a couple of days, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a one- to two-pound per week weight loss rate is successful and safe.

Can you lose more than two pounds a week? Yes, it is possible. Most often, in the beginning of a weight-loss program, you may see that it is easy to lose more weight. As you diet and exercise, your weight loss will slow down and you may hit a weight-loss plateau.

The Wrong Ways to Lose Weight Fast

But how do people rapidly shed pounds? We see celebrities do it all the time; however it takes extreme measures that are not recommended.  

  • Starvation: There are many starvation diets that call for very low calorie intake. You may lose weight, but side effects of this type of dieting include emotional changes, slower metabolism, weight regain, and of course the uncomfortable feeling of being hungry all the time. Low-calorie diets are hard to stick to.
  • Overtraining: You could spend eight hours a day working out. That would burn a huge amount of calories. However, most people cannot dedicate such a large amount of time to training. This type of workout regimen is hard to follow and can lead to overuse injuries, which don’t leave you feeling good, either.

Safe Weight-Loss Alternatives

Try lowering your calorie intake without starvation. With nutritional control plans such as Weight Watchers®, you can have a variety of foods and feel good, too.

The one- to two-pound a week weight loss rate allows for greater adherence to a weight-loss program. You are able to focus on manageable ongoing lifestyle changes through diet and exercise. Greater long-term success is seen with gradual weight loss.

Slow and steady may not be the most exciting method, but a wise turtle once said it always wins the race.

Topics: employee health overweight employees nutrition weight loss weight management weight control

Corporate Wellness: Bail Your Body Out of Sleep Debt

This blog was written by Mara Winters. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

tired, headache, sleep debtYou know the feeling. The alarm clock is ringing and you're thinking, “If only I had one more hour to sleep.” Americans tend to lose about an hour of sleep per night (about two full weeks of slumber per year), pushing our bodies into sleep debt.

The side-effects of sleep deprivation are not fun to experience: impaired memory, foggy brain, worsened vision, and impaired driving. Long-term effects of lack of sleep can include obesity, insulin resistance, and heart disease.

Work Out Wisely to Improve Sleep

If you’re like many people, you are looking to get out of sleep debt. Exercise can help you sleep more soundly. Consider the following when exercising:

  • Morning exercise can relieve stress and improve your mood. Coupling exercise with the natural morning light reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle, improving your night’s rest.
  • The most beneficial exercise time is mid-afternoon to early evening. Vigorous exercise during this time raises your body temperature a few hours before bed. Then as you get ready for bed, your body temperature is falling, allowing a natural wind-down for the night.
  • Vigorous exercise before bed is not good for sleep. It raises your temperature and stimulates your brain and muscles, making winding down more difficult.

Understand the Importance of Sleep to Your Health

With some practice you can repay your sleep debt. Just like with exercise, the amount of time and intensity you sleep is important. Add an extra hour or two of sleep a night to ensure that you spend more time in deep sleep. Go to bed when you are tired and allow yourself to wake up naturally.

Sleep is vital to restorative health, so bail your body out of sleep debt by being active and catching up on your Zs!

Topics: exercise heart disease sleep worksite wellness stress obesity memory

Corporate Fitness: Your Body Speaks to You. Don’t Ignore It.

This blog was written by Mara Winters. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

strain, backache, overuseFitness fanatics have all been there. You are so excited about working out, living the diehard active life. Who can give up running, aerobics classes, racquetball, and all the other fitness fun? Then you hear it, that voice that says, “This twinge you have had isn’t going anywhere.”

You know you feel aches but you ignore it. Nothing can keep you down. Not even a small limp on your right side. Soon you may feel that discomfort increasing and regret not listening to your body. If you feel pain (different from soreness) lasting more than five minutes after a workout session, or you have to alter your gait to complete an exercise, this may suggest you have sustained an injury.

There are visual indicators of injury, in which exercise should be stopped immediately. Swelling, discoloration, broken bones, or dislocations are causes for ceasing an activity.

While it can be a letdown, activity should be modified until the symptoms of the injury dissipate. This allows the body to heal and prevents further injury. Rehabilitation exercise and light limbering activity are acceptable during this time. Recovery times may vary depending on the severity of the injury.

As a corporate fitness trainer, I understand that people who enjoy physical activities are not thrilled to sit out for a while. Trust me, rest is the best. People who sustain reoccurring or overuse injuries usually don’t allow time for healing. Bones, ligaments, and muscles all need time to rebuild, which will make them stronger.

Another way to keep enjoying your favorite activity is to prevent injury altogether by doing the following:

  • Wearing protective equipment when necessary.
  • Avoiding overtraining. Vary your high-intensity exercise sessions throughout the week and give your body time to rest.
  • Always warming up before exercise and cooling down after workouts.
  • Cross-training to strengthen bones and muscles.
  • Building skills required for your favorite activity. For example, if you enjoy skiing, hiking, or surfing, you may want to add balance exercises to your training.
  • Eating a healthy diet rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to build a healthy body.  

Always listen to your body. Know what discomfort you can work through but also know when you need to take some time to rest.

Topics: exercise corporate fitness injury

Obesity Is Still Prevalent, but Corporate Wellness Can Help

This blog was written by Mara M. Winters. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Hit TV shows about weight loss such as The Biggest Loser and My 600-lb Life continue to excel in ratings, and we are bombarded daily with new information about how excessive weight negatively affects health. However, U.S. obesity prevalence remains high.

Recent studies show that overall obesity prevalence in the U.S. is 35obese employee.7 percent in the adult population and 16.9 percent in children. Over the past two years (2009–2010), there were significant increases in obesity for men of all ethnic backgrounds compared to data from the previous studies (1999–2010). There were no significant increases among women overall, but researchers found statistically significant increases in African-American women and Mexican-American women. Another sobering finding of the studies is that children are going into adulthood weighing more than ever before.

While this report seems a bit grim, there is hope. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that over the past 12 years, the obesity rates among adults and children are not increasing.

While no one can say exactly why there has been a stall in the obesity rates, most experts are hopeful that national campaigns in promoting healthy eating and exercise are having some type of effect. We know that obesity costs the U.S. $147 billion every year and is a major health problem.

Many corporate wellness centers offer unique ways to curtail obesity, such as the following:

  • Body composition screenings and health assessments
  • Weight-loss contests and incentive programs
  • Group fitness classes
  • Educational telesminars about healthy living

While it seems U.S. weight gain has leveled out, we will still feel the effects for a while. Take advantage of wellness services available to you to reduce problems caused by obesity.

Topics: corporate wellness overweight employees obesity