Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Megan Jack

Recent Posts by Megan Jack:

Employee Health: Imagine Your Fitness Success

Sometimes, it's just plain tough to get through a workout. There are times when I simply don’t feel like working out, or I get halfway through my run and hit the wall. When I find myself in a workout dilemma, I turn to imagery to get me through.

What Is Exercise Imagery?

There are three main types of exercise imagery:

  • Energy: Energy imagery refers to imagining a situation or workout that felt great and provided you with energy. For example, imagine the best run you ever had, the smell of the fresh-cut grass, the sound of your repetitive breath, and the feeling of your feet hitting the pavement in a rhythmic motion. This can provide you with an improved mental state to push through and finish your workout.
  • Appearance: Appearance imagery refers to imagining a slim, trim, and healthier you. When you just don’t feel like hitting the corporate fitness program boot-camp class, imagine yourself burning calories, gaining muscle definition, and looking great when you achieve your fitness goal. This can give you that extra push to attend the class or hit the onsite fitness center.
  • Technique: Technique imagery refers to imagining yourself with proper form. For example, when performing a squat, imagine yourself sitting back in a chair with your chest up and your weight in your heels. This type of imagery can provide you with a mind-muscle connection to perform an exercise with proper form.

According to research by the University of Western Ontario, imagery can be a key element in sustaining an exercise program.

How I Use Exercise Imagery

I use imagery in nearly every workout. It keeps me focused and motivated. I’m currently training for a half marathon. During my runs, I picture myself passing spectators, hearing music, and crossing the finish line. All of these things help me to push myself and maintain my exercise regime.

Try implementing imagery in your workout routine.

Topics: exercise at work corporate fitness motivation exercise at home

Employee Health: Positive Self-Talk Can Support Your Fitness Efforts

Are there times where you find yourself saying "I can't" or putting yourself down? This negative self-talk is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If you consistently tell yourself things like, "I can't do it," "I'll always be fat," and "I'm such a lazy slug," you are talking yourself out of improving and livinThumbsDowng a healthier life. You're setting yourself up to fail. It's true that everyone has failed at a new exercise program or eating plan. But that doesn't mean that you'll fail every time, or that you need to carry that guilt with you. You need to believe that you will succeed.

Turn Your Negative Self-Talk to Positive

It might sound corny, but pay attention to what you say to yourself. As a corporate fitness manager, I consistently hear people say they are fat, ugly, or horrible at an activity. What they really should be saying is how great it is that they are working out, moving their body, or trying a new activity. Focus on the positive.

Did you mess up and eat a greasy hamburger and fries for lunch? Don't beat yourself up about it. Rather, think of all the good things you've eaten in the past week. Assess why you felt you needed that hamburger and fries and devise a plan to be better prepared next time this craving arises. If you practice positive self-talk, over time it will become more the norm, and you'll be surprised at how good and successful you'll feel.

It's Okay to Stretch the Self-Talk Truth a Little

Beyond rethinking negative self-talk, I give myself positive talk even if it's not completely true. For example, when I'm really struggling or feeling the burn of a worksite fitness class, I just tell myself, "Isn't this fun? I love this workout! It's so much fun!" Even though I may not feel that 100 percent, it gives me the motivation and positive feelings I need to make it through the workout.

So nip that negative self-talk in the bud and start feeling good about you! As Stuart Smalley from SNL's "Daily Affirmations" would say, "I'm good enough; I'm smart enough; and doggonit, people like me!"

Topics: employee health overweight employees corporate fitness nutrition motivation exercise at home

Too Much Sitting Contributes to Poor Employee Health

You’re an avid exerciser, hitting the gym five days a week. You think, “I’m doing great with my active lifestyle.” Well, think again! According to recent research highlighted in an article by Men’s Health, it may not be that simple. “The more hours a day you sit, the greater your likelihood of dying an earlier death regardless of how much you exercise or how lean you are,” says the artSitting at Deskicle.

For example, a “standing” worker (salesclerk) burns about 1,500 calories at work, whereas a person with a desk job might expend only 1,000 calories. Although 500 calories may not seem like that much of a difference, extending that over weeks or years may go a long way in explaining why people gain 16 pounds within 8 months after beginning sedentary office work. Check out the study behind the startling numbers.

Even worse, it’s not just weight gain we’re talking about. Sedentary lifestyles can also impact heart health; lead to muscle stiffness; contribute to poor balance and mobility; and result in lower back, neck, and hip pain.

Corporate wellness programs can help reverse these effects. Implementing regular stretch breaks, office walking programs, trained and certified staff to educate employees, and small-step incentive programs will help encourage employees to move their sitting-versus-standing spectrum in the right direction and improve the company bottom line.

What are you doing to get your employees out of their seats?

Topics: corporate wellness exercise at work overweight employees

Employee Health: Can You Be Healthy and Overweight?

This much-debated topic has gone round and round in the medical and fitness community. Is it possible to be overweight and still be healthy?

On one side of the coin, researchers speculate that if an overweight or obese person has normal blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels, there is no reason to push weight loss. On the other side, a study published by Circulation online in 2009 concluded that overweight (body mass of greater than 25) individuals with no abnormalities of blood pressure, cholesterol, or glucose have a 50 percent increased risk of developing heart disease compared to those of normal weight (body mass of less than 25). Beyond being bad for your heart, increased weight increases the risk of cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Regardless of what side of the debate you fall on, one thing is unanimous: Fitness is key and pounds matter less than type of body fat. That is where a worksite wellness program and corporate fitness staff can come into play to help you identify and reduce your dangerous fat.

Recently there has been a push to look beyond the standard BMI (body mass index) measurement and into true body composition testing. Skinfold testing, BOD POD, and underwater weighing are just a few of the tests available to determine the true percentage of body fat.

BMI does serve a purpose, but it also has its shortcomings. For example, check out the Shapely Prose blog by Kate Harding. She runs a “BMI Project,” a series of photos of individuals of different sizes with their BMI levels. It’s a glaring example of how skewed the BMI measurement can be at times. 

The fact is that being overweight or obese is not necessarily good for you, but more importantly being overfat is the largest concern. So eat a balanced diet, get plenty of exercise, and take care of yourself. Regardless of the debate, you have only one body, so take care of it!

Topics: employee health overweight employees corporate fitness

Employee Health Tip: Get Fit by Running or Walking with Your Dog

Employee Health Can Increase With Pets HealthAs employee waistlines expand, so do their pets. The good news is that man’s best friend can be just the motivation and camaraderie your employees need to jump-start a fitness routine that can benefit both.

According to a 2004 study by the Wellness Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, dogs and their owners lose weight and stay trim by dieting and exercising together. A few key preparation steps will have your employees walking and jogging with their four-legged friend in no time:

Help Your Employees Prepare for Fitness by Preparing Their "Paws"

Encourage employees to visit a running/walking specialty footwear store for proper shoes and socks. Everyone has a different gait, so it is important to purchase the right shoes. A pooch's paws are just as important. Some surfaces such as gravel, rock, and even concrete can be hard on a dog's paws. Check your dog's footpads when you return from your workout and adjust your runs accordingly.

Get Employees and Pets to Gear Up Appropriately for Outdoor Exercise

Instruct employes to wear running-specific clothing that wicks moisture away from the body and fits comfortably. For their furry pal, use a body harness and run-specific leash. This will help the dog’s comfort level during the workout and help him associate the leash and harness with serious running, not stopping to smell the roses. Both dogs and their owners should have water readily available, as well as reflective clothing or a blinking dog tag.

Share the Benefits of Starting Slow and Establishing a Routine

Employees should start off slow and warm up prior to their workout. This will prepare them and their dog's muscles for the upcoming workout and reduce the risk of injury. When walking or jogging, they should start with a slow and steady pace. If either one shows any changes in gait, slow down or end the workout. It may mean they're going too fast or too far for their current fitness level. Employees should also keep the age and breed of their dog in mind when determining the pace and distance for their run. They should always keep their dog at their side to avoid dangerous falls.

Dogs thrive on routine and so do humans. So use the opportunity to encourage employee health by teaching the importance of building a routine. Employess should keep their workouts three to five days per week. Not only will this give them a slimmer waistline and improve your corporations financial waistline, too, but they’ll gain some bonding-time with their pet.

Topics: healthy workforce overweight employees motivation exercise at home