Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Morgan Gipson

Recent Posts by Morgan Gipson:

Corporate Wellness: Learn what you can do to prevent heart disease

Let’s begin by asking a generalized question - How familiar are you with your heart and its functionality? February is Heart Disease Awareness month, but spreading awareness about the disease is not only limited to this specific month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., which is an umbrella term that includes atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, arrhythmia, and heart valve problems. Heart disease can affect a person of any age, so learning about prevention tips and implementing them into your life can be beneficial.

Although we lack the power to change some risk factors, we can start by making small life choices like a healthy eating plan and being more physically active. The American Heart Association breaks down prevention tips by age groups.  See where you fall and what you need to being doing to help reduce your risk for heart disease.

heart_healthIn your 20’s:

  • Have regular wellness exams
  • Be physically active
  • Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke

In your 30’s:

  • Make heart healthy living a family affair
  • Know your family history
  • Tame your stress

In your 40’s:

  • Watch your weight
  • Have your blood pressure checked
  • Don’t brush off snoring (sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke)

In your 50’s:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke
  • Follow your treatment plan

In your 60’s and beyond:

  • Have an ankle-brachial test
  • Watch your weight
  • Learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke

The bottom line is to change your unhealthy behaviors - clean up your dietary patterns, get active, and don’t put off your necessary doctor appointments. The risk of heart disease increases as you age, so the earlier you are aware, the better.

The staff in your corporate fitness center would be more than happy to help you get started with an exercise routine and are available for consultations. They are there to help and guide you, as well as get you familiarized with what is offered in your fitness center. These are just the basic guidelines to a happy and healthy heart!

The first Friday in the month of February is National Wear Red Day. Help bring awareness by wearing red to show your support.

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Topics: employee health heart disease heart healthy

2015 Fitness Trends, are you already incorporating these in your workout?

jungle_gymA new year means new trends to follow! What do you have planned for your workout routine this year? Hopefully, the plan is to either begin or continue your fitness routine, but possibly add more variety into it. Make it your year to become familiar with the endless options and try something new!

The new trends predicted to become popular and make you sweat at the gym this year are:

  • Body Weight Training
  • High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
  • Treadmill Training

Wait, body weight training? What happened to lifting heavy? Body weight training is predicted to be the next big thing this year. This includes comprehensive incorporation of gymnastics, adult jungle gyms, uncluttered workout spaces, suspension training options, basic movements, and programming that is not as focused on the standard weight lifting protocols. This means back to the basics with lunges, squats, and push-ups. What are your thoughts? Will the benefits from body weight training be as successful as lifting heavy weights?

HIIT, the alternating bursts of exercises with short recovery periods, is a popular trend known for its quick fat blasting tactics. I mean, who wants to spend endless hours at the gym when you can just knock out about 20-30 minutes of HIIT? Trust me, that is plenty of time to get a ‘sweatastic’ workout in and definitely one my personal favorites. You can create quite the variety of workouts, allowing your muscles to always be surprised by what is next. Plus, the variety can keep it interesting and fun so you don’t get burnt out so easily!

Treadmill training is poised to be the next “it” workout, according to Health Magazine. I know many are not fans of treadmill workouts and are tempted to consider it torture, but Health Magazine names running as the oldest form of exercise. I, myself, would rather run outside than on a treadmill any day. That tends to become a challenge during the colder months, so I put together treadmill interval and speed variation workouts to keep myself from getting bored of my workout. With this up and coming trend, classes will allow participants to improve their running through speed and interval-based training drills. Participants will also have the chance to become more engaged in their workouts and can avoid the worrisome of how to log miles when it is cold or rainy, since training is indoors.

These workouts are meant to push your body’s limits. With the higher chance of being sore, there is a need for recovery - foam rolling, restorative yoga, therapy balls, dynamic stretching, and core strengthening are perfect examples. A good night’s rest is also important for recovery. Allowing for recovery time after an intense workout decreases your chance of overtraining your muscles and the potential for injuries.

So, now that you are familiar with the predicted trends, how will you log your intense workouts? We are in a generation that is highly involved with technology - fitness watches and Smartphone apps at our fingertips. Digital engagement keeps us motivated, gives us inspiration, and coaches us through our workouts. Do you have a favorite piece of technology you use to track your workouts?

Overall, what do you think about these trends? Are you interested in trying out something new this year?! Connect with a health fitness specialist in your corporate fitness center or local gym to get started on a better you.

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Topics: fitness health and wellness

Corporate Wellness: Laughing... it's good for the soul and your health

laughterIf smiling is contagious and laughter is infectious, then why don’t more of us do it? When people laugh together, it brings them closer, and creates happiness and intimacy. Laughter not only does these few things, but it also causes physical changes within the body. 

Laughter is powerful and priceless (I mean, who doesn’t like a bargain?!). Oh, and it’s fun! Humor and laughter have the ability to:

  • Boost Your Immune System: Laughing decreases the stress hormones and increases the immune cells and anti-bodies, improving your body’s resistance to infections and diseases.
  • Trigger the Release of Endorphins: That natural feel-good chemical rush you get can improve your overall feeling, decrease pain, and fight off stress.
  • Relax the Whole Body: It relieves tension and stress, allowing your muscles to stay relaxed for up to 45 minutes after that obnoxiously good belly-laugh you just had.
  • Protect the Heart: Laughter increases blood by improving the function of blood vessels, aiding in the protection against cardiovascular problems.

Humor can keep one optimistic and even one little smile can turn someone’s day around. A good laugh can bring your body back into balance. I think it is hard to resist a good laugh or smile when the person next to you is laughing in an absolute hysterical manner. A shared laugh can keep relationships fresh and exciting and build strong bonds too!

You can learn to develop or improve your sense of humor by:

  • Learning to laugh at yourself
  • Laughing at a situation, rather than getting upset over it
  • Keeping things in perspective
  • Surrounding yourself with reminders to lighten up a little

In life, remember not to take yourself too seriously. Yes, some events are sad and not the right occasion for laughter, but learn to look at the positive side of the event. Laughter is priceless, fun, and easy to use! If you need a good laugh, I am sure one of our Corporate Fitness staff members could crack a joke or two! Laugh on, my friend - it’s good for the soul.

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Topics: wellness

Corporate Wellness: Sleep Ergonomics

sleep_positionHave you ever woken up and felt like you never slept at all and could hibernate for weeks upon weeks? You know, it’s similar to that back-to-work Monday feeling. The average person spends one third of their life sleeping, so it may be good to consider your bed posture being as important as your daily posture. Your bed, sleeping position, and use of pillows are key to more than one night of good sleep.

Starting off with your bed, mattresses come in all sizes, designs, and firmness. They say the more firm the better. A firmer bed will provide your back with more support and has the ability to keep your spine in better alignment. A mattress’s life span is about 8-10 years and can range anywhere from $800 for a queen to about $1000 for a king size bed. Go big or go home I guess, right? The bigger the bed, the more room to switch up your sleeping positions from starfish to the fetal position. Kidding! Find a mattress that fits your budget, but remember that it has a huge role in how well you sleep!

Secondly, the type of pillow you lay your head on at the end of a long day or for a quick power nap can change your bed posture and result in a terrible night of sleep. Depending on your neck depth, you’ll need to find a pillow that fits it. Yes, everyone has a different neck depth. Your sleeping position also affects the type of pillow you need. If you're a back sleeper, you'll need a pillow that fills the space between your neck and bed, but not too high because you don’t want to be able to see your feet. The side sleepers should find a pillow that fills the space between their ear and bed. You may find that this pillow needs to be thicker than the ones for sleeping on your back. For all you stomach sleepers, your pillow should be quite thin and only thick enough to level your head while sleeping. This pillow should only fill the space between your head and mattress. There are several ways to modify your pillow to fit your sleeping position. You can add towels or foam to fill thickness and trim foam or remove padding to make it thinner. 

Lastly and more importantly is your sleeping position. The pressure on your back varies to the position you sleep in. The position with the least amount of back pressure is lying on your back and then your side. The worst and most stressful sleeping position is on your stomach. If you sleep on your back or stomach, it is recommended you place a pillow under your knees as well and if you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your knees.

Who knew there were so many tips and tricks to a smooth sailing night of sleep? I know I didn’t! No matter how you choose to sleep, just be sure to keep that spine in alignment. If your body has trouble adjusting and needs some stretching to loosen up, stop by your corporate fitness center and ask a Health Fitness Specialist for recommended stretches!

Working to build your corporate fitness program and need a little help?  Click below to download our guide to successful corporate fitness centers to get the tools you need for successs.

 Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers

Topics: sleep wellness

NIFS: Food and Bribery in Education

childhood_obesityIn 2012, more than a third of children and adolecents were obese meaning they have excess body fat... MORE THAN ONE THIRD!  It's crazy to think that the days of kids running around burning all their energy has turned into kids on tablets, playing video games, and just sitting too much.

Parents, those with younger siblings, and teachers, have you ever had to experience those annoying, never ending tantrums or the unwillingness of others to do a task without a reward? How are you able to persuade one to do what you want or need them to do? Some may say prizes, small gifts, money, candy, or food work the best. A big concern in the news lately is rewarding food to kids for a job well done.

A local news station recently reported on the wellness guidelines in local area schools. Food will no longer be used as a reward for kids and will begin to create a healthier environment in which kids are in a majority of their childhood. For example, a local Indianapolis teacher will now be handing out crayons, jump ropes, offering lunch with the teacher, or the opportunity to be class leader for recognition of the students’ hard work. Instead of pizza parties, ice cream socials, suckers, and candy this school will be receiving sports equipment. This is such a great motivator for kids. I believe that if you get started on the right foot, they will continue to live a healthy and active lifestyle down the road.

If more schools follow the new wellness guidelines, it could turn into a widespread effort. I would prefer sports equipment and fun tools for activities over food or candy, but that’s coming from me, a young adult who has an athletic background and works in corporate fitness. Adults have a larger influence on kids’ choices than we seem to realize. Kids look up to adults and the choices they make. Setting a positive and healthy example could be steps towards a decrease in childhood obesity. If the nation works together as a team towards the same goal, America could be healthier, obesity rates could decrease, and the future could have the possibility of fewer health problems.

Does your child get rewarded with food at school? How would you like to see a reward system change?  Hopefully this is a step towards decreasing America’s childhood obesity epidemic.

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Topics: obesity

NIFS Nutrition News: The Carbohydrate Truth

carbsCarbohydrate sounds like such a dirty word these days. It’s that word that makes everyone cringe or slightly panic, but why? There’s the myth that all carbohydrates are bad, giving people the distorted thought that cutting carbs will help you lose that extra weight you might be carrying. The truth is that not every single carbohydrate is bad. The category of carbohydrates is very broad, so I am going to break it down for you. 

Let’s start with clearing up what they are. Carbohydrates are your best source of energy, fueling the cells in your brain and muscles. No, carbohydrates are not a food group, but a category with three different types of foods that make it up. This category consists of sugar, starch, fiber, and usual a mixture of these three. Sugar can be naturally found in foods like fruit, fruit juices, veggies, and milk. Table sugar is another form of sugar, found in a variety of processed foods that are not so healthy for the body, but they sure are tasty!!! The second type of carbohydrate is starches, which are several units of sugar bound together. A perfect example for this type of food is plants, which also provide a slow and steady release of energy during the day. Starches are the most common form of carbohydrate and make up about one third of the food you eat and contain fewer than half the calories of fat. Crazy, huh?! Fiber is only found in foods that come from plants and great sources can be found in veggies with skins, whole grain breads, pastas, beans, and lentils. Fiber is great for your digestive health too! If you need more examples of these types of food important to your health, then checkout this link about starches or this link about fiber.

But wait, why do we need carbs again? Carbohydrates provide your body with energy, helps prevent disease risk, and aids in weight reduction. Sugars or starches are both broken down into glucose, absorbed in the bloodstream, and fuels your body with energy for activities. Unused glucose can be converted to glycogen, found in the liver and muscles, or converted to fat. Fiber in the diet can promote good bowel health, reduce the risk of constipation, some types of fiber can reduce your cholesterol levels. Are you getting enough fiber in your daily diet? Starchy foods are low in calories, but can be wonderful source of fiber. Fiber keeps you full longer throughout the day and takes your body a long time to break down, helping with weight reduction. Cutting out carbohydrates completely does mean that you might lose some weight, but the minute you add them back into your diet you will gain it back pretty quickly. A balanced diet, taking in the proper calories and nutrients is your best bet! Is carbohydrates still a dirty world in your vocabulary or do you feel relieved that they are not soooo bad after all?

Are you still curious about how many carbohydrates you should eat, which ones should you eat, or if you can survive without carbohydrates? You can click this link to find more truth on the nutrient. Click here if you would like one-on-one help from NIFS with your nutrition and overall health. It’s never too late to improve your diet and become the healthiest you!

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Topics: healthy food choices nifs nutrition news

Do office pets decrease stress in the workplace?

office_petThis recent article we shared on Twitter explained the positive effects that a pet can have in a work place, and based on how much traffic we saw from that single posting, it would seem that many of you are pet lovers like me.  What do you think about pets in the workplace?

Most employed people are on a constant search for methods to reduce stress in the workplace, improve their personal health, or maybe even increase productivity at the same time. I mean who has ever heard of not being stressed while getting loads of work done, what??! The article mentioned that employers actually notice a benefit from the having pets around, bringing energy, fun, and companionship. I see pets as great company and comfort. A great example given was the case that pet owners may work longer hours if they are able to bring their pet into work. This would save them from the rush to get home at the end of every day to let their pet out. I know that letting my dog was always a constant thought in the back of my mind. I noticed a higher stress level, worrying about her and how she is holding up at home. Does anyone else have that constant worry?

Randolph Barker, a professor of management in Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business, performed a study in 2013 of dogs in the workplace. The results showed an actual decline in stress among workers, while those who didn’t have pets in workplace showed an increase in stress as the day continued. Among other studies, interaction with pets can lower blood pressure and improve a person’s mood. It is crazy to think the littlest things, like pets (sometimes they are little), can be so beneficial!

Before everyone gets all antsy and starts bringing their pet to work, it is suggested that a written policy be enforced. This can prevent liability and keep a clear policy with all things considered - allergies, cleaning up after pets, and the possibility of aggressive behavior. If this option is not considered, there is always The Take Your Dog to Work Day event sponsored by Pet Sitters International, who set aside a day in June to allow those with pets celebrate pet ownership and bring their pets into the work place. This would be a fun day to see so many pets in the work place! Personally, I know my day would brighten up pretty quick! Think about suggesting this to your employer. Who knows, they might consider the day or year round event!

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Topics: employee health stress

NIFS: Be Active in the City over the Holiday

rope_courseSummer has flown by, unfortunately, and we’re headed into our last long weekend of summer. That obviously means have to have fun and live it up a little, so what better way to enjoy this three-day weekend than by spending time doing some of Indy’s popular activities with your family and friends?! There are a variety of activities available for all ages. You’re probably wondering what in the world there is to do in good ol’ Indianapolis. Some of the popular events include:

Family Adventures – You can test your risk taking and adventurous side by going to places like Go Ape! Treetop Adventure, a course at Eagle Creek with rope ladders, 39 crossings, including the log balance and flying carpet, Climb Time Indy, where you can challenge yourself with rock climbing, or Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park, which includes a Foam Zone, Ultimate Dodgeball, SkySlam basketball courts, and SkyRobics fitness classes. I have only been to Sky Zone and I must say I had just as much fun as the kids there and it totally wore me out!

ActiveIndy Tours – Enjoy some fresh air while enjoying a view of the city you live in! There are walking tours, biking tours, bike rentals (I’d totally love to try out those new Pacer bikes for my own tour!), running tours, and custom/private tours. You have quite opportunity to listen to stories and explore history! Another neat little piece of info – the running tour fee is donated to the Back on My Feet chapter, which in turn helps create self-sufficiency within the Indianapolis homeless community. I am one who lives giving back to the community, so I find that pretty neat!

Parks – I can hear that fresh air calling your name now! Did you know that Indianapolis has five recommended parks, White River State Park, Eagle Creek Park and Marina, Fort Harrison State Park, Garfield Park Conservatory and Sunken Garden, and Holliday Park. Each offers a different view or attraction. White River State Park, the park with a few of the finer attractions within walking distance of each other, includes the Indianapolis Zoo (definitely checkout the new Orangutan Exhibit), the Eitlejorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, NCAA Hall of Champions, Indian State Museum, Victory Field.  Eagle Creek Park and Marina is one of the nation’s largest city parks, encouraging you to enjoy the great outdoors and relaxation! The Harrison State Park offers a golf course, historic districts, and beautiful foliage! Garfield Park houses plants from the world’s tropics, and said to be every green thumb’s dream. Every kid’s dream park has to be Holliday Park, considering its slide towers, tunnels, bridges, climbable spider web, and trail along the White River.

Fitness Center – Wanting to try a new gym without making the full commitment on the first day? NIFS offers a 14-day trial pass, allowing you to experience opportunities that fit your fitness level and interest; from group fitness classes, an NBA sized basketball court, to a relaxing steam room or sauna - you’re bound to find something that keeps you motivated and active!

The opportunities for a fun-filled weekend are endless!  You can read up and research activities that suit your fancy through the linked words above, but whatever you do, get out this weekend and enjoy every minute of it! Indy’s popular activities aren’t limited to just Labor Day weekend, so if this weekend is filled for you, plan for another weekend to be active and explore Indianapolis’ beauty!

What fun activities does your city offer? 

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Topics: active living

NIFS: Physical Fitness Standards, Men vs Women

running_3Every morning I am hitting up the NIFS Fitness Center working towards the goal to stay healthy and fit.  I see all types of people with different fitness interests; those who participate in group fitness classes, those who always do cardio, or those who strictly lift weights. No matter their interest, I am always curious about their fitness journey. Why did they start? What is their progress? Are they working towards a goal? My usual gym routine consists of mostly lifting weights and getting in some cardio as well. I try to keep it balanced, but it is occasionally difficult. Being female and lifting heavy weights just seems to be so wrong and unattractive to some these days, but why? Wouldn’t you think that women would want to be as strong or fit as men, but maybe without the bulkiness? This leads to me to explain a controversial article I read recently posted on the ABC news website discussing a Fitness Test controversy in Pennsylvania. The head of the Pennsylvania State Police claimed that the agency’s physical fitness standards for recruits discriminate against women. Overall, nearly all male recruits pass the test, while 30% of women fail. An implemented fitness test must pass the threshold rule; 80% must pass. A lawsuit was filed; asking a judge to order the department to hire women on an equal basis with men. The Commissioner said he did not want to lower the standards because new troopers perform the same job and lowering the standards would endanger safety, as well insult those who already met the standards. This controversial topic sparked my interest and thoughts on the physical fitness test standards for other situations, like the one administered in gym class.

With kids heading back to school, that means gym class starting back up too! Although the President’s Challenge has not been used since 2013 and new guide to promoting fitness in schools is used, a variety of schools once used this method of teaching kids how to lead a healthy life. The Physical Fitness Test recognizes students for their level of physical fitness by doing 5 activities; curl ups or partial curl ups, shuttle run, endurance run/walk, pull-ups or right angle push-ups or flexed arm hang, and the v-sit reach. Based on their results three awards are given. The benchmarks are specific to age and gender. The girls’ benchmarks are lower than the boys’. So, this is where I ask your thoughts. Do you think that fitness test requirements like the ones mentioned should vary between males and females or should they be equal? What are your thoughts on strength training to create a better you? I want to hear your thoughts! Connect with a health fitness specialist in your corporate fitness center to strive to improve on your own numbers. 

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Topics: fitness health and wellness

NIFS: Out of ideas for a great workout?

exercise_with_friendsAre you getting burnt out on the same workout routine day in and day out? Have you tried to look up new exercises or is it easier to stick with the same familiar routine everyday? There are endless options available to find something new to try! Whenever I run out of ideas, there are several routes I take to spice up my usual workout routine. Below, I have only provided you with the typical routes I use.

Ask Your Fitness Friends: I am sure you friends who have knowledge about the fitness life or are a part of the so-called “#fitfam” would be more than happy to help. You never know, they may even put together a new workout plan for you if you ask!

Browse the Internet: The web is full of fitness related blogs and websites. You can even YouTube specific exercises or quick workouts. Whatever suits your fancy!

Pinterest: This is my constant ‘go-to’ website. It’s considered a social network that fits into the category of visual bookmarking. You can create an account for free, create several categorized boards, then use the search engine to find and follow fitness related posts that come from the interweb. After finding the ‘pins’ that interest you, you can ‘repin’ them to your categorized board.  This is a great way to save several routines or readings that you find interesting and go back later to read. This website is an online supplement store, contains workout programs, daily content, and blogs from those within the fitness community.  The tabs allow you to perform specific searches. You can even narrow your search to find exercises for each muscle group on your body!

SmartPhone Apps: You can look up the top apps downloaded in relation to fitness. A couple of my favorites that I have tried include the Nike + Training Club (N+TC) and NIFS mobile app. The N+TC mobile app is a free app with over 100 full body workouts that are inspired by the top Nike athletes and designed by NTC Master Trainers. It will even track your progress! The free NIFS mobile app provides you with a group fitness schedule, facility hours, offers, and promotions. NIFS offers over 80 group fitness classes Sunday through Saturday! There are over 25 different types of classes, so you’re sure to find one you like too!

Talk to a Trainer: NIFS staffed trainers are there to help you and answer any questions you have. They work to help you reach your goals and support you along the way. Members have the opportunity to get unique exercise programs designed around their health and fitness goals. If you are interested in the other services provider, you can meet with someone in the fitness center management staff who will send you in the right direction!

There are endless opportunities, so if you are unable to stop by your corporate fitness center or local gym try one of these options to create a better you!

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