Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Rachel Heyer

Recent Posts by Rachel Heyer:

Marching into Better Balance: NIFS Annual Balance Challenge

Balance Challenge logoAs you might know, just the fear of falling can have significant and lasting impact on older adults or family members’ quality of life. In fact, the fear itself is a risk factor for falls. The good news is that falls can be prevented through balance-specific training and education, which is why NIFS has adopted a comprehensive balance-training method that goes far beyond simply offering balance-training group fitness classes.

It's Time for the Annual Balance Challenge

As part of our commitment to improving balance and reducing the risk of falls, we launched the annual Balance Challenge in 2013 and have been expanding on it ever since. Residents across the country will join us this month as we March into Better Balance with the 8th Annual Balance Challenge. This hallmark program has truly become a fan favorite, and NIFS staff at senior living communities across the country will be focusing on educating their members on fall prevention while providing special balance-training classes, programs, and events.

Participants will be encouraged to complete a Fullerton Advanced Balance Assessment as well as a pre and post self-evaluation survey relating to their perceived levels of balance and confidence. During the month of March, participants will have the opportunity to choose from a menu of programming that includes a balance fair, a fall-prevention presentation, a workshop on how to get up from a fall if one were to occur, small group discussions addressing the fears surrounding falls, a home safety check, and multiple modalities of balance training through group fitness classes, circuit courses, balance games, and more.

One strong advantage of hosting the Balance Challenge is that it shines a spotlight on the fall-prevention program offerings readily available all year long in the fitness center. NIFS staff members regularly collaborate with rehab and the healthcare team at the communities we serve to support resident transitions into and out of therapy. Residents appreciate the opportunity to continue building on the gains they made in rehab with the help of NIFS degreed and certified staff in the fitness center. This strong collaboration with rehab and robust service menu of programs is a great service model for supporting resident well-being year round, and the Balance Challenge serves as a reminder of everything that is available.

Results of Last Year’s Balance Challenge

Last year’s Balance Challenge resulted in many valuable accomplishments:

  • Perceived balance: Across the communities, participants’ perception of their balance taken from their pre and post self-evaluations demonstrated a 12% increase in confidence.
  • Fear of falls: Across the communities, participants’ fear of falling decreased by 18% as reported from their pre and post self-evaluations following the Balance Challenge.
  • Total visits: There was an average increase of 11% in total resident participation to the fitness centers in March 2019 compared to March 2018.
  • Group fitness visits: Group fitness classes saw an average increase of 17% participation in March 2019 compared to March 2018.
  • Appointment volume: Resident engagement increased by 32% in the number of appointments conducted in March 2019 compared to March 2018.

The data tells a story, and clearly the residents increase their participation in fitness program offerings when there is an emphasis on comprehensive fall-prevention programming. They truly turn out to learn, train, and experience these offerings.

NIFS partners with premier senior living providers across the US to bring their residents best-in-class fitness and wellness programming. The NIFS Balance Challenge is a great example of how our qualified fitness professionals have the skills and resources to support resident well-being while increasing education about fall prevention and increasing overall participation in the fitness program. Click here to learn more about resident successes from participating in NIFS fall-prevention programming. Looking to get started with some balance training exercises? Click here for inspiration!

Check out NIFS Premier Fall Prevention Program: Balance Redefined, our comprehensive approach to fall prevention programming.

Learn more about Balance Redefined 

Topics: engagement fall prevention group fitness for seniors NIFS programs balance training for seniors balance challenge

Kicking off 2020 with the 5 Star Fit Club

GettyImages-494388997 (1)It should come as no surprise that most people aim to improve their lives in one way or another with the start of a new year. Particularly when it comes to focusing on better health and fitness, January’s clean slate seems to be the ideal time to get back on track and into shape immediately following the busy holiday season and prolonged period of indulgence. This seems to be a universal practice as we have found that to be no exception for our members and residents in senior living communities!

NIFS partners with communities across the US to manage their fitness center programming. Similar to most public gyms, our staff also notice patterns related to New Year’s resolutions. In the first few days of January we have come to expect an influx of participation, but these numbers start to decline after a few weeks as old routines creep back and resolutions are abandoned.

Knowing how to set goals, find motivation, build better habits, and remain consistent are all huge components of why so many “resolution-setters” fail. In fact, one study conducted by the University of Scranton suggests that only 8% of people stick to their resolutions, so we saw this as an opportunity to better support the communities and residents we serve and developed NIFS Five Star Fit Club. We piloted this program in ten communities for the first time in January 2019 and it resulted in:

  • Total visits: An average increase of 21% in total resident participation to the fitness centers in January 2019 compared to January 2018.
  • Group Fitness Visits: An average increase of 28% in participation in group fitness classes in January 2019 compared to January 2018.
  • Appointment Volume: Resident engagement increased by 135% in the number of appointments conducted in January 2019 compared to January 2018.
  • New Members: Across the communities, a total of 43 residents began participating in their fitness center for the first time as a direct result of the Five Star Fit Club program.

This incentive program is three weeks long and includes both a personalized assessment and exercise prescription as well as an interactive workshop where residents learn how to effectively change their habits and routines. Additionally, members are encouraged to visit their community’s fitness center independently and attend a set number of group fitness classes. The premise of the program is for participants to earn five stars over the three-week period by participating in the mentioned programs and services. In doing so they are being recognized and rewarded, experiencing accountability, and sensing small wins all while creating sustainable healthy habits and routines to keep them on track for the remainder of the year!5-Star Fit Club

In 2020, even more NIFS clients are kicking off the New Year with the 5-Star Fit Club and we look forward to hearing about the healthy habits and lifestyle choices residents adopt. Robust programs like the 5-Star Fit Club are a great way for senior living providers to support resident well-being while increasing utilization of amenities such as their fitness centers and pools. Click here for some other programming twists brought to NIFS clients.

Get Our Guide to Successful Fitness Programs

Topics: fitness programs for seniors senior living communities NIFS programs adding fun to senior fitness

Why Spending Time Outdoors Is Good for Physical and Mental Wellness

GettyImages-1138813719 (1)If you’re looking to improve the overall happiness and well-being of your residents—and even yourself—try taking your offerings outside of the fitness center and straight into nature!

Many of our NIFS fitness staff members schedule outdoor activities as a key component of their wellness programming, when and where weather permits. Some of the most popular open-air activities we have offered include walking groups, hiking trips, snowshoeing, yoga classes, mindfulness and meditation events, recreational sports, gardening, and outdoor socials. Exercise-related health benefits are already widely acknowledged, but did you know that the additional advantages of immersing oneself in nature may far surpass exercise alone?

Let the Sun Shine In!

Sunlight can help boost your Vitamin D levels, which is essential in calcium absorption to keep bones healthy and strong. Those who aren’t getting enough Vitamin D are much more likely to suffer from osteoporosis, heart disease, depression, weight gain, Alzheimer’s, and a whole catalog of cancers. In addition, getting sufficient sunlight can aid in preventing type-2 diabetes and some autoimmune disorders.

Get Active

Physical activity typically increases as we spend more time in natural environments, and the two together help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls how the body responds when at rest. Not only does this provide a relaxing, calm feeling, but it also reduces resting blood pressure, strengthens immunity, and can help decrease the risk of developing chronic disease.

Just Being Outside Is Beneficial for Mental Health and Wellness

Not in the mood for a “workout”? That’s okay, too! You can still fight mental fatigue, tension, and stress by simply being in nature. A study conducted at the University of Michigan found that spending as little as 20 minutes either sitting or walking in nature was enough to significantly reduce levels of cortisol, a hormone commonly used as a stress marker. The greatest rate of reduction in cortisol levels was observed in those who spent between 20 and 30 minutes in green spaces.

Anxiety and depression, too, have been proven to be lessened by spending time in nature’s powerful restorative environments—so powerful, in fact, that researchers at Stanford University call time spent in nature a mental health prescription.

Mental health disorders can contribute to poor sleep, and poor sleep can equally contribute to mental health disorders. Not only can time spent in nature improve overall mental health, leading to better sleep, but it can also play a fundamental role in improving sleep patterns, leading to better mental health. Sleep patterns are intrinsically regulated by circadian rhythms—this is commonly referred to as the body’s internal clock—which is directly tied to the sun’s schedule. Spending too much time in the absence of natural light, or in the presence of artificial light, can alter a person’s circadian rhythm and disrupt sleep patterns. Lucky for us, this balance is easily restored by getting back to nature and spending time outside.

Are you taking advantage of all that nature has to offer and sharing it with everyone you know?

NIFS staff love helping create Active Adventures with the communities where we help do wellness better.  Click below to see if outsourcing and having a vendor partner with you is a right fit!

Is outsourcing fitness center management right for your community?

Topics: disease prevention senior wellness programs bone density emotional wellness depression vitamins anxiety nifs staff nature outdoor exercise

5 Health and Fitness Tips for Keeping Holiday Depression at Bay

ThinkstockPhotos-496352559.jpgAccording to the American Medical Resource Institute, approximately 6 million people over the age of 65 are depressed. As we know, this time of year can be very difficult for some seniors since the holidays have a tendency to intensify feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Use the following tips for keeping holiday depression at bay this season.

Remain Physically Active

Mayo Clinic states that exercise can help to combat anxiety and depression by releasing “feel-good chemicals” into the brain while reducing the immune system chemicals that can worsen depression. These results boost mood through calming effects, coupled with an increase in confidence that we experience while exercising.

Keep Your Nutrition in Check

Typically, holidays are filled with family, friends, and foods that are full of sugar and high in fat, which can bring on or worsen anxiety, depression, and bad moods. (Check out this article to discover the ways sugar may be harming your mental health.) Try maintaining a blood-sugar balance, increasing omega-3s, eating a balanced diet, and getting in your vitamins to combat the blues stemming from poor dietary choices.

Get Outdoors

Speaking of vitamins, did you know that vitamin D is produced when our skin is exposed to sunlight? When the weather gets cooler and the days get shorter, we spend less time outdoors soaking in the sun, which results in a dip in vitamin D absorption. Studies suggest that low vitamin D levels are associated with depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Read more about SAD here.

Remain Social

Staying connected to family and friends will benefit you both emotionally and psychologically when you start to feel the holiday blues creeping up. Remember past holidays, but try starting some new traditions to find joy and balance this holiday season.

Lend a Hand

Volunteering to help the less fortunate reminds us how lucky we are while connecting us to others, keeping us mentally stimulated, and providing us with a sense of purpose!

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Help keep your residents active and engaged with others, check out our quick read for the benefits of exercise and aging well.  

DOWNLOAD: Importance of Exercise for Seniors >

Topics: winter fitness fitness health depression