Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Rachel Heyer

Recent Posts by Rachel Heyer:

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