Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Samantha Whiteside

Recent Posts by Samantha Whiteside:

Employee Health: Planning Ahead for Healthy Meals

This blog was written by Samantha Whiteside. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

meal planning, employee health, nutrition, dietFind it nearly impossible to eat a well-balanced breakfast, prepare nutritious dinners, or snack on nutrient-rich foods? You are not alone! Follow these simple tips on how to plan healthy meals and start eating smart.

Step One: Moderation

Don’t attempt to make too many changes at once. Start with switching to whole-grain breads and sides. Then bring in more vegetables and fruit. Next, focus on lean protein. Then switch to low-fat dairy. Focusing on one thing at a time will ensure that this will be a lifestyle change and not just a fad diet.

Step Two: Research

Use the Internet as a tool to find quick and healthy recipes, foods that are low in calories and full of fiber, and alternatives to typical cookout or holiday dishes.

Step Three: Be Prepared

Plan out your meals a week ahead. Take one day a week to write down what all meals will be and stick to it as best you can. Secondly, cut up all fresh vegetables and put them into clear containers as soon as you bring them home. This will make salads and all other meals much faster to assemble. Additionally, always keep canned vegetables such as mushrooms, beans, tomatoes, and beets on hand for casseroles, soups, and homemade sauces.

Step Four: Choose Color and Variety

Ensure that each meal contains at least two different colors of fruits and vegetables. Different colors provide different nutrients and ensure a well-balanced diet. Additionally, try new things. Introduce a new fruit or vegetable or alternative protein every few weeks. Not only does this keep things interesting, but it expands your knowledge of nutrition and aids in a more nutritious food intake.

Sound reasonable? By doing a little research and prep work, adding in variety, and keeping things in moderation, you will achieve healthy meals on a daily basis and have plenty of time to spare.

Topics: nutrition

Do Flexible Work Conditions Make for Better Employee Health?

How many times have you told yourself that if you were only allowed some flexibility at work, you could actually utilize the worksite fitness center, participate in a corporate wellness program, or be able to reduce your stress simply by walking outside? It has been found time and time again that worksites that allow flexible arrangements and promote healthier workplaces benefit in more ways than one.

The Ways Flexibility Improves Employee Health

corporate wellness in meetingsFlexible working conditions not only have been found to reduce employee blood pressure and absences due to illness, but can increase job performance, productivity, and overall morale. Additionally, giving employees more control over their schedules has been shown to have positive effects on mental health, sleep duration, sleep quality, alertness at work, and heart rate.

Ask for Some Work Schedule Flexibility

If you are employed by a company that offers flexible schedules, take advantage of it! However, if you don’t have this option, speak with those in charge of scheduling and make a valiant attempt to work something out.

Who wouldn’t want to improve their mental and physical health? If a little flexibility can help you feel better and work more efficiently, it's a win-win proposition.

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Topics: corporate wellness employee health productivity health culture improve absenteeism

Group Exercise: Important Job Benefit for Employee Health

describe the imageGroup exercise classes are known for their high-energy environments and uplifting tunes. However, employees can gain numerous other benefits, especially if your organization provides on-site group exercise classes. And because people spend more time at work than ever before, it only makes sense to offer worksite wellness programs and onsite group exercise as a benefit to employees.

Stress Reduction and Accountability Increases

One of the benefits of worksite group exercise classes is reduced daily stress. In a world where 12-plus hours of work are shoved into an eight-hour workday, any reduction in stress is a huge help. Not only is stress reduced, but accountability and success rates increase. Who wants to miss a worksite group exercise class when the instructor and your colleagues will know you skipped out?

Mood and Morale Improvement

Not only can worksite exercise programs positively contribute to employee’s weight-loss success, but group programming can improve the mood at the office when employees are pressed to perform and produce. A well-run worksite group exercise class will allow for the sociability that employees may not otherwise receive throughout the day. Classes can also build on an element of friendly competition where participants will work harder in a group than they would push themselves on their own.

Reduced Liability

Last but not least among the benefits of group exercise is an increase in participant safety and organizational liability. Classes that are taught by a certified instructor drastically decrease the likelihood of employee injury and minimize liability for the employer.

Your employer may not offer a corporate wellness program or a corporate fitness center now. But when they realize all of the benefits for their associates and the company, I’m sure they won’t be too far behind the fitness train.

Topics: exercise at work corporate fitness program employee health benefits corporate fitness

Employee Health: Is Organic Food Really Better?

Rhubarb resized 600In the health craze of organic and all-natural food, it's easy to get confused and not know where to turn. What exactly is organic? How do I know I can trust what’s on the label? Is organic really better for me? These questions and more have been up for debate for years and will continue to be for many to come.


What Is Organic Food?

Organic food is defined by the USDA to be grown “free of synthetic substances; contain no antibiotics and hormones; has not been irradiated or fertilized with sewage sludge; was raised without the use of most conventional pesticides; and contains no genetically modified ingredients.”

Many true organic farmers feel we have a long way to go beyond this definition. For example, animals must be given access to the outdoors, but for how long and under what conditions isn’t defined. Furthermore, most farmers who practice sustainable farming and are organic in spirit operate on such a small scale that they can’t afford the expensive requirements to be certified organic by the USDA.

Organic Does Not Necessarily Mean Local, Healthy, or Inexpensive

A common misconception is that organic means local. This is not true. You could buy organic salmon from Chile, but what kind of carbon footprint are you leaving behind?

Organic also does not mean healthy. In this article in the New York Times, Marion Nestle, a professor at New York University’s department of nutrition, food studies and public health, says, “Organic junk food is still junk food.”

Additionally, organic foods are more expensive. If you can manage spending a few extra dollars, WebMD recommends buying the following organic foods:

  • Dairy products
  • Beef
  • Spinach
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Green beans
  • peas
  • squash

Another option is frozen organic produce.

Organic Does Have Some Health Benefits

In a recent study conducted by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry and highlighted in this article, organic tomatoes were found to have nearly twice the levels of quercetin and kaempferol as regular tomatoes. These two compounds are known as flavonoids, which have been linked to a reduced rate of heart disease.

So far, more money has been spent on marketing organic foods than on the nutritional benefits of organic products. So more it will take more time, money, and research before people understand the full effects of organic foods.

Are You Confused Yet?

So if you are now more confused than ever, it's quite understandable. Starting your own garden is a great option, but it's not always feasible. The point here is to buy local, buy seasonal, and if possible buy organic local products. Being an informed consumer is always a good thing.

If you have access to corporate wellness programs or an onsite fitness center, don’t hesitate to ask your worksite wellness staff for more information on organic food and other health topics.

Topics: corporate wellness nutrition