Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Senior Living Activities: Bring the Putting Green Indoors

If you follow our blog, you know we like to post about the cool stuff our fitness management staff are doing for the members at our client locations.  For example, in this blog, we talked about some popular National Senior Health and Fitness Day activities that were a huge hit in one senior living community.  In fact, we've dedicated an entire series to some of our active aging staff best practice programs and services.  

This blog post fits right in with our practice of sharing the programming love.  

Our manager saw a need to bring the golf course to residents who were no longer comfortable going to the local course for a round of golf.  On a tight budget, she creatively used mostly pool noodles to build a course in the multipurpose room.

Check out the pictures below to see how she brought the putting green indoors.  

The Course

NIFS manager, Lindsay Knox, laid out a collection of pool noodes to create an indoor mini-golf course at the community.  She marked each hole, gave the residents score cards, and set them out to putt away.

senior living indoor putting course\

The Residents In Action

In the picture below, you can see some of the obstacles set up in various holes.  The residents who participated were thrilled with Lindsay's creativity (and so were we!).  

residents on indoor putting course

 

For more great ideas from NIFS that you can bring to the lifestyle programming at your community, subscribe to our best practice campaign.

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Topics: active aging best practices nifs best practices

Active Aging: What if your activities director stopped being an order taker

timeoutIt’s busy at your community; sometimes it’s so busy that residents complain they have a hard time choosing what program to attend.  Inevitably, the calendar is so full they have to miss events they love in order to attend something else. And your activities director is at the heart of that bustling calendar. 

She’s responding to her monthly resident committee, and she’s fielding one-off requests from residents who stop by her office or who catch her in the hall.  She’s also responding to phone calls from community groups or individuals who are interested in performing for or working with the residents. 

Oh, and don’t forget the opportunities offered by other areas of the community.  The therapy group has a monthly educational presentation they want to do.  The fitness manager runs a host of exercise classes each week and wants to draw residents into his quarterly competitions.  The dietician and chef want to host a bi-monthly cooking demonstration, and the social worker wants to bring in experts from the community as resources for the residents. 

Your activities director performs a delicate balancing act every month taking “orders” (requests) from residents and the community; all while, she’s balancing existing and long-standing calendar events.  (Do not mess with the card player’s schedule!)  The programming is delicately placed on the calendar and carefully scheduled with typically limited space inside the community and tightly booked transportation to areas outside of the community. 

If this sounds like your community, then you can agree that it is indeed busy. 

And yet, busy doesn’t build purpose. 

Residents in your community aren’t looking solely to be entertained.  They’re looking for purposeful living in a setting where some of the barriers that used to get in the way, like home maintenance, have been removed.  They’re looking for opportunities to contribute, and to grow, and to connect in new and challenging ways. 

What if your activities director stopped being an order taker?  What if she stopped using the meeting minutes from her monthly committee minute as a to do list and started thinking strategically about how to engage a variety of stakeholders in the planning process for resident events and activities?

You see, right now, the activities director is functioning much like the wait staff in your dining venues.  She’s greeting a table (resident committee), introducing herself (new residents), and asking residents what they want to do.  She’s taking their orders, and fulfilling the requests (as best she can).  And in fact, there’s nothing wrong with that model.  It’s what happens in most communities on a regular basis.  In most cases, residents are quite happy with their program/event options.

So, if the residents are happy, why on earth would I be talking about a different way of building lifestyle at the community? 

Because there’s more richness out there for your residents; there is more that can be done to build purposeful living.  And there are residents who don’t participate because you haven’t tapped their interest or desires yet.  (Oh, there is also marketing goodness on the table with a changed approach.)

If your activities director moved away from taking orders, could she build more intentional opportunities for residents to engage in the community lifestyle programming?  Would more of your residents be involved in the offerings because of the thoughtful approach to a variety of interests represented by your diverse audience?

To be clear, I’m not advocating you turn programming on its head. (We do not need your residents in an uproar over substantial changes to beloved activities.)  I am instead suggesting that your activities director take a fresh approach to how the calendar is organized, who is supporting events, how events are developed, and how success is measured. 

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start when you’re trying to change an approach or a process.  Our Build Vitality webinar series (which covers branding, staff, program, and fitness center design) is a good resource.  I linked a few of our blogs above for more information as well.  If you’re still not sure where to go to get started, or you’d like a more hands on approach, consider bringing us onsite for consulting to help you chart a course to build a multidimensional activities calendar that cultivates purpose for your residents.

Are you ready to do wellness better? Learn more about wellness consulting.

Topics: active aging senior living communities

Creativity Meets Physical Activity in Senior Living

During National Senior Health and Fitness Day earlier this week, the residents at Sandhill Cove, one of NIFS partner communities, had a ball with a wine bottle ring toss, dart art, golf, and more.  Check out the images below that tell the story of a successfully active day for the residents in that senior living community.

Dart Art

This event was the clear resident favorite for the day.  The balloons were filled with paint and participants took turns hitting the balloons with darts, carnival-style.  The residents were so pleased with the outcome, that a section of the painted sheet will find a new home as framed artwork in the community for everyone at the community to enjoy.

Dart Art resized 600      dart art results 2 resized 600

Wine Bottle Ring Toss

What better way to put the wine bottles from last night's happy hour to use?  We're not sure we can call it environmental wellness, but the residents were really focused on ringing those bottles!  

Mr. Brauntuch Volunteer wine bottle ring toss resized 600

Aqua Golf

I guess when you've retired to south Florida, playing golf in the water is the only way to play. 

Mr. Morrissey I%27m getting wet Aqua Golf

The rest of the day was filled with other games like corn hole, shuffle board, a putting tournament, and croquet.  There were health check ups for the residents too.  Based on the smiles and participation, we think the day was a fantastic success for all who came out to play.

Want to learn more about NIFS Best Practice programming like this?  Sign up for our Best Practice series below!

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Topics: active aging best practices senior living community resident wellness programs

Active Aging: Why should I consume probiotics?

senior eating yogurt resized 600We see probiotics all over the nutritional world now. So many foods, especially yogurts, are offering probiotics and making sure they are on the front label. But you may be wondering what these probiotics are and why they are so important.

We're glad you asked!  Here are 3 of the best explanations as to how they help and why we should consider taking them.

  1. Replace what we kill – We hear about bacteria in the body and automatically think that it is all bad, but we rely on an average of 500 different species in our intestines to digest our foods and process our nutrients. There is so much in our food today that helps kill these bacteria. It has been shown too that even one round of antibiotics can drastically decrease the amount of good bacteria in our body. The top four bacteria to look for are: Lactobacillus bulgaricus,  Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei and Bifidobacteria.
  2. Digestive Health – So now we know we need to replace the bacteria that we kill and we know where it lives.  It’s time to see just what they do for us. These bacteria help break down and work through all the foods that we eat. This helps our body to use less energy while breaking down the foods and increases the absorption rate of all the nutrients that we eat. Both the Vitamin B’s and Vitamin K are processing are greatly increased by these bacteria. And don’t forget these are two vitamins that are responsible for giving us energy. When you think about it these bacteria are great energy boosters for us! We use less energy processing food and gain more energy from our foods. Finally all this bacterial helps regulate our digestive system. It is amazing the effect these tiny things have on our bowels. Once everything is in balance there is no more constipation or diarrhea or the bouncing back and forth between the two.
  3. Infection Prevention – Wait doesn’t bacteria cause infections? The answer is yes and no and to be even more confusing some of the good bacteria start with the name of bad bacteria as well. At first look what came to mind when you read Streptococcus thermophilus? Probably strep throat right? Well believe it or not this is a good bacteria and it does not cause strep throat. It actually helps with lactose intolerance and other irritations of the digestive track. Yeast infections are caused by the lack of good bacteria in our bodies. The yeast grows rapidly in warm moist areas and the bacteria are there to consume it. Lack of these bacteria has also been linked to urinary tract infections, bladder infections and kidney infection.

As you can see these little bugs are very important to our ability to digest, receive energy and stay overall healthy. These bacteria are found in many of the yogurts such as Activia®, Oikos® and Kefir. If you are lactose intolerant don’t worry there are soy and coconut based yogurts and drinks for you too. 

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Topics: nutrition active aging health and wellness

NIFS: Top 3 reasons to increase fruit and veggie consumption

woman eating healthy resized 600We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us, right? We hear it all the time that fruits and vegetables lower the chance of certain cancers, eating your spinach will prevent cataracts, eating fruits leads to longer life and beet juice lowers blood pressure. We also know that fruits and vegetables add color and texture to our dinner plate, they are low in calories and provide fiber, vitamins and minerals for our body. So, if something is good for us, why don’t we embrace it and take it all in? Well, it is not as easy as it sounds. For many, it may be the taste factor and immediate satisfaction of good tasting food, overrides thoughts of long-term health. Were you forced to eat your vegetables when you were younger? Possibly the half eaten peas and carrots that were in your mouth became the new center piece at the dinner table? Bad experiences tend to keep us away from trying it again. So, what are the top 3 reasons to increase fruit and veggie intake? Why would I want to give these foods another try?

1) Fruits and vegetables provide benefits for my overall health.  This requires a change of thinking to actually believe that it will provide long-term health benefits, so the eating choices I make today will affect me in the days, weeks, months and years ahead. Research has spoken and the results have been proven that fruits and veggies are good for us.

2) Maintaining at least half my plate with fruits and vegetables with protein and some small amounts of grains, provide steady blood glucose levels. I do not experience the high spikes of blood sugar that can be caused by eating a lot of foods that are on the high end of the glycemic index.  I feel better and have more energy by following this rule.

3) Eating more fruits and vegetables and eating less sugars and grains provide a healthy body weight. How much sugars and grains do you consume in a day? If you have been trying to lose weight and have had a hard time getting the weight off, you may want to look into what you are eating.

Whatever your experience was like, don’t give up on fruits and veggies. Give it another try. You may find that it is one of the best things you could do for your health. What are your reasons for eating more fruits and veggies? For ideas on how to incorporate fruits and veggies into your meals contact your fitness center staff.  

Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers

Topics: Food for Thought active aging nifs fitness management

Active Aging: Liven Up Your Olympics Programming (Part 2 of 2)

seniors swimmingIn part I of this blog series, we discussed opportunities to develop a comprehensive Olympics-themed program that would create a more memorable experience for participants as well as opportunities to attract more resident interest in the events. In the second part of this blog, we will explore a variety of events that you can consider folding into your Olympics to compliment the recreational activities your residents already know and love or to take a different path all-together.

Part II: Freshen up your Olympic events

Weekly recreational offerings with a strong resident following might seem like low-hanging fruit when it comes to spinning off an event for an Olympics-themed program. However, creating a flyer with your own Olympics logo and inviting these participants to a “special” tournament one afternoon can be less than inspiring for residents.  Read on to broaden your horizons on additional events you can pull into your next Olympics adventure.   

Recreational Activities & Games:

You’ve probably considered croquet, putting contests, corn hole, shuffleboard, bocce ball, ping pong, water volleyball, billiards, etc., but have you considered adapting your own versions of the following?

  • Frisbee Discuss: Play it indoors or outdoors and mark targets at varying distances. You can use hoola hoops or simply use tape to mark off the targets. You can designate varying point values for the different distances or recognize participants by the number of Frisbees that hit inside or on the target.
  • Water Balloon Shotput: Teach your residents how Olympians throw a shot put (without or without the spinning in a circle…OK, probably without the spinning) but use a water balloon! Measure the splash marks and who can shotput the water balloon the furthest distance.
  • Wii: Many residents are already familiar with Wii bowling and golf, but consider purchasing the Wii Fit if you don’t have one and allow your residents to hone their skills on downhill skiing. Wii also has games for archery, hunting & target practice, and many other options that might appeal to your residents.
  • Synchronized Swimming: Planned well in advance of your Olympics, you can have small groups of 3-4 residents compete against one another in synchronized routines they develop or have one large group of residents work together to put on a spectator sport for the entire senior living community. Perhaps you could host your Opening Ceremonies in your pool area to increase exposure of this wonderful amenity your community has to offer!

Brain Fitness:

You’re Olympic events don’t necessarily have to be recreation or fitness related. Finding other ways for residents to compete can be a great way to attract more individuals to participate.

  • Scavenger Hunt: Take pictures of random artwork and landmarks inside and outside at your community and provide these snapshots to participants. They will embark on a scavenger hunt trying to recall where they’ve seen these different items throughout the community and will visit each location. You can make it a timed event for the top three finishers or do recognition awards for everyone who makes it through.
  • Brain Trivia: Host a Jeopardy or other trivia type event for residents to promote intellectual wellness as part of your Olympics. For a large turnout, you can have multiple games going on at different tables simultaneously, or you can have residents work as teams for the answers.

Let your creative juices flow in developing a comprehensive and fresh approach to your next community Olympics!  If you like what we have shared, check out our Best Practice Series featuring 11 of our Best Practices we have implemented in active aging communities!

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Topics: active aging nifs fitness management senior living active living senior living community nifs best practices

NIFS: Women, Take Charge of Your Health

happy womenIt’s about that time of year where the weather is getting warmer and the flowers are blooming. May is a wonderful introduction into the summer months and is also a time we celebrate women. Mother’s Day is not the only day to celebrate women, but there is a whole week dedicated to women’s health. For this year, National Women’s Health Week for the US is May 11 – 17. Women can celebrate the generations of women before them that have pioneered the way and take charge of their health to make it a priority. This week focuses on preventive measures to take to improve their health and avoid disease.

Within this week, there is a day designated that women encouraged to visit their health care provider while getting recommended check-ups, vaccinations, and screenings. The National Women’s Health Check-up Day is May 12, 2014. Maintaining annual screenings and check-ups is one important way women can take control of their health and create a healthy lifestyle. Other healthy habits include getting regular physical activity, adapting a healthy nutrition routine, avoiding smoking, and following other general safety rules.

Sometimes it can seem like a lot to take in regarding our health. It’s do this, don’t do that. Follow this guideline, avoid this. Even though our health can be challenging, it’s important to know what we can control and what we can’t. One part of taking charge of your health involves understanding your risk factors. Some risk factors are beyond your control which includes family history of disease, your sex, age, or having an existing health problem. Ones you can control are diet, fitness, use of tobacco and drugs, alcohol intake, and even wearing your seatbelt to name a few. In the US, there are about 35% of early deaths that could be avoided by quitting smoking, having healthy diet and increasing physical activity. Make yourself more aware of how you can prevent early death.

To celebrate women’s health week, make time for yourself to schedule your appointments to take care of you.  I encourage you to take time this week to try the following activities:

  • Schedule your annual appointments: physical/dental/eye exam
  • Sign up for a 5K walk/run
  • Try a new healthy recipe
  • Attend a group fitness class, try something new like Zumba© or yoga
  • Get outside and do some yard work
  • Read a book or do a puzzle for brain health
Topics: active aging exercise and wellness women's health healthy living

Active Aging: Breathe Life into Olympic Programming (Part 1 of 2)

seniors high fiveMany communities have regularly scheduled recreational activities on the monthly calendar such as croquet, bocce ball, or Wii that seem like fairly logical programs to spin into Olympics-themed events in senior living communities.  Still, it’s not enough to simply group these regularly occurring events together and call them your Community Olympics.  How do you set up the initiative so that it has broad appeal and allows those residents who participate in the events regularly to feel inspired and challenged alongside their novice neighbors?  This two-part blog will provide creative tips to kick your Olympics up a notch with your resident favorites as well as provide fresh new ideas for events.

Part I: Kick it up a notch

Many active aging residents, who participate in weekly recreational offerings such as shuffleboard, putting contests, are quite good. Wait, I take that back –they are really excellent! After all they are playing on a regular basis (perhaps their entire lives) and enjoying the friendly competition amongst their neighbors. As the media starts to promote the next Summer or Winter Olympics and you begin brainstorming ideas for another competition, consider how to create something that will be a truly memorable experience for your residents when they are already playing and honing their skills on a regular basis.

Get more of the community involved:

While some residents aren’t interested competing, that element of competition can breathe life into your Olympics and get more residents involved by tapping into volunteers as well as creating spectator opportunities. Create opportunities for your non-competitive residents to engage as volunteers to be scorekeepers, line judges, and coordinators for the individual events. Furthermore as you designate various venues for your events, make sure you include space for spectators and consider offering light refreshments. Market the opportunity for residentsin your senior living community to come and watch and cheer on their neighbors participating in the events. You could even host a workshop where residents can make banners or signs to bring with them and cheer on the Olympians. This can inspire not only your competing Olympian to feel the support of their neighbors, but it might also inspire a resident who is watching the event to give it a try themselves the next time around.

Make it a formal affair:

I’m not talking black ties and ball gowns, but do consider hosting a more formal approach to an Olympics by including an opening and closing ceremony as well as medals ceremonies for the different events you offer. Promote these ceremonies to the entire community and not just the Olympians. If residents are already use to regular tournaments for the recreational programs at the community, these ceremonies can help set your Olympics apart from the offering they partake in from month to month.  If you are hosting a variety of different events in your Olympics, have a parade at your Opening Ceremonies to present your Olympians in each event. If you are able to tap into resident volunteers and spectators, recognize their contributions with spirit awards at your Closing Ceremonies. 

Residents Unite!

Your residents are already competing amongst themselves on a regular basis. Why not unite your residents into a team and invite neighboring retirement communities to be your opposition for the Olympics. Plan the friendly competition well in advance so all participating communities have a chance to practice and hone their skills at the events that will be offered. While corn hole, for example, may be a big hit with your residents, it may be a new activity to residents at another community and they’ll need some time to reach Olympian status. This can motivate your residents to come together as a team and provide a fresh spin on an activity they already know and love.

Up next in part II of this blog, I’ll outline the variety of events you can consider for your Olympic Games.

Click below and subscribe to our best practice series and see how our active aging staff create great programming to engage residents!

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Topics: active aging senior living best practices active living senior living communities fitness programming

How we engage residents in senior living fitness programs

thumbs upRaise your hand if you love hearing stories about how your staff make a resident’s day, particularly when it occurs organically, if you will, by the employee simply being who she is.  I know…me too.  That’s why I couldn’t resist sharing these two stories in our blog and how we engage residents in senior living fitness programs. 

Our organizational structure is such that we hire exceptionally capable, qualified, and passionate staff who we train well.  When they’re ready, we set them off at their client location to do their work.  Certainly, we provide a host of supports, ongoing training, and other touch points, but it’s tough for me to keep track of their day to day challenges and victories when they are far flung in 22 states with more than 60 clients.  So when these two stories got back to me, I simply had to give this shout out!

Story #1: Winning over the residents

When we first start working with a new senior living client and we place one of our fitness center managers onsite at the community, we sometimes get pushback from a small group of vocal residents about the information we require of them prior to helping them with an exercise program.  Industry standards through the American College of Sports Medicine establish that sound practice involves gathering relevant health information, securing a signed waiver, and getting a medical release where appropriate.  If we get push back from residents, it’s typically with the waiver and a common objection to the industry standard language we use. 

This story comes from that exact circumstance where a small group of residents had protested our use of a release for the fitness program.  While we were in discussion with leadership at the community about NIFS practices, and how the community wanted to proceed, our manager, Ali, continued to do what she does.  

She worked with the early adopters providing senior fitness testing, individualized exercise programs and guidance, and continued to follow up with those participants about their progress and any questions they have.  She offered creative group exercise classes and continued to enroll residents in those programs.  She focused in on improving resident’s balance through both class and 1:1 settings, and she continued to help participants track their progress as their strength and balance improved. 

Meanwhile, the residents did what residents do.  They talked to their friends and neighbors.  Those who were engaged in the new fitness programming with the NIFS fitness center manager talked about how much better they felt, how they could tell their balance was improving, and how easy the manager was to work with. 

And then those initial naysayers started thinking that they might be missing out on something really positive going on in the community.  So, within a few weeks of raising strong objections to our paperwork, those most vocal opponents put aside their concerns, completed the paperwork, and started receiving the same positive health benefits that their friends and neighbors had been experiencing.  We’re grateful for the opportunity to serve more residents in the community, and I’m completely tickled that it all came about simply because the NIFS manager kept doing what she’s amazing at with those who were ready. 

Story #2: Keeping fitness accessible for residents

The second story is one of those “well, duh” moments.  The action our staff member took in response to a resident need is truly a no-brainer.  But I say that and I know that I may not have arrived at that simple action which has definitely resulted in improved quality of life for that individual.  Rachel made this resident’s day simply by being who she is – a creative problem solver who is passionate about helping the residents enjoy very active living.

When Rachel learned that one of their formerly regular participants stopped exercising, she wanted to get to the bottom of it.  Turns out, the resident was unable to use the check in scanner because of a low vision condition, so she simply stopped attending group exercise classes.  After Rachel learned about the barrier, she worked with the resident to place a small piece of adhesive felt to the membership tag and taught the resident how to orient the felt in front of the scanner for a successful check in.  That resident was able to feel her way to a successful fitness center check in and removing that barrier was enough to pull her back into group exercise classes twice each (and every) week.


As a fitness staffing agency, we are fully committed to hiring and holding onto exceptional staff who are not only knowledgeable but also passionate about the audience they serve.  Click the button below to read more about how we do that, and then contact us to learn how we can work together to boost your community's fitness program.

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Topics: active aging senior living fitness programs for seniors nifs fitness management staffing CCRC Programs and Services

Active Aging: Read for Brain Health

woman in library resized 600Often when we think or talk about having good health, it consists of eating healthy foods and exercising. There are many areas of our lives that we could improve upon health wise—often it seems like there is so much to work on to keep track. However, one segment of health that seems to go by the way side is mental health. Just as muscles lose strength or cardiovascular fitness declines with age, your brain can lose agility and decline in the way that it functions. There is no one way to prevent degenerative diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer’s, but you can start today with the way you live your life to help make your brain healthier. Here are a few tips for great brain health:

  • Stay physically active – being active maintains good blood flow to the brain and can encourage new brain cells.
  • Adopt a brain-healthy diet – there has been research done that high cholesterol can contribute to brain cell damage and stroke. A healthy diet that is low in fat and cholesterol is desirable along with dark vegetables and fruits with antioxidants which can help protect brain cells.
  • Stay socially active – this can help reduce stress levels and maintain healthy connections among brain cells.
  • Stay mentally active – new nerve cells can be created by getting involved in mentally stimulating activities; this can also strengthen brain cells.

I want you to focus on the mental component of staying healthy and giving you ways improve your mind game. Try any of these easy ways to fit more mental activity into your daily routine:

  • Never stop learning! Maybe you wanted to take up doing a new hobby or even wanted venture out and do a new sport, commit to it and learn about your new adventure.
  • Take up writing and working on crossword puzzles to keep you mentally stimulated.
  • Enroll in a few college courses to keep mentally active in a structured way.
  • Play games with your friends and family.
  • Even try memory exercises or games that can help with your mind game!
  • Lastly, read books that are interesting to you. Who wants to read a boring book just to mark it off of your list? Head to the library and pick up a book for FREE!

Your public library is a great resource that is within your community; however some don’t take full advantage of it. First of all, it’s FREE; it’s easy to sign up for a library card; and there are so many books to interest anyone, you just have to do a little digging.

So check out your local library during National Library Week April 13-19 and read for excellent brain health!  Visit our facebook page and share what book you are currently reading!

Topics: active aging nifs fitness management brain health wellness mental health