Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Improve Your Senior Living Exercise Program: Focus on Chronic Disease

ThinkstockPhotos-585600458.jpgThe benefits of regular activity for individuals throughout their lifespan is clear through the many (many, many) studies that outline how much movement is enough and which elements of health are improved with activity. However, despite the research, people in the U.S. still simply don't get enough activity to sustain health benefits, and the rate of inactivity in the older adult population is even more startling.

Sedentary behavior as we age can be linked to chronic diseases like arthritis and heart disease. Although these conditions are common in older adults—and in many cases, regular exercise can help individuals manage those health issues—seniors often feel limited by their chronic illnesses. If you're having trouble growing participation in your community exercise program, you might be missing this important audience. Improve your senior living exercise program and focus on chronic disease to address these health concerns.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Help Residents Manage Chronic Illness with Exercise

  • Arthritis: Exercise is one of the most crucial options for arthritis management. Regular activity helps lubricate the joints and can help reduce overall pain and stiffness that is often present among individuals with arthritis. Moreover, obesity is a risk factor for the disease, and increasing physical activity levels can help better manage the debilitating symptoms of arthritis.

[Related Content: Pick your arthritis battles: how exercise can help]

  • Heart disease: Heart disease is one of the biggest causes of death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that about one in every four deaths is attributed to heart disease. More people exercising later in life can help reduce the number of individuals with heart disease through the management of blood pressure and blood glucose, and decreasing LDL cholesterol.
  • Metabolic Dysfunction (type II diabetes and obesity): Type II diabetes and obesity are two closely related diseases in which the body is in metabolic dysfunction. Exercise can help maintain proper body weight and help regulate blood glucose and insulin levels to make the body more efficient.
  • Cancer: Exercise has been shown to help lower overall cancer risk among a variety of different forms of cancer. Studies have shown a 30 to 40 percent reduction in breast cancer risk among women who perform moderate to regular exercise.
  • Hypertension: Exercise can help lower systolic blood pressure significantly through moderate-intensity physical activity. Try breaking up exercise into three bouts throughout the day lasting for at least 10 minutes each to receive blood pressure–lowering effects.
  • Depression: Exercise can have a beneficial effect on personal mood. Studies suggest that group exercise classes can help reduce symptoms of depression by 30 percent or more in exercising older adults. The modest improvement in depressive symptoms can help maintain an overall greater vitality later in life and help prevent negative feelings or thoughts that are common with aging.
  • Dementia: Dementia is a disabling condition affecting many older adults. With a wide range of mental disorders categorized as dementia, there is a great need to understand how to prevent the condition. Exercise is one prevention strategy that can help slow the mental decline. One study showed a 37 percent reduced risk and a 66 percent reduction in risk of dementia when older adults performed moderate-intensity exercise, suggesting every adult ought to exercise to help lower the risk of mental decline and to help prevent mental disability later in life.
  • Insomnia: Certain medications and life events can prevent the body from proper sleep. Higher levels of physical activity can help tire the body enough to place it in a position for restful and lasting sleep. Avoid strenuous exercise two hours before bed to obtain these benefits, and aim to meet the daily activity recommendations.

Need help ramping up community exercise programs to reach a broader audience? Find out more about NIFS consulting service where we bring our expertise to your community.

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Topics: diabetes heart disease cancer sleep senior living arthritis hypertension dementia depression exercise program CCRC Programs and Services chronic disease

Employee Health and Nutrition: The Pros and Cons of Organic Foods

Can switching to organic foods make a difference to employee health and nutrition? There are many claims about the benefits of organic foods. Unfortunately, the current research is equivocal regarding the validity of these claims.

There are medical, environmental, and financial factors to consider when deciding whether to go organic. Consider the following pros and cons.

PROS of Organic Foods:

  • Pesticides are not used in organic foods; natural compounds are used instead. Many health risks, such as cancer, are associated with pesticide use.
  • Organic foods must meet many USDA qualifications before they can be marketed as organic.
  • Use of organic compounds on animals means that they are not fed antibiotics or growth hormones and that they are fed organic food.

food marketCONS of Organic Foods:

  • The downside to organic is that these foods tend to be more expensive. This can lead to a difficult decision in the grocery store between apples that look the same but vary in price.
  • Organic produce may spoil faster than fruits and vegetables sprayed with pesticides. Because they don’t have the wax-like coverings on them, they can go bad more quickly. Products that have the wax coverings should be labeled, indicating that a product was used to increase shelf life and decrease the occurrence of disease.

Other things to keep in mind when purchasing your food:

  • If certified organic, the food will have the USDA certified organic sticker on it.
  • Food must be at least 70 percent organic to be able to have the USDA certification.
  • Natural means that there aren’t any artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, or preservatives. 

Ultimately, you need to decide for yourself what is best for your family, lifestyle, and checkbook.

Checkout our quickread for NIFS top nutrition apps for healthier eating, click below.


Topics: employee health nutrition cancer disease prevention organic food

NIFS Nutrition News: Rice and Arsenic

rice When I saw the Consumer Reports article a few weeks ago about them finding high levels of arsenic in rice, my first thought was, “surely they were wrong!” However, after researching it a little further, all of the evidence points to the sad truth that one of our cheapest, quickest, and most popular grains to eat and prepare may be dangerous.

I found this interesting article from the Chicago Tribune that gives tips on how to reduce the arsenic levels in rice. The following excerpt shows what the article suggests you do:

Rinse your rice thoroughly. The FDA cites several studies indicating that "thoroughly rinsing rice until the water is clear (four to six changes of water) reduced the total arsenic content by up to approximately 25-30 percent."

Check your municipal water report. "Make sure your local water supply does not have high levels of arsenic," says John Duxbury of Cornell University, who studies arsenic and rice. "If you do have high levels, washing can make it worse. But if you are under 10 parts per billion, it should help."

Cook and drain your rice sort of like pasta. "We say to use about 6 parts water to 1 part rice," says Michael Hansen, a senior staff scientist at Consumer Reports. "And then drain off the water after it's done." The FDA says that studies show rinsing and cooking in excess water can reduce total arsenic levels by 50 to 60 percent. "However, it should be noted that for enriched rice, rinsing will also likely reduce the amount of added nutrients," the agency said.

Choose aromatic rices. For those who are already fans of Indian basmati or Thai jasmine rices, the news is not so bad. According to the hundreds of recently released test results, aromatic rice varieties show the lowest levels of inorganic arsenic. Imported basmati and jasmine rices showed about half to one-eighth the level of arsenic as regular rices grown in the Southern U.S.

Consider limiting brown rice consumption. From a nutritional and fiber standpoint, brown rice is tops, but because its bran remains intact it can also hold on to higher levels of arsenic, according to test results. Are the nutritional benefits worth the arsenic load? Hard to say at this point. But some test results indicate that brown rice from California and India have [sic] much lower levels of arsenic than brown rice from Southern U.S. states. For now, they may be the best choice.

Choose California. Of the domestic rices tested by Consumer Reports, California rices had lower levels of arsenic than those in other states. FDA rice results also indicated that some U.S. rice had lower levels of arsenic, but the data it released to the public did not specify states of origin.

Be careful when feeding babies rice cereal and rice milk. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office conducted tests of rice cereals for babies that she announced all contained inorganic arsenic. Gerber recently released a statement announcing it now sources its baby cereal rice only from California. Still Consumer Reports advises that children do not drink rice milk and that infant rice cereal (1/4 cup) be served no more than once a day.

Hopefully by following some of these tips and suggestions, we can all feel more confident in consuming this tasty whole grain. More research is currently being done on this topic, so until the conclusion is released, try to rotate other whole grains such as quinoa, barley, couscous, and whole-wheat pasta into your diet and choose rice less often.


Topics: employee health nutrition cancer cereal disease prevention

UV Safety Awareness for Corporate Wellness

This blog was written by Kara Gootee-Robinson. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

describe the imageSummer has arrived along with barbeques, pool parties, ball games, and all those outdoor activities we enjoy this time of year. When those events are planned, you are most likely prepared to wear your hat and sunglasses and to apply sunscreen. But what about those everyday occurrences? Long walks from the car to the office, a bicycle commute to work, walk-at-work events, or simply enjoying your lunch outside expose the skin to harmful ultraviolet rays.

Tips for Reducing Skin Cancer Risk

Skin cancer kills thousands of Americans each year. The main cause of skin cancer is ultraviolet radiation, and there are many ways to prevent skin cancer and reduce your risk:

  • Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are the strongest.
  • Use sunscreen daily, with an SPF of 15 or higher.
  • Protect your skin with long sleeves, a hat, and sunglasses.
  • Self check―be sure to watch for changes in your skin.

Promote Employee Sun Safety

July is UV Safety Month and a great time to promote sun safety for your employees. Spread the word in your workplace. Let your coworkers and employees know how easy prevention is. Easy ways to increase awareness and encourage sun safety in the workplace include the following:

  • Post signs and posters about sun safety.
  • Offer skin cancer screenings onsite.
  • Provide sunscreen samples.
  • Designate a shaded area for outdoor lunch breaks.

Even on a cloudy day, grab that hat and apply sunscreen because even on the haziest of days the sun’s rays are powerful and damaging!

Topics: corporate wellness cancer disease prevention employee wellness

Employee Health: Breast Cancer Awareness

This blog was written by Jenna Pearson. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

breast cancer awareness, nifs, screenings, health and wellnessIn 2007, 11.7 million Americans were reported to have some form of invasive cancer. Men have a greater than 44 percent chance of developing some sort of cancer during their lifetime—this means that almost one out of every two males will be plagued by cancer. Furthermore, statistics show that more than 23 percent of men will end up dying from cancer (that’s nearly one out of every four). Women fare slightly better with a 38 percent chance of developing cancer (one in three) and a 19.6 percent chance of dying from cancer (one in five).

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Why dedicate a whole month to breast cancer awareness? Of the more than 11.7 million cases of invasive cancer, about 2.6 million were breast cancer. More than 12 percent of all American women have breast cancer right now (that’s one out of every eight). Of those women, almost 3 percent will die from breast cancer (1 in 36). Early detection and awareness provide great defense against breast cancer. Health professionals estimate thousands of lives are saved each year through regular screenings and self breast exams.

Who Is at Risk for Breast Cancer?

Essentially, anyone with a pulse can develop breast cancer. Following are specific risk factors:

  • Although men can be affected, being a woman is the main risk factor for developing breast cancer, as women are about 100 times more likely to have breast cancer than men.
  • Age also plays a role in breast cancer development, with increasing age heightening your risk. About one out of every eight invasive cases occurs in women under the age of 45, whereas two out of three cases are found in women over 55.
  • Five to ten percent of all cases are thought to be hereditary, or genetic, resulting from gene defects.
  • Those with a positive family history of breast cancer are also at a higher risk (approximately three times more likely) than those having no immediate relatives affected by the disease.

Visit to find out more about the risks for developing breast cancer.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

Support breast cancer fighters and survivors by participating in a “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” event. Visit the American Cancer Society online to find an event near you.

Topics: employee health cancer disease prevention