Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Take Your Workout Outside the Corporate Fitness Center

This blog was written by Lori Griffin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

pushups, exercise at home, exercise while travelingWith the start of a new year, work schedules can begin to take over. Try as we might to make a permanent slot in our schedules for gym time, appointments and assignments seem to pop up at the most inconvenient times. Often times people tend to believe that just because they don’t have a whole hour to spend at the gym, there is no use in working out at all.

However, that is very far from true. Even if there aren’t enough minutes in the day to make the trek to the gym, don’t forget about the power of your body weight. There are countless exercises that involve no equipment and are quick ways to fit your workout in anywhere.

When thinking of a circuit away from the gym, think in large movements. Try to involve as many muscle groups as possible and incorporate total body movements to maximize your caloric burn.

Next time you find yourself deleting gym time from your calendar, try this circuit of exercises to stay fit. This is also a great workout to take with you when traveling, whether for work or for pleasure.

  • 10 push-ups
  • 20 high knees
  • 30 squats
  • 20 jumping jacks
  • 10 lunges
  • 30-second plank

Repeat this circuit three to five times. Whenever you're short on time, you can use this workout to keep active without having to take time out to hit the gym or corporate fitness center.

Topics: exercise corporate fitness exercise at home

Employee Health: How Do I Get My Family to Exercise?

This blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

active family, exercise, healthy livingFor you: Take care of yourself as well as your family by carving out time to exercise and limiting sedentary behavior, which will give you energy to keep up with your family’s busy schedule. It’s always important to lead by example.

For your spouse: Once again, lead by example, and that may be enough to get your significant other off the couch and into an exercise program. Plan enjoyable activities that you can do together, such as biking, walking, and playing tennis. If you’re a gym rat, say that you need him or her for motivation, a spot, or even just the company, or plan to take a group fitness class together.

For your kids: Encourage any activity that keeps them moving, like sports (team or individual, such as martial arts, dance, rock climbing, skateboarding, or swimming), outside play, and play dates with friends. If you have video games in the house, make them active ones. Encourage friendly competitions among siblings, such as who can perform the most push-ups or sit-ups. Making exercise fun is the key!

For the entire family: When it comes to family exercise, the more, the merrier! Staying active as a family is not only good for everyone’s health, but it helps build strong relationships. Skiing, sledding, ice skating, and bowling are great for cold weather, and walking, biking, tennis, basketball, touch football, putt-putt golf, and swimming are all ideal for warmer-weather months.

Topics: employee health group exercise winter fitness exercise at home New Year's Resolutions in Action

Doing Chores for Exercise When You Can't Get to NIFS

This blog was written by Melissa Cusick. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

chores for exercise, nifsIf you're having trouble finding time to keep up with your household chores and do your workouts, why not combine them?

My Chore Workout

Time to work out! I begin with dusting to work my forearms, followed by vacuuming to work my biceps, triceps, and abdominals. I scrub the floors, feeling more and more like Cinderella while working my shoulders and biceps, among other muscle groups.

While in the kitchen I notice that the pile of dishes in the sink is beginning to look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, so I do the dishes and target my back and arm muscles, making sure to alternate hands. Now for laundry: to wash, to dry, to fold, providing a full-body challenge. After all this I sit down, feeling exhausted.

More Ways to Burn Calories Around the House

By doing common chores such as dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing the floors, dishes, and laundry, you can burn several calories. Other tasks can be a great workout as well. For example, mowing the lawn with a push mower, or shoveling snow can be a full-body workout. Painting, if you include a squatting motion and alternate hands, can also use most muscle groups. Even pulling weeds can provide you with health benefits by improving grip and the muscles of your forearm and biceps.

Depending on your weight and how intensely you go about these tasks, you could burn as many calories as if you went to NIFS for a workout. Can’t make it to the fitness center today? Consider cleaning your house…I mean, look how buff Mr. Clean is!

Topics: exercise at home NIFS

Using Fitness Centers to Train for Yard Work

This blog was written by Lori Griffin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

yard work, exercise, fitnessMany people who are inactive find the task of yard work exhausting and draining. The simple act of pulling weeds can leave them feeling achy and sore the next day. Yard work doesn’t have to be backbreaking. When your muscles are ready for all of the pushing and pulling required by your lawn, the time spent outside can be a nice distraction from busy life.

There are several fun tools around your corporate fitness center that can help you prepare for your final few months of yard work this fall. Try this mini circuit and share with us the tips and tools you use to stay fit for yard work.

Upright Sled: 50-meter sled push at a moderate weight and pace

  • Place hands a mid-height position on the sled.
  • Keep your spine neutral and drive with your legs as you push the sled.

Tire and Sledgehammer: 15 sledgehammer hits on the tire

  • Face the tire with an appropriate weight of sledgehammer.
  • Place one hand toward the head of the sledgehammer and the other hand near the bottom of the handle.
  • In a controlled manner, swing the sledgehammer over the shoulder of the hand that is near the head.
  • As it comes over your shoulder toward the tire, bend your legs and let your top hand slide down to meet your bottom hand.
  • Grab near the head of the sledgehammer and repeat.

Monster Rope: 30-foot plank pulls

  • Wrap a monster rope around a stable post with one end of the rope near the post and other laid out away from the post.
  • Near the post, align yourself in a plank position.
  • Keeping your hips level, reach out with one arm and pull the short end of the rope.
  • Do this until the other end reaches the post.
  • Rest for 30 seconds and switch arms.

Boxes: 15 squats with dumbbell placement

  • Holding onto the head of a dumbbell, position your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder height.
  • Staying on your heels, squat down and place the dumbbell on the top of a box that is approximately knee high.
  • Stand up, focusing on keeping your core engaged and upper body upright.
  • Squat back down, grab the dumbbell, and stand up in the same manner.
Topics: corporate fitness program exercise at home corporate fitness centers

New Exercise Guidelines Give Corporate Fitness Centers New Options

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

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has issued new guidelines for the Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory, Musculoskeletal, and Neuromotor Fitness in Apparently Healthy Adults. What exactly does this mean? Simply put, it means that fitness professionals now have a new framework to use when developing exercise programs.

If you think of exercise as medicine (which, in fact, it is!), personal trainers and corporate fitness centers are now using new guidelines for prescriptions of this miracle drug (including dosage and use).

exercise, balance, nifsFollowing are the recommendations for each type of fitness:

  • Cardiorespiratory fitness is developed through training that improves the efficiency of the aerobic energy-producing systems and can improve cardiorespiratory endurance. The ACSM recommends apparently healthy individuals to partake in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days per week or 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise three days per week. This can be achieved by one continuous session per day, or multiple shorter sessions of at least 10 minutes in duration.
  • Musculoskeletal fitness is developed through resistance/strength training. To have musculoskeletal fitness, you do not necessarily have to have great muscle strength. You should, however, train all major muscle groups 2 to 3 days per week, using 2 to 4 sets and 8 to 20 repetitions as the range for each exercise. A regimen including 8 to 12 different exercises should serve to exercise all major muscles in the body.
  • Neuromotor fitness is “functional fitness,” and can be improved through a variety of balance, agility, coordination, and proprioception exercises (think yoga and Pilates). The ACSM recommends these exercises be incorporated into an exercise program 2 to 3 days per week for 20 to 30 minutes per session.

In addition to these recommendations, the ACSM also suggests that healthy adults participate in flexibility training at least 2 to 3 days a week. Similar to strength training, a flexibility routine should target all major muscle groups. Each stretch should be held 10 to 30 seconds (to the point of slight discomfort, but not pain) and should be repeated 2 to 4 times so that each muscle group is stretched for a total of 60 seconds.

Considering these guidelines, how would you rate your current fitness routine? If you are meeting the minimum requirements, keep up the great work! If not, remember that all of these requirements do not have to be met in one single exercise session. If you have an onsite fitness center, make sure you are taking advantage of all that your wellness center staff can offer you!

Topics: exercise at work exercise corporate fitness exercise at home

What Corporate Fitness Clients Need to Know About Barefoot Running

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Finding ways to incorporate current trends, or at least educating yourself and clients about them, is key to keeping your corporate wellness programming fresh. So if you haven't experienced the recent barefoot running movement, here's what you and your corporate fitness clients need to know.

barefoot running, employee wellness, fitnessAlthough barefoot running has existed for quite some time, the movement has reemerged in the past couple years. Rather than advertise any special shoe or apparel to enhance your runs, barefoot running followers suggest ditching the shoes completely to run with newfound freedom and a better connection to the ground than before.

Now the first thought running through the mind of your corporate fitness center members is probably along the lines of “Wouldn’t that hurt my feet if I happened to step directly on a rock or hard surface?” Podiatrist Stephen Pribut, DPM (quoted in this article), would agree, saying, “Most of my patients aren’t world-class runners. It wouldn’t make sense for them to risk getting twigs and glass in their feet.”

However, the same article points out that when you are wearing socks and tennis shoes, the body loses some of its proprioceptive awareness. Without the motion-control or stability features of a good running shoe, the foot and leg muscles have to work harder to react to surfaces. From my research over the past year, there is a general lack of strong evidence that wearing shoes is much better for the runner’s stride or biomechanics.

From an injury and liability standpoint, barefoot running is not something corporate health and wellness programs should incorporate onsite. Most fitness centers should hold policies of wearing tennis shoes at all times on equipment. If your runners are dying to try the trend for themselves, suggest they do it on their own time, offsite, on ground that appears to be safe.

Do any of your corporate fitness center members believe in barefoot running?

Topics: corporate wellness muscle toning exercise at home

Employee Health: Healthy TV-Watching Tips

This blog was written by TJ McAloon. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You can't have your cake and eat it too”? Well, try this new one on for size: “You can have your television shows and still be healthy.”

television, couch potato, corporate healthToo Much TV Shown to Cause Health Problems

That dancing program that eats up two hours a night during the week? Go ahead and watch it. That reality dating show that you cannot miss out on because you are invested in the guy bachelor giving out his last flower to your favorite girl contestant? Go ahead and watch that, too! Yes, you can have your cake and eat it; you can watch all of these programs and stay away from heart or cardiovascular problems.  

A study reported that sitting in front of a television or computer screen for more than four hours a night made people more at risk for heart attacks, strokes, or other serious cardiovascular diseases. However, those who cut those hours in half have less than half the risk of those problems.

Avoiding the Health Pitfalls of TV Watching

So how can you still watch all of your shows, update your Facebook status and Twitter feed, and stay healthy?

  • Watch shows on your own schedule. For starters, the days of “must-see TV” are gone. Try using your digital video recorder (DVR) to save shows for later viewings. Using this feature will cut those 30- to 60-minute programs in half. If you do not have the luxury of a DVR, don’t worry. There are multiple options out there to catch you up on your programs so that you are not the social outcast in your circle of friends.
  • Snack healthier. The second option is to eat healthier snacks while watching television. Is your usual choice chips or popcorn? Yeah, those are not helping your heart any. Try eating carrot or celery sticks. If those do not sound appealing, try a granola bar or trail mix.
  • Walk around more. Use the first option of the DVR or catching up on shows online at a later time. From the study highlighted on CNN, many of us also spend our working lives sitting at a desk and commuting behind the wheel of a car. Researcher Emmanuel Stamatakis says, "We have taken sitting as a default position for many, many things. I don't think that our bodies are made for this, and the reaction to this is all these adverse physiological and chemical consequences." The easy way to fix this problem is to go for a walk, run, jog, or stroll around your neighborhood, apartment complex, or park during your free time.
  • Exercise while you watch. There is also the option of multitasking. While catching your favorite guilty pleasure, do some jumping jacks or core exercises!

Yes, you can have that healthy, long life that you want to have while enjoying the television shows that you cannot miss out on. But, just like everything in life, you must enjoy it in moderation. You can still have your cake and eat it too.

Topics: employee health disease prevention exercise at home

Worksite Fitness: Exercising in Warm Weather

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Warmer weather is finally pushing its way into the nation, and many of your corporate fitness members will be itching to take their exercise outdoors. While outdoor workouts are a fun alternative and offer a great way to mix up your programming, even 75 degrees can dramatically intensify a workout.

As you’re rolling out new programs for the summer months―including outdoor boot camps, circuit classes, and training runs―remember to urge your members to take heat precautions.

worksite fitness, exercising outdoors, heat exhaustionHere are some tips to design safe outdoor workouts at your corporate wellness center:

  • As suggested in this article, try to plan activities or classes around the peak temperatures of the day. From 10am to 2pm, the sun’s rays are the strongest, but the heat can linger throughout the afternoon. Try early-morning or later-evening class options.
  • Build more rest/water breaks into your classes than you normally would. With hotter temperatures, the body will perspire more, so remind your participants to always bring a water bottle to these outdoor workouts. When planning the class agenda, build in periodic water breaks for at least a full minute each.
  • Keep sunscreen handy. At our corporate fitness center, we keep a few bottles of SPF 30 in our first-aid kit.
  • Monitor your participants closely for symptoms of heat exhaustion. Dizziness, confusion, and pale skin can all be signs that a person is overheating. If a member mentions that he or she has stopped sweating and feels a dry, salty layer on the skin, this can be an indication of dehydration.
  • Urge your runners to take their pace a little slower than normal. In temperatures over 60 degrees, runners cannot be expected to set record times. Jeff Galloway, author of several marathon-training books, suggests that for every 5 degrees above 60, runners should decrease their mile time by 30 seconds.

Here’s to a safe and happy summer!

Topics: exercise at work exercise corporate fitness exercise at home

Employee Health and Fitness: Should I Work Out on an Empty Stomach?

This blog was written by Megan Jack. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Some people believe that there is a benefit to working out on an empty stomach. This concept is derived from the idea that exercising first thing in the morning or in a “fasted state” will cause your body’s energy systems to burn more fat instead of carbohydrate stores. 

Why the Empty-Stomach Workout Doesn't Work

As a corporate fitness manager, I hear this theory on a weekly basis, and it is simply just an urban fitness myth. ThEmpty Stomach resized 600e main problem is that fat as a fuel source is not the same thing as burning fat off of your body. Fat burning has more to do with the total amount of calories burned than the type of energy your system uses.

Another key problem with this theory is that many times without adequate nutrition, you will not be able to exercise as long or as hard. As a result, you will burn fewer calories.

Benefits of Eating Before Exercise

According to an article by Paige Waehner on, there are additional benefits to eating prior to a workout:

  • “It boosts recovery and strength gains.”
  • “You can sustain longer, more intense workouts.”
  • “It helps you avoid feeling dizzy or nauseous from low blood sugar.”
  • “It makes workouts more enjoyable” (because you’re not constantly hearing your stomach growl).

Some of my corporate fitness members feel too full or weighed down with a full meal prior to exercise. Some need a snack prior to strength training, but are fine completing a cardio workout on an empty stomach. What really matters is to find something that works for your body and for your schedule.

Most importantly, don’t go hungry simply because you think you’ll burn more fat. Focusing on your growling belly can cause your workout intensity or duration to suffer and that will in turn reduce your caloric burn.

Topics: corporate wellness exercise at work corporate fitness nutrition exercise at home

Employee Health: Aerobic Exercise Improves Sleep

This blog was written by Lisa Larkin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Sleeping at Desk resized 600Sleep and exercise can be a vicious cycle. The more tired you are, the less motivation you have to exercise. Working in a corporate fitness program, I see a lot of tired and stressed people. The onsite fitness facility seems to help improve their moods.

When I’m tired, the last thing I feel like doing is exercising. But then I feel worse because I didn’t exercise. Even getting up and going for a 15-minute walk can help to improve your mood, stress level, confidence, and sleep patterns. Most people will tell you they feel better after exercise. 

Physical activity can help to clear your mind and concentrate better at work, which will help you sleep better at night, too.

Even though sleep is important for health and daily functioning, the average person doesn’t get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night. So, why not get up and start exercising now to help you sleep longer and better tonight?

Topics: exercise at work corporate fitness exercise at home productivity