Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

A Fitness Pros Recs for Free Streaming Workouts

Woman Foam RollingGettyImages-590036654Before social distancing was a phrase many of us had heard of, online workouts had been gaining in popularity as a home-based fitness solution for a number of years. In fact, it was anticipated that it would grow by 30% from 2017 to 2022 but I suspect the COVID-19 isolation may bump that percentage further. People have expert trainers at their fingertips and the variety of workouts is endless all while in the comfort and convenience of your own home. Right now, this is one of the only solutions for many people whose gyms are closed and the weather isn’t quite warm enough in many parts of the country to shift our routines outside. There are subscription based services with a monthly fee and a number of great free options as well!

I jumped on the streaming bandwagon last fall when the weather started changing here in Indiana. I’m a fair weather outdoor fitness enthusiast – if I have to wear more than a long sleeve tee, count me out until spring. I decided to explore some free options before deciding whether I wanted to dip my toe in one of the subscription-based services and frankly I haven’t entertained the thought of paying for a subscription since.

What has surprised me most…

The Versatility

There is literally something for whatever mood I am in for any length of time I have available to work out. In any given week, I am doing kickboxing, Pilates, HITT, strength, etc., all for free and from the comfort of home. Talk about a boredom buster and I find it easier to not make excuses because I know there’s always an option.

The Flexibility

You can absolutely get a sweat pouring workout with little to no equipment. This was one of my main doubts as I looked at my workout area in our basement where I have bands, dumbbells, a yoga strap and mat and a 12’x12’ area of gym flooring. Once you peel back the mindset of needing all kinds of bells and whistles and fitness gadgets, it’s really phenomenal how great of a workout you can get with thoughtfully designed body weight movements and a few sets of dumbbells.

So here are my top three recommendations for streaming options you can access on YouTube for free.

  • Fitness Blender – this is where I started and this is where I find myself going back to the most. Kelli and Daniel provide so many different workout options and formats and they are pretty chill in their cueing and demeanor. I don’t personally need a pep talk through my workout. If I’ve motivated myself enough to head down to the basement, I don’t need further convincing once I’ve started and frankly it’s just noise to me. Their workouts are sound and well designed. I also love the fact that they don’t play music in their videos. The music on most online workouts I’ve experienced is basically noise with a beat (man that makes me sound old…) so I much prefer to play my own music while only listening to the trainers cueing.

  • Sydney Cummings – her workouts do a great job of keeping you on your toes. Sydney is really creative in her program design to add compound and dynamic movements. You remain focused on putting the different pieces of the exercise together (and trying to look as smooth as she does) opposed to how bad your muscles are burning or your heart is pounding. One con for me is the cheesy fitness/techno music. I have to turn my music up over hers and then sometimes have a hard time hearing her cueing which you really have to follow because her moves are so dynamic.

  • Yoga by Adrienne - admittedly I could use a little more yoga in my routine each week but when I do squeeze it in, Yoga by Adrienne delivers. Once again, she has so many different options available and has the perfect mixture of a calming tone but adding in some personality...and sometimes her dog joins her on the mat for a quick ear rub. I recently had tension and knots in my neck and shoulders in which I’d gone for a massage and had been stretching but could not seem to get any relief. I found a great routine with Adrienne targeting these areas and within three days that tightness was totally gone. I most often find myself pulling up one of these workouts as a cool down or finisher to a more intense workout and it always feels like the perfect supplement.

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Whether you need a short-term fitness fix until your gym opens again or you are simply wanting to dip your toe in the fitness streaming world like I did, these free options a great place to start!

Topics: exercise program exercises workouts online streaming

Living Your Best Life While Living with COPD

NIFS | Lung healthCOPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is a disease that makes it hard to breathe and, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), gets worse over time. COPD is also known as Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema, a progressive disease that produces large amounts of mucus and causes shortness of breath. The disease is most commonly caused by cigarette smoking. However, according to the NHLBI, up to 25% of those with COPD never smoked. They also say that long term exposure to other lung irritants like air pollution, dusts, and chemical fumes may contribute to the severity of COPD.  Although it is progressive and undoubtedly affects one’s quality of life, there are effective ways to prevent or manage this disease. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, preventing COPD is simple, “The majority of cases are directly related to cigarette smoking, and the best way to prevent COPD is to never smoke or to stop smoking now.” Tobacco cessation is notoriously difficult, and the Mayo Clinic recommends a structured tobacco cessation program for best results. Furthermore, those individuals exposed to chemicals at work should discuss any health and safety concerns with their supervisors. 

Beyond this clear path of prevention lies a not-so-clear area, disease management and living an active lifestyle with COPD. For many patients, Pulmonary Rehabilitation is an important aspect of the treatment plan. This rehabilitation describes a program that can assist the patient with techniques to help them breathe easier, and exercise regiment, education about the condition and counseling. Exercise is a key element of this rehabilitation and management process. Some of the benefits of exercise for those with COPD are; improved circulation, increased energy levels, and more efficient oxygen consumption. Given the nature of COPD as a pulmonary disease, the most impactful form of exercise is aerobic. With that said, stretching and strength training are also important for a healthy, balanced kinetic system. Breathing patterns are important for all individuals, but they are vital for COPD patients.

Before starting an exercise program, individuals should consult with their primary healthcare provider. For individuals with COPD, a deeper conversation may be required. Patients should consider how often they should exercise, how long they should exercise, and what types of exercise they should perform. Patients should also review the timing of their medications with their physician before starting their exercise sessions. Through exercise, a better quality of life is possible for individuals living with COPD and that’s a breath of fresh air!

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Topics: exercise program COPD smoking cessation lung health disease management

How to Give Resident Wellness Programs a Fresh Look

517993851.jpgResident wellness programs have been on the rise in senior living as consumers demand more robust and holistic options for living well. Despite the market's increasing infatuation with branding and labeling wellness in the community setting, I think the industry has a lot of room to continue to grow so that we're building programs, services, staffing, and amenities in a way to facilitate residents' desires to live well. Following are some common pitfalls that result in dated or stunted wellness programs, along with ideas for how to evolve past those sticking points.

Your exercise program is not the same thing as your wellness program.

In the consulting work I do, it is so common for communities to point to their exercise classes as the primary example of how they are offering their residents a wellness program. And while I would agree completely that the exercise program is a key to a successful wellness strategy, it's not the only element; and for some communities, it may not even be primary.

You absolutely want the exercise program to serve many of your residents, but it's important to acknowledge that not all of your seniors will participate. The class offerings, individual services, exercise equipment, and related amenities need to be diverse and well communicated. There should also be effective resident outreach to consistently draw in new participants.

Even when communities are executing well with their program, there is often room for improvement within the exercise offerings. Class formats and descriptions can be reviewed, and fitness center services like exercise prescriptions and fitness testing should be evaluated. Even taking a closer look at replacing small, worn-down equipment can offer subtle but positive upgrades to your program.

[Related Content: Four Tips for Improving your Resident Exercise Program]

A full activities calendar is the wrong goal for your wellness program.

I think sometimes folks in the activity director role find themselves in the position of order taking—you’re catering to the vocal minority. And who can fault you for wanting to make your constituents happy? But there are traps and pitfalls for your resident wellness program if your activities and events are built from an order-taking model.

Sometimes one of the challenges with the philosophy on how events and programs are placed on the schedule is actually cultural in the organization. We set the wrong benchmarks for evaluating effectiveness in activities. We focus on how full the calendar is, or leadership communicates that the goal of the activities staff is to make sure the residents are busy, that they have something to do, that we’re making their days pleasant and full.

But if you stepped back and looked objectively at the unique elements on your last six months of activities calendars, is there anything on there that would interest you? Is there anything on those calendars that, if you were new in the environment and were looking to try to make friends, you might venture out of your apartment to attend?

When you do program planning from residents' limitations, you limit your program.

It's easy to get into a rut in senior living where you start to see more limitations from your residents than potential, and when we get trained on what seniors can't do, we unintentionally build programs around those perceived barriers.

We tell ourselves a story about the residents; we say they’re frail, they’re limited, they don’t like to leave the community, they don’t like change. We say we tried that program and the residents won’t do it.

While you may have some residents who are frail, limited, unlikely to try new things, fearful, or begrudging of change, you also have residents who can be described with a whole host of other adjectives like adventurous, bright, eager, optimistic, friendly, kind, enthusiastic, loyal, and patient.

Evolving your activities and exercise programs may require a full-scale change in how you view your residents' desires, passions, and abilities. Stripping old assumptions is never easy, but it could be the first step toward building a better wellness program for the community.

Find out how to evaluate your program

 

Topics: senior living resident wellness programs program planning activities exercise program

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.

find out more about consulting

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

Residents Expect More from Senior Living Community Exercise Programs

ThinkstockPhotos-535515241.jpgI got a call from a resident of a senior living community the other day. She told me that she’d been thinking about how her community could do better with the exercise program it offers. She saw a lot of potential to build on already successful offerings, and she’d been working with a resident team on this idea. Over the last several weeks, she’d been all over our website and decided it was time to talk about how we might be able to support her team’s goal to report on options to improve the community’s exercise program.

This woman was sharp! She had a good understanding about what was available to them, what was working, and where they needed to progress. Specifically, she told me that the classes were well liked and that didn’t necessarily need a change, but she also noted these common issues:

  • The pool is largely empty except for the regularly scheduled water aerobics classes.
  • The fitness center is typically unused because residents don’t feel like they know how to use the equipment to their benefit.

She had grabbed our quick read on how to grow participation in your aquatics program, and that’s when it hit her: she knew it all came back to staffing—that having qualified fitness staff running the community’s exercise program was central to its success.

Your Current Residents Expect More—and They’re Telling Their Friends

So if you’ve been focused on other competing priorities at your community and the exercise program is an afterthought running quietly in the background, now would be a good time to give it a second look. Because your residents are already doing that; and you can bet that if your current residents have a radar for what’s possible, your prospects do, too.

Sometimes there’s a hurdle in understanding just what a fitness center manager should be doing. I suppose that varies by community, but for a staffing organization like ours, we have clear expectations and supports for how NIFS staff spend their time in our client’s fitness centers

Maybe you think this kind of astute observation by residents isn’t happening at your community. That might be true, but before you make that assumption, consider how the resident with whom I spoke shared her observations with a prospective resident.

She told me that she had invited a friend to dine with her recently who was not a resident of the community but who was shopping for a senior living environment he could call home. He asked her if there was anything negative about living there. She said she couldn’t come up with negatives (which is great!), but then she told him about how they could do better with their exercise program (which is not so great).

And this isn’t the first conversation I’ve had like this where a resident found our organization and reached out to see whether and how we could help.

Review Your Wellness Programs along with the Fitness Offerings

For what it’s worth, your entire wellness initiative may need a review—it’s rare to have a strong exercise program and a weak holistic wellness offering. It’s also unusual to have your holistic wellness program be strong while your exercise program suffers. Wellness and fitness go hand in hand.

[Read More: What to do when traditional senior living activities falls short]

If you’ve been waiting to address your exercise program until the residents complain, it’s time. Begin your investigation on possibilities by downloading our quick read below designed to help you quickly evaluate your overall wellness program. It highlights some broader wellness areas as well as specific exercise program components. Share it with your team and start a conversation about how to do wellness better in your community.

Find out how to evaluate your program

Topics: senior wellness senior living senior fitness senior living community resident wellness programs exercise program

Tips for an Effective Exercise Program

ThinkstockPhotos-497351161.jpgYou know you want and need to have a regular plan for your exercise, but where do you begin to
 develop an exercise program? Here are my best tips for creating a workout regimen that will work for you whether you are in your corporate fitness center, or at home and on the go.

Setting Goals

Setting goals establishes a justifiable reason for consistent exercise. Having a goal in place can also improve commitment and has been shown to improve adherence to programs and routines. The SMART system was designed as an acronym to help with goal setting. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Ideally, established goals should be characterized by these five words. Following the SMART guideline can improve the chances that you will achieve your goals.

The Mind-Muscle Connection

When it comes to resistance exercise, building muscle and strength is about much more than going through the motions. As you would imagine, concentration is an important part of achieving any goal, and focused concentration becomes even more important during resistance training. This focused concentration during weightlifting is the mind-muscle connection, and refers to contracting or tensing a muscle not only through physical movement, but also through thought. An example of someone incorporating the mind-muscle connection would be an individual performing a biceps curl and focusing their concentration on slowly flexing the elbow joint using the biceps muscle, as opposed to just going through the movement.

Variety

Whether speaking about aerobic capacity, muscular strength, or muscular endurance, fitness is all about adaptation. For example, the heart eventually adapts to aerobic exercise when it is performed consistently, and it begins to pump blood and oxygen more efficiently. Muscles adapt to strength/resistance training by recruiting more muscle fibers and possibly splitting the fibers to form new muscle cells. However, physiological adaptations do not always yield positive results, which is why variety plays an important role.

Adaptation to a particular exercise also translates to less calories burned performing that exercise, because just as the heart has become more efficient at pumping blood, the metabolism has become more efficient with burning calories. To avoid this, it is important to perform a variety of different exercises targeting different muscles and muscle groups. Doing so will not only prevent imbalances, but also ensure that all sections of a muscle get adequate stimulation.

Nutrition

There’s a well-known saying in the fitness industry along the lines of, “Abs are made in the kitchen”—referring to the well-tested theory that nutrition plays a larger role in muscle definition than exercise itself. But this phrase can be applied to more than just the aesthetic appeal of defined abdominals. Eating habits play an important role in achieving fitness results, whether these habits refer to the amount, quality, or time that food is consumed. Muscles require nourishment through food, along with adequate protein and carbohydrates to rebuild in the recovery after a workout.

Group Fitness or Personal Training

Getting up and getting moving is said to be the hardest part of staying active, but sometimes more guidance is required in order to stick with a healthy routine. Luckily, there are options for those who need a more structured and supportive environment to stay active. Your corporate fitness center may offer group fitness classes Monday through Friday at varying times, and these can be a great way to incorporate exercise and social time into your day. Personal training is a great option for those who prefer more detailed, hands-on instruction when performing exercise.  Be cautious when hiring a trainer and that they are qualified professionals.  

Looking to have a fitness professional onsite at your corporate office?  NIFS Fitness Management hires degreed, qualified staff to provide NIFS services at our client sites.  Click below for more on how we find great staff.

How we find great staff


Topics: nutrition NIFS goal setting group fitness exercise program muscles weightlifting recovery protein carbohydrates personal training