Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Successful Corporate Fitness Program Gets Back to the Basics

Americans are fond of a quick fix, in weight loss in particular. According to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, surgical weight loss procedures increased from 13,000 in 1998 to 220,000 in 2008. A survey in the United Kingdom evaluated public attitudes toward such cosmetic surgery for weight loss and found that 59% of women would choose surgery over changing eating habits and engaging in regular exercise to lose weight or change their body shape. 

Anecdotally, our corporate fitness staff see these stories in the employees they serve as well. As a nation, we haven’t moved the needle on helping adults get more movement in their daily lives, and the numbers inside the corporate fitness center have peaked as well. So, what are we doing wrong?

Certainly, there are work-related and personal-life pressures that the staff in your corporate fitness center cannot impact, and there will always be a cap on how many employees they can reach. But in some ways, we’ve fallen away from basic services and simple program design as tools to draw participants into the programs. Businesses have committed (right or wrong) their focus to outcomes-based wellness offerings, and looked to biometric data and HRA results for those outcomes. Businesses have also turned (in droves) to wearables as a tool to help employees move more; the jury is still out on their long-term effectiveness. 

NIFS150 Encourages More Physical ActivityWatchThinkstockPhotos-465631985

In an effort to get back to simple measures designed to help participants (1) understand their fitness level, and (2) move more minutes each day, our staff designed a simple NIFS150 program where participants were encouraged to accomplish 150 minutes of physical activity per week for eight weeks and complete a pre- and post-program fitness assessment. 

Participants were able to earn their 150 minutes anywhere, anytime—we simply wanted them working to achieve the research-backed recommendation from the CDC. We pulled fitness assessments into the mix as a throwback to some older research performed by Dr. Steven Blair and colleagues that was published in the April 1995 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. That research showed that improving fitness level (defined by cardiovascular endurance) can decrease mortality risk. 

Forty percent of the initial 700 participants in the NIFS program completed at least 150 minutes of activity per week all eight weeks, and the staff completed assessments on 198 participants. Almost half of the participants indicated that this was the first NIFS program they’ve tried, so we’re pleased we hit a sweet spot for so many new folks! 

More than 75% of participants reported that the challenge helped them be more active than usual. Still, it’s worth noting that only one third of participants actually used the fitness center more during the program. You might think we were disappointed that more participants didn’t flock to the fitness centers with this client to gain their 150 minutes. After all, the program ran through the first quarter of 2015 in Indiana; it’s not like it was prime weather for exercising outside. Our priority with this initiative was to help employees be more physically active. We definitely keep track of visits, memberships, and other fitness center-related metrics, but we think it’s a win that we drew in so many newbies and that participants were more active than usual during the challenge. 

What We Learned from the Data

In addition to gaining some feedback from all the participants, we also surveyed those who completed fitness assessments as part of the program. We learned that

  • 70% of those who responded to the survey had never participated in a fitness assessment before.
  • 62% are now more likely to be active in their corporate fitness center.
  • 70% intend to continue with a periodic fitness assessment to track their progress on fitness-specific goals.
My read on this basic data is that we have a lot of opportunity to communicate the value of the (free) fitness assessments. We may need to find new language and new avenues for talking about what the testing is and how it might help an employee achieve health-related goals. And we probably have some champions from this initial offering of NIFS150 who could help by sharing their stories. We also have a clear opening to revisit the basic 150 minutes per week recommendation as a tool to draw more employees into moving more each day.  

Our staff continue to provide innovative programming for our clients. But this particular program points to just how simple a science-based offering can be yet still create impact. 

How are you creating impact through corporate fitness programming? Looking for more program ideas to get your creative juices flowing? Check out our Best Practices series—click on the button below to find out more. 

 NIFS Best Practices Corporate

Topics: exercise corporate fitness NIFS corporate fitness centers staying active program evaluation data fitness assessment

NIFS: Exercise for Charity

smart phoneAre you looking to give back to the community or help others? Did you know that you could do this while exercising too? If you have a SmartPhone or access to the Internet, there are several free apps you can download or sign-up through. Each application has a different organization or fund that you have the option of helping! I researched and found the top rated opportunity, along with a few others I have heard great things about.

Charity Miles is a free app for the iPhone and Android. The smartphone application allows for you to earn corporate sponsorships for charity while walking, running, or biking. If you choose to walk or run, you will earn 25 cents per mile and 10 cents per mile while biking. There are 28 different charities to choose from and you can earn up to their initial $1,000,000 sponsorship pool. Download the app, turn it on, choose a charity, your exercise, and press start. So easy!

WhoIRun4 is a non-profit organization that pairs a runner with one special needs child or adult. The purpose of this organization is to provide the runner with motivation while sharing who they are running 4 and bringing awareness to diseases and disabilities of all types. By visiting WhoIRun4 a runner can just sign up and find someone to be matched with. There are guidelines to this program, which can also be found on this website. Dedicate your workouts in a variety of ways such as making signs, t-shirts, or uploading pictures and tagging the individual or child’s parent on the organization’s Facebook group! Get creative and give your workout a whole new motivation!

The two organizations described above are my two favorites. Other popular opportunities include Erndit, Plus3Network, Upwave, and Charity Bets. Through these apps, you can log your activities and earn rewards to help your chosen charity. By visiting their links, you can learn more about the programs how you can sign-up to help.  

These opportunities are a great way to get inspired. Why not get healthy with friends or family?! You have the ability to set goals, work towards them, create a positive camaraderie, and have fun while doing it! The adrenaline rush one can get by exercising to help a charity is all the more motivation to work harder! If you are having trouble finding an activity to log, stop by the fitness center and pick up a group fitness schedule or ask about the fitness center incentive programs. They are a great way to meet new people and spread the word about one of these charitable opportunities! 

Comment and share your favorite apps for fitness.  Have you utilized one of these apps to raise money for a charity?

Topics: exercise nifs fitness management apps smart phone charity

NIFS: Wake up Feet; Why do your feet fall asleep when exercising?

woman tying shoeAre you new to running or have you been a runner for some time now? Either way you may be experiencing the typical aches and pains, such as muscle soreness or blisters, but have you experienced the numbness and tingling in your feet while running? It feels as though you have pins and needles in your feet or like they seem to have ‘fallen asleep’ from this weight-bearing activity. If so, don’t get your shorts in a bunch. You may reconsider a trip to the doctor, but it will be okay. Promise!

This strange and annoying sensation is common, but does seem to cause worry. This feeling is usually caused from pounding the pavement or treadmill, cramming the your foot into a narrow shoe, or crowding the foot by the gradual, but hardly noticeable swelling. What you are feeling is a compressed nerve often causes this feeling. The numbness can progress along the top or bottom of the foot and sometimes into the ankle. The specific site on the foot that is feeling numb is usually where there is a compressed nerve. The most common area affected is outside of the third toe and inside the fourth toe. This sensation is known as Morton’s neuroma. Through time, the nerve will slowly develop a thickened coat of scar tissue.

You can try a few simple actions to reduce the pressure in your foot. These actions include choosing a shoe with plenty of toe space, using a pad in the shoe, placed under the ball of your foot, allowing the spread of the bones apart. If this does not work, your doctor may recommend a cortisone injection to provide some relief. If this does not describe the numbness in your foot, continue reading! 

Compression of the nerves passing through the front of the ankle or top of the foot causes numbness on top of your foot. This is usually caused by over tightening the shoelaces. People with high arches are more susceptible to this issue. This can be resolved by loosening the shoelaces, using a modified lacing method, or applying padding under the shoe tongue may help reduce these symptoms.

Other options to consider include a period of rest or orthotic shoe inserts. If the numbness persists and is not relieved by any of these methods, it may indicate a medical condition and require you to seek your physician. Before scheduling an appointment with your physician you can always talk to a staff member in your corporate fitness center that may have helpful suggestions!

Check out this blog from one of our health coaches about her experience with finding the right shoe!

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Topics: exercise shoes employee health and wellness foot health

NIFS: Fitness Apps for your Smart Phone

smartphone exercise resized 600Are you looking for fitness tips, a little extra motivation or some exercise accountability?  There’s an app for that!  Over the past few years, health and fitness apps have grown and can provide information such as, distance and pace, strength, circuit and flexibility routines, estimate calorie expenditure, and some can measure your heart rate.  Some apps will send daily fitness tips or motivational statements to help keep you on track with your exercise routine.  But, if you’ve ever tried to search for health and fitness apps on your phone, you know how overwhelming it can be.

There are hundreds and hundreds of fitness apps out there for your smart phone.  I have narrowed them down by choosing a few!  Upgrades are available for some, but the free versions work well by themselves as well. 

Fitness Apps

 

  • Tabata Trainer (iOS and Android) – provides an easy way to keep time during your Tabata or HIIT interval workouts; uses intense interval training as its guide for a 20 seconds of workout followed by 10 seconds rest; clean, basic and easy to use
  • Gym Goal ABC (Android) – has 280 exercises (with animation and written instruction), 52 different workouts (adjustable for four levels of expertise), cannot log daily workouts, but you can calculate BMI, THR, BMR and body fat percentage, can choose parts of the body to concentrate on
  • Workout Trainer (iOS and Android) – after completing the free virtual fitness consultation for a more customized workout; users can easily create and edit workouts; exercise instruction provided via photos and videos; progress cues can be provided during workouts
  • Daily Workouts (iOS and Android) – provides 5-10 minute targeted workouts or 10-30 minute full body workouts; has a database of 50 different exercises; workouts are different each day
  • Human (iOS) – encourages participants to get outside for 30 minutes a day and run, walk or bike; tracks progress and can share accomplishments on a social network

Run/Walk Trackers

 

  • RunKeeper (Android) – produces statistics around pace, distance, speed, time and calories burned; users can also listen to and control music during a workout
  • Nike+ Runner (iOS and Android) – records distance, speed and time, also can provide audio feedback each mile, ½ mile or time increment (set by the user); users can set up play lists to help boost motivation, music can be controlled during workouts
  • iRunner (iOS and Android) – maps run, walk, bike, hike, etc. with GPS; records time, distance, calories and pace; now integrates with FitBit, MyFitnessPal, Facebook, Twitter and more
  • Map My Run / Walk / Ride / Hike, etc. (iOS and Android) – tracks running/walking, biking, and 6000 other activities; tracks pace, distance, time, calories and elevations, gives real-time stats
  • Couch to 5K (iOS and Android) – provides a step-by-step program to get your running a 5K in nine weeks; gradually increases workouts from a walk/light-jog to a run in three workouts a week
  • Endomondo Sports Tracker (iOS, Android, Blackberry) – designed for runners, walkers, bikers, etc.; uses GPS to track routes; get pep talks, motivation and notifications each time you break a mile

You can find more detailed descriptions and reviews online and decide for yourself which apps will help you the most.  What is your favorite fitness app? Comment below and share or jump over to our NIFS Fitness Management Facebook page and tell us your favorite!

Topics: exercise fitness apps health and wellness

NIFS Confessions of a Health Coach: The Right Shoe

lacing up shoesTen years ago I decided to run my first half marathon. I have never been much of a runner, so I wanted to challenge myself. I went straight to my local department store and bought a new pair of shoes and hit the pavement. After a few weeks, I started to notice some knee pain. It got worse as I went into longer runs and eventually my back started getting the aches as well. When the pain became too much, I went to see my physician. His first reaction was for me to buy new shoes and a pair of inserts. Could this really be the only reason for my excruciating pain?

YES.

I went to a running store and had my foot analyzed, ran on a treadmill, and tried on a new pair of kicks. I found the right fit according to the employees along with inserts for extra support. Then I went back to my training. The pain magically went away and I was able to complete my half marathon with ease.

Turns out, since I am a woman with hips, my knees were curving inwards as I ran. Without the extra support for my arch to straighten me out, it was causing the pain.

Moral of the story? Get the right shoes for you. Every activity requires a different type of footwear. Make sure that you are coordinating properly for your exercise whether it's in your corporate wellness center, or out in your neighborhood.

A few tips as you shop:

  • Try on shoes at the end of the day when your feet are more swollen
  • Lace them properly to make sure the fit is not too loose or tight
  • Stand on your toes to make sure your heel doesn’t pop out
  • Wear socks you plan on exercising in to have the right thickness

What is your foot type? Normal, flat, or high-arched? What kind of stride do you have? Do you over pronate and roll your foot inward, or do you under pronate and not roll your foot in enough? Or is your stride normal? An employee at a fitness store near you will be able to help you get these answers and find the best fit. Make sure you run around the store to make sure it’s comfortable. Wiggle your toes and make sure you have enough room.

Try to avoid an all-purpose shoe. This won’t give you the right backing for each activity. Running, walking, hiking, and other sports all have different criteria and need different support. Having a proper shoe for each activity will help with comfort and prevent injuries and pain.

It is also important to replace your shoes every 300-500 miles. Pay attention to how the shoe feels as you go. If you aren’t getting the same support, it might be time to get a new pair. It never hurts to have your foot analyzed each store visit and to try different shoe brands. They are constantly evolving with new options.

Lace up and be pain free!

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Topics: exercise wellness proper shoe fit health and fitness

NIFS Member Speaks: Aziza Hunt shares her Motivation

my storyAziza joined the Wellness Center when she started her employment in September.  In three months she referred four new members to our Corporate Wellness Center and she says she is working on more. I am thrilled to have her as ambassador member of the Wellness Center and also admire her ability to motivate herself and her associates to get more active.  Here is her story and hopefully she’ll get you motivated to get moving too.

I come to the Wellness Center two times per day and right now my motivation is weight loss. When joined Weight Watchers® I realized how important activity was for my goal. Plus the gym is free, so there are NO EXCUSES.” My friends and associates who frequently join me in the Wellness Center are doing Weight Watchers® too. To help motivate them I try to let my actions be an example of my dedication to be fit and healthy.  As I tell my friends, “we work in a company that is about wellness, and we have so many resources that we didn’t have before coming to WellPoint so why not take advantage of them?” I also tell them, something is better than nothing.

My motivation to get active started when I joined a kickball team in the fall. I loved playing but I hated the feeling of being out of breath. I knew something had to give. While the team was on a break during the winter I wanted to improve my endurance but I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight.  I have a goal I want to accomplish by March (kickball time) and nothing and no one is going to stop me.  My plan is to stay active, stick to Weight Watchers®, and drink more water while also cutting back on sweets, junk, and “the white stuff”.

Aziza also admits to having bad days like the rest of us and I think she has a wonderfulA.Hunt attitude about these days.  Here is what she says about her off days, “I am human, and I know that I will have my “off days” but you just forgive yourself and pick back up. When I get weighed in each week with Weight Watchers®, my number on the scale that day either makes me work harder or lets me know I am on the right track. I have come too far and refuse to let the scale go backwards. I am too determined and have worked too hard.”

It sounds like Aziza has put a lot of thought into what she wants to accomplish and uses this to maintain her motivation.  Need motivation like Aziza?  Ask yourself exactly why you want to accomplish and determine exactly what actions must be taken to get there.  Start with the smallest action to get going. 

*Weight loss claims or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.

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Topics: exercise nifs fitness management motivation member testimonials weight watchers

NIFS: Post Game Diet Damage Control

game day foodDid you enjoy yourself a bit too much while watching the big game on Sunday night?  Did you vow to stop at three chicken wings and one beer?  Did the wings and beer turn into a dozen chicken wings, plus two pieces of pizza, and more artichoke spinach dip then you’d like to recall?  Despite our intentions to practice some self-control, we all over-do-it with food and alcohol sometimes. Don’t let one night or even several days of poor eating habits discourage you from chasing after the goals you set for yourself this year. 

 

Here is your guide to getting back on track after a night of over-indulging:

  1. Forgive yourself. No one is perfect including you.  You may feel disappointed that you ate too much, but demanding perfection of yourself isn’t going to make you feel better and it’s certainly not going to help you reach your goals. Acknowledge your feelings and move on.  You can’t change the past but you can determine how you’re going to move forward.  
  2. Don’t get on the scale.  You’ll be tempted to see what the “the damage” is by weighing yourself but if the number is up, it may only serve as more ammunition to make you feel bad.  This is not helpful if you are trying to practice step #1.   Most importantly, it’s unlikely that you actually ate enough calories to gain significant amount of body fat. So, that inflated number you may see is not a reflection of true weight-gain.  The truth is, most of the food we eat when we’re watching football is very SALTY.  Any additional pounds you might see on the scale or feel when you put on your pants likely reflects water your body is retaining because of the higher sodium foods you ate.
  3. Get back to normal.  Starting today begin eating your typically healthy diet and exercising again. “Punishing” yourself with near starvation and putting in more time at the gym for the next 24 hours is not reasonable or helpful. 

Skipping meals leads to blood sugar crashes which can send down the road of over-eating once again.  Eat a normal healthy breakfast to begin the day.  Wanting to eat a bit lighter is a good idea and may make you feel better.  Aim for fruits and vegetables and don’t be scared to include sources of protein to help maintain even blood sugar levels throughout the day.  And finally get rid any left-overs that may be in the house and calling your name.  I suggest storing them in the trash can!

When it comes to getting back to your exercise routine you may not feel like completing that two mile jog if you’re feeling bloated and full.  Start with something simple if you don’t feel well like a low intensity walk.

  1. Drink up. Drink, Drink, Drink that water to help flush the body of water it’s retaining.  Staying well hydrated is also helpful for combating cravings that can occur post-binge.
  2. Review your goals and learn from your mistakes.  As in step # 1 don’t demand perfection from yourself.  You didn’t exactly stick to your plan so ask yourself what you can learn.  Did spend too much time in the kitchen grazing the buffet all night?  What will you do differently the next time you face a similar situation? Don’t forget to commend yourself for the things you did well.  Creating a positive mindset starts with a positive thinking.

If you’re a recovery junk food junkie trying to develop healthy eating habits realize it is a skill that must be practiced.  Don’t forget to review the goals you set for yourself this year. If you didn’t write them down, do that now. Keep your goals in site, review them frequently, and determine what must be done in order to reach them.  If you find yourself modifying and adjusting as you go along, don’t get discouraged, this is only a sign of determination.

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Topics: exercise healthy habits wellness smart goals

NIFS: 4 Additional REALISTIC Tips for a Fumble-Free Football Party

business man fumbleI attended a webinar a few years ago that suggested that the holiday season now extends from Halloween until the first Sunday in February when we gather ‘round a screen and raise a beer to the football God’s to watch the “Big Game”.  During this 13 week stretch, which is a quarter of year, we encounter candy dishes, cookie trays, cheese platters, and punch bowls overflowing with seasonal treats and goodies.  The number of temptations we face should make us wizards of refusal for those of us trying to control our weight, but saying no to creamy dips or bacon wrapped anything can be very difficult.

On Sunday, February 2nd many of us will once again find ourselves in the end zone of a bountiful buffet of wings, chili, pizza, and seven layer taco dip. If you resolved to lose some weight this year or just want to practice better self-control it’s time to step up to the line of scrimmage and play some defense.  Below are tips that can serve as a game plan for keeping you on track at home, at a party, or anytime you’re facing an event where food is the MVP. Additionally, these tips are realistic, meaning you won’t see me recommending a scoop of fro-yo with some fresh berries at half-time (which I have actually seen as a suggestion). That is an excellent dessert option, if that’s want you really want, but the last time fro-yo was offered at a football watch party was never!

      Here we go!

Don’t try to “save” calories for the party. This means, and I’m speaking from experience, that you eat almost nothing for the first part of the day so you can indulge come game time and not ruin your diet. This is a really bad idea.  Frequently this approach leads to over-indulging and eating several hundred if not thousands of calories over what you would have consumed if you had just eaten as you normally would during the first half of the day.   Wanting to eat a little lighter at the beginning of the day, think vegetables and protein, isn’t a bad idea but going into game time with and empty stomach can really backfire.

Create boundaries.  Creating boundaries means limiting your availability to tempting foods.  For me these foods are sweet, offer a satisfying crunch, and are small enough to pop one, two, or twelve in your mouth in no time.  To prevent over-eating these foods that light up all the pleasure centers in my brain I stay out of the kitchen or away from the buffet table. Once my plate is full I don’t go back for a second pass.  My plate, not the entire chip bowl, is my boundary.  For an extra precaution I may only eat dessert as I’m heading out the door.

Keep your hands occupied. This tip relates back to tip number 2.  I’m less tempted to go back to the buffet table if I’ve got my hands and head occupied. For this reason I keep a cup full of water in my hands all the time. In addition to being calorie free the water helps keep me satisfied during the party and the cup keeps my hands from finding its way back to the nachos.

Make and vocalize your plan to someone else. You probably set some goals on or just before January 1st, but did you ever right them down? Did you take the time to specifically make a plan for reaching you goals? If not, it’s not too late. Write down your goals and make them specific.  What do you have to do to reach your goals?  If you have to lock yourself in your house and never attend a party again that is probably not realistic.  Tell a friend, partner, or spouse about your goals and don’t forget to discuss how they affect what you eat and drink at the parties. Ask your confidant to encourage your or even join you in making the best choices when it comes to food and drink.  If you declare you only be drinking water for the evening, ask him or her to hold you accountable.


Let these tips remind you that eating healthier doesn’t mean you never get to go to parties. Instead you now have some new, realistic, behaviors to take with you and practice. Let these behaviors help keep you on track rather than distract you from your goals.  Also remember that like any athletic skill practice is important for success.  Sometimes we have a bad game but that doesn’t mean we should hang up the cleats and give up, instead we learn and we continue to practice and sharpen our skills.

Check out our blog on Monday morning for post game diet damage control tips!

Topics: exercise nutrition NIFS healthy habits

Under Fire: Exercise Pre-Screening Tool Being Questioned

I’ll be honest – I’m a little bit in shock from an article I read the other day on Medscape (you may be required to create a log in to view the article) that summarized a report from the January 13, 2014 issue of Circulation.  The article called into question one of those foundational truths in our industry that has been integral to how NIFS does business. 

Authors of this report, from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), are questioning the effectiveness of (and therefore the need for) a prescreening tool – a medical clearance form for individuals before they begin an exercise program.  Their position is based on two concerns:

  1. Prescreening tools are sending 90% of individuals to see their physician before they being an exercise regimen.  And,
  2. The demand on the health care system seems to be an undue burden for a relatively safe undertaking such as exercise. 

I take issue with both of these so-named concerns. 

Prescreening tools “catch” too many people. 

From the angle that the extra step of needing to get physician clearance limits an individual’s likelihood of engaging in exercise at all, I see their point.  Additional barriers are not needed.  We don’t have enough people meeting minimum exercise requirements as it is.  Why would we establish an additional barrier?  But I’m unconvinced that eliminating this tool is the answer.

overweight businessman BP resized 600Honestly, our staff run into this all the time.  Anyone who has ever managed a fitness program with a policy in place that requires a medical release for individuals with specific health risks before they can participate knows how many would-be exercisers get disgusted with that policy and thus never return to join your program.  I get it, it’s frustrating. 

But that screening tool is there for a reason.

If you need the clearance before you can participate, as identified by American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) risk stratification criteria, there’s a good chance you have multiple risk factors that indicate your treating physician should know about your plans to engage in exercise before you start a program.  Exercise is a powerful tool to improve an individual’s health and embarking on a training regimen should be taken no less seriously than changing your medication.  Medication carries health risks, and so does exercise. 

The ACSM risk stratification criteria aren’t just pulled from some random list of health circumstances that the ACSM didn’t like.  The criteria are grounded in science that tells us if an individual presents with risk X and risk Y, they are in a precarious enough position health-wise, that it’s best if they get clearance from their physician before they start an exercise program. 

I would argue that in most instances, if the individual is really at risk, they should be in regular communication with a physician anyway, and getting the clearance from that doctor should not be a barrier.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of adults living under gigantic rocks assuming that just because they don’t feel bad, they must not have health risks. 

Perhaps the health care system could help us address this with a more preventive and less reactive approach to patient care.

There’s a crystal clear line here that is not to be crossed in my opinion.  If an individual wants to start exercising, there is a really strong chance that a basic walking and stretching regimen will be safe, and, if adhered to, potentially effective at improving the individual’s health.  No medical clearance needed.  But, if the individual wants advice from an exercise specialist about a customized exercise program that’s tailored around his needs and goals, that specialist has every right and in fact, a professional responsibility, to require medical clearance if certain health risks are present. 

Some of that is about managing risk and establishing quality practices that adhere to industry standards.  But it’s also about making sure that the exercise specialist has all the information she can get about the member before she crafts an individual exercise program for that person.  The program is more tailored and likely to be more successful when all of the information is available.

The authors in the report are ready to throw out that layer of information and protection for an exercise specialist so that the health care system can be unburdened. Interesting.

Prescreening tools place an undue burden on the health care system.

At the practitioner level, we’ve heard this loud and clear for years. 

Countless times we’ve sent willing individuals in pursuit of medical clearance only to be told they must make an appointment with the office before the doctor will fill out the form.  One co-pay and eight weeks later, we might get the individual back with a medical release that states nothing specific and that fully releases the individual to exercise with no restrictions.  Seems like a wasted eight weeks and $25.00.

On the high risk end of the spectrum, I’ve had individuals with complicated heart conditions including multiple medications, recent surgeries, and other health concerns return to me with a “no restrictions” signature from their treating physician.  Either the form was forged or the doctor didn’t pause to thoughtfully engage the patient in a brief discussion about forging ahead with an exercise program.  Can you say missed opportunity?

I can think of some ways to ‘unburden’ the system:

  • How about in the truly uncomplicated cases, the chart gets reviewed without the office visit and the form gets signed without the office visit.  If the MD isn’t going to put thought into the recommendations anyway, then why require the office visit?
  • What if the MD sat down beside her patient with a complicated medical history who wanted to exercise, and had a good discussion with him, about risks, rewards, limits related to exercise?  She could thoughtfully (although briefly…I do want to be sensitive to the substantial case load of patients who need to be treated reactively) fill out the medical clearance form, and if the conversation with the patient was meaningful, and the form was well completed, there’s a strong chance that the exercise specialist working with that patient will play an important role in un-complicating that individual’s health.  Thus, fewer office visits, less medication, less complicated care to manage, and poof! Healthcare system unburdened.

This isn’t an easy issue to unpack – there are complicating factors and nuances that dictate specific circumstances.  But a recommendation to take away a tool that is central to an exercise specialist’s work with an individual is short-sighted and incomplete. 

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Topics: exercise health and wellness prescreening tools

Free Workout Friday - Maintain Not Gain

Free Workout FridayOur staff is kicking off our annual Maintain Not Gain program at our client sites.  This program is structured to help individuals maintain their weight through those months filled with tasty food and delicious treats that surround the holidays.  As you gear up for the holiday parties and events stay on track by following our Free Workout Friday blog postings to keep your workouts on track.  We aren’t saying you can’t enjoy the food, we just suggest proper portion sizes and that you don’t skip out on your workouts! 

If you aren’t a member at one of our client sites and would like help staying on track, “like” NIFS Fitness Management on Facebook and join our Facebook edition of Maintain Not Gain.  Watch for the links to submit your initial weight November 16 – 22.  Watch your newsfeed for tips to stay on track and submit your final weight in January.  If you maintain and not gain through the holidays you will be eligible for a prize drawing! 

Now let’s get started with a great, easy workout to keep you on track! 

WARM UP with a 5 minute walk or anything to get your muscles warm!

10 squatsMNG logo

15 pushups

20 alternating lunges

25 bicep curls

30 jumping jacks

35 bicycles

STRETCH, you never want to stretch a cold muscle, so always do so once the muscles are warm!

Beginner: Repeat 3-5 times, with short or minimal breaks.

Intermediate-Advanced: Complete as many times as possible in 25 minutes. 

Topics: employee health exercise nifs fitness management maintain not gain