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

Corporate Wellness: Learn what you can do to prevent heart disease

Let’s begin by asking a generalized question - How familiar are you with your heart and its functionality? February is Heart Disease Awareness month, but spreading awareness about the disease is not only limited to this specific month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., which is an umbrella term that includes atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, arrhythmia, and heart valve problems. Heart disease can affect a person of any age, so learning about prevention tips and implementing them into your life can be beneficial.

Although we lack the power to change some risk factors, we can start by making small life choices like a healthy eating plan and being more physically active. The American Heart Association breaks down prevention tips by age groups.  See where you fall and what you need to being doing to help reduce your risk for heart disease.

heart_healthIn your 20’s:

  • Have regular wellness exams
  • Be physically active
  • Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke

In your 30’s:

  • Make heart healthy living a family affair
  • Know your family history
  • Tame your stress

In your 40’s:

  • Watch your weight
  • Have your blood pressure checked
  • Don’t brush off snoring (sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke)

In your 50’s:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke
  • Follow your treatment plan

In your 60’s and beyond:

  • Have an ankle-brachial test
  • Watch your weight
  • Learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke

The bottom line is to change your unhealthy behaviors - clean up your dietary patterns, get active, and don’t put off your necessary doctor appointments. The risk of heart disease increases as you age, so the earlier you are aware, the better.

The staff in your corporate fitness center would be more than happy to help you get started with an exercise routine and are available for consultations. They are there to help and guide you, as well as get you familiarized with what is offered in your fitness center. These are just the basic guidelines to a happy and healthy heart!

The first Friday in the month of February is National Wear Red Day. Help bring awareness by wearing red to show your support.

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Topics: employee health heart disease heart healthy

NIFS: Go Red for Heart Health

heart healthThe first Friday in February has been designated National Wear Red Day to raise awareness about heart disease in women.  Over a decade ago, research showed that heart disease was the leading cause of death in women and was deemed the silent killer because symptoms often go unnoticed. 

There are ways you can take steps to reduce your risk for heart disease, take control of your life and your heart health!

  • Be Active: Get off the couch and get moving.  Individuals who get little to no physical activity are at a much higher risk for heart disease.  Get up and moving daily to increase your physical activity, simply cleaning your house or doing yard work can lower your risk. 
  • Healthy Plate = Healthy Heart: Choose foods low in fat and cholesterol and increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables.  Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants which help reduce risk!  Your cholesterol levels are also a risk factor, simply improving your diet will help reduce those numbers which in turn will lower your risk.
  • Quit Smoking: CVS recently pulled the plug on selling tobacco, so now it’s your turn to stop smoking.  Individuals who smoke have twice the risk of having a heart attack than non-smokers.  If you need tips for how to quit, talk to your doctor or ask your corporate wellness staff where you can find resources to help you quit.
  • Control Blood Pressure: As the most common risk factor, over fifty million people have hypertension.  If your blood pressure is consistently 140/90 or higher you are considered hypertensive.  Speak with your physician about how to manage your numbers.
  • Manage your Stress: Find what techniques work for you, exercise is a great way to reduce stress.  Make time to incorporate 30 minutes into your day to take your mind off your stressors. Individuals with poorly managed stress are at risk for heart attack or stroke. 

Join the movement to help raise awareness.  Talk to the women in your family to make positive changes in becoming healthier together.

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Topics: cardiovascular disease heart disease nifs fitness management wear red day healthy behaviors

Corporate Wellness: Bail Your Body Out of Sleep Debt

This blog was written by Mara Winters. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

tired, headache, sleep debtYou know the feeling. The alarm clock is ringing and you're thinking, “If only I had one more hour to sleep.” Americans tend to lose about an hour of sleep per night (about two full weeks of slumber per year), pushing our bodies into sleep debt.

The side-effects of sleep deprivation are not fun to experience: impaired memory, foggy brain, worsened vision, and impaired driving. Long-term effects of lack of sleep can include obesity, insulin resistance, and heart disease.

Work Out Wisely to Improve Sleep

If you’re like many people, you are looking to get out of sleep debt. Exercise can help you sleep more soundly. Consider the following when exercising:

  • Morning exercise can relieve stress and improve your mood. Coupling exercise with the natural morning light reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle, improving your night’s rest.
  • The most beneficial exercise time is mid-afternoon to early evening. Vigorous exercise during this time raises your body temperature a few hours before bed. Then as you get ready for bed, your body temperature is falling, allowing a natural wind-down for the night.
  • Vigorous exercise before bed is not good for sleep. It raises your temperature and stimulates your brain and muscles, making winding down more difficult.

Understand the Importance of Sleep to Your Health

With some practice you can repay your sleep debt. Just like with exercise, the amount of time and intensity you sleep is important. Add an extra hour or two of sleep a night to ensure that you spend more time in deep sleep. Go to bed when you are tired and allow yourself to wake up naturally.

Sleep is vital to restorative health, so bail your body out of sleep debt by being active and catching up on your Zs!

Topics: worksite wellness exercise memory stress obesity heart disease sleep

Chronic Sitting Is Bad for Employee Health

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

bad posture, chronic sittingHaving a desk job likely means you spend more than half of your day—half of your whole day, not just your workday—NOT moving. We all know physical activity has a positive impact on health, but the ill-effects of inactivity are often overlooked.

Too Much Sitting Results in Heart Attacks, Pain

There is a direct, positive relationship between inactivity and disease, meaning the more inactive you are, the more likely you are to be affected by disease. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has revealed that people who sit most of the day are 54 percent more likely to die of heart attacks than their active counterparts.

If you spend the majority of your day sitting, chances are you have some muscular imbalances, weakness, and aches and pains. Muscular imbalances can lead to pain and injury, which in turn can lead to further inactivity. Poor posture while sitting can lead to tight chest and shoulder muscles, as well as tight, weakened hip flexors, low-back muscles, rear-shoulder muscles, front-neck muscles, glutes, and abdominal muscles.

It's Never Too Late to Start Being More Active

Think about your aches and pains. Do any of them line up with those listed above? If so, consider your activity level. Are you meeting the exercise recommendations set forth by the ACSM? If not, adding more movement to your day could remedy the problem.

If you're not meeting the ACSM’s recommendations for physical activity, there is some good news: It is never too late to start incorporating physical activity into your life. Get up and get moving today!

Topics: heart disease staying active pain relief

Facts on Fiber: Good for Weight Loss and More

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

facts on fiber, oatmealOther than supposedly helping you go the bathroom, do you know the importance of adding fiber to your diet? Our bodies can’t digest it, so why eat it?

Benefits of Getting More Fiber

Fiber is actually considered a carbohydrate. It has many health benefits, and helps to regulate digestion. It also helps you to feel full longer, which could help you cut back on total daily calories, helping you to lose weight. When you lose a few extra pounds, you also decrease your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and heart attack; you also lower cholesterol levels and decrease joint pain. Adding fiber to your diet can also help to lower the risk of several forms of cancer.

How Much Fiber Do You Need?

Shoot for getting 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day, which most of us are not even close to getting. And here's a very important side note: Add fiber to your diet slowly, over two to three weeks. If you add too much too fast, you may have stomach issues! Also, drink plenty of water when taking in more fiber to help keep things moving through your system.

How to Get More Fiber

Are you wondering how to add more fiber to your diet? Here are some tips:

  • Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat.
  • Add more whole-wheat products into your diet.
  • Eat popcorn instead of potato chips.
  • Snack on fruit instead of candy.
  • Keep some nuts at your desk or in your car for when you need something to hold you over.
  • Eat oatmeal for breakfast.
  • Try more recipes with beans and lentils.
  • Purchase unprocessed foods.
Topics: nutrition disease prevention weight loss heart disease cholesterol weight management diabetes

Employee Health: Could You Be a "Heart Attack Waiting to Happen"?

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

heart health, employee wellness, family historyIt is no secret that heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, with more than 27% of all deaths being attributed to Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). What is shocking is that apparently healthy individuals are dying of heart disease every single day. In fact, 39% of American adults perceive themselves as having ideal heart health, while less than 1% actually do.

Are you healthy? You might say “I exercise regularly and eat right,” but is that enough? Doctors agree that, in most cases, a healthy diet and adequate exercise are not enough. While both are very important, they are simply pieces of the puzzle that come together to create a picture of optimal health. It may sound obvious, but in order to get yourself closer to an ideal state of health you need to become educated in two areas:

  1. Your current state of health.
  2. What it actually means to be healthy.

One way to “grade” your heart health is through risk stratification. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) presents the following as positive risk factors for CAD:

  • Family history: Heart attack, bypass, or sudden death in first-degree male relatives before 55 years of age, or before 65 years of age.
  • Cigarette smoking: Current smokers or those who quit within the preceding 6 months.
  • Hypertension: High blood pressure defined as systolic pressure (top number) being greater than or equal to 140 mm Hg, OR diastolic pressure (bottom number) being greater than or equal to 90 mm Hg.
  • Dyslipidemia: High cholesterol defined as LDL (“bad”) cholesterol greater than 130 mg/dL, OR HDL (“good”) cholesterol less than 40 mg/dL, OR on lipid-lowering medication. Having HDL greater than 60 mg/dL is considered to be a negative risk factor, and thus negates a positive risk factor.
  • Impaired fasting glucose: Fasting blood glucose (“blood sugar”) greater than or equal to 100 mg/dL.
  • Obesity: Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 30, OR waist girth greater than 102 cm for men and 88 cm for women, OR waist-to-hip ratio greater than or equal to .95 in males and .86 in females.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: Persons not participating in a regular exercise program or not meeting minimal physical activity recommendations.

Knowing your individual risk factors for CAD is the first step toward reaching ideal heart health. Do you know where you stand? Have you had an annual physical or participated in a Know Your Number health screening? If so, congratulations! You are on your way to better health!

Topics: employee health disease prevention cardiovascular disease Body Mass Index heart disease