Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Move More: Take a Break from Sitting

GettyImages-475200500Staying home is something we are all doing more of lately due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Spending more time at home has some benefits like increased family time, less driving, and especially lowering the risk of contracting COVID-19. Unfortunately, there are also hefty drawbacks to being homebound. As we spend more time inside, we are also sitting for longer and longer periods of time. Watching movies, reading books, or napping are all fun and enjoyable seated activities. Unfortunately, doing too much of these things can have disastrous results on our health. Taking breaks from sitting every 30 – 60 minutes will improve your safer-at-home experience by reducing risk of deadly blood clots, maintaining muscle and bone health, and using up energy that would otherwise be stored as fat.

  • First, sitting for extended periods of time negatively affects your body’s ability to circulate blood. When you spend too much time sitting, blood pools in the legs which can cause blood clots to form. This is known as a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Some DVT’s are small enough to not cause any harm, but it is possible for the clot to dislodge and travel to the lungs. This can lead to a deadly pulmonary embolism. Older adults are at a higher risk for blood clots like this, especially in combination with a medical history of cancer, obesity, or recent lower body surgery. To combat the risk of DVT’s and pulmonary embolisms, take frequent breaks from sitting.
  • Second, being immobile causes your muscles to shrink. The saying “use it or lose it” is true in this case. When you regularly stay seated for too long, your body adapts. The body’s ability to adapt is a marvelous thing, but it can unfortunately lead to some very negative side effects in this case. Muscles are responsible for movement. If we don’t move or exercise, there is no reason for our bodies to hold on to muscle tissue. All of this applies to bone tissue as well. If your bones do not frequently bear your weight, they will lose density and strength. This can lead to a condition called osteoporosis. Fortunately, there is a simple remedy. Get up, move around, and use your bones and muscles!
  • Finally, you should take breaks from sitting because it will help you maintain a healthy weight and body composition. When we are resting in a seated or reclined position, our bodies are not using very much energy. Long periods of inactivity lead to excess storage of energy, which in this case will be body fat. If your body holds on to too much stored fat, this can increase your risk of diseases like hypertension, type II diabetes, and cancer. To properly manage the amount of fat your body stores, it’s incredibly important to use up the energy that you consume (calories). The human body naturally uses energy from food to maintain its complex systems, but physical activity is the best way to burn more calories. To fight off excess body fat and the risk of disease that comes with it, manage your energy intake and output!

Optimal circulation, lean mass maintenance, and a healthy bodyweight are all goals that we should aim for during the COVID-19 epidemic and beyond. As we reduce our risk of contracting the virus, we should also aim to reduce our risk of serious inactivity related diseases. One extremely effective way to do this is taking breaks from sitting. At least once per hour, stand up and walk around for at least 5 minutes. Use your muscles by completing a few basic exercises like marching, wall push-ups, or chair stands. All of this together will help you stay healthy and strong as you stay at home. If you find yourself sitting down for a long period of time, remember to take a break from sitting every 30 – 60 minutes.

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Topics: senior fitness improving senior fitness movement

Transportation on Foot and the Benefits of Walking

GettyImages-936397332 (1)Walking everywhere is slowly becoming a bigger trend, specifically in states that it never used to be. As fitness trackers are being used more and more, step challenges are increasing both at work and at home. Research is discovering the benefits of walking and ensuring that people are getting their steps in every day. Walking is one of the best means to reach physical activity recommendations and by meeting those recommendations, individuals lower their risk for diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and many more.

Disease prevention is the number one benefit of walking. Diseases such as dementia are being researched more thoroughly and it has been found that physical activity is being proposed to be a prevention factor. Walking is a primary factor to address the obesity epidemic, which can help reduce the risk of major non-communicable diseases mentioned previously. Compared to other activities, walking meets the recommendations of physical activity and creates a lower risk for injury. With little impact on the joints compared to higher intensity exercises, it prevents high risk of injury while being physically active. There are also some psychological benefits to walking, it can improve blood pressure, glucose control and many more, which overall can lead to a much more relaxed lifestyle.

Walking also produces indirect benefits as well. If more people choose to walk as a means of transportation, it will reduce air pollution, which can lead to lower rates of cancer and asthma. Walking or hiking also allows for more interaction with nature, which has also been shown to improve mental health. Walking  is typically associated with social interaction, therefore improving social health and greatly impacting overall mental health and decreasing an early mortality rate. Lastly, by showing more initiation of walking regularly, it can greatly influence the lives of our children. They will see that walking is a regular daily activity and will be more likely to follow in those footsteps. There are many programs that encourage biking and walking to school to increase physical activity in children. Incentive programs are a new norm specifically for increasing activity, by utilizing a program it could also indirectly influence their parents as far as walking as a means of transportation goes.

The benefits of walking are never ending whether it be a direct or indirect association. If individuals learn and understand these benefits, walking can be the new norm for every day transportation. It will not just occur when it is the first warm day of the season or the last warm day of the season as many do now. The benefits of walking and the fact that it can lead to an overall healthier lifestyle physically, mentally, and socially, should be more than enough reason for individuals to ditch their cars or a seated lunch break and walk more regularly.

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Topics: employee wellbeing walking tips fitness routine traveling movement nature

How to Move More at Work and During the Day

GettyImages-905323392 (1)Let’s face it, daily life can be very busy and sometimes overwhelming to many of us. Trying to fit in exercise every day can seem like a chore and many times gets put at the bottom of the “to-do” list even though we all know it should be near the top. Just because you can’t fit in a trip to the gym or attend your favorite exercise class doesn’t mean that you can’t get exercise or at least some movement time throughout your day. Your body can even benefit from little bits of movement at a time if that is all you have time for, so there really should not be any excuses not to get some movement or exercise in your day.

Exercise at Lunch

Lunch breaks are a great time to fit in exercise. Bring your tennis shoes to work and take a walk. It can be around the building inside or outside, through a neighborhood nearby, or on a treadmill if that is available to you. Walk for as much time as your schedule allows. If you don’t have time for a shower afterward, just don’t push yourself quite as hard. Walking is great for your body!

Getting in Extra Steps During the Workday

You can fit in exercise in your office! Take the stairs between floors—skip that elevator! Park far away on purpose so you get a 5- or 10-minute walk in and out of your office. That could potentially add up to 20 minutes of movement or exercise depending on how fast you walk. Here are a few other tips for getting more exercise at work.

Move While You’re Waiting on the Kids

If you are a parent, chances are your kids are or will be involved in activities. So many times parents just drop their child off and sit in their cars to wait, or just leave to do something else. Your child is getting their exercise, why not get yours as well? You can take a walk, run, or ride your bike around the area they are practicing in so as to maximize your time. For those days when there are games, the kids usually need to be there early to warm up, so you can use that warmup time to move your body as well instead of sitting in your chair or car for that extra 30 to 60 minutes.

Work Out at the Park

If you frequently take your kids to parks, work out at the park while they play! Park benches are great for pushups, dips, lunges, squats, and step-ups. Monkey bars work well for pull-ups, and running up the steps and sliding down the slides is a little cardiovascular work—not to mention fun! Don’t forget, you can use your kids as little (or big) weights and resistance machines, too!

Plan Active Gatherings

Plan family and friend time as active gatherings. Take walks, go on bike rides, or go swimming (or sledding, ice skating, or skiing in winter) together. You can still talk while doing many of those activities. Join a gym with a friend so your social time also becomes your exercise time.

There is no rule that says all exercise has to be at a gym or that you have to set aside 30 to 60 minutes every single day to purposely do one set workout. You should find an activity that you enjoy doing and incorporate that into your daily life. Everyone has different goals and will have different needs for exercise, but with a few modifications in your daily routine you should be able to start moving more and sitting less throughout the day.

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Topics: exercise at work staying active counting steps exercises I can do with my kids movement