Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

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

Why Spending Time Outdoors Is Good for Physical and Mental Wellness

GettyImages-1138813719 (1)If you’re looking to improve the overall happiness and well-being of your residents—and even yourself—try taking your offerings outside of the fitness center and straight into nature!

Many of our NIFS fitness staff members schedule outdoor activities as a key component of their wellness programming, when and where weather permits. Some of the most popular open-air activities we have offered include walking groups, hiking trips, snowshoeing, yoga classes, mindfulness and meditation events, recreational sports, gardening, and outdoor socials. Exercise-related health benefits are already widely acknowledged, but did you know that the additional advantages of immersing oneself in nature may far surpass exercise alone?

Let the Sun Shine In!

Sunlight can help boost your Vitamin D levels, which is essential in calcium absorption to keep bones healthy and strong. Those who aren’t getting enough Vitamin D are much more likely to suffer from osteoporosis, heart disease, depression, weight gain, Alzheimer’s, and a whole catalog of cancers. In addition, getting sufficient sunlight can aid in preventing type-2 diabetes and some autoimmune disorders.

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Physical activity typically increases as we spend more time in natural environments, and the two together help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls how the body responds when at rest. Not only does this provide a relaxing, calm feeling, but it also reduces resting blood pressure, strengthens immunity, and can help decrease the risk of developing chronic disease.

Just Being Outside Is Beneficial for Mental Health and Wellness

Not in the mood for a “workout”? That’s okay, too! You can still fight mental fatigue, tension, and stress by simply being in nature. A study conducted at the University of Michigan found that spending as little as 20 minutes either sitting or walking in nature was enough to significantly reduce levels of cortisol, a hormone commonly used as a stress marker. The greatest rate of reduction in cortisol levels was observed in those who spent between 20 and 30 minutes in green spaces.

Anxiety and depression, too, have been proven to be lessened by spending time in nature’s powerful restorative environments—so powerful, in fact, that researchers at Stanford University call time spent in nature a mental health prescription.

Mental health disorders can contribute to poor sleep, and poor sleep can equally contribute to mental health disorders. Not only can time spent in nature improve overall mental health, leading to better sleep, but it can also play a fundamental role in improving sleep patterns, leading to better mental health. Sleep patterns are intrinsically regulated by circadian rhythms—this is commonly referred to as the body’s internal clock—which is directly tied to the sun’s schedule. Spending too much time in the absence of natural light, or in the presence of artificial light, can alter a person’s circadian rhythm and disrupt sleep patterns. Lucky for us, this balance is easily restored by getting back to nature and spending time outside.

Are you taking advantage of all that nature has to offer and sharing it with everyone you know?

NIFS staff love helping create Active Adventures with the communities where we help do wellness better.  Click below to see if outsourcing and having a vendor partner with you is a right fit!

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Topics: disease prevention senior wellness programs bone density emotional wellness depression vitamins anxiety nifs staff nature outdoor exercise