Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Active Aging: Making time for Physical Activity

elderly woman pumping ironRegular physical activity is essential for healthy aging!  There are two main questions that I am constantly being ask: how much exercise should I do? and how do I find the time to exercise?

The first question is easy to answer.  There are specific guidelines that seek to help older adults select types and amounts of exercises appropriate for their abilities. The key word is ability, please know your limitations and make sure you have your doctor’s consent.

Key Guidelines for Older Adults (65 years or older):

  • Avoid inactivity. Some is better than none!
  • Do at least 150 minutes (2hours and 30minutes) per week of moderate-intensity Aerobic Activity! These include walking, biking, rowing, nu-step, water aerobics, and even dancing. These could be performed in episodes of 10-15 minutes throughout the week.
  • Do at least 2 days of muscle-strengthening activities. These include weight machines, hand-held weights, exercise bands, calisthenics, even digging in the garden.
  • Do stretching and relaxation exercises as often as possible. Yoga and Tai Chi are excellent choices.
  • Do Balance Exercises 3 or more days per week. These include backward walking, sideways walking, heel walking, toe walking, and standing from a sitting position.  Remember use support (wall or chair) until you feel more stable.  Tai chi also may help with balance and preventing falls.

The second question is always the most difficult because the number one excuse for not exercising is “LACK OF TIME”.  Even when one retires it seems that all the coupled activities and events leave little room for that important part of our day “EXERCISE”!  No matter how busy you are, someone even busier than you is finding time to exercise.  Here are some ways to squeeze in that time.

  1. Wake up earlier or get to bed later. Sleep is definitely important but you can start your day an extra 30 minutes earlier or end your day an extra 30 minutes later.  You have the advantage of making your own time schedule, and you know whether you’re a morning or evening person.
  2. Cut down on media.  Record how many hours of television you watch or how many hours you spend reading or on the computer.  Cut out some of that time and you will find you have an extra 10 to 30 minutes to exercise.  See Number #3!
  3. Be an active TV watcher or active listener. Combine exercising with watching your favorite show! They have televisions in Fitness Centers! Books on tape are wonderful in enjoying the time you exercise.
  4. Walk around! Getting from one place to another by walking there and back is a great way to incorporate exercise.   Consider your limitations (using a walker, cane, bad knees etc.) but find ways that promote movement.  The stairs, the hallways, standing and talking will burn calories and improve lung function. So take a walk to your retirement community fitness center.
  5. Make it part of your routine.  You brush your teeth, you find time to eat, to socialize, to shower and even to catch up on your favorite television shows or good book.  Therefore, make exercise a part of your daily routine, once it becomes a habit it will be something that you don’t even think about you just do it. Before you know it you will be an active member of your senior living fitness program!
  6. Mix socializing with exercising.  Find an exercise partner, a group to walk with outside or in the hallways, even attend exercise classes where there are others on a regular schedule.  Motivate someone to join you and have them motivate you.  
  7. Schedule an appointment. You wouldn’t want to miss that doctor’s appointment because you may not get another one for over a month.  So why not set a standing appointment with an exercise buddy, a retirement fitness center personal trainer or your dog, and be accountable to exercise on a specific day and time.
  8. Set a goal.  Whether it’s losing weight, gaining weight, standing taller, walking longer or even balancing better.  Exercise provides you those results!  Think about what motivates you to want to incorporate exercising and start working to achieve your goals!
  9. Find an activity you love.  Not everyone wants to come to the community fitness center and not everyone enjoys attending classes.  Dancing, hiking, walking outside and even playing golf provides exercise.  Therefore, do what you love but make sure it keeps the body moving!
  10. Say no.  The big one.  Look at your priorities and responsibilities.  Do you really have to involve yourself in everything on that list?  Can you start to say no to specific things that hinder your ability to find time to exercise? 
Quick Tip to Strengthen Your Community Exercise Program
Topics: adapting to exercise active aging active living balance training staying active

Active Aging: Taking the Extra Step Toward Fitness

senior playing with a dogHow many times do you circle a parking lot looking for that perfect spot right in front of the door? It doesn’t matter if I am at the supermarket, a sporting event, a restaurant, or even the gym (sad, but true); I see people circling the lot like they’re in the Indy 500. As I get out of my car and walk to my destination, all I can do is ask myself, “Do they really think they are benefiting from parking in front of the door?”

My reasons for parking in the back of lots have changed over the years, but the end result hasn’t, and that is more steps walked equals more calories burned.

Can You Walk 10,000 Steps Per Day?

If you have ever been in a walking program or used a pedometer, there is a good chance you were advised to hit the 10,000-steps-per-day mark, but what does that mean? Is it attainable? Let’s break it down into numbers we deal with on a regular basis.

The average person’s stride length (the distance between successive points of contact of the same foot) is about 2.5 feet, so one step would be about 16 inches (assuming a normal walking pattern), which means you take about 4,000 steps to walk a mile. So if your goal is 10,000 steps per day, you will walk about 2 miles per day. If you consistently hit that 10,000-step mark, you are considered moderately active.

But what about the people who frequently take less than 5,000 steps per day? People in this group are considered sedentary. A drastic increase in steps can lead to many people quitting shortly after starting. People looking to increase their daily steps should look to add about 500 to 1,000 steps per day and increase at this rate every week until they hit their goal. So if you currently take 5,000 steps a day and you are increasing your steps by 1,000 per day per week, it will take you 5 weeks to hit your 10,000-step goal.

How to Walk More Steps

So where can you find these hidden steps, you ask? Here are a few activities you can adjust to add extra steps:

  • Parking farther back in parking lots: Parking an additional 20 spaces back equals about 200 steps round trip.
  • Getting up to change the channel: Changing channels 6 times per day equals about 60 steps total.
  • Walking to consult a coworker as opposed to calling them: Based on 2 round-trips of 60 feet equals about 200 steps.
  • Take the stairs: Taking the stairs causes more caloric expenditure than walking on a flat surface, and one flight equals about 15 steps.
  • Walk your pet: Walking around the block equals about 1,000 steps.

These are easy ways to add a few hundred steps to your day; pick and choose all, one, or something else. The goal is to go at your pace and to do what you like; anything else will just lead to a decline in program adherence until you ultimately quit. The steps you need are all around you, and if you look hard enough I guarantee you can find the time and energy to take an extra step.

Topics: employee health walking employee wellness fitness healthy habits staying active physical activity counting steps

Top 5 things to avoid when building a fitness center for senior living communities

senior fitnessWe work on a lot of build/design projects in retirement communities where the project is either new construction for a new community, or the plan is part of a repositioning that includes enhanced wellness spaces and services.  I’ve got two communities on my desk currently where we’re helping to map out their fitness center and related spaces.If you follow industry trends, you see it all the time in press releases, RSS feeds and other media avenues:  ground breakings for projects that include a state-of-the-art wellness wing, indoor/outdoor pool complex, etc.  Communities are getting serious about folding resident wellness into their broader business strategy to remain viable in the market.Over my years at NIFS, I’ve had the pleasure of working on more than 20 different types of fitness center builds.  As you can imagine, I’ve learned quite a bit along the way. Below are my top five recommendations (in random order) on pitfalls to avoid during your design journey.


#5 – Don’t let your design team talk you out of consulting with an expert who is used to programming fitness spaces

You should rely 100% on your architectural team to provide all the elements of the space that speak to code, compliance, overall flow and esthetics as those elements relate to the  broader project goal.  But it’s not reasonable to expect them to understand how your personal trainers and fitness manager will work with your residents in the space.  Unless your architect had a previous career managing a fitness center for an active older adult audience, my hunch (based on my experience) is that he might miss some key elements in the design that would ultimately inhibit the end-user experience. 

#4 –Don’t overlook the value of qualified management for your fitness areas.

There is nothing worse than pouring money into fabulous state-of-the-art digs than to have them sit idle after the grand opening.  We know that senior living fitness centers are not an “if you build it they will come” proposition.  Your resident audience will be expecting support to use the pool, fitness center, and other health-related spaces.  Plan to hire a qualified manager who is dedicated to running this physical dimension of your wellness strategy.  (Note – this is not the same as your fee-for-service personal trainer.)  You’ll be glad you did.
 

#3 – Don’t assume that what you’re planning for today will fit you tomorrow.

If you follow #5 and #4 above, you’ll be quite pleased with how well-utilized the exercise programs are in your community.  And it won’t be long before you need to add another treadmill, a mat table, or another piece of equipment.  If you design with growth in mind, you’ll be able to do some subtle shifting of existing equipment to make new pieces fit.  Similarly, if you anticipate that the space and services will quickly become wildly popular, you may need to add staffing.  Planning for additional staff workspace is also essential.
 

#2 – Don’t get swept up by a sales pitch from an equipment vendor. 

Exercise equipment comes in a lot of shapes and sizes – it is not one size fits all.  Treadmills can vary widely on the marketplace in terms of features, cost, warranty, and ease of use.  Do your homework (or hire someone to help you) and avoid being swayed by the sales pitches from equipment retailers.  All of them will put together a layout for you at “no extra cost”.  All of them will tell you they’ve been in the active aging market for decades.  All of them will tell you that they have the best science behind their product.  It’s a very buyer beware market.
 

#1 – Don’t get tunnel vision on what a quality fitness program (bricks and mortar + management) can do for your residents and the greater community. 

Expand your vision of what’s possible in the space.  If you can dream big on this project, you’ll be able to anticipate where the market is headed for resident wellness.  Do you have an opportunity to capitalize on your local neighbors for some revenue by opening up your fitness center and services to the 55+ community who does not yet live on your campus?  Can you see a path to combine therapy and wellness in your new space where the transition of care is seamless for your residents? How do you need to design the space to support these concepts as part of your future?  Think about separate entrances, equipment, user privacy needs, data lines and medical records storage.  What has to be in place for your dream space to become a reality and potentially a new best practice in resident fitness programming? It can be both exciting and daunting to embark on a substantial construction project. Getting the right stakeholders to the design table early will help you carefully navigate some of the common pitfalls I noted above. 
 

NIFS Expertise Makes Our Approach Unique

We have designed dozens of client fitness centers to maximize function and flow in the space with diverse equipment options that meet the needs of active older adults.

Find out more about NIFS consulting services. We can help you bring the best programming, fitness center design and staffing to your community.

Find out more about NIFS Consulting Services >

Topics: active aging nifs fitness management senior center solutions CCRC fitness center staying active

Corporate Fitness: FREE Workout Friday

free workout fridayAre you ready to make a change in your life? Have you been busy with a career or raising a family and put working out on the back burner? Most people’s activity level tends to significantly decrease in their 30s and 40s, and it only continues from there. It’s time to focus on you and spend just a few minutes each day doing something for yourself.

I understand this is easier said than done, so I’ve created a workout to get you started that can be done in your own home with no equipment required. All you need is an open space on the floor. This workout is designed to be challenging but not impossible. Do what you can and work your way up to going through it all, and eventually go through it twice!  View the video for a brief demonstration for the exercises in the workout below.

Beginner cardio circuit workout:

  • 1 minute straight leg kicks (travel as you do them if you have the space; otherwise do them stationary)
  • 1 minute high knees (travel if you have the space; otherwise do them stationary)
  • 1 minute walking or stationary (alternating legs) lunges
  • 1 minute recover/rest
  • 1 minute skater lunges
  • 1 minute mountain climbers
  • 30 seconds split jumps
  • 30 seconds froggers
  • 1 minute recover/rest
  • 30 seconds modified push-ups
  • 1 minute lateral hops (feet together)
  • 1 minute forward and back hops
  • 30 seconds modified push-ups
  • 30 seconds knee tucks
  • 1 minute recover/rest
  • 30 seconds center plank (modified if need be)
  • 30 seconds side plank (modified if need be) on each side
  • 30 seconds center plank (modified if need be)
  • 1 minute straight leg kicks (traveling or stationary)

This workout can be done with modifications or added intensity if you are up for the challenge! This is intended to be done two to three times a week in combination with other forms of physical activity and a healthy diet. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and stretch at the end of every workout.

Topics: corporate fitness exercise at home Free Workout Friday cardio staying active

NIFS Fitness Management: 2013 Resolutions

Every year we set new resolutions with every intention to improve our health, stay better organized, lose weight… the list goes on.  Often these fall to the wayside and we fall back into our routines we know so well.  We are kicking the year off by asking some of our fitness staff what their 2013 resolutions are and if you keep reading you will see that even individuals in our industry have to recommit each year!

New Year… New You… Resolutions from NIFS Fitness Management:

PPohlmannPenny Pohlmann: Wellness Center Manager - Atlanta, GA

I noticed that our family’s TV/Internet usage on week nights had gotten out of control lately so we have resolved to limit it this year. We plan to watch no more than two hours of TV and spend no more than one hour in front of the computer on weeknights with limited time on weekends as well. We hope to spend the time we’d ordinarily be in front of the TV or computer reading, cleaning, and completing other odd jobs around the house that never seem to get done.  We also plan to hike all 76.4 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia before the end of the year!

KSwiftKimberlee Swift: Fitness Manager – Towson, MD

This year I have decided to go VEGAN! I have been a vegetarian for over 10 years, and feel that giving up all animal byproducts will only increase my health, wellness, and vitality. I also look at this change as my way to give back to the environment, and significantly decrease the impact my dietary choices have on our ecosystem.

 

H  NIFS Pictures blog pics CJohnson resized 600Callie Johnson: Wellness Program Manager - Indianapolis, IN

My resolution this year is to live more consistently in all aspects of my life!  I plan to do this by: eating cleaner, living simpler and being happy with less, being more appreciative of all around me, and being a better, more phenomenal, more genuine ME!

 

MBoyleMichael Boyle: Manager – St. Louis, MO

I tend to be overzealous when it comes to New Year’s resolutions and I actually come up with an entire list each year, but for now I’ll focus on a few of the ones that are important to me. First, I’d like to spend more time with God. Whether it’s through reading the Bible, volunteering or just being more giving, I want to spend more time in His presence. I’d also like to cook dinner for my wife at least once per week. As far as fitness is concerned, I’ve got an overall plan of action that culminates in a sub 1h45m half marathon. Here we go!

DCarterDonisha Carter: HFS - Indianapolis, IN

Run the Mini, Save money! My main goal this year is to compete and finish my first ever Mini Marathon. I’ve managed to complete step 1 (actually signing up for the Mini)! I’m a little nervous because I’ve never considered myself a “runner”, we’ll see how well this goes. Another resolution for me this year is to shop less and save more.  I’d really like to focus on paying off my credit card and student loan.

 

KThielKimmberly Thiel: Manager – Middletown, NY

My goal for 2013 is to increase my strength and endurance to a point where I can compete with the males on my team for the Spartan Races this summer. I got my butt kicked by these races last year and I won’t let it happen again. This year’s teams can count on me to be a coach and motivator in the pre-race season and the ‘white rabbit’ on race day! Bring it on boys!

 

JPearsonJenna Pearson: Wellness Center Manager - Albany, NY

Put my own oxygen mask on first! It wasn’t until I was flying home from spending Christmas and New Year’s in England that I set my New Year’s resolution.   As we were getting ready to take off, the stewardess said something I’ve heard hundreds of times before, but this time it meant something different.  I need to learn to put my own oxygen mask on before helping others with theirs.  I get so consumed with making other people happy and taking care of everyone around me that I have literally worried myself sick!  It’s time to start taking better care of myself, making time to do the things that I want to do, because every day is a gift and sometimes you just need to be a little selfish.

 

 

AKistnerAdrienne Kistner:  Wellness Manager - Cincinnati OH

My biggest resolution for 2013 is to have a baby!  This little miracle baby was not suppose to be in the cards for me, so I am super excited to give birth to a baby boy at the end of March.  From a fitness standpoint, I am hoping to resume my Ironman training as soon as the doctor clears me and I plan on competing in my first half Ironman by the end of the year.  Nutritionally, I plan on cutting back on my wine-drinking habit.  I’m off to a good start, being pregnant, so I’m hoping to continue after the baby is born.  Finally, I have several projects around the house that are on my to-do list for 2013.  A bathroom renovation is currently in the works.

 

ETrenthamErin Trentham:  Wellness Center Manager - Columbus, GA

My first resolution is to cook more.  I know how to cook the basics (i.e. meat and veggies), but I really want to try and think outside the box and come up with some new dinners for my family.  I know my husband would love this!  I would also like to concentrate on my flexibility more (yes I know we are in the fitness industry).  I tend to neglect that aspect of my workouts. 

 

 

SPenceStephanie Pence: Assistant Manager - Mason, OH

Expand my Cooking Knowledge!! My New Year’s resolution is to try one new recipe a week.  I would like to expand my cooking abilities and add new healthy recipes to my cookbook.  I have never been a very good cook so I would like to take this year to become more comfortable in the kitchen.  Hopefully I won’t be eating too many burnt dinners!

 

KLedbetterKeith Ledbetter: Fitness Center Manager – Indianapolis, IN

Organize Everything… My New Year’s resolution is to get organized. My plan is to organize one room a month, for the first six months. The following six months go back and tweak and the system I put in place the first time around. Step one is the bedroom, starting with the closet. 

 

 

  

SDurham

Sara Durham: Wellness Center Manager – Indianapolis, IN

To cook more nutritious meals at home for my family rather than eating out. (So far so good)

 

 

 

RHuffmanRachel Huffman: HFS – Indianapolis, IN

Shift away from my “procrastinate now, don’t put it off” habits.  I’ve never been one to create a list of resolutions, because taking on a laundry list of changes all at once quickly becomes daunting.  This is simply because we try to conquer everything at once rather than taking baby steps toward a better direction.  In my attempt to continue in a “better direction”, this year I will focus on altering the choices that can be made on a conscious level, namely the ones that sound like this: “Hmm, I can do that later.”  This small change is so simple, yet so effective, because it taps into and balances my social life, organizational habits, the cleanliness of my home, and, subsequently, my work life.  I recently asked a friend to teach me his ways of keeping up with his social life and responsibilities all while having an adult job.  “Just do it,” he responded.  So I’m going to just do it.

 

Mhayhow

Mistie Hayhow: HFS - Indianapolis, IN

Pick up a new hobby. I received a sewing machine for christmas so my goal for the new year is to learn to sew. I think the gift was a hint from my family that they will be expecting some hand made gifts this year. So in 2013 I will test my patience and creative and hopefully have a new hobby to enjoy in my spare time!

 

 

We want to know... What resolutions do you plan to stick with in 2013?

  

 

Topics: Be inspired Aim High fitness corporate fitness managment fitness success healthy habits resolutions staying active

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 pain relief staying active

Employee Health: Get Fit with Your Kids!

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

family fitnessDo you sometimes feel tired after work, but your children have plenty of energy to burn off? Do you find it difficult to find time for fitness and family life? Try combining them for a new, fun outlook on physical activity. You and your children will benefit! It helps them burn off energy and you will hopefully gain some energy.

I’ve listed some fun and creative ways to get the family involved in a healthier lifestyle:

  • Kids love video games, so look for good deals to purchase a Wii. There is fitness, dancing, boxing, and several other active games to get the entire family involved.
  • Pull out some of your fitness DVDs and make a game out of who can do the most or go the furthest on the workouts.
  • Be a kid again! Play games like kickball, dodge ball, and tag at the local park. Get other neighborhood kids and families involved, too!
  • Find a good trail for a family bike ride.
  • Depending on the season, find an indoor or outdoor pool for swimming and fun pool games.
  • Light strength training is also good for the kids. They don’t need heavy resistance because their bodies are still developing. If you have an onsite corporate fitness facility, talk to the fitness staff for good strength training exercises for kids.
  • Try to walk as much as possible―for example, to the park, to the restaurant, or to school.

What other fun activities have you incorporated while spending time with the kids?

Topics: employee health winter fitness exercise at home fitness corporate fitness centers staying active energy level kids

Corporate Fitness and March Basketball

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann, MS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Many of us have sedentary jobs and get very little physical activity, planned or otherwise. Additionally, it doesn’t help our waistlines that many of us prefer to spend our leisure time stagnant as well. With some planning and creativity, you can get your less-than-active hobbies moving.

Getting a Workout While Watching TV

It’s March, and I lovemarch madness college basketball, so for the next few weekends I could park myself on the couch for hours of entertainment and bliss without moving a muscle. However, I know that long periods of inactivity have dangerous consequences. How can I “squeeze” some activity into my basketball watching marathon?

I get into the action with this “game” I’ve created for myself. When my team makes a three-pointer, I do five push-ups. Free-throws equal five squats each. I stretch during time-outs, and for every 10 points my team scores, I hold the plank for one minute. By the end of the game, regardless of how well my team played, I’ve probably gotten quite a bit of activity.

Cue Yourself to Take Exercise Breaks at Home and Work

If your hobby isn’t already active like hiking or biking, what reminders or cues can you create to remind yourself to take an activity break? Maybe you can take a lap or two around the block at the end of each chapter you read in your novel. Perhaps you can take a break to play with your kids outside when you finish a page in your scrapbook.

This type of activity can also be included in your workday, too. In fact, employees who get more physical activity are more productive at work. A well-rounded corporate wellness program can help you determine how to get your employees more active each day.  

Topics: corporate wellness exercise at work exercise at home productivity staying active