Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Corporate Fitness: FREE Workout Friday

Free Workout FridayIt’s been a long week, it is cold outside and you don’t feel like doing much of anything, right?  Join the club.  You don’t have to stress about your workout. At the end of the week maybe you just need a good stretch!

Stretching Tips:

  • Improved flexibility occurs when the muscles are warm, never stretch a cold muscle.  March in place and step side to side to get your blood pumping to warm the muscles.
  • Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds.  Only stretch until you feel mild tension, you don’t want to over stretch.
  • Breathe while stretching.  Taking deep breaths will assist in relaxation.
  • You should stretch 2-3 times per week.

group stretchingComplete the following stretches to de-stress and relax your muscles.  Worksite wellness can be easy by simply taking a moment to stretch at your desk!

Chin to Chest: Seated or standing, look straight ahead and slowly drop chin to chest.  Hold, and return to starting position.

Ear to Shoulder: Seated or standing, look straight ahead and slowly drop your head to one side toward the shoulder.  Hold and slowly move to the other side.

Upper Back and Rotator Cuff: Raise arms out in front of the body at shoulder height, place hands together.  With your palms out, push away from your body until you feel the stretch across your shoulder blades.

Tricep and Shoulder:  Stand with arms overhead.  Bend one arm at the elbow reaching behind your head toward the middle of your back.  With the opposite hand, gently pull the elbow to the point of tension.  Switch arms.

Inner Thigh:  Sit on the floor with soles of feet together.  Sitting straight up, keep your shoulders back with chest and chin up.  Press knees towards the floor to the point of tension.

Hips and Glutes:  Lie on your back with both knees bent.  Cross one leg over the opposite thigh, grasp the back the thigh and gently pull the leg towards you.  The stretch should be felt on the outside of your hip and glute.  Switch legs.

Lying Quadricep:  Lie face down on the floor and bring your right foot up towards your glute. Grasp the foot with the right hand and gently push your foot into your hand to feel the stretch in the back of your leg.  Slowly release and repeat on the left side.

When it comes to relaxation and stretching, what do you prefer... simple stretches or an organized class such as Yoga?

Topics: exercise at work healthy workforce stress employee wellness Free Workout Friday fitness exercies at your desk stretching

When Upper Management Exercises in the Corporate Fitness Center

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

workplace fitnessWe’ve all learned that exercise can play an enormous role in lowering one’s stress level and boosting a person’s mood. Supervisors in the workforce are no different—regular exercise has been shown to help those in management roles more effectively cope with their stressors.

This article writes that, unfortunately, when supervisors become overwhelmed with workplace pressures, their direct subordinates are the ones who become victims of the supervisors’ venting, hostile behavior, or negative comments. Therefore, regular exercise routines can not only enhance the physical and mental health of the supervisors, but also the wellbeing of the employees working for them.

Another reason why supervisors, especially those in a company’s upper management, should exercise is to lead by example. When you talk to an average new employee about exercising at the worksite, one of their fears is that their boss might view them as slacking off or just looking for ways to get out of work. When supervisors make exercising in their corporate fitness centers a priority, it shows to their subordinates that taking time for one’s own health is important and acceptable, provided that work duties and deadlines are still being met.

On a larger scale, when upper management, including CEOs and vice presidents, make fitness a priority, it sets a healthy climate for the entire company.

If you are a supervisor of even one individual, consider how your healthy—or unhealthy—choices can impact those around you. Set the standard in your work environment by becoming a leader in health.

Topics: stress corporate fitness centers productivity businesses corporate rewards Fitness Center health culture

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: exercise heart disease sleep worksite wellness stress obesity memory

Employee Health: Easy Ways to Relieve Stress

This blog was written by Melissa Sherman. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

holiday stress, work related stressWith the holidays fast approaching, we are rolling into a busy and hectic time of the year. Stress can take a heavy toll on employee health. Here are some quick and easy ways your employees can de-stress and rebalance their minds and bodies.

  • Take slow, deep breaths. This takes no time at all and can have some beneficial side-effects. We tend to breathe more quickly, taking shallow breaths, when we are stressed. Focus on your breathing, making sure to take slow, deep, fulfilling breaths. Relaxing your body physically can have a positive effect on your mental state.
  • Stretch it out! This is another exercise that can be done in a relatively short amount of time or while doing other activities that can have a big impact. Stretching will help to get the blood flowing and relieve any built-up tension you might be holding in your body. Focus on areas such as your neck, shoulders, core, and wrists.
  • Phone a friend. It can help to have a mini venting session by talking to someone you love and trust.
  • Fit in physical activity. Even if just for 10 minutes, give your stress to the pavement or the treadmill in the corporate fitness center and let it go from your body. Staying active can help elevate your mood and reduce stress.
  • Eat healthy. Health and well-being are promoted by healthy eating, which can help enhance your resilience to stress.

Really looking to distress? Try a massage, take a warm bath, or take a weekend getaway!

Topics: employee health stress corporate fitness centers

Debt Affects Your Health

money stressA recent AP/AOL poll of 1,000 Americans showed increased debt was directly related to increased perceived stress. Among those polled, individuals with the greatest debt exhibited the most physical and psychological health problems linked to their stress levels.

Debt Causes Physical Symptoms

For example, 33 percent of those polled with high debt said they had suffered from high blood pressure, compared with 26 percent of their less-debt-laden peers. Additionally, 51 percent of those with the greatest debt load reported suffering from low back pain and muscle tension. Only 31 percent of their reduced-debt counterparts reported similar symptoms.

Debt Leads to Unhealthy Behaviors

When bank accounts run low and personal debt (credit cards, lines of credit, and so on) runs high, Americans trend toward a host of unhealthy behaviors. Excessive use of alcohol, tobacco, and food (overeating) become coping mechanisms for the super-stressed. It's also common for sleeping patterns to be interrupted as levels of stress rise.

Debt Produces a Self-Care Freeze-Up

In addition, those under financial strain may perceive that they lack funds for self-care, so they choose not to seek medical help for what appear to be small health issues. Those concerns grow with unrelenting stress (they are often linked to one another) so that a small, easily remedied health problem eventually becomes a significant medical concern.

If you are experiencing stress related to being in debt or keeping on budget, follow our Fiscal Fitness Email Series for more tips. You may also want to find someone you know who seems money savvy and get some ideas from them or look online for free resources.

Topics: cholesterol stress disease prevention financial fitness

Financial Stress Impacts Employee Health

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Fitness and orderly finances. Do they go together? Now try this one: poor health and chronic debt. I bet you can see that relationship more closely. Just as with our health, we need to be proactive about our money and keep our financial lives “in shape.”

financial wellness, stress, wellnessFinancial Problems Cause Stress

It’s no surprise that money, or lack of money, is one of the biggest causes of stress in the human life. Long-term stress can lead to a whole host of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, loss of sleep, and depression. Just as you encourage your corporate wellness members to take action now and build healthy physical lifestyles, there are measures they can take to build the health of their finances.

Urge Corporate Wellness Clients to Focus on Their Workouts

This article reports that anywhere from 30% to 80% of employees in any given workforce are taking care of personal financial matters on company time. This means they are probably thinking about their financial dilemmas during their exercise time, too. Urge your corporate wellness members to stay focused on their workouts at the gym and block out distractions. This not only enhances the physical benefits of their workout, but also provides post-exercise mental stress relief.

Other Ways Corporate Wellness Can Help with Financial Worries

Encourage others to examine their resources and have gratitude for their finances, large or small. These positive feelings of contentment can be linked to better mental health.

Also, consider hosting an educational Lunch & Learn at your corporate fitness center, and invite a trustworthy financial consultant to speak. Giving people tips they can use on a daily basis to save money or showing someone how to set up a simple budget can alleviate stress and maybe sickness down the road.

Refer to this website for other “Small Steps to Health and Wealth.”

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness stress financial fitness