Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Fitness Benefits of Gardening and Lawn Work

senior gardeningGardening and lawn work are not only good for cultivating healthy and delicious food and beautiful landscaping, but they are great ways to stay active. Think about all the tools that are used for gardening and yard work: rakes, hoes, wheelbarrows, clippers, shovels, watering cans, and many more. The use of these tools requires the work of all major muscle groups, including your legs, arms, buttocks, stomach, neck, and back.

Treat Gardening Like a Workout

Like any workout, you should always begin with a warm-up. Start with light tasks and work your way up to the heavier, more strenuous activities. For example, start by walking around your lawn or garden, thinking about your plan of action for your project. This will give you a light warm-up, while stimulating your brain at the same time. Remember, make sure you are wearing the appropriate clothing, including a hat and sunscreen.

After the warm-up, begin to gather all of your tools from the shed. You can now start digging, setting plants, carrying water, weeding, pruning, and mowing. All of these activities will increase your heart rate and tone your body. Make sure to take frequent water breaks so that you will not become dehydrated. Once you are done with your beautiful masterpiece, don’t forget to cool down. Take a slow walk around your lawn or garden and admire the hard work you have done.

Gardening Workout Reminders

There are a few important points to remember before and during your workout.

  • If you are new to gardening or your body is not used to strenuous activities, you may need to break your workout into smaller sessions.
  • When you lift heavy objects, always lift with your legs. If you need assistance with heavy objects, ask for help.

If You Don't Have a Yard but Still Want to Garden or Be Outdoors

If you do not have a large landscaping or gardening area, you can pot flowers or different kinds of herbs and vegetables for your porch or deck. You will still be working your muscles by adding dirt to the pots, digging holes for the plants, and also from the upkeep of weeding and watering the plants regularly.

If gardening is not an interest to you and you would like to get exercise outside, try walking around your neighborhood with a group of friends to admire other landscaping and gardens. You could even take a trash bag and clean up your neighborhood. You will be exercising and helping the environment at the same time! There are many ways to stay active, so make being healthy, fun!

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Topics: walking active aging exercise at home senior fitness physical activity

Corporate Fitness: FREE Workout Friday

Free Workout Fridays

Did you know the number one killer of women is heart disease?

Today is National Wear Red Day, encouraging you to show support against heart disease. Too many women are unaware of the deadly disease and how it can be prevented. So, grab a friend, put on your favorite red shirt and hit the treadmill for a good cardiovascular workout.

Cardiovascular exercise (example – treadmill workout) is very important for several reasons, including the prevention of heart disease. Not only will the treadmill help you to lose weight, but it can be a great heart pumping workout. The stronger the heart, the less work it has to do to pump blood throughout your body. Cardiovascular exercise will also help to reduce stress levels and increase confidence. Who doesn’t love leaving the house feeling confident?? Give this treadmill workout a try!

  • 2.6 mph for 3 minutes (warm up)
  • 3.0 mph / 3% incline for 2 minutes
  • 3.4 mph / 4% incline for 2 minutes
  • 3.6 mph / 5% incline for 2 minutes
  • 3.8 mph / 6% incline for 5 minutes
  • 4.0 mph / 8% incline for 8 minutes
  • 3.8 mph / 6% incline for 5 minutes
  • 3.0 mph / 1% incline for 3 minutes (cool down)

This workout is designed to push walkers by adding some incline work to burn more calories and strengthen the lower body. If you feel you are ready to take it up a notch increase the speed so you are jogging rather than walking.

If you feel you are not ready for this workout, take it down a notch and work your way up to 4.0 mph / 8% incline over time. Find a challenging speed you can maintain for at least 10 minutes and increase the incline 1% every two minutes until you can complete the workout above.

What is your favorite treadmill workout?

Topics: exercise at work exercise walking Wellness in the Workplace worksite wellness exercise at home NIFS employee wellness Free Workout Friday

Pain at the Pump Fuels a Boost in Employee Health

This blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

walking, biking, gas pricesAs gas prices creep higher and you’re forced to dig deeper into your pocketbook, it can certainly be difficult to look at the bright side of what seems to be that inevitable price spike as the weather warms up. However, the next time you grudgingly fill up your tank, ponder the health benefits that are to be had as a result of higher prices.

First, there’s the most obvious: people will bike and walk more (and use public transportation), which certainly makes sense in a country where 50 percent of commuters are traveling five miles or less to the office. Traveling by bicycle or on foot provides moderate-intensity exercise that is generally safe for individuals of all ages and fitness abilities, and can provide a quality workout for someone who is pressed for time by the demands of work and family.

With fewer vehicles on the road comes less pollution, beneficial to both the environment and health. Less traffic fatalities also result, due not only to the decreased amount of cars but the simple fact that motorists drive more slowly to conserve gas. Speaking of saving gas, instead of making circles around the parking lot to snag the closest spot, now is the perfect opportunity to heed that oft-heard tip of parking in the farthest space from your destination!

The effects can trickle down to lifestyle choices as well. With less spending money to be had, families will be more likely to cook healthier meals at home as opposed to eating out. Outings for the family or for couples can include activities like biking or hiking instead of trips to the movies or a restaurant.

And while you're pinching pennies, don't forget that your corporate wellness center provides an affordable alternative to an expensive gym membership. This season, make that pain at the pump work in your favor toward a healthier body!

Topics: exercise at work exercise biking walking exercise at home corporate fitness centers

Walking for Employee Health

This blog was written by Kara Gootee-Robinson. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

April is the perfect month to start walking for exercise, or to simply ease back into a workout regimen. It is easy to do and can be done anywhere. All you need is a good pair of tennis shoes.

There are many health benefits associated with walking. It helps to lower LDL levels (“bad cholesterol”), raise HDL levels (“good cholesterol”), lower blood pressure, reduce risk of type-2 diabetes, manage weight, improve mood, and increase overall fitness level.

How to Start a Walking Programwalking shoes

Remember to begin slowly when starting a walking program. Take a few minutes to prepare yourself at the beginning of every walk. Wear comfortable clothing and protective shoes. Begin each walk with a five-minute warm-up at a comfortable pace and then stop to stretch major muscle groups. This will increase your heart rate and help prevent injuries. After each workout, cool down for five minutes at a comfortable pace.

It is important to follow proper technique when walking. Head should be held high, shoulders down and relaxed, arms swinging naturally at side, and feet should be shoulder-width apart.

Setting Exercise Goals

Setting realistic goals will keep you motivated and more focused on the end result. Make a few short-term goals such as “I will walk three times each week.” Also set a long-term goal so you know what you are working toward. An example of a long-term goal is, “I will be able to walk three miles after three months of walking.”

Tracking progress will help keep you motivated. It will also show improvements over time. Record in a notebook the date and how long each walk was.

The most important thing is to have fun! If you enjoy what you are doing, you will continue doing it. Change your walking route often to prevent you from getting bored. Try walking at lunch and invite a few coworkers to join you!

Topics: exercise at work employee health exercise adapting to exercise walking

Senior Fitness: Walking and Memory

This blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

senior fitness, retirement community, senior health and wellness, senior fitness managementWalking has long been touted as one of the most effective forms of aerobic exercise an individual can perform. The convenience of walking and the relative ease of it (compared to some other forms of high-impact exercise) make it a beneficial part of any exercise program for individuals of all ages.

The Impact of Walking on Senior Health

Regular walking is especially important for seniors, as it helps them maintain balance, muscle mass, and cardiovascular function that can otherwise deteriorate with age. It assists with the prevention of chronic disease and may help ease the symptoms of some medical conditions.

In addition, what’s good for the body has also been proven to be good for the mind; walking combats age-related cognitive decline, which helps seniors maintain their memory and prevent dementia. Specifically, walking increases the size of the hippocampus, which is a section of the brain related to memory.

Studies Prove the Memory Benefits of Walking for Senior Wellness

While many forms of activity can be good for the brain, a year-long study at a handful of universities specifically highlights the benefits of walking as compared to other forms of activity. Data was taken from two groups of seniors: one group with a walking program and another performing yoga and resistance-band training. The size of the hippocampus increased in the walking group but decreased in the other group. Therefore, especially if you are a senior, it’s important to lace up those athletic shoes and hit the pavement!  

Walking Tips for Seniors

Check out the following walking tips for seniors:

  • If you’re just beginning, start slow. You may want to consult with your doctor about a program.
  • Walk as briskly as possible, which will help you reap the most benefits.
  • Invest in a pair of comfortable walking/running shoes with plenty of support and cushioning.
  • If you have joint ailments, try finding softer ground on which to walk, such as a trail or a track.
  • Incorporate intervals into your walking program. Mix in speed bursts and incline training.
  • Recruit a walking buddy. Exercise can be much more enjoyable with a friend!
  • If walking outside, try varying your routes to keep the scenery interesting.
Topics: walking senior fitness memory