Going Beyond Diet and Exercise

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 Toni Sperlbaum, CWWPM, CHWC, Vice President of Sales & Marketing

When you think of the term “wellness program”, the first thing that often comes to mind when it comes to programming are diet and exercise.  More and more, however, we are seeing a more whole-person wellness movement in the field which includes not only diet and exercise, but many other factors such as financial wellness, stress management, ergonomics, spiritual wellness, and much more.

September is National Yoga Month, which means it’s the perfect time to offer onsite yoga classes at your facility or at least provide local resources and information to your members.  Luckily, yoga hits two birds with one stone.  Many yogis see their practice as their own personal escape, connecting deeply to their core values and philosophy.  It also combines physical postures, breathing exercises, meditation and stress relief.  Seventy seven percent of people report regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress, and those who participate in yoga report reducing stress levels.

Outside of the mental benefits, no one can deny that yoga is a better workout than seems to those who haven’t done it before!  Not only does it improve flexibility, strength, and muscle tone, one 2011 study showed that 12 weekly yoga classes resulted in better function than usual medical care in adults with chronic or recurring low-back pain.  What this means for your health plan is less doctor or physical therapy visits!   It has also shown to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, improve respiration and energy, and reduce cardiovascular disease. It’s really a win-win.

If you’re not a big fan of yoga, or feel you are unable to host a class onsite for whatever reason, I encourage you to put out a Deep Breathing, Meditation,  at-home yoga challenge to your members, or even a Lunch & Learn seminar regarding some of these topics.  As you can see from the few benefits I sited above (there are many more!), mental and emotional wellness are just as important as diet and exercise.  That makes healthier, happier, more productive, and lower cost employees.

Namaste.

Superman, The Hulk, The Flash, Mr. Fantastic & He-Man walk into a Gym……

   Ryan Hall  MS, CSCS, Wellness Coordinator

Superman, The Hulk, The Flash, Mr. Fantastic & He-Man walk into a gym…stop me if you have heard this one!  You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this.  Sit tight as I drop a little superhero analogy on you.  First off, a little comic book background on our subjects:

Superman (Muscular Endurance):  As the saying goes – “Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound…nanana…it’s Superman!” With this intro behind us, Superman represents all that is seen as muscular endurance; speed, strength and power.

Hulk (Muscular Strength): The green giant with the strength to destroy buildings, throw a tank and pretty much put any power lifter to shame. I don’t know of a better epitome of muscular strength in the comic world.

Flash (Cardiovascular Endurance): Does this one really need any explanation? With the ability to move, think and react at light speeds as well as having superhuman endurance that allows him the ability to run incredible distances, there is no one better to represent cardiovascular endurance.

Mr. Fantastic (Flexibility): Some of you may be wondering who this one is, think Fantastic 4. Mr. Fantastic has the ability to stretch his body like a giant rubber band, i.e. he’s very flexible.

He-man (Body Composition):  Think Arnold Schwarzenegger in a loin cloth at his peak.  Yeah, that’s He-Man.  Not to mention the superhuman strength and speed.

Okay, introductions out of the way I’ll get to the point. My question to you is: who do you want to be? In other words, what is your goal? Too many people start off an exercise routine not knowing what they really want. They want to lose weight, get stronger, bulk up their muscle mass and be able to run a half marathon.  That all sounds fine and dandy, but you have too many contradicting factors.  You can’t bulk up and lean out at the same time.  It’s incredibly hard to build serious muscle mass and train for cardiovascular endurance.  And not to mention become a yoga master and dead lift 600 pounds.  The way you train needs to match what your goals are.

If you are looking to gain muscle mass and you are starting off as a scrawny 6 ft – 175 lbs, you will probably need to go through a bulking process where you are consuming extremely high amounts of calories and limiting your cardiovascular exercise in order to gain not only muscle, but some excess fat in order to push heavy enough weight to make the muscles grow.  You say you want to get faster and run a marathon?  You should probably skip max dead lift day.  Training the muscles to be able to work hard for long periods of time is your strategy.  Think lots and lots of lunges and core work.  You want that rock hard six-pack?  Nutrition should be your first thought, but moderately heavy weight coupled with moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise is your route.  And it is really hard to pull off a Handstand Scorpion Pose (yoga – look it up) if your traps, shoulders and biceps are so large that you can’t scratch the back of your own neck.

My advice here is to have a goal in mind before you step foot in the gym. Think long and hard, do you want to lose that spare tire?  Look good in a bikini?  Sculpt that chest and back?  Bench press 450 & Squat 600?  Are you thinking you’d like to try your hand at a marathon or triathlon?  Or do you just want to be Batman?  That’s my goal, just be Batman!

Batman (All Around Bad***): But wait, wouldn’t Superman embody this description? The answer is yes, except for the fact that he is not human and Batman is just like the rest of us. No special powers, no magical abilities, just grit, determination and looks good in a spandex suit.

The Truth Behind Sports Drinks

Nicole Griswold, CHWC, Wellness Coordinator

The advertisement of sports drinks are often misleading and untrue. They are portrayed as being nourishing and necessary during all types of exercise. These days, unfortunately, most of the general public will believe anything they are told if they are being told it will make them healthier. Most people don’t even see them as a sports drink anymore. They’re being drank as an everyday beverage which should be pure water. Commercials, ads, and celebrity endorsements are just another ploy from the big beverage corporations.

Many of the mass produced drinks have brand names that sounds healthy, right? It’s a pretty good marketing ploy to help boost sales. It’s a trick to get consumers to believe they are nourishing the bodies and minds with liquid magic. Realistically, they should just name each drink “sugar” and call it a day. Experts in the fields of nutrition, epidemiology, and obesity are starting to blame the nation’s health epidemic on big beverage companies – but that’s an entirely different topic.  Would you trust a product from a corporation that has easily contributed to almost half of the United States being classified as obese?

There are many different brands of sports drinks out there. What do they all have in common? Extra calories and lots of sugar. The amount of added sugar is comparable to a can of your average cola drink. With these added negatives, most brands have produced a line of zero calorie or reduced calorie options. This will be a better choice but it will still contain artificial sweeteners and flavoring. Below you can find a generic label from a popular sports drink.

So, when are these drinks beneficial? Some types of sports drinks do provide athletes with necessary electrolytes post a vigorous exercise routine. After exercising for over 60 minutes of high intensity exercise, your body will most likely need a replenishment of sodium and electrolytes. This is where some of these drinks can come in handy but there is another loophole – you only need about a quarter of what’s in a large bottle to do the job. Body types and exercise intensity will vary regarding how much of the supplement you really need. In this case, less is more. Drinking an entire bottle after a workout will just add in some extra calories you tried so hard to burn. The excess sugar will convert to fat and the sodium will dry you out. Regarding the added vitamins, yes these are good for you but they are artificially produced so your body will not absorb them fully as they would in getting them from a natural source. Any of the vitamins and/or minerals listed on the bottles can be easily found in fresh fruits and vegetables.

The moral of the story is this – drink regular water. Your body runs off water and is 100% necessary for your survival. If you are involved in a high intensity exercise routine, having a low calorie sports drink available is a good idea. Just make sure to drink a recommended serving size or less. One large bottle can last you a long time if you use it correctly. Focus on lots of water and a balanced diet. And remember, with any food or drink – natural is best!

Activating Your Office

Toni Sperlbaum, CWWPM, CHWC, Wellness Account Manager

“Going for a run is like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin” – Dr. John J. Ratey, Spark – The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

We all know that exercise has its benefits, but do we really understand the effects exercise can have during a work day and long term health?  Based on an Australian study in 2012, adults sitting 11+ hours/day were 40% more likely to die (although cause of death was not noted).  Smokers using 10 cigarettes/day are 30% more likely to die.1

smoking sitting

 

Simply standing 3 hours during your work days instead of sitting burns 36,000 calories a year – that’s the energy equivalent of running 10 marathons!

Providing employees with the right environment to be active is key.  Here are some ideas to make your office active:

1.  Provide standing desks for all employees or standing desk options in personal spaces, or “bar” height bistro tables in conference rooms.
2.  In at least one conference room, provide a standing conference desk.  Meetings with these desks have proven to be more productive and take less time (after all, everyone wants to be done standing!)
3.  Have walking meetings, especially if notes don’t need to be taken
4. Provide an indoor bike rack for employees to encourage riding to work
5. Provide a handful of treadmill desks where employees can step away from their regular desk and check emails at the treadmill desk and get some extra steps in (note: do NOT place this treadmill in the MIDDLE of your office.  No one wants to be the center of attention and the only one on a treadmill)
6.  Stemming from tip #5, set up different areas of activity in your office.  Have a “quiet” section and an “active” section (where your treadmill desks, maybe some yoga balls, bands, etc. will be)
7.  If you are building a new facility, make sure to include a shower or two.  This will remove one barrier to exercise for your employees!
8.  Encourage standing during calls (and if you do, provide employees with an Anti-Fatigue mat to stand on)
9.  Lastly, encourage stair use vs. elevator use and use visual prompts

stair use signs          stair use signs2          stair use signs 3

Multi-dimensional interventions work the best

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Information presented by Jake Koenig, owner of “Fit Your Space” in Brooklyn, NY, at the 2015 National Wellness Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

1van der Ploeg, 2012, NCBI, Jacobs DR Jr 1999, NCBI