NIFS Healthy Living Blog

The Benefits of Logging Workouts into a Fitness App

For years, people have been setting goals and logging their workouts to help them stay on track with their health and fitness aspirations. Back in the good old days, people would bring their workout notebook and pen to the gym and write down the exercises they completed, the weather, the lift of the day, tracking personal bests, etc. Tracking workouts has never been easier with the growth in technology and wearables in the fitness industry.

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6 Advantages of Using a Fitness App

While some may still enjoy the old-school notebook method, allow me to share the benefits of using an app, like the NIFS app, to help you do the very same thing.

  • Automatic synching: Wearables directly sync with apps, so you don’t have to do anything manually. Whatever the app may be, you can usually sync your Fitbit, Garmin, or other wearable device directly to it. Then when you are in range, your workouts will automatically upload into your phone and onto the app. This makes for very simple tracking of your workouts—in fact, it’s effortless!
  • Personal accountability: No matter how committed you are to your fitness, everyone needs some personal accountability to themselves and their plan/goals. Having an app allows you to set goals and keep yourself on track to meet them in a realistic amount of time.
  • Progress: It’s no secret that as you keep yourself on track and set smaller achievable goals, you will see progress. Utilizing an app will allow you to tangibly see those progress gains as you log your new personal best.
  • Motivation: There’s nothing more motivating for the exercise logger than to write down your new heaviest lift, fastest mile, highest caloric burn, or longest workout. Logging workouts in an app and being able to look back on how far you have come and what goals you have met will keep you motivated and on track.
  • Free: We cannot forget to mention that there is no cost for an app like ours at NIFS! No purchasing an app, notebooks, or losing a box of pens a week at the gym! Simply download the app and you are ready to roll!
  • Easy: With a feature like X-capture, all you have to do is snap a photo of the console of the machine you are on or the workout you just completed on paper, and within 24 hours it will be logged into your workouts. And if you forgot to add in your workout when you were at the gym, you can always go back and add it after.

Try the NIFS App

app-button.jpgMaybe you have found your favorite app to log your workouts, whatever that may be; using a phone makes it so much easier than logging it into a notebook. If you haven’t taken time, download the NIFS app and enjoy many benefits aside from the ones that are listed above. Some of those include: using your phone to scan in at the desk, monthly challenges with great prizes, setting goals, logging workouts, utilizing deals and finding out extra things that may be going on at NIFS, and receive push notifications for important updates!

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Download the NIFS app now at the app store or Google Play!

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS fitness motivation accountability technology apps wearables

NIFS Fitness Assessments: FIT3D

NIFS’ fitness assessments are a great way to track all aspects of the effectiveness your exercise program brings. They are also great for adding internal and external motivation that will keep you striving for the results you desire! Many of us lose motivation and the will power to continue with our exercise program once we do not see improvements with the naked eye. Just because results might not be obvious to the naked eye, doesn’t mean they have not taken place.

Fit3D ProScanner and Web Platform (Short)In order to view results through a perspective other than decrease in body fat percentages, we have added in another element to our initial fitness assessments at NIFS. We will now be offering body circumference testing via FIT3D technology! This new system will make it much easier and more personal to gain accurate and important measurements for tracking progress.

What the FIT3D Proscanner Tell You

NIFS is now offering body circumference testing via the FIT3D technology. This new system will make it much easier to get more personal and accurate measurements that are important for tracking progress throughout an exercise program.

What: Fit3D is a relatively new technology that scans a 360-degree image of the most commonly tracked body circumferences, such as waist, hip, thigh, arm and biceps, and chest.

How: To get started, you will first create an account using the email address you would like your results to be sent to. Once your account is created, you will then step on the Fit3D platform, which takes a body-image scan. Immediately after the scan, a confidential email of the circumference results will be sent for you and only you to assess. If you would like further analysis of your results, you can then invite a NIFS Health and Fitness Specialist to view your results via the website. 

Why: This information can be useful because it allows you to assess the effectiveness of your exercise programs by comparing body circumference over an extended period of time, while also driving motivation to continue on the path of improvement. With these scan results, you will be able to assess where you are more likely to store fat throughout the body, as well as track where you are adding the most muscle and losing the most body fat with your exercise program. Fit3D also places the measurement results in one of three wellness zone categories (Healthy, Needs Improvement, and Health Risk) in order to assess your risk of developing health problems.

Sometimes progress is not always visible to the naked eye or displayed on a weight scale, which is where Fit 3D is very useful because you can visually see changes in your body in a picture and not just numbers. Because this technology has an error rate of less than a half-inch, you will be able to receive an extremely in-depth and accurate report of where your greatest improvements have been over time.

It is important to note that an individual cannot spot-reduce a specific area of the body where they would like to lose weight first, therefore it becomes that much more important to utilize this body circumference technology to help understand where you are making the greatest improvements initially, which will add motivation to continue with the program in order to reach your desired physique. 

Schedule your Fit3D

This blog was written by Darius Felix, Health Fitness Specialist at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness motivation BODPOD technology assessments

A Smartphone App for Health and Medical Emergencies

ThinkstockPhotos-187209893-new.jpgWith the rapid development of technology, apps for our smartphones are grabbing our attention. In the growing world of hands and eyes being permanently glued to the cell phone, I have to admit that it’s not all bad! Some of our staff here at NIFS would add to the list of helpful apps one that could be a potential lifesaver—it’s called ICE.

An App That Gives Emergency Medical Information

ICE, which stands for “In Case of Emergency,” is a smartphone app that allows a rescuer, doctor, or first responder to access helpful emergency information. Even if the screen is locked with a security password or touch ID thumbprint, the ICE information can be accessed. This app was developed following 2005 Vodafone research, which showed that less than 25% of people have on hand any sort of details about who they would like contacted in the event of an emergency. On top of telling responders who should be contacted in an emergency, the ICE app also gives information about medical issues, diseases, allergies, and medications that an individual may be on.

ICE Helps Save a Life at NIFS

bruno.jpgMy first thought after discovering what this was all about was, “Okay, that sounds kind of cool, but that’s a lot of personal information potentially being displayed for all to see if they got ahold of my phone.” But in early February, an emergency event occurred in the NIFS fitness center.

One of our longtime members experienced a cardiac emergency while running on the treadmill. After our staff analyzed the situation and followed emergency protocol, someone saw his phone and decided to take a quick look to see whether he had the ICE app. And sure enough, when our employee swiped across the screen, the emergency information came across, making the responders aware of a previous heart condition and replaced heart valve, which in turn caused his heart to stop. Today, we can gratefully say that after CPR, shocks from the AED, and the help of EMS, this individual is living and well; hands down we can attribute part of that success to knowing his previous medical history because he had the ICE app on his smartphone.

Get the App

If you do not currently have this on your phone, I would encourage you to get it. If you have an iPhone, you can download it through the App Store, or if you are an Android user you can access it through Google Play. Allow your family to rest secure; whether or not you have a medical condition, your emergency contact info can be reached far faster with the ICE app.

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS fitness center health technology medical emergency apps

Wakey Wakey: Why Waking Up Right Is Just as Important as Sleeping

Since the dawn of time (I’ve always wanted to start a sentence like that), humans have slept for a little while, and then were awakened by something or someone that told them it was time to start the day. We know now the huge roles that sleep plays in so many aspects of our health:ThinkstockPhotos-453226511waking

  • Physical recovery
  • Healthy hormonal environment
  • Stress regulator
  • Cognitive retention and memory
  • Appetite regulation
The list can go on and on. (For more reasons why sleep is essential to your overall health, check out this article from Precision Nutrition.) Bottom line is that we need ample and quality sleep to be at our best every day; I don’t think anyone can argue against that. But there is a pretty important aspect of our daily ritual of rest and recovery that is not always worthy of the front page, and that is how you WAKE UP. 

The Science Behind Sleeping and Waking

We have circadian rhythms that act as an internal clock of sorts, which usually run on roughly a 24-hour cycle. Researchers have identified that circadian rhythms can influence our sleep-wake cycle, and abnormal circadian rhythms have been associated with obesity, diabetes, depression, and other disorders. 

Why am I telling you all this? Well, your circadian rhythms are produced by natural factors in your body, but can also be influenced by the environment. Light is the major cue influencing the rhythms that turn on or turn off genes that control your internal master clock. Having a normal, healthy circadian rhythm can be the difference between waking up ready to conquer the day or having to hit the snooze button a hundred times. 

Using Light to Wake Up

So if light is one of our biggest cues to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm, use it! My beautiful wife gave me a gift on my birthday recently that I have found to be so helpful in waking up and feeling rested and ready to go. It’s a Phillips Wake-up Light, and it allows you to wake up naturally with the warm glow of the sun-like light that radiates from this futuristic-looking alarm clock. I absolutely love it! 

The light will begin to glow anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes prior to your set time to wake up (how hard you sleep will determine how much time you should have the light begin glowing). The light begins a reddish color to simulate the sun rising, and gradually becomes brighter and brighter until you wake up and turn it off. And if you were to sleep through the 20-minute light glow, you would be awakened by birds chirping. 

I have definitely noticed a difference in my energy level when I wake up these days, as well as my attitude and mindset heading into a tough day. I was experiencing some not-so-positive reactions to my alarm clock, which really set me up for rough start to the day, which in turn affected me throughout the entire day. Now that I am waking up naturally, and not shot out of a cannon to the sound of the buzzer, the morning is much more pleasant and meaningful.

Other Benefits of Waking Up Naturally

Some other fantastic benefits of waking up naturally include the following:

  • Improved insulin regulation. This is important in managing body weight and body composition.
  • Improved parasympathetic response. Instead of waking up in a “fight or flight” sympathetic response, which will result in elevated resting heart rates affecting many other aspects of health, we stay in a calmer state, allowing the internal environment to adjust appropriately to stress.
  • Decreased muscle tone. I am not talking about losing muscle tissue. I am referring to “turning down” the tone of certain muscle groups that can be putting you into less-than-optimal body positions. For example (and one of the most common), toned-up lats will cause you to be in extension, which can lead to lower back pain. When we are calmer, and not so jacked up, we can allow the body to tone down when needed to improve positioning and movement patterns.
  • Better mood! Life is way too short to be miffed all the time, and it just causes problems in so many facets of our lives. Most of this bad mood is communicated nonverbally, which in most cases is so much stronger than anything you could say. Take my word for it, be happy in both your message and how you deliver it. This can be greatly improved if you feel good and not groggy, which started hours earlier with the whack of the snooze button. 

I highly recommend implementing some sort of a natural wake-up process that works for you. Most of us have smartphones. There are plenty of apps out there that can do the same thing as the wake-up light I describe above. Many of the newer fitness trackers such as a FitBit can also be set to gradually wake you up. Give it a try and let me know what you think, but have a back-up just in case it doesn’t work for you right away—don’t be late to work on my account!

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This blog was written by Tony Maloney, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: stress attitude sleep technology energy

Video Game Fitness: Is the Trend Here to Stay?

iStock_000015738239_SmallSeveral years ago the Nintendo Company introduced its newest entry into the video game market with the Wii and hit game Wii Fit. The idea seemed bold at the time; graphics were all the rage, but the Wii brought a more simplistic design to the table. While focusing on easy-to-use controls and replay ability, the crossover to the fitness world was quite easy, yet revolutionary. Let’s face it, video games had become synonymous with, to put it nicely, deconditioned individuals. This new technology, however, allowed the gamers to interact with the games in new ways.

Video Fitness for All Ages

What I felt to be most interesting was that this video game phenomenon wasn’t just for 12-year-olds. We started noticing our parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles up and out of their recliners and actively working on balance, strength, and conditioning, and even hand-eye coordination as part of senior fitness. What made it work, though, was the fact that it was both simple to operate and at the same time addictively fun.

10 Years of Wii

Fast-forward almost ten years and we can still see this influence among all the major video game consoles on the market. With the constant upgrading of technology, we must ask questions such as, “How far are they going to take this?” and “How can we make the most of these technological tools to help motivate people to stay fit?” 

Although the future is uncertain, we can definitely see that systems such as the Wii are being used for good, purposeful exercise. The in-home system may be your end-of-the-day stress relief, but more and more laboratory studies are using Wii technology to train athletes and assess abilities. Physical therapists are now using the Wii to help individuals with issues ranging from developing balance and stability for the elderly clients to helping an adolescent with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy to develop movement patterns. 

Are Video Games Real Exercise?

Will video game fitness ever gain enough momentum to be accepted as genuine exercise and a good workout? It would seem as though it would be swept out by most skeptical fitness gurus, but we must be cautious when doing so. If the mission is to bring fitness to the masses, in a realistic scenario, skipping this vast population of typically sedentary individuals would be a huge disservice. The best solution, I feel, is to embrace the tools that we have and translate fitness in a convenient way. The development of smarter technology will only enhance experiences, in turn changing lives. This blog makes it easy to see some of the options that are out there. 

In closing, video game fitness is currently alive and well. Making fitness fun isn’t always easy, but it definitely does not have to be dreaded. Don’t get me wrong, your local health and fitness professionals are still going to give you the best, safest experiences with bountiful knowledge, but now we can develop beyond the two or three hours per week we work out at the gym, in the comforts or our own home and among family and friends. NIFS offers video game fitness opportunities in the nursery area for youth. Contact the service desk for more information regarding hours of operation.

Evolve and Rejoice.

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Instructor at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: exercise fitness exercise at home Thomas' Corner motivation balance senior fitness technology

Top 5 Nutrition Apps for Health and Wellness

ThinkstockPhotos-469002238Sometimes you need a little help when it comes to your nutrition and diet choices. Even though we think we know what to do when it comes to our diet, it can be helpful to have some extra assistance with tips, tracking, and suggestions. There are thousands of apps out there that you can easily download to your phone.

I have searched through many nutrition apps and found the top five that you should definitely use to help with accountability to your wellness and weight-loss goals.

eaTipster

eaTipster was created by the Dietitians of Canada, and it delivers daily healthy eating tips to your mobile devices. The app addresses common food and nutrition questions and concerns, and provides tips to increase healthy eating, support a healthy weight, and fight chronic disease. You can add tips to your favorites to read them later. Then you can share the tips with friends via Facebook, Twitter, email, and text. One nice perk of this app is you can set daily reminders to receive the tip at a time that fits your routine. 

MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is a community-oriented site designed to help you lose weight and track fitness goals. The mobile apps let you keep these features at your fingertips wherever you are. You can input or edit your goals, enter your caloric intake (food) and output (exercise) on the go, and add new food data to the library if it doesn't already exist. There's also a progress screen that lets you track your weight and view a graphic representation of how you're doing as you work toward your goals. 

The food database includes over 5,000,000 options and is one of the few free food tracking apps that is this easy and user friendly. Due to its popularity, you can sync MyFitnessPal with other devices and apps such as FitBit, Jawbone Up, and Garmin. The recipe importer allows you to go to any recipe on the web and easily import it and track it. One of my favorite components of this app is that it tells you more than just total calories. You can easily track your sugar grams, calcium, iron, and other vitamins and minerals to guarantee you are getting your needs met.

Fooducate

Fooducate helps you shop and eat healthily by allowing you to quickly pull up nutritional information about food products from barcodes, as well as by helping you make sense of nutritional labels. Fooducate displays a letter grade from A to D, along with a quick summary of nutrition information in plain language, as well as healthy alternative suggestions. If you cook your own meals or eat out, you can also manually enter a meal's nutritional information. In addition, the app also doubles as an intake, calorie, and exercise tracker. This app easily allows you to see what extras are in foods such as added sugars, food colorings, artificial sweeteners, and more, which can be challenging to know without reading every single ingredient. 

HealthyOut

The HealthyOut Healthy Meal Finder app helps you stay on track even when you're going out or ordering delivery. The app helps users find healthy restaurant dishes and prepared grocery items nearby, and supports a wide variety of diet plans. The app comes with a wealth of diet and food filters, allowing you to filter by cuisine, ingredients, or type of dish. You can also view detailed nutritional information on each meal where available. It's a great option when you don't have the time to prepare a healthy meal of your own. The popular “Not a Salad” feature allows you to find a dish that can be just as healthy as the typical salad. HealthyOut is great if you travel a lot or just want to know the best options at your favorite neighborhood restaurant choice.

My Nutrition Coach

My Nutrition Coach is a new app launched by NIFS that allows users to record their food throughout the day and automatically build a daily profile of their diet. The app platform uses photo journaling and meal and exercise input to make tracking quick and easy. At midnight, the profile is passed to my dashboard, where I provide evaluation and feedback on that 24-hour timeline. The information is private, secure, and convenient. Members will receive an email when their daily response is ready for viewing. Users are encouraged to login to the website or app to view responses and graphs that detail their personal ratings and progress.

Your NIFS dietitian will supply you daily feedback, suggestions, and information in the form of handouts and videos based on your daily profile. All you need to do is snap a photo of your meals.

Any one of these apps are sure to help you stay on track with you fitness and nutrition goals. Download one today and get started!

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What did you eat today? Don’t underestimate the role that proper nutrition plays in your health and fitness. Contact Angie Scheetz [email protected] or call 317-274-3432 to find out more about the My Nutrition Coach app. 

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This blog was written by Angie Scheetz, RD, Wellness Coordinator at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: fitness nutrition weight loss calories accountability technology