<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=424649934352787&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

NIFS Healthy Living Blog

7 Tips for Safe Outdoor Workouts

The weather is finally warming up here in the Midwest, which means we are all anxious and ready to spend more time outdoors. Taking my workouts outside is an easy way to soak up the benefits of the sun and switch up my normal gym routine. That being said, I understand that exercising outdoors isn’t exactly the same as exercising inside, and there are some necessary precautions I always take into consideration when completing my outdoor workout.

1. Map My Route Ahead of Time

I am probably the worst person to ask for directions. The GPS was invented for people like me, and I am so thankful to have one with me at all times (thanks to my phone!). Whether I am going for a jog, bike ride, or walk, or completing an outdoor circuit workout, I always make sure to plan my route ahead of time (so I don’t get lost) and show someone else the route I will be taking. This way, if I do get lost or injured, or am not home when I expected to be, someone knows where to find me.

2. Bring My Cell PhoneSprigs_Wrist_Band

Yes, it’s cumbersome and I would prefer to feel “free” and not have it with me while running outdoors, but I know that if I were to fall, or get lost, or for some reason I wasn’t able to make it back home, I could give someone a call to help me. I keep it in my Sprigs Banjee Wrist Wallet so I can listen to music or a podcast, or I keep it in my SPIbelt. Either way, it allows me to keep my hands free. I also have an ICE (In Case of Emergency) number in my phone. I have heard that emergency professionals are trained to look for an ICE number in cell phones to notify a loved one in an emergency situation.

3. Carry an ID

I always carry an ID with me, but that doesn’t mean I always bring my driver’s license along. My Road ID bracelet is the perfect running accessory that contains my name, my husband and parents’ names and contact information, and my age—all important things “just in case” there is an emergency. I love that it is on my RoadIDwrist and I often forget I am wearing it because it is so lightweight and comfortable.

4. Beware of Dogs

Recently, a coworker and fellow NIFS employee who is a runner informed me that one of her friends was attacked by a dog while running. Hearing her story really got me thinking, because luckily I have not come into a negative encounter with a dog while running. Here are some canine safety tips I keep in mind when running and exercising outdoors:

  • Do not run from the dog; this can stimulate the animal.
  • Stand perfectly still with hands and fists close to the body.
  • Don't yell or say anything.
  • Don't look the dog in the eye; this can be threatening.
  • Do not use mace on an animal; it is not strong enough and will upset it more.

5. Wear Reflective Gear

When running in the evening or in the early morning while the sun is rising, I always make sure to wear some sort of reflective gear. I prefer to choose clothing that has the reflective gear “built in,” but you can easily purchase reflective vests to wear over your clothes. Wearing reflective gear makes it easier for cars and bicyclists to see me when I am coming their way, which makes me safer while getting my outdoor workout on.

6. Check the Weather

The weather often dictates whether I take my exercise outside or keep it indoors. If it’s raining, chilly, or super hot, I will opt for an indoor workout. That is, unless I am training for a race. Often when I am training for a race I will head outside to train in less than ideal conditions. Exercising in the elements may seem intimidating, but when I am dressed properly I can go out in all kinds of weather! When dressing for cooler weather, I always layer my clothing. This helps trap the heat in and gives me the option to get rid of some clothing articles if I get too warm. That being said, if the roads are dangerously icy, if a rain storm brings thunder and lightning, or if there is a heat warning I will always pick safety first and move my run to the indoor track or treadmill.

7. I Don’t Blast My MusicTara_ipod

I love listening to music and podcasts while I run and exercise because they really help me enjoy the workout even more than I already do. While I love listening to my music and podcasts, I make sure not to blast the music so I can hear oncoming cars, people, bikers, and anything else that I may not be expecting to come my way. I know how easy it is for me to “get in the zone,” but I try to stay as alert as possible when exercising outdoors, especially if I am not with a buddy.

What are some of your tips for staying safe during your outdoor workouts? Share them here.

Fall Marathon Training Program runs July 9th-October 25th. Get Registered Today! Early Bird pricing before May 31—Members: $65 Non-Members: $80





This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, NIFS Membership Manager and a group fitness instructor. Author of Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

Topics: running walking equipment cycling half marathon injury prevention circuit workout outdoors safety

Fit & Forty+ (Fabulous) Series—Getting Started

Fit & Forty+ (Fabulous) Series—Getting Started

by NIFS Personal Trainer Kris Simpsondescribe the image

Who Says That 40+ Women Can't Be Fit?

This four-part blog (and "vlog") series looks at what happens to women as we get into our fourth decade. As you see the scale creep higher and the clothes fit tighter, you know something must be done—now!

I will include both blogs and videos, giving you information and showing you ways to become FIT and FABULOUS into your 40's and beyond. Look for each part in the series to be posted weekly each Thursday. Subscribe to our blog so you don't miss an installment!

So What's Changing?

When we hit the big 4-0 the loss of muscle and decrease in metabolism seem to go hand in hand. Of course this varies for each person but some sources claim that your metabolism can decrease by up to 5% every 10 years once you hit 40. That means you have to eat fewer and fewer calories every year just to maintain the same weight.

As you edge closer to 40, you face the realization that workouts are not something you do or don’t do; they become what you need to do. You are starting to get into your routine: family, work, and social commitments, which invade your me time. You need to carve out some time for you, but it does not need to be long hours on the treadmill.

Getting Started the Right Way

(Before starting any workout program, get a checkup from your doctor.)

Just some basics here. Get good gear: shoes, sports bra, and comfortable, breathable shorts and top. The key is your shoes; your feet need to have support for the work you will be doing. The biggest mistake I see with new clients is old, broken down, poor-fitting shoes. If you are going to be running, get running shoes. If walking, get walking shoes. If you are doing strength and interval workouts, get a shoe that allows for side movements (like a court shoe). For most who have worn high heels or tight, ill-fitting dress shoes in the name of looking fabulous, the minimal (or barefoot) shoes will not give you enough support and could lead to injuries.

Also, don’t pay top prices for shoes. Look through the clearance section and buy some that you like the look of (this is a great motivator), that feel great on your feet walking around the store (bring workout socks), and are within your budget.

Sports bras are just a necessary evil, so buy a good one! If you have a difficult time with sizes and support level, look into online companies.

Shorts and tops should be made from breathable and comfortable material to help you move through the workout without getting in the way. Plus you can get designs and colors that can encourage you to get moving. These items can be bought off the clearance racks as well.

Start with Measurements To Track Your Progress

Getting fit is a process. Changing poor habits to better ones, at times, can seem long and slow. Remember you did not gain the extra 20, 30, 40lbs in a week so you won’t lose it that fast either. By taking measurements you can gain encouragement by results, even if the scale doesn’t show it.

Watch my video now on the right way to take measurements. This is an important step in getting started so don't skip it! Tracking your progress will help you see the changes and will also keep you movitated when you need it most.


The changes you start making will need to be life-long. If you can make small modifications, it will lead you to a healthier and happier you. I look forward to challenging you in this series to be your best at 40 and beyond!

To schedule a Bod Pod fitness assessment (mentioned in the video), click here for more information.

This blog series was written by Kris Simpson BS, ACSM-PT, HFS, personal trainer at NIFS. If you have questions about something in this series or would like to schedule an appointment with Kris please contact her at 317-274-3432 or email. To read more about Kris and NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: fitness staying active motivation goal setting running walking equipment

7 Quick Tips to Get Moving at Work

Are you one of the many Americans who are glued to a desk throughout the day? On top of that, do you have other responsibilities outside of your work hours that limit the amount of time that you can spend exercising throughout the week? Here are some ways that you can become more active at work. Remember, 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week can make a huge difference in your long-term health!

1. Bike or Walk to Workbusinessman walking

If you can ride a bike or walk to work each day, you can add a significant amount of physical activity minutes to your week. If you have a bike path or walking trail near your home that leads to your work, this is an excellent option. Many do not have this luxury or live too far away, but that doesn’t mean it is completely out of the question. If you have a longer commute, you can drive to a path and park nearby and bike or walk the remainder of the trip. This is a great solution for those who work in busy cities.

2. Take the Stairs

Even if you are stuck at a desk the majority of the day, you can get in some quick cardio bursts if you have a set of stairs in your building. Anytime you have the opportunity to switch to a different floor, utilize the stairs instead of the elevators. For example, instead of using the restroom that is a few steps from your office, take the stairs to a restroom on a different level to sneak in some extra steps. (You can even go up and down a few extra times while you are up!) 

3. Walk on Your Lunch Break

Squeeze in a few extra minutes on your lunch break by taking a stroll around the block or through the hallways. If your time is limited, do not underestimate the value of a short 10-minute walk. The small additions of physical activity throughout your day add up fast! Some companies even offer incentive programs at work for walking so be sure to join in!

4. Walk During Meetings and Brainstorms

When possible, have meetings while walking. This can be especially beneficial during brainstorms. Instead of sitting for 20 minutes with a colleague discussing the next task, walk!

5. Desk Exercises

When you feel like you have brain block or just need to pause for a few minutes from what you are doing, complete a few exercises right at your desk! Try alternating between incline push-ups on your desk and body-weight squats for 3 sets, 10 to 15 reps for each exercise, for a quick burst of energy. All you need is your own body weight and your desk!

6. Sit on a Stability Ballbusiness women on ball

Not all companies will allow this, but if yours does you should definitely take advantage of it! Sitting on a stability ball throughout the day improves posture, strengthens the core, and is an excellent piece of equipment for a few quick desk exercises throughout the day. A regular stability ball will work, but balance ball chairs are excellent and provide additional ergonomic benefits.

7. Stand Up

Simply stand up at your desk when possible! Standing burns more calories than sitting and allows for your body to stretch from the seated position. Oftentimes we need to be seated to complete a job task, but you can easily stand during a phone call or while you are reading a long document. If you want to add an extra burst of cardio along with this, try marching in place to increase your heart rate.

Have specific questions on ways to incorporate more physical activity into your day? Sign up for a free fitness assessment with one of our expert trainers!

This blog was written by Stephanie Kaiser, ACSM certified Health Fitness Specialist. Meet our bloggers.

Topics: staying active walking employee health exercise at work

New to Exercise: 10 Minutes Makes a Difference!

Can you find two and a half hours in your weekly schedule to devote to exercise? Most adults would say NO WAY! Not with my job, running the kids around, taking care of the house, and taking care of my parents. We are all busy, but the truth is, it only takes two-and-a-half hours a week of your time to lower your risk for diseases such as cardiovascular disease, Type-2 Diabetes, and some cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

time to exercise

The Health Benefits of Even a Little Activity

Would you be able to complete your list of to-dos if you were dealing with a serious health condition? The same amount of activity will also help you to control your weight, improve your mental health, and increase the strength of your bones and muscles. Wouldn’t it be great to feel stronger physically and emotionally and to have more energy throughout the day? It is possible!

Take one of my clients who has a very hectic schedule himself that changes constantly, making it difficult to make it in to NIFS every day. To combat this, he has purchased a foot peddler that he keeps at his desk to sneak in some extra physical activity when he is working to keep him on track with his fitness goals.

Fitting in Small Bouts of Exercise at Work

Think about what works for your situation and how you can find the time. Another option is to take a few minutes to complete a few exercises at your desk such as an incline push-up or body-weight squat followed by a quick walk around your office space or up and down the stairwell. Other quick-fix options include parking farther away from the front door of the store or at work, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. You can do similar activities pretty much anywhere when you have a few minutes of downtime!

Finding the time is easier than you think! Even small bouts of exercise of only 10 minutes can contribute to your weekly total. First try to find time twice a day every day to walk for just 10 minutes. You only need to find 15 times a week (twice a day plus one extra) where you have 10 minutes to spare to reach your two-and-a-half hours! You could do this on your lunch break, while you are watching your kids practice, or by waking up 10 minutes earlier. Gradually, start adding more bouts of ten-minute activities into your day where you see fit. Making this positive change will make a huge difference in your health and you will be thanking yourself later in life for your lifestyle changes today!

Take that first step towards a more active lifestyle. Put down that mouse or smart phone right now and go for a 10-minute walk!

This blog was written by Stephanie Greer, NIFS certified Health Fitness Specialist. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Topics: staying active healthy habits exercise at home walking exercise at work

NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program

It’s that time of year again. The NIFS Mini-Marathon Training Program has officially begun!

Each year NIFS hosts a Mini-Marathon Training Program for NIFS members and non-members. The program consists of 14 weeks of in-depth, hands-on fun and memorable training that prepares runners and walkers to complete the Indianapolis Mini Marathon in May. Because there are different pace groups that individuals can join, the training
program is perfect for runners and walkers of all levels.NIFS Mini Marathon Training

The program takes place on Wednesday evenings at 6pm at the NIFS location in downtown Indianapolis and at Cherry Tree Elementary School in Carmel.

Wednesday, January 23, was the official orientation and kick-off for the Mini-Marathon Training Program. Participants at both locations were able to enjoy a race expo with plenty of booths and samples to go around. Some of the booth sponsors were Mudathlon, Whole Foods, Geist Half Marathon and 5K, and Runners Forum. Goodies, samples, shirts, and information packets were distributed to everyone who attended.

After the participants gathered their information and samples, the Runners Forum hosted an educational discussion about proper footwear and appropriate dress when running in colder weather.

The representative from Runners Forum made it clear that all of his employees are very knowledgeable about running and leading an active lifestyle. He encouraged everyone to stop into Runners Forum for all of their running needs because the staff would be able to answer any questions about gear, plus they have a wide variety of items to prepare runners when training for endurance sports. He also mentioned that they are offering a 10% discount to all NIFS members!

Saturday, January 26, Runners Forum hosted a NIFS night from 2 to 4pm at the downtown location across from City Market, and from 6 to 8pm at the Runners Forum Carmel location. This event is exclusive for NIFS members, allowing shoppers to have the undivided attention of the Runners Forum staff members and receive special discounts.

If you have any questions, reach out to Stephanie Greer at sgreer@nifs.org or 317.274.3432.

Written by Tara Deal, NIFS Group Fitness Instructor and author of Treble in the Kitchen.



Topics: NIFS exercise fitness goal setting running walking marathon training mini marathon half marathon race