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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Maintain Health and Fitness at Back-to-School Time

Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 11.10.45 AMWe’re not quite there yet, but it’s just around the corner. Soon the days will start to become shorter and the supermarket aisles will be full of school supplies. That routine you had down for summer is about to change because it’s back-to-school time!

If you’re like most people, you’re not quite ready to say goodbye to the relaxing days of summer and the late nights when you knew you didn’t have to be up early. For some it means your kids are going back to school, or you’re a student and your own classes might be starting, or as a teacher your new set of students will be coming in.

Getting Back to the School Year Routine

With the approach of the new school year comes the need to ease back into a routine that helps not only your children succeed, but you as well. Having to change a routine can be tough in any circumstances. When our routines change from “fun and relaxing” to “less fun and somewhat stressful,” it can be even tougher to pull it off.

The best way to ease back into the new school year is to get into a routine before school even starts. Getting a head start on a new schedule and new responsibilities will allow you and your kids to adjust before school actually starts and the pace really picks up.

Areas to Focus on for Back-to-School Prep

  • Sleep schedule. Almost without realizing it, we tend to slip into a different sleep pattern during summer, with the late nights that make for later wake times. This is probably due to several factors, the biggest being that the days are longer and going to bed when it’s light outside can be difficult. When school starts, however, it’s important to be on a different sleep schedule, making it easier to get up and not rush around in the morning. One trick that I typically try is a few days before school starts, pushing bedtime and wake time back 15 minutes each day. It is a smooth transition and will help with a school-friendly sleep schedule.
  • The daily schedule. We’ve all grown accustomed to a low-pressure schedule this summer. However, when school starts, having a schedule is critical. There are only so many hours each day to be able to fit in school, homework, extracurricular commitments, church, and chores. Creating a schedule will make it all seem less chaotic.
  • Fitness. It goes without saying that not only do we as adults need to move, but our children need to move as well. Literally. Kids sitting for long hours in the classroom, and parents sitting at the office, hinders our ability to concentrate and also lowers energy levels. Take the time to lead by example and include physical fitness activities that the whole family can enjoy. We always used to say “Let’s go outside and burn off all that energy to get you ready for bed!” Not only will grades likely improve, but there will be less stress and you’ll be able to handle the pressure that school brings.
  • Breakfast. Another important reason to get into a routine before school starts is to ensure that nobody skips breakfast. Picture this: You’re not used to having to wake up early, you sleep through your alarm. Now you’re rushing to get ready for work and school, and there’s no time for breakfast. Studies show that children who eat a nutritious breakfast function better. They do better in school, and have higher concentration and energy levels. The same goes for adults regarding our concentration and energy for work.

Back-to-school prep doesn’t have to be difficult; it just takes a little planning. School and work can be tough enough. Make it easier on yourself and your family to establish a routine before it starts!

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This blog was written by Ashley Duncan, Weight Loss Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: breakfast sleep school scheduling sitting

Physical Education: Overcoming Bad Gym Class Experiences

GettyImages-471671668.jpgFor many adults, memories of physical education class are usually one of two greatly different experiences. For me, physical education was the highlight of my day and was never a burden or stressor in my life. For others, gym class was a constant struggle invoking fear and hatred for exercise, and making us despise anything that could make us sweaty.

As we age and move into adulthood and later life, people sometimes wish for the vigor of being a young person, but the memories of a poor PE experience can stay with us and influence our decisions when it comes to everything from taking the stairs to getting a membership at a health club. This blog will help you see whether you have some underlying issues that you dealt with that have impacted your attitude negatively, and how children today are hopefully learning from our experiences.

PE Trauma #1: Associating Exercise with Punishment

Bottom line: exercise is work, and normally work is not fun (don’t kid yourself; there has to be at least one other place on earth that you’d rather be than work). For a physical educator, creating an atmosphere that gets maximum effort and positive attitude from all students can be difficult. A good teacher will make sure all students are safe and working toward their potential. Problems arise when a teacher creates a negative vibe for their students. An example of this is the classic using exercise for punishment routine. For example: Tony did not turn in this assignment; therefore, Tony is assigned 100 push-ups, or a mile run, or whatever punishment would help Tony remember his assignment. Tony would remember, alright. He was never late to turn in his assignment, but he would forever link exercise to punishment in his mind.

Fast-forward twenty years. Tony now hasn’t exercised seriously since high school because of his thought that exercise is punishment. Tony is in trouble. To reiterate, exercise is work and can’t be used as punishment, or else it will be impossible to find the motivation to exercise voluntarily.

PE Trauma #2: Teaching Exclusion Instead of Fun Lifetime Sports

Some activities in gym class challenged our mettle. There were winners and losers. Some people lost more than others (which you can argue is good or bad). The problem arises when games incorporate exclusion, such as dodgeball, which forced you out of the game, banished to the bench or sidelines to work on your sitting skills. This is definitely not productive or fun. Further, while many skills learned in PE could be used in day-to-day life, it would have been nice to have focused on games, sports, and skills that could be done for the rest of your life. Let’s face it: not many people play the games or use the skills they learned in physical education class.

When we apply our current knowledge and experience to this topic, it becomes apparent that there should be some change to the system. For schools that are fortunate enough to have physical education, providing students with exercises that promote lifetime activities and exercises that they can enjoy and get maximum benefit is ideal. We may not expect everyone to love every activity, but there has to be something that gives the students a spark to continue to move and to move often. Exercise is work, but it can’t feel like going to work (especially for an 8-year-old)—or even worse, going to the principal’s office.

Overcoming Traumatic PE Experiences

Finding the courage to overcome the fears associated with a traumatic physical education experience can be difficult. The first steps are the hardest. Realize that others with similar experiences are going through the same anguish as you are. Having a good support network of family, friends, and trusting fitness professionals is a great start. Understanding that there are obstacles and limits for everyone will help you as you tear down walls that are keeping you from reaching your fitness goals.

As a start on your path, write down some of your goals for your health and wellness. Also, answer the question, “Why are these goals important to me?” There is no wrong answer, and you can be as confidential or as open as you like about your goals. From your goals and assessments, your trainer can better program workouts tailored to you.

NIFS Can Help!

For more information regarding strategy sessions and assessments, contact a NIFS fitness professional. We are here to help you and make exercise FUN again (even if it is for the first time!).

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS exercise motivation attitude school physical education fitness goals lifetime activities

5 Ways to Keep Up with Workouts When College Stress Hits

ThinkstockPhotos-135551982.jpgWhen it comes to settling back into school, adjusting to the crazy schedule can become one of the biggest tasks. From classes each day, to group project meetings, to homework due dates and the dreaded semester exams, how are we supposed to find the time to keep ourselves healthy and fit?

In the summer you may have had no classes or potentially just one, leaving you with a hefty amount of extra free time to spend how you like. Getting back into those fitness goals that you wanted to accomplish wasn’t such a hard task. However, when school stress sets in, students find that that time gets cut short and they tend to give up on focusing on their own health.

Tips for Fitness in College

Here are a few tips to help you stay focused and driven to keep exercise in your daily schedule, without falling off the wagon, all while being successful in school:

Drink water throughout the day. We all know about the strategically placed dorm and community food/drink venues that are available at our fingertips when we are moving from class to class on campus. However, a lot of them tend to be full of extra sugar and unnatural ingredients. Simply remember to pack a bottle of water. There are many places across campus to refill it, and I would even challenge you to see how many times you can do that in one day! Drinking enough water will keep you hydrated and healthier. It will also assist in brain function to keep you focused during those long lectures and tedious late-night homework assignments you need to finish.

Keep a daily agenda. Whether it be just a few reminders on your phone or a hand-held planner, having something that tells you what you are doing throughout the day can only help keep you more organized. It can also help to keep you more accountable. If you have your workout scheduled and written down as a reminder, you are more prone to complete it. Find what works for you: a set time each day like after your last class, meeting a friend at the gym to work out together, or an alarm on your phone can be the secret to success.

Plan out your workouts. Knowing what you are going to be doing for your workouts is essential when it comes to saving time and being efficient in the gym. Take some time at the end of the week to plan out what you will be doing for the week to come. This not only saves you from walking around the gym wondering which exercise to do next, but it keeps you on task with something that you can build from and see more results. If you need help planning your workouts or some extra guidance, NIFS has qualified trainers who can sit down with you and help you plan out specific goals and personal training. They can also assess your movement through personal fitness testing and a functional movement screen, and then create a personal workout program that works for you. Click here to learn more about setting up your free fitness sessions with a NIFS trainer!

Incorporate HIIT into your busy days. High-Intensity Training (HIT) is a GREAT tool to use for those jam-packed school days where you don’t have much time. Days like that can elevate your stress level, which can have an effect on your blood pressure and fat retention. Workouts in the form of HIT training are shorter, with bouts of high heart rate and little rest in-between. They get the job done in less time, and are a great pick-me-up to burn calories and relieve some stress during your busy day. Click here to check out our HIT schedule and to try a class for free!

Find an accountability partner. If you feel like you are one who tends to start on something and not always complete it, an accountability partner is an awesome thing to have to keep you on track. An accountability partner can be anyone in your life who can commit to help keep you responsible for staying on track with your goals. For example, your best friend, roommate, classmate, family member, and even a coworker are all great options! This needs to be a person you converse with or see on a regular basis, so they can make sure to ask you regularly whether you trained that day or stayed on whatever new eating plan you may have started. This person can even have similar goals as you and work out with you, so you both can cheer each other on. This strategy will help increase adherence and get you closer to success with your goals.

Stay Focused on Fitness

So, while there are plenty of things that can distract you from staying on track, you can use these simple tips to keep focused! If you simply adopt a few new habits like the ones above, you will be more likely to keep on top of your fitness goals.

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This blog was written by Rebecca Newbrough, Lifestyle Program Coordinator and Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness stress workouts accountability HIT personal training college high intensity functional movement school