Entries in Physical Fitness (3)


New Programs Offering Workers More Care on the Job

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MENOMENEE FALLS, Wis.) -- Fifty-year-old Debbie Germer has been a machinist at the Harley-Davidson’s Motorcycle Plant in Menomenee Falls, Wis., for the past 12 years.

It is hard, physically demanding work, especially for older workers.

“Some of that stuff -- like the spine rolls -- weigh 60 pounds. And you have to lift that up into a machine,” Germer said.

Last September, Germer partially tore a tendon in her shoulder. Now, twice a week, before her work shift, she gets physical therapy at her work site. And twice a week she works out at a gym, also located at her work site.

The 1,000 assembly plant workers can drop by before or after their shifts, or even on their breaks, to work out at work.

It’s part of an effort by Harley-Davidson to get their employees to shape up so it’s less likely they’ll break down.

Workers over 50 are more vulnerable than younger workers to injuries that keep them out of work -- sometimes permanently.

“I guess the fitter you are, not just the longer you can work, the less chance of hurting yourself,” Germer said.

If a worker does suffer a strain or sprain, there’s medical aid from a doctor, nurse or physical therapist on site.

When asked if workers last longer (to put it bluntly) when they’re physically fit, John Lowry, general manager of Powertrain Operations at Harley-Davidson, responded, “If you get a debilitating injury that could be the end of your career. So if we can stay out in front of those injuries or make sure they don’t happen, then we can prolong a person’s employment indefinitely.”

Duke Electric Utility in North Carolina takes a similar approach.

All 2,000 of its line technicians begin each work day stretching.  The aim is to prevent soft-tissue injuries like strained and pulled muscles.

At Duke Electric, more than half of their line technicians are over 50 -- and replacing an experienced worker is difficult. It takes up to eight years to fully train someone for the job.

“These are very valuable folks and we want to keep them working as long as we can -- for our benefit and for theirs,” said Jim Stanley, senior VP of Duke Electric.

Both Duke Electric and Harley-Davidson believe their fitness programs are paying dividends: both report declining numbers of injuries, fewer lost work days and older, more experienced, workers working longer.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ten Great Cities for Cycling

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Bicycles are certainly a more affordable means of transportation compared to four-wheeled, gas-guzzling automobiles, but many people probably think a relaxing bike ride and an urban environment are incompatible. Elizabeth Cutler, co-founder of Soulcycle, a New York-based chain of cycling workout studios, tells USA Today many cities are bicycle friendly.  Here is Cutler’s list of 10 great places for city cycling:

-- San Francisco
-- Portland, Ore.
-- Boulder, Colo.
-- Montreal
-- New York
-- Washington, D.C.
-- Chicago
-- Tucson
-- Madison, Wis.
-- Minneapolis

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Non-Traditional Health-Related Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(HALIFAX, Nova Scotia) -- The risk of Alzheimer’s disease is influenced by a number of health factors such as diabetes, cholesterol, as well as physical and mental fitness.  A new Canadian study published in Neurology now adds more such health factors to the list -- all not traditionally associated with dementia.  

After following over 7,200 older adults in Canada over a 10-year period, researchers at the QEII Health Sciences Centre found that those with arthritis, trouble hearing or seeing, chest or skin problems, sinus issues, broken bones and even denture fit had a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.  

Specifically, the authors found that the risk of dementia increased by 3.2 percent for each deficit accumulated over the 10-year period.  

They therefore conclude that "general health may be an important confounder to consider in dementia risk factor evaluation."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio