Health e-News
May 2013
Ease Into Spring
Promote Fitness at Work
Get Fit as a Family
Maximize the Growing Season With a CSA
Fitness Solutions for the Workplace
Breakfast With the Experts
Workers' Rehab Experts
Quick Links

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, and we're here to help get your workforce moving! This edition of Health e-News is full of tips for infusing physical activity into the workplace and beyond. Read about our creative on-site fitness interventions, ideas for family fitness, and advice for preventing injury after a long winter of inactvity.

Of course exercise pairs best with healthy eating, so be sure to read our article on how community supported agriculture programs can benefit local businesses and your dinner plate. 


We invite you to share this valuable news with your employees. A version of this month's newsletter designed for them is available at:

To your good health, 

Connie Mahaffey

Director, Wellness and Employer Solutions

Affinity Health System

GardeningEase Into Spring  

Spring is here at last! In neighborhoods throughout Northeast Wisconsin, people are venturing outdoors to walk, bike, and work on the lawn. But if you spent the last six months hibernating on the couch, beware the risk of aching muscles and joints.
"If you're very inactive during the winter, work up to your outdoor activities," says Adam Geske, physical therapist at the Mercy Medical Center-Oakwood clinic in Oshkosh.
Remember to do some basic stretches before and after engaging in physical activity. "Concentrate on the big leg muscles," Adam says, which include your hamstring, quad and calf muscles. Runners should also make sure to stretch the hip and groin.
If you haven't exercised in a while, Adam recommends starting with manageable distances at a comfortable pace. For example, begin with five minutes of exercise then gradually increase your distance and time by a couple minutes as you get comfortable running or walking. "Make sure you're not going too fast or too far right off the bat," Adam says.
And don't forget to check the tread on your shoes. "Shoes should be in good condition, especially when you start being active again after long periods of inactivity over the winter," he adds.
Just as with walking or running, start gradually. "And make sure your bike seat is at the right height so your knees are slightly bent," Adam says. Knees should never be locked when biking. Maintain a slight knee bend (approximately 10 degrees) when your pedal is closest to the ground. This helps decrease the pressure on your knees when pedaling.
In the beginning of the season, Adam advises golfers to avoid over swinging. Allow muscles to get used to the activity. And if you have back problems, it's important to start slowly. Try 9 holes rather than 18.
Yard Work
If you're doing a lot of digging, lifting or pruning, proper body form is the key to preventing injury. Bend with your knees (not your back), and make sure you're not staying in one position for too long. "If you're bending forward or kneeling, stand up from time to time so you don't overwork your back or knees," Adam says. "And try to limit twisting."
Finally, remember you're not a superhero. Use a wheelbarrow to help transport heavy objects.
Even with proper precautions, some people might experience aches or pains when jumping into outdoor activities. Adam recommends applying ice to aching muscles or joints to soothe inflammation. But be on the lookout for warning signs of a more serious injury. These include knee swelling, pain down your leg that originates in your back, persistent muscle cramping, or knee locking. "If you start having these symptoms," Adam says, "contact your doctor if they persist."

Fitness BallsTry This! Workplace Wellness Tip:

Promote Physical Fitness at Work  

By Heidi Ostrom, wellness account specialist
Affinity Occupational Health

Looking for some creative ways to encourage physical fitness in your workplace? Try these.
1. Make the most of your commute. Encourage employees to walk, bike, or get off the bus a few blocks earlier. Studies have shown that people with active commutes have fewer risk factors for heart disease. They also have lower blood pressure, triglyceride and insulin levels, and are less likely to be overweight.
2. Schedule exercise breaks. Allow employees to take small fitness breaks during the day to get out of the workstation slump and re-energize! Take a couple laps around the office or find the stairs and start climbing. Partnering with a coworker makes it more enjoyable and is good for morale. Or let workers keep a fitness band at their desks to do upper body strengthening exercises while they're on the phone. Just a few minutes two to three times a week can make a healthy impact on the upper back, chest, arms and shoulders.
3. Take a stand. Are your employees sitting all day? Try standing! A conference call can easily turn into a calorie burning session when you meet at high tables or counters where everyone can comfortably write or refer to documents while standing. Or, for a change in the lunch routine, encourage staff to eat on their feet. Studies show people are less likely to overeat when standing rather than sitting.
4. Tired of your chair? Trade it in! If the job permits, supply workers with a firmly inflated exercise or stability ball to use in place of a chair. (This is advised only for people who can safely balance on the ball.) Sitting on an exercise ball delivers a constant workout to the body's core.
5. Get moving in meetings. When practical, hold meetings or brainstorming sessions outdoors for a few laps around the office. It will give everybody a boost of fresh air and brainpower, which might offer up more ideas in addition to a little fun.
6. Lunch time is fitness time. Most employees have between a half-hour to an hour to eat. Encourage them to take 10-15 minutes enjoying the meal and then spend the rest on a walk, a stretching routine or even a short yoga session. Or find a 15-20 minute fitness video to help get the blood pumping. When employees return to work after lunch, they'll feel more refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the day.

Car washGet Fit as a Family   


In honor of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, all of us at Affinity Occupational Health encourage you to make fitness part of your family fun! Here are some ideas for getting the whole family active outdoors.


Wash the car--by hand! Put the kids in swimsuits and toss them a sponge, then have a blast spraying the car (and the family) with a hose when you're done.


Go for "walks and wheels" after dinner. Family members can walk, bike, or rollerblade together. Light exercise after dinner aids the digestive system, creates opportunities for conversation, and delivers a refreshing dose of sunshine before dusk. Explore different trails around your neighborhood, or choose a destination such as a nearby playground or friend's house.


Delegate dog duty. Have a pet that needs exercise? Create a dog-walking schedule so everybody in the family is responsible for at least one evening a week. Use the buddy system to pair younger kids with older siblings or adults.


Plant and weed a garden. The whole family can participate in planting and tending flower patches and vegetable plots. Weeding is great exercise, and even young kids can learn to help. Just be sure to bend at the knees, and wear gloves and sunscreen.


Play ball. Kickball, softball, volleyball, dodge ball--whatever game you choose, a little back yard ball fun is healthy for everybody. Try making up silly rules or inventing your own ball game named after the family. "Hey, kids, how about a game of Smithball?"


Eat outside. When the weather is nice, take your plates and forks onto the patio for some extra sunshine before the day is through. By enjoying a family meal outdoors, you'll prevent the temptation to turn on the TV and be more likely to engage in meaningful conversation. 

Maximize the Growing Season With a CSAProduce  

By Julia Salomón, Affinity registered dietitian 


Spring means farmers are getting ready to plant their fields, and community supported agriculture (CSA) operations are signing up members for this growing season.

Community supported what?
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a farming model that connects residents with a local farmer as a way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. The concept has been around for many years and is gaining popularity throughout the country.

But how does it work exactly?
A local farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public (local communities). Interested individuals contact the farmer and purchase shares of the seasonal produce. This is how they become "members" of a CSA. Consumers can purchase whole (big box) or half shares (smaller boxes). In return for their membership, consumers receive a box, bag or basket of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season, June through October. Shares consist of a box of locally grown fresh vegetables; other farm products may be included as well.

The share is purchased before the season starts, allowing the farmers to use the money to buy seeds, supplies and pay wages during the season. There are a limited number of spaces available, and the program is on a first-come, first-served basis.

CSAs offer many advantages.

  • Communities are given the opportunity to support local farmers.
  • Consumers receive fresh locally produced food.
  • Consumers are exposed to new vegetables and recipes.
  • Consumers as members have the opportunity to visit the farm at least once a season.
  • Consumers can learn more about how food is grown.

What's in my box?
Each week, you'll receive fresh produce according to what's in season. Each CSA offers a variety of vegetables and fruits, which may include beans, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, celery, cilantro, cucumbers, eggplant, fennel, garlic, kale leeks, lettuce, melons, okra, onion, oregano, parsley, peas, peppers, potatoes, pie pumpkins, radishes, raspberries, spinach, summer squash, sweet corn, Swiss chard, thyme, tomatoes, turnip, winter squash and more.

For more information, visit these helpful websites:  

BarbellsFitness Solutions for the Workplace 
Physical fitness is vital to maintaining a healthy workforce. Affinity Occupational Health offers several effective interventions designed to get your employees moving and having fun. Here are a few examples.
Get Fit in :30
Affinity Occupational Health has designed a new and creative concept for worksite fitness, the "Get Fit in :30" program. Get Fit in :30 is an exercise program for employees to participate at work during work hours! Exercise can improve a long list of health concerns, including risk factors associated with heart disease. This circuit training program incorporates both cardio and strength training exercises into one workout. We also offer a personal, at-home version of this program.
Fitness Challenges
Affinity offers a wide range of on-site fitness programs designed to motivate your entire workforce to get active. Examples include customized walking/pedometer programs, "Walk It Off!" and "Deskercises." Call us for details and more options.
Wellness Presentations
Our wellness experts will come on site to share helpful information on a variety of fitness topics, such as "Exercise 101," "Walking for Your Sole," "Extreme Home Gym Makeover" and more. These are perfect for a lunch and learn or for your next all-staff meeting.
For more information or a comprehensive menu of interventions, call Tammy Davis at (920) 628-1532. 
Cereal with blueberriesBreakfast With the Experts


Relationship Issues and Work Performance
Presented by Donna Schmitz, MA, NCC, LPC
Affinity Employee Assistance Program

Wednesday, May 8
7:30 - 9:30 a.m.
Bridgewood Resort and Conference Center
1000 Cameron Way, Neenah

Did you know your employees' personal struggles can impact their job performance? Many people seeking help from Affinity's Employee Assistance Program admit that relationship issues affect their ability to focus at work. Join Affinity EAP counselor Donna Schmitz to discuss the important connection between relationship trouble and productivity, and how EAP counseling can improve an employee's ability to succeed at home and work.
To register for this free seminar, contact Tammy Davis at (920) 628-1532 or

Rehabilitation Workers' Rehabilitation Experts


Employees and employers from throughout Northeast Wisconsin can benefit from Affinity Workers' Rehabilitation. This specialized program gets workers safely back in shape and back to work.

Workers' Rehab provides a comprehensive set of evaluation and treatment services.


Evaluation Services

  • Work Capacity Evaluation - An assessment of physical activities
  • Job Analysis - Measuring the demands placed on a worker by the physical characteristics of the job
  • Ergonomics Assessment - Adapting job stations to better fit the worker
  • Functional Prework Screening - The non-discriminatory testing of an applicant's ability to perform essential demands of a job
  • ADA Paratransit Certification - As assessment of an individual's functional ability to use accessible fixed route public transportation within the Fox Cities

Treatment Services

  • Work Hardening - Simulated work stations in an industrial setting to increase a worker's tolerance and physical abilities
  • Physical/Work Conditioning - Helps increase strength and improve flexibility and endurance
  • Rehabilitation Psychology - Addresses psychological factors that may affect a positive vocational outcome
  • Back School - Provides instruction in proper body mechanics, posture, basic anatomy and general fitness
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling - Helps a worker explore his or her return-to-work options
  • On-site Work Hardening - The provision of occupational rehabilitation services directly at the work site
  • Biofeedback - Assists with reducing stress and normalizing muscle functions

Skilled Experts
You'll be cared for by an interdisciplinary team of rehabilitation specialists:

  • A physician experienced in industrial rehabilitation and occupational health
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physical therapists
  • Vocational rehabilitation counselor
  • Psychologists
  • Other disciplines as required

Award-Winning Service
When you do business with the Workers' Rehabilitation team, you're getting award-winning service.

  • Accredited in both general occupational and comprehensive occupational rehabilitation programs since 1990 by the Commission of Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), the most prominent and prestigious national review organization of rehabilitation services
  • Winner of the J.M. Foundation National Award for Excellence in Vocational Programs for Outstanding Achievement in Work Hardening
  • Recipient of a Ministry Health Care peer award, "Circle of Excellence," honored for demonstrating continuous improvement in quality and customer service

Convenient Locations
The Affinity Workers' Rehabilitation Program has been established for more than 26 years. We offer experience, knowledge, and a team of skilled professionals at two convenient locations.


Workers' Rehabilitation Program North
St. Elizabeth Hospital Rehabilitation Center
N496 Milky Way (intersection of East College Avenue and Highway 441)
Appleton, WI 54915
(920) 730-5337


Workers' Rehabilitation Program South
Mercy Medical Center
2700 W. Ninth Ave.
Oshkosh, WI 54904
(920) 236-1850


To learn more about Affinity's Workers' Rehabilitation program or to make a referral, call us at 1-800-541-0351.

Your Affinity Occupational Health Sales Team 
Holly Tomlin, manager of wellness and employer solutions for Affinity Occupational Health, enjoys building relationships with clients while finding creative solutions for their needs.  Holly's background includes 15 years of experience in the health care field, with a strong background in employee assistance programs and occupational health. As a certified massage therapist, Holly has a special interest in educating others on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, including wellness and prevention initiatives. 

Tammy Davis, account manager for Affinity Occupational Health, provides corporate clients with valuable information regarding services offered through Affinity Occupational Health. She works closely with clients to determine their specific needs for health and wellness services. Tammy has a bachelor's degree in business administration from UW Oshkosh and over 20 years of experience in marketing, sales, and customer service.

To contact Holly or Tammy, call the Affinity Occupational Health office located in Menasha, at 1-800-541-0351, or e-mail or