Exercise can make you a better teacher. It’s true. When we get our bodies moving we get our brains working and think more clearly. With the new year comes new resolutions. Exercise and healthy eating are on the list for many of us. The thing is, fitting in exercise during the school day is nearly impossible. But with a little creativity you can still make it work. Here are 8 of our favorite tricks for staying healthy at school.
1. Snag the music room for a group workout.
Reserve the music room after school and put in an exercise DVD with a group of colleagues. Most of us have more fun when we’re exercising with friends. This is a good way to fit it in.
2. See who can walk the most steps.
Step counters like Fitbit have become reasonably priced. You might even have one built into your phone. Many devices make it easy to have informal contests with your coworkers, and a little competition is just the nudge that some of us need!
3. Find an exercise buddy
My teaching partner has been the best motivation I’ve ever had. When she decided to eat better and exercise more, I couldn’t help but go along. It’s really hard to shove down a handful of french fries when your neighbor at lunch is enjoying her cottage cheese and veggies.
4. Use a food and exercise tracker.
Even if you don’t want splurge on a FitBit or other fancy tracking device, there are plenty of free apps that let you track your food and your exercise. Research shows that tracking food and exercise is one of the most effective ways to lose weight and form better habits. My Fitness Pal is a popular (and free!) food and exercise tracker.
5. Pack your lunch.
If you’re eating the school lunch because it’s convenient or free, stop now. Or at the very least, start planning your lunch choices before lunchtime rolls around. It’s easier to make healthy eating choices when you’re not starving from a morning on your feet in the classroom.
6. Walk around during recess duty.
Not all teachers have recess duty, but if you do, use it to your advantage. That teaching partner I mentioned above who encouraged me to have better eating practices also motivated my exercise. When she decided that the best way to get more exercise was to do more walking at recess, we both got healthier. We were more engaged with our students too. We were able to pay attention to little things that we might not have noticed otherwise because we weren’t just standing in one place, watching the world go by.
7. Incorporate movement into your curriculum.
Movement is good for the kids too. Even a between-lesson stretch or yoga break can make a difference and get the blood flowing again. WeAreTeachers has an entire Pinterest board devoted to keeping kids moving in the classroom.
8. Take your class for a run.
One principal I worked for was so in touch with how exercise can boost the brain that she encouraged her teachers to take kids for a weekly 10 minute run around the school grounds. She knew that everyone did better when they were able to send their brains a burst of exercise induced oxygenated blood. Bonus: Teachers got to wear comfy running clothes and sneakers on the days they took kids running. Can’t beat that for a uniform!
What are your best tips for staying healthy at school? We’re always up for new ideas. Share your ideas with us in the comments.