In a survey of 1097 teachers and support staff, 30% rated their stress levels at work as very high or high and 31% rated their physical health as 0-5 on a scale of 0-10 (10 being the best it can be).
Exercise is good for both the mind and body. It releases endorphins, the ‘happiness hormone’ which helps improve mood and relieve stress. And it boosts energy levels so you can get more done during your day. Being a teacher is a full-on job. Beyond 9-3, you’re working extra hours in the morning, evening and weekends to plan lessons, mark homework, reply to emails and much more.
Exercise might be the last thing you’re thinking about with such a busy schedule however there are ways you can incorporate it effectively into your busy school day.
We can all agree that YouTube is a fantastic free resource for exercise so why not make use of it? Take advantage of the spare 10 minutes you might have before pupils come into school or whilst they’re on their lunch to get your heart pumping with a YouTube workout. Whatever you fancy doing, whether that HIIT, dance cardio or circuits, YouTube has it all. There are also plenty of mobile apps such as FitOn and Seven - 7 minute workout which fulfill the same purpose.
Get your steps in.
10,000 steps is the recommended daily step target for healthy adults. Use a fitness watch/pedometer or your phone to keep track of your steps. This will motivate you to make small changes during your school day to keep active. For example, take the stairs instead of the lift, manoeuver around your classroom more or walk a few laps of the school field whilst you’re on lunch duty. You can also turn this into a healthy competition with your colleagues!
Reconsider your commute.
If you live a reasonable distance from your school and you have on-site showering facilities, ditch the car and go for a run. By the time you get to school, your mind and body will thank you and you can feel satisfied knowing that you’ve started your day off on a positive note.
Exercise with your pupils.
Get everyone up on their feet first thing in the morning and when that afternoon slump hits. Exercising with your pupils is a great way to get yourself moving and it also instills the importance of fitness in pupils from an early age. Try jumping jacks, squats or jogging on the spot for 5 minutes - remember, every minute counts. You can also consider weaving in regular exercise into your lesson plans so that it becomes a solid routine and don’t forget to get involved in PE lessons when you can!
Worried about getting all sweaty at school? Sit at your desk and try a low-impact chair workout that combines flexibility, balance and strength exercises instead. And if you’re looking for more of a burn, purchase some inexpensive weights and resistance bands to keep at school. Similarly, you can practice gentle stretching or yoga whilst seated. Whilst this might not seem like a workout, you’re still moving your body and when it comes to exercise, all movement counts.
Ultimately, there are several ways to incorporate exercise into your busy school day. The important thing to remember here is that as much as your job and your pupils matter, so does your physical and mental health. You owe it to yourself to be the best version of you.