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Working Wellness Into the Teaching Life

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Exercise is one effective stress-buster, and it does not have to be in the form of elaborate workouts, according to Exercise and Stress Relief.

The healthier we are, I would imagine, the more equipped we are to focus and maintain perspective, added Dr. Thompson. It takes a healthy body and mind to successfully adjust to stressors.

Exercise prompts the brain to release chemicals that lighten your mood. Start with an activity you enjoy -- even walking or gardening can help you feel better.

Its about what you eat and what you do, Dr. Sue Finn, chairwoman of the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition, told Education World. Adults need to be active for about 30 minutes a day, which does not necessarily mean joining a gym or training for a marathon.

Since many teachers are women and mothers, they dont need to add anything to their schedules, according to Dr. Finn. The key is integrating movement into their daily schedules. Little things mean a lot.

"Youre not any good to anyone else if you are not healthy. You need some me-time. You have to live life with balance."
An effective and easy way to work in daily exercise is to purchase a pedometer, which measures the number of steps a person takes each day, Dr. Finn said. About 10,000 steps equal 2.5 miles. Doing something measurable helps as a motivator, she said.

Teachers also can get together during lunch or free periods to walk around the building and add to their step-count. Where appropriate, teachers can use parking spaces that are a little further from the building to add some clicks to their daily pedometer count with a minimum of additional time taken for their commute.


More stress, responsibilities, and less time, meanwhile, also can mean skipping meals or relying on grab-and-go grub, which lead to weight gain and sluggishness.

Besides stress and poor eating habits, another weight-gain culprit is lack of sleep, according to Dr. Finn. People who are overtired tend to eat more and reach for junk food in an effort to keep themselves awake.

Professional organizations, such as the National Education Association (NEA) also recognize the need to help members. In 2003, NEA Today and the NEA Health Information Network launched a one-year effort called the NEA Fitness Challenge. Experts put together a plan for easing into exercise and reforming eating habits.

"People who maintain their weight eat breakfast and eat more frequent, smaller meals.
The goal of the program was for participants to lose between 5 and 7 percent of their body weight between September and April, cut stress, and increase energy.

Among the ways to keep weight off are counting calories and eating several smaller meals during the day. And most people have heard it before, but it's important not to skip breakfast. People who maintain their weight eat breakfast and eat more frequent, smaller meals, Dr. Finn noted. An assortment of breakfast bars and shakes that are on the market make it easier to eat something more nutritious than a doughnut, even in a hurry, she said.

While teachers have a more rigid schedule than most professionals, one way to stay full is to carry some string cheese or a bag of mixed cereal, dried fruit, and almonds and try to eat those during the day, Dr. Finn continued.

Not taking the time to look after yourself can make you less effective at home and at school, she added, and teachers are important role models for children.

Youre not any good to anyone else if you are not healthy, Dr. Finn said. You need some me-time. You have to live life with balance.


  • America on the Move
  • How to Satisfy Your Sugar Cravings Without Ruining Your Healthy Diet
  • Exercise and Stress Relief
  • From Chaos to Coherence: Managing Teacher Stress
  • TeacherStress.com

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