How Exercise Boosts Teacher Wellbeing
Happiness, energy and confidence are boosted by focusing on teacher wellbeing.
Both yours and your students!
Do you ever feel that with all the demands on your time and energy as a teacher exercise is the last thing you can fit into your day? You need super-human levels of energy and motivation to fit everything in your day already.
It may surprise you to learn that the benefits of exercise go way past being able to squeeze back into your favourite jeans (and you will probably be able to achieve that too!).
Incorporating exercise into your teaching day will actually give you more time and energy!
Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can give a teacher:
1. Improved happiness levels. A Penn State University study found that people who exercised, whether it was a mild, moderate or vigorous workout had more pleasant feelings than those who didn’t. Exercise releases endorphins, the chemicals responsible for feelings of wellbeing and euphoria. And a happy teacher is a more effective teacher. For more great tips go to teacherwellbeingworkshop.com.
2. Stress relief. Exercise combats the effects of physical and mental stress. Exercise increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. You may not be able to reduce the stressors in your school day, but you can change the way you respond to stress.
3. Reduced feelings of depression and anxiety. Exercise has been proven to assist with managing the symptoms of depression and anxiety, in some cases exercise is even more effective than medication. And it doesn’t have to be long hours of exercise. Just half an hour a day can make a difference to how you feel and you know that depression and anxiety can severely impact your ability to teach effectively.
4. Sense of fulfilment. The setting and achievement of fitness goals increases self-confidence. When you commit to reaching an exercise milestone and then working out just how you’ll achieve it, you can enjoy the benefits of exercise and the confidence that comes along with it. Getting a sense of fulfillment from stimulus other than teaching, means you will be more effective in your teaching because you aren’t trying to get all your needs met through your job.
5. Reduced risk of heart disease. People who work out are less susceptible to a variety of disease because exercise boosts immunity. Students need reliability and consistency in their teachers. If you want to show up every day for your students, you need to be proactive in terms of disease and illness.
6. Better sleep. If you have ever had to rock up to school and face your students having had very little sleep you know how much it can impair your level of patience, tolerance and concentration. Better sleep equals better performance. People who exercise usually sleep more soundly and are able to relax more easily without resorting to sleeping pills or alcohol.
7. An energy boost. When you’re feeling exhausted, the last thing you might want to do is squeeze in a workout but it will help you get more done. People who exercise are more productive. An exercise break in the middle of the day can boost productivity and if you go outside to exercise you gain the added bonus of fresh air and sunshine that can work wonders for self-confidence and happiness. Use playground duty to your advantage!
8. Improved Memory and Boosted Brainpower. A 2014 study found that exercise increased the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with memory and learning. Working out, especially between age 25 and 45, boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus. Studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells (neurogenesis). Regular physical activity boosts memory and the ability to learn new things. It also improves blood flow to the brain and stimulates the growth and survival of nerve cells.
9. Increased self-confidence. The act of exercising can convince you that you look better. Regardless of weight, size, gender, or age, exercise can quickly elevate a person’s perception of his or her attractiveness, that is, their self-worth. And when you feel confident, you achieve more, make better decisions and complete tasks more effectively.
10. Better performance at work. Studies show that people have less stress, are happier and more productive on days they exercised. Participants also performed better at work on exercise days.
11. Longer life. People who exercise live on average 3.4 years longer than those who don’t exercise. Hopefully that means a longer teacher retirement or longer time doing what you love!
12. Greater creativity. Thinking of new ways to teach an old concept, bringing fun and excitement to school requires creativity. After you exercise, creativity is at a high for up to 2 hours afterwards. When you hit the walking or running track, you refresh the body and the brain at the same time.
13. Inspiration for others. What you do impacts your students, sometimes more than what you say. When they see that you exercise or value physical movement, they are more likely to follow your lead.
Teaching is a wonderfully rewarding career, but it can also be challenging and exhausting. Consider the rewards of including exercise in your day to boost your teaching effectiveness, increase your health and wellbeing and be a source of inspiration for your students.