Exercising during the workday

@Ms_Woz suggested that the subject of my first post should be on exercise. What does that have to do with teaching, tech or literacy? Maybe it is off topic, or maybe it is something more foundational and informs every topic. After all, without your health, you really don’t have anything.

I want to talk about how I manage to fit exercise into nearly every workday. Such a task is not easy for anyone and it is no easier for a teacher. Our workdays consist of our classroom time as well as planning, grading, collaborating, and meetings.

I’ll go back about 8 years and begin by explaining that I used to be heavier and had been most of my life. Often people say they wouldn’t know it was me in those old photos. I was bigger, I wore glasses and depending on how far back you go I had quite a head of hair. I shed the glasses for contacts, shed the hair and now shave daily and I shed 80 or so pounds. I lost the weight by exercising more and eating less and eating healthier. It was the exercise that made a big difference though.

Mrs. Woz made me start eating a real lunch, but for a few years I was eating little at lunch. I wasn’t planning to discuss meals though, it was exercise I planned to blog about and that is where lunch primary comes into the plan. Rather than spend my lunchtime leisurely eating food, I started going to our school gym and riding the stationary bike. This soon became habit and the habit became need. I no longer feel right if I don’t get that time.

The benefits of this practice are more than just the exercise itself. Surely to maintain I need to exercise, but that could be at any time of the day. On those days when something interrupts my lunchtime exercise, I find another way to fit it in.  Stepping out of my classroom and exercising in the middle of the day isn’t just about exercise though. It has become my mental break and my stress reducer. I often read while riding the bike. I’ve read more books in the years since I started this practice than I had prior. I listen to music. I am away from the din and the chaos of middle school and those 20 minutes make a big difference. They rejuvenate me, they do not tire me.

Perhaps you don’t have access to a few machines as we do at my school. There are still many ways to accomplish a 20 minutes exercise goal. Go walk the track or around the field. Don headphones and tune out the din if necessary. A fellow teacher often walks the track and sure, sometimes the students see him and want to talk to him. He just usually waves and keeps on walking. They get it. The fresh air and sun will do you good too.

I highly encourage the practice. Teaching in general is a tough gig and teaching middle school may be the toughest. Getting away from it for a few minutes is sublime. I know some of you are thinking, you would miss your time to socialize with other teachers. I understand that, but how much of that time is spent discussing the job? It doesn’t provide the break we need. Disconnecting for a few minutes each day is energizing.

-Michael

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