Marcus and I made this point in a blog post for Edutopia, entitled “Good News for Teachers: Exercise Builds Brain Power, Too.”
Among the facts you should consider to increase your well-being as well as teaching effectiveness:
- Regular physical activity is associated with increased production of the neurochemical BDNF, which supports the production of new neurons and synapses in your brain.
- Exercise increases mass in areas of the brain involved in executive function, memory, and spatial processing.
- The cardiovascular health effects of exercise increase the growth of blood vessels that improve oxygen flow to the brain.
- Regular workouts help relieve stress, alleviate symptoms of depression, and enhance a positive outlook.
Our Edutopia article points out that adding exercise such as a brisk walk, run, bike ride, or gym workout to your daily routine can enhance these benefits and build stamina for energetic teaching.
Physical activity guidelines for adults from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, and at least twice-weekly muscle-strengthening activities that work out all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
In the article, we also point out the importance of strength training, which not only improves your physical fitness but also has been shown to improve the cognitive functioning and memory of older adults. Yoga, weight lifting, working with resistance bands or equipment, push-ups, and chores that involve heavy lifting, digging, or shoveling are effective muscle-strengthening activities.
Among the many benefits of exercise is that it will help you get a good night’s sleep. In a study shared by the National Sleep Foundation, participants who worked out at least 150 minutes weekly reported 65 percent better sleep quality than those who did not exercise regularly.
For those who hate the idea of exercise, we recommend that you make it fun. Try a Zumba class with friends. Play an active game with your children or grandchildren. Or take a way through nature to enjoy the scenery.
Make yourself even more physically fit by adding activities to your daily routine. A few examples: Take the stairs instead of an elevator. Park your car on the far end of the parking lot. Move about the classroom with your students as a transition between lessons.
Increasing physical fitness habits can lead to a significant change in your health and your outlook. Read the complete article on Edutopia for more details.