How can we squeeze more exercise into our busy schedules?
We are getting to that time of year when we give in a bit more to the temptations of the season. We might ‘pig out’ over Christmas, perhaps do very little except watch TV and think nothing of ‘cracking open a bottle’ every time someone knocks on the door.
The season of excess is nearly upon us and guess what follows it? Yes, the season of wasted gym membership, and I don’t even have to explain that one to you! Two main causes of premature death in the UK are cancer and cardiovascular disease – both exacerbated by being overweight and unfit. The UK Government suggests a daily exercise target of 30 minutes a day, but doctors say that it should really be one to two hours.
I’m saying yes!.
Forget the expensive gym until you’re in the exercise habit. Start small, but start today, because one hour of daily exertion could be reducing your risk of premature death by 36%! (If you’re really out of shape, check with your doctor that the following exercises are okay for you to do.)
Below you’ll find six things you can do at home and school, designed to do as six little 10-minute bundles.
1. Use the stairs
Ten minutes of stair climbing is the equivalent to 20 minutes on the treadmill or 15 minutes of vigorous swimming; real health benefits can be measured in as little as seven weeks of daily practice.
A brisk ten minute walking not only does your heart good, (research shows it can reduce your risk of an early death by 15%) but can also get those endorphins flowing which relaxes you and helps you cope better with the rest of the day. Why not try a walking meeting and multi-task?
3. Stand up
While teaching, during meetings, lunchtimes and breaks, on the bus or train, while watching TV or chatting on the phone. Whatever you’re doing, ask yourself: ‘Can I do this standing up?’ and if so, do so. If that’s a bit strange for the family while you’re all trying to enjoy Game of Thrones then try…
4. Wall sit
Stand with your back flat against a wall and gradually walk your feet away while sliding your back down the wall until you’re in a ‘sitting’ position. See if you can hold it for a minute. Your family might enjoy your obvious discomfort at first, but it’s amazing how quickly you can build up the minutes until you could be sitting there right through Countryfile and barely notice.
This exercise is a powerful stamina builder and also works the legs and core muscles. If you want to be extra flash add in a …
5. Wall slide
This time it’s the arms. Stand with your back flat against a wall and press your upper arms against it, arching the middle of your back away from the wall as you do so. Now put your arms up, just like if you were being held up by a ‘bank robber’ in an old fashioned Western …
See if you can flatten your whole arm against the wall. Hurts huh? That’s because our sitting / sedentary lifestyles cause us to roll our shoulders forward and this ‘shoulders back’ position re-aligns our spine into a more healthy shape.
6. Cleaning up
This is the one activity that has multiple brownie points! You can’t tell me there isn’t a job in your classroom or at home that wouldn’t benefit from ten minutes (or more) of your attention? At school: changing displays, sweeping up, cleaning out cupboards, sorting resources, wiping down tables. At home there’s: painting walls, cleaning windows, hoovering, chopping wood (just me?), changing the beds and washing the car.
Simple, daily activities like this can mean that 2018 could see a whole new you! Better still, start today and continue through the holidays and you’ll feel less likely to indulge in the excesses of the season in the first place.
And remember, teacher wellness = school wellness.