Teachers: Five Ways to Work in Exercise at School

Do you struggle with getting in at least three quality workouts during the week?  Are you like me and bring your gym bag to school everyday, only to skip the gym on the way home because you’re so exhausted from teaching all day?  If so, then maybe these tips will help all of us try to fit FITNESS into our school day rather than relying upon before/after school workouts when we are tired, rushed, and just ready to relax.  As teachers, we tend to spend more time at school than at home, so doesn’t it make sense that we should work in exercise throughout our day at school? 

This got me brainstorming Five Ways to Work in Exercise at School!

1.    Use FREE fitness apps & YouTube videos for quick workouts at school!

There are so many fitness Apps out there that it can be overwhelming!  But I have found TWO FREE EXERCISE APPS that will change the way you workout FOREVER!  I mean it!  The first App is called SWORKIT.  This App allows you to select how much time you have—5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, etc.  and then also select what type of workout you’d like to do—cardio, strength training, yoga, or stretching.  So basically, you can tailor your workout to fit how much time you have available and also what type of exercise you want to do.  If you only have 5 minutes to spare, believe me when I tell you that SWORKIT will get your heart PUMPING! 

Another FREE App that I love is called the 7-minute Workout by Wahoo Fitness.  It’s a FULL BODY workout in ONLY SEVEN MINUTES!  I did it just last night and am a little sore today.  This is a super easy workout that you can do in your room at lunchtime or during your conference period.  Just close the door, slip on your sneakers (maybe just leave a pair at work), and get in your seven-minute workout.  If you do this five days a week, you are guaranteed to burn fat and build muscle.  After all, doing something is better than doing NOTHING. 

Some other excellent exercises you can do at school are Chair Workouts or Walking Cardio Workouts.  You can find both of these for FREE on YouTube.  Chair Workouts are literally done while sitting in a chair.  It’s amazing to think that you can get in a full body workout while literally sitting at your desk.  But it’s TRUE!  And I love the idea of Walking Cardio Workouts because they are easy to do while in your work clothes, and you won’t get super sweaty and stinky.  It’s a great idea to think about doing a 20-minute walking cardio workout followed by the 7-Minute Workout.  That’s 27 minutes to revolutionize your body—at NO COST!     

2.    Exercise at school during LUNCHTIME & Conference Periods!

I’ve already mentioned using spare time at school to work in exercise.  I know that this is typically prep time when you are grading papers, planning lessons, running photocopies, calling parents, etc., but here is the question I ask you:  Are you more likely to get papers graded at home, OR are you more likely to work out at home?  For me, this is a no-brainer.  I can grade papers while relaxing and watching TV, which is far easier to get done at home whereas exercising is a challenge for me when I’m already tired at the end of the day. 

Try working in an at-school exercise session just once per week; see how it goes, and then build from there.  It would be ideal to build up to three days per week if you can do it.  On the days when you exercise during lunchtime, think about bringing a protein shake to school for your lunch.  It’s important to consume protein after workout to begin the process of rebuilding muscle.  And, of course, LOTS of H20!!

Also, think about doing these workout sessions with other teachers.  If you get a group going, it will be easier to stay accountable.  Maybe you can start a “Workout Wednesday” group that meets on Wednesdays during lunch in your classroom to do a 25-minute workout—OR maybe your group meets after school to walk around the school track or even the hallways.  Exercising in     a group is much more fun anyway!

3.    Track your food intake and exercise with My Fitness Pal.


This is perhaps the most popular FREE Fitness App around.  I’ve used it for years to track my eating, and it has helped me to lose weight in the past.  Basically, it allows you to keep a daily diary to track your eating and exercising.  It also allows you to join various fitness groups and challenges to help keep you accountable for your fitness goals.  You can customize the amount of calories/fat/protein/carb intake you want each day, and it has many other features to keep you on track.  Just remember—if you bite it, write it!  Log it into My Fitness Pal and pay close attention to what’s in the food you eat, especially if you want to lose weight (LIKE ME!!).  

 4.    Measure your steps with a Fitbit or Pedometer.

The Fitbit has become very popular, but pedometers in general can be of great help in keeping track of exercise goals.  Everyone should aim to walk/run at least FIVE MILES every single day—or about 10,000 steps.  Use a pedometer to keep track of how many steps you take each day while at school and then make up the rest in the evening to get up to your five miles per day.  You might be surprised how many miles you walk while at school.  Tracking your steps will also encourage you to take the stairs instead of the elevator and maneuver more around your classroom.  If you have an iPhone, you probably have a built-in pedometer, but you’d have to put your phone in your pocket while teaching for it to track your steps and distance.  I usually cover about three miles by the time I arrive back home at the end of the school day—mainly because I live in New York City and have to walk to/from the train, and my school has MANY flights of stairs that I try to use on a regular basis.  That gives me approximately two miles to catch up on when I get home to get up to the five miles per day.  The more I move during the day, the easier I have it in the evening, and that motivates me to MOVE IT at school!

If you live close enough to school, consider just walking all the way there instead of driving—OR try riding a bike to school.  I used to work with a teacher who biked about 25 miles round trip to work EVERY SINGLE DAY!  He lost about 50 pounds doing this.  It was amazing!!  That’s called killing two birds with one stone.      

5.    Exercise with your Students!

Studies show that exercise stimulates the brain in such a way that enables people to think more critically and focus better.  Given the science that links movement to brain function, it’s astounding that we expect students to perform at their best while sitting in a desk ALL DAY LONG!  Enter the standing desks that are now making their into classrooms across the U.S.  Even people with ADHD can use exercise as a means of stimulating the brain with the same results as medication!  Movement is THAT POWERFUL!  So, why not integrate movement into the first five minutes of your class periods?  You can have your students do a quick 5-minute yoga sequence, or even let them divide into groups for a quick 5-minute round of handball.  For you as the teacher, if you teach five classes, and you do a quick 5-minute workout routine with your students, you will have accumulated 25 MINUTES worth of exercise by the end of the day!  That’s HUGE!!!  That is an ENTIRE WORKOUT!!  Add on top of that a workout session at lunch, and you will be on your way to getting into great shape!  A few minutes here and a few minutes there really add up! 

I’ve also seen teachers sponsor clubs centered on exercise such as a yoga club or a Zumba club.  This is an excellent way to give back to the school, bond with students, and get in a workout once per week.  As the club sponsor, you are required to attend the meetings, which will force you to be accountable for working out with the students.  It’s a WIN-WIN!

There are so many ways to work in fitness to your everyday routine as a teacher.  What ideas do you have?  What works for you?  I’d love to hear from you!  Please leave comments below, and if you haven’t yet signed up for the Bespoke ELA Newsletter, please do!  It comes out once per month with lots of tips and FREEBIES!  You don’t want to miss out!!