For many teachers, staying healthy is one of those “easier said than done” things. There might be 24 hours in a day, but somehow it never seems like enough time to fit in everything you need to do. Staying healthy doesn’t have to be a full-time job, and it’s not as complicated as you might think. To help you find time in your busy schedule, let’s look these healthy lifestyle tips like, how to sneak in exercise, eat a little more robust and focus on your mental health.
Find a time for exercise that fits into your daily schedule
To get straight to the point, here are some simple ways to find more time and sneak exercise into your daily schedule:
- Mark your workout appointments in your calendar (and stick to them!).
- Walk, run or cycle to work, instead of catching the bus, train or driving.
- Multitask on the treadmill – e.g. watch lectures, listen to audiobooks, or make productive phone calls.
- Sneak in a lunch break workout.
- Find a gym buddy or join a sports team – you’re more likely to find time for something you enjoy and more inclined to go when others are relying on you. In fact, try to recruit some of your fellow educators for a team sport like touch football. Not only will this help you all ease regular exercise into your schedule, but will assist you to bond with your colleagues.
In a perfect world, we’d have enough time to do all of these things. But we need to be realistic, start with one session, then two, then three a week. Pick and choose where you find your time and build yourself up to a routine that suits you best. What works for you might not work for someone else. It is best to focus on the activities you enjoy and find solid reasons to keep at them, soon it will become a habit and you’ll be achieving in auto-pilot.
30-minute workouts to try
Even just 30-minute workouts can make a world of difference. That being said, it helps to have some sort of structure to your routine. For example, high-intensity interval training (or HIIT) is a great way to maximise your 30 minutes.
As you might have guessed, the key here is intensity – so you have to be prepared to work hard. This involves performing specific high-intensity exercises for around 30 seconds, followed by 10 seconds rest – repeating this pattern for the duration of your workout. Here are some great exercises to consider:
- High Knees
- Body weight squats
- Push-ups on knees
- Jumping jacks
- Tuck jumps
Bodyweight exercise – otherwise known as callisthenics – is another form of physical activity that is great for people short on time, and can be more enjoyable than you might think.
For example, dancing is the ultimate bodyweight exercise – suitable for any body shape or fitness level. Not only is dancing great for your physical and mental health, but it’s also really fun. Plus, you won’t have to look far to find beginners lessons at studios or ongoing classes at fitness centres.
Eat well; it’s more than just exercise
Exercising is all well and good. But without a proper diet to back it up, you’re not really making the most of your workouts. Put simply; healthy eating is just as, if not more, important as exercise.
Sticking to a balanced diet will:
- Help you lose and gain weight faster, depending on your fitness goal.
- Reduces your risk of illness and disease.
- Improves your cardiovascular health.
- Help you save money on supplements.
- Make you feel more energetic.
- Assist with improving your mental health.
The benefits of good eating are clear – but how do you work out what to eat? It can seem a little overwhelming, but the truth is, it’s not all that complicated. It’s really about choosing a variety of foods from all the major food groups – including fruits and vegetables, grains and cereals, meats and protein sources, and dairy and calcium.
It also helps if you consume the right amount of healthy fats and oils and cut back on junk. It’s all about balance. You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s true. When it comes to meals, a balanced day of eating will usually include three meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and three light snacks – to keep you satisfied all day long.
The main thing to keep in mind is to ensure each meal and snack has a healthy combination of protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates and a touch of fat.
Taking care of your mental health
With challenging students, the stress of exam time, and demanding curriculums, teaching can often be a stressful and overwhelming profession. And when you don’t have a handle on everything, your mental health can all too easily take a nosedive.
For starters, one of the most obvious and important things you can do is get enough sleep. Train yourself to switch your mind off and go to bed a little bit earlier; you may find a huge improvement in your wellbeing. Working on your relationships with the people closest to you – friends, family and colleagues – will also help you stay happier and healthier. The healthier your connections are, the healthier your mind is.
Limit your distractions and focus on being aware – which is easier said than done these days. However, practising a process such as mindfulness (i.e. the state of being more aware of where you are and what you’re doing) is an easy, cheap and relaxing way to decrease stress, boost your focus and enhance your cognitive flexibility.
Of course, exercising and being active (even for just 20-30 minutes a day) is a reliable way to improve your mood, self-esteem, mindfulness and stress levels. It also encourages you to be more social, and connect with the people around you.
For teachers, another natural way to improve your mental health is to keep learning – which can help you cope with stressful events, boost self-confidence in your abilities, and help you stay motivated.
These healthy lifestyle tips can have you taking charge of your health today
Time can certainly be hard to come by, especially for teachers. But with just a little effort and insight, there are many ways to find pockets of time in the busiest of schedules. Along with this article, we hope you find the motivation to be the best you, you can be! Take into account these tips and tricks, and you’ll be on your way to a healthier lifestyle in no time.
Adam Bailey is a personal trainer, Muay Thai champion, health author and Managing Director of Bailey Fitness. He’s a big believer in putting in the hard work to achieve great results.