Healthy activity breaks relieve stress, boost productivity
Whether doing forward lunges down the office hallway or eating a healthy snack, Jackson Elementary School teachers and staff know firsthand the value of taking a moment to focus on their own health and well-being.
That is why the pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade campus administration in Altadena, California, supports the #TeachersTAKE5 digital campaign. The Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools program and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation launched the yearlong project in October to inspire teachers and school employees nationwide to take five minutes a day to do something that makes them feel happy and healthy. Teaching is one of the most stressful occupations in the country, with many teachers choosing to leave the profession within the first five years.
“Health impacts our physical, mental and social well-being, as well as our students and colleagues,” said Patricia Lacey, program coordinator, Healthy Start Family Center, at Jackson Elementary School. “It’s good just to take a break, to destress. This makes us better for ourselves and one another.”
Roberta Tinajero, manager, Community Benefit, Kaiser Permanente Southern California, agreed: “Including easy and fun movement breaks helps staff create healthy habits during and after-work hours and model good behavior for students,” she said.
Jackson Elementary takes the campaign a step further by also engaging students in the process. Teachers at the site conduct regular “brain breaks” with their classes by doing short physical activities that boost fitness, mental focus and brain function.
During a recent visit to the school, for example, smiling fifth-graders did stretching exercises in their seats and hand-drummed their desks in unison. In other classes, kindergartners danced to Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” and first-graders enthusiastically did the cha-cha to music videos projected on their classroom walls.
“We notice that by doing these kinds of activities, the kids pay more attention in class and aren’t as restless,” said Lacey. “And of course, doing the activities helps teachers and staff, too.”
For more information on the TeachersTAKE5 campaign, please visit TeachersTAKE5.org where participants can access healthy, five-minute activities to do by themselves or with their co-workers.
School staff and teachers can also access employee wellness programs by enrolling in Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program. Enrollment is free and provides educators resources for students and staff, as well as trainings and technical assistance.