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Improve Health, Mood, and Energy: You and Your Students!

Everyone knows that prolonged sitting is bad for health. Excessive sitting leads to joint pain, stiff muscles, and lifestyle related diseases, but what are the options for teachers and students in the classroom? Researchers at Columbia University in New York City studied the physiological and mental effects from five different movement patterns. Participants were given the opportunity to walk for either 1 or 5 minutes after sitting for a prolonged period of either 30 or 60 minutes. The control group, on the other hand, remained seated throughout the experiment.

Researchers determined that 5 minutes of walking for every 30 minutes of sitting was the ideal ratio for eliciting improvements in blood pressure, blood sugar, mood and fatigue. “ Lead researcher, Dr. Keith Diaz, associate professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Medical Center and director of the Exercise Testing Laboratory in the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health, emphasized the significance of incorporating regular movement into your daily routine. He said, "For optimal health, you need to move regularly at work, in addition to a daily exercise routine." So, whether you're an educator or a student, it's time to take action and break free from the shackles of sedentary living. The study is available in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2023; doi:10.1249/MSS.000000 0000003109).

Whether your are an elementary or secondary level teacher, you can implement walking strategies into your daily routine. For example, on a block schedule, I have students get out of their desks and walk to the center of the school and back every 25 minutes. For shorter classes, once midway through class is effective. At the elementary level, any variation will do. Students look forward to the movement, are happier, and perform better in class.

For specific exercise and nutrition plans for weight loss or disease prevention, see these resources!

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