Fitness-Based Classroom Activities Can Boost Learning

With physical education classes being fizzled out among some schools, teachers who incorporate fitness and healthy eating into their lives may find it easy to infuse into their classroom activities as well. Brain breaks or classroom activities and breaks are being implemented into classrooms because research has shown that physical activity readies the brain for learning.


Since students spend the majority of their day at school, the classroom is the perfect place to provide students with nutrition education, as well as daily brain breaks to get students up and moving.

Classroom Activities: What is a Brain Break?

A brain break is short mental break given at regular intervals throughout the school day. These breaks usually last about five minutes and incorporate some kind of physical activity. Here are a few brain break activities to try in class.

  • Have a five-minute dance party! Turn on your students’ favorite radio station and encourage them to let loose.
  • Try 30-second intervals of your students’ favorite exercise. 30 seconds of jumping jacks, 30 seconds jogging in place, 30 seconds of high knees.
  • Set a timer for five minutes and have students take turns playing follow the leader.
  • Instruct students to follow you in a few yoga poses like the standing mountain pose or tree pose.

A fit body means a fit mind. Staying in shape not only will benefit you physically and mentally, but it can also influence your students to want to be fit. So it’s important to not only eat healthy and keep up a regular workout routine, but try and incorporate as many physical activities into your day as you can so your students can also reap the wonderful benefits as well.

Staying Fit Yields Results for the Classroom

Numerous studies show that a mixture of healthy eating and exercise are the key to staying fit. Not only does being in shape inherently afford you more energy and focus, but it also improves your mood and relieves anxiety. As we know, teaching is a stressful job, and any way that teachers can relieve some of the stress will not only benefit themselves, but their students as well.

Teachers are immense role models, and for some students, they are the only role model. When students see that their teacher’s health is a priority, it may encourage them to follow suit. In fact, many studies have shown that children who exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle perform better in the classroom. A medical study reported at the American Heart Association stated that students who remain fit throughout their schooling had a better chance of increased academic achievement.

Outside the Classroom: Developing a Fitness Regimen

Most teachers are natural-born leaders and try to set a positive example for others. So why is it that these hard-working, self-motivating people have such a hard time staying fit? Most teachers are anything but lazy, so we can throw that notion out. Educators know what it takes to make an effort. These hard-working individuals go through most of their life with little to no acknowledgment for their efforts, so putting forth any kind of exertion isn’t the problem either. It’s the everyday roadblocks that hinder teachers from staying fit. Think of what a teaching job entails: Grading papers, managing the classroom, meeting with parents, not to mention the hours of researching lesson plans, and activities that correlate with differentiated instruction and the common core. A teacher’s role isn’t just that of instructor; it’s surrogate parent, school counselor, mentor, bookkeeper, role model, and the list goes on. Toss in early mornings, late nights, and cafeteria food, and you will find one exhausted, unhealthy individual.

How Teachers Can Get Fit

Let’s face it, with a teacher’s salary, you are not going to find a lot of teachers with a personal trainer or a gym membership. We’ve already established how busy teachers are, so a teacher looking to stay fit would need to find a program or guide that would fit into their busy schedule. According to Fitness Magazine, there are ways you can sneak in a workout with a busy schedule. Here are a few.

  • Set your alarm a few minutes early. Jillian Michaels’ “Ripped in 30” DVD offers viewers three 20-minute workout routines that will help you stay fit.
  • Workout at work. You can get your daily dose of exercise and squeeze in a few exercises in-between classes, during a lunch break, or while students are reading.
  • Turn your commute into a workout. Walk, jog, or bike to work. If you don’t like that idea, then you can park your car farther away from your usual spot at work and get in a little more exercise.

With a teacher’s busy schedule, they rarely get the chance to sit down for a healthy meal. Instead, they find themselves turning to an unhealthy “Grab-and-go” snack. Eating on the run doesn’t have to be unhealthy. There are a few ways that busy people can eat healthy and stay fit. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Plan ahead. It’s all in the planning. If Sunday is your day to grocery shop, then take a little extra time to prepare healthy snacks and foods for the week. Chop up veggies and stick them in a baggie for an easy grab and go. Make a batch of hard-boiled eggs for a quick breakfast. Buy premade salads to take with you to work.
  • Invest in a crockpot. A slow cooker is a convenient and inexpensive way to make healthy meals. All you have to do is throw in a lean protein, some veggies and spices, and it will be ready for you when you get home from work.
  • Make extra. Whatever you plan on making, double or even triple the recipe. Leftovers are a busy person’s best friend.
  • If you’re going to eat out, choose wisely. Skip the sugary drinks and choose water. Cut your portion in half and take the other half home with you. Ask for salad dressing on the side, and order your food steamed or grilled instead of fried.


Janelle Cox