Teachers improve lives with Wellness Initiative

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Teachers improve lives with Wellness Initiative

Madison Hurr

Madison Hurr

Madison Hurr

Teachers often walk on the track after school to stay in shape without having to travel too far from their workplace. The track is open until dark.

By Madison Hurr, Production editor

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Since the formation of a countywide wellness program a few years ago, teachers have taken up the challenge of practicing healthy living and have encouraged others to do the same. This September is Self Improvement Month and several teachers will honor this month with their participation in the CHS Teachers’ Wellness Initiative.

Math teacher James Collins and assistant principal Doreen Brandes brought the initiative to CHS three years ago to improve the health and fitness of their colleagues as a part of the county wellness program.

“The purpose of it is to get people moving and conscious of health,” Brandes said. “We have 22 members now, and our goal this year is to double that.”

According to Collins, getting teachers to lead a healthier lifestyle has many benefits, including fewer days with substitute teachers, more energy, lower insurance costs and an overall sense of well-being.

“I like the WCHS Wellness initiative because it reminds me that in order to be effective at work, I need to balance taking care of my work responsibilities as well as my responsibilities to my family and to myself,” resource teacher Jan Shapiro said. “The energy I gain from ‘moving more’ translates into more focused time at work and more energy for activities outside of the work day.”

According to the Mayo Clinic website, where clinical experts provide current medical information, physical activity provides people with more energy by delivering oxygen and nutrients to their tissues and helping the cardiovascular system work more efficiently.

CHS students also enjoy teachers who are healthy and fit. Students can see teachers as enthusiastic role models for healthy living and take up the challenge themselves.

“People who are fit tend to have higher energy levels and are more often in a good mood,” junior Giulian Groce said.

According to Collins, practicing fitness not only improves health, energy level and happiness, it also sharpens goal-setting skills and gives one a sense of achievement.

“People become more focused on a healthy weight and on what they’re doing,” Brandes said. “Being active, healthy, and eating well makes one a better family member and employee.”

Brandes sends out biweekly wellness tips and information to staff including lists of power foods, metabolism-boosting snacks, desk yoga workouts, explanations of concepts like body mass index and a steps-to-miles conversion table.

Biking, 5k races, healthy recipe competitions, health seminars and workshops are all additional components of the initiative.

The 22 CHS teachers participating in the initiative are incorporating fitness into their lives by logging the number of steps they take and the type of activities they do every day into a website.

The county’s wellness program calculates these steps and activities and engages teachers in a countywide competition, in which the schools and teachers who exercise the most are rewarded with prizes such as gym equipment and exercise classes. So far, CHS has won money, a demonstration from a chef who uses healthy cooking methods, a yoga class, and recently, a zumba class.

“It can become something easy to get involved in,” Collins said. “We just point the way, and then they take off with it.”

Teachers are now encouraged to incorporate lots of walking into their day by going to visit other teachers instead of emailing them, taking a walk during lunch, or settling for a parking spot farther away to make the walk to their destination a workout in itself.

“Fitness has improved my overall quality of life, and I want to help other staff members reach their own wellness goals,” Collins said.  “We can lead by example and show people how easy it is to add just a few extra steps to their day.”