‘X is for… (e)Xercise’

After an extended break from my usual exercise routine as a result of a significant injury followed by the contracting whooping cough which lead to getting out of the habit of regular activity I feel compelled to write this post after getting back to the gym, on the bike, in the pool and out running again.

It all began after expressing my disappointment with my supervisor about feeling flat and low after having yet another cold towards the end of last term. Her response to me was a clever one; she asked what it was that I would recommend to someone who came to see me with the same concerns as the ones I was expressing – what strategies could I implement to increase my feelings of wellbeing?

The answer to me was obvious – getting more exercise. Not only would this most likely boost my immunity it would also give me the opportunity to connect with nature, clear my mind, reconnect with friends as well as improving my fitness and sleep.

Having only exercised sporadically my return to an exercise routine was deliberately tapered but I’m pleased to say that 12 weeks later I am enjoying a number of the benefits of having made the effort to exercise again. Riding my bike the 12 kms each way to school has been my favourite way to incorporate exercise in to my work days and has been great. I really enjoy the ride to and from the school through mostly quiet and pretty suburban back streets between my home and the school where I’m working. I need to get up earlier to ride my bike in but I definitely don’t miss being stuck in city traffic and amazingly it only adds an extra 15 minutes to my travel time. I also really enjoy the experience of being outdoors and feeling the wind in my face.

I have also taken advantage of an offer which my current school offers, a subsidised gym membership. As a way to encourage staff to remain physically fit and healthy the offer is a subsidy of $77 per term. Initially I thought this was a phenomenal outlay but once I did some quick sums discovered that the cost to the school for a year’s worth of subsidies per staff member was actually less than the cost of a relief or casual teacher wage (per day) so it’s actually a sound investment, especially if those staff who take up the offer and engage in regular physical activity are healthier, happier and more productive in their jobs.

Especially with the improvement in weather at this time of year I really recommend seeing if it’s at all possible to incorporate some exercise into your commute to and from work. Some tips I’ve learnt through trial and error include:

–        Planning – your route (the shortest route may not be the safest or prettiest), change of clothes, breakfast (will you have it before you leave or when you get to where you’re going?)

–        Hygiene – are there showers you can use if you happen to arrive all sweaty? Remember deodorant too!

–        Transport of materials to and from work – the last thing you want is to sustain an injury from carrying a heavy bag too far. Can you take food, changes of clothes and shoes on one day and keep them at work for when you need them? What about marking? HOT TIP – a rear basket is marvellous!

Regardless of your commute to and from work, now that the weather’s improving and the days are longer, I think that now is the best time of year to be getting out and enjoying it. The mental and emotional benefits are significant! What exercise are you able to engage in during term time and how do you find it affects your lifestyle?

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