- School leaders need to engage in regular exercise because research indicates that it is energy-inducing, increases clarity and creativity, and reduces stress, Lisa Gonzales, president of the Association of California School Administrators, writes for District Administration.
- As school leaders become more active, they offer an example to other staff members, which in turn improves health practices and can encourage team-building if done together.
- The Journal of Managerial Psychology reports that leaders who exercise regularly have higher leadership skills including stamina, mental clarity, confidence and relatability.
Human resources agencies have long recognized the fact that fit employees are more productive and require fewer sick days. This is why many workplaces offer wellness programs that encourage activity. With the advent of wearable fitness trackers, some companies are incorporating these into such programs as a way to encourage activity despite some concerns about the data collection and privacy issues involved.
However, all this research begs the question: If exercise increases productivity, mental clarity and leadership skills in adults, why have some schools cut back on physical activity for students? The nation has a growing problem with childhood obesity and yet, many school districts have cut physical education programs and recess in response to budget cuts or growing pressure to meet academic standards.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that “students should be doing at least 60 minutes of vigorous or moderate-intensity physical activity at school, with more than half of the activity occurring during regular educational hours and the remaining amount before and after school,” according to an article in USA Today. However, only about half of students in the U.S. meet these guidelines. Young people need the release of physical exercise even more than adults and keeping students trapped in classrooms can become counterproductive at some point. School fitness programs do not need to be expensive. Walking, running, shooting hoops, participating in a fitness video or simply playing on the playground can offer much-needed exercise opportunities while improving student attitudes toward education and their health. The question may not be whether schools can afford to incorporate fitness programs in schools, but whether they can afford not to.