This school year, Wellness Connections, the Jefferson County Public Schools’ employee wellness program, created customized fitness programs, called “Flourish with Fitness,” for various job types including: bus drivers, food service workers, custodial services, administrative staff and educators. These fitness programs (available in video format or a downloadable pdf) include strength training and stretching exercises that target the entire body. And the best part is that each program can be completed in 2-10 minutes with only a resistance band for equipment! (Participants receive a free resistance band as an incentive for completing an online health risk assessment.)

schoolworkoutFor adults, research suggests that sitting may be the new smoking. Wellness Connections is aiming to help employees build more movement into their workday. Just 2 minutes of activity every 60 minutes can make a huge impact on overall well being, so one of the fitness programs, Sit for 60, Move for 2, was designed for administrative employees who have limited time to add in movement. This program includes five, two minute videos to choose from.

Employees at Betty Adams Elementary School in Westminster, Colo. have embraced the program as a way to build a healthy, supportive community. “As competitive beings, the thought of earning points was the initial incentive to become more active in our own wellness,” says Stephanie Stephens, director of the Betty Adams Early Childhood Center. “We began connecting with each other as allies, which then took off as this incredible way to support one another!”

The employees appointed a wellness coordinator and surveyed their staff to create a slate of after-school exercise classes. A number of them purchased jawbone wrist bands to track their activity and signed up to compete in a 5K together, as well.

“We monitor each other, but more importantly, we are there to cheer each other on,” Stephens says.

Research has also demonstrated that fitness in the classroom promotes learning and knowledge retention for students.

Suzanne Ramirez, a teacher at Betty Adams Elementary, has been integrating the two minute fitness routines initially created for employees into her 8th grade classroom, as well. “Our principal was gracious enough to get all of the teachers a cup of Fit Sticks to use as brain break activities during transition times,” she says. “After a few weeks, every time I pulled a stick, the kids would say, ‘We already did that one!’”

“When the videos came out, I spent a planning period printing off the exercises and watching the [them]. I thought to myself that would be fun!  So, when the kids came in from specials, we did our usual social studies lesson. In the transition to reading, I pulled up Session 1. The kids were like, ‘What’s this?’ I said, ‘Something different. Let’s try it together.’  So we did.

“Now, every day during our transition, we do a Sit 60/Move 2 video to get our brains back in gear. After we did all five sessions, one student said, ‘By the end of the year, we are going to be ripped!’ We are having so much fun.”

Ramirez’s example has inspired other teachers in the school to incorporate movement into their classrooms, including the preschool, which now holds weekly yoga classes, led by the staff occupational therapist.

For more information about these types of wellness programs, contact Dana Wisniewski, wellness program manager at dwisniewski@advantagehealth.com.

Photo: Suzanne Ramirez leading her students at Betty Adams Elementary in a two minute fitness routine, “Flourish with Fitness – Sit for 60, Move for 2,” created by Wellness Connections.