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The Fitness Fulcrum


CASS (College of Alberta School Superintendents, 2001) survey found that: ... Berger, 1994; American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine; Landry; Center ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Fitness Fulcrum

The Fitness Fulcrum
  • A Systematic Exploration of Managing Teacher
    Stress Through Exercise

  • Reason for my choice of topic.
  • Stress
  • Bodys Response to Stress
  • Effects on Schools and School Division
  • Causes of Teacher Stress
  • Rationale for Exercise
  • Benefits
  • Negative Aspects
  • Division-wide Wellness Program
  • With an Exercise Component

My Interest in Stress, 2001
  • Principal
  • Basketball ref (gt100 games)
  • Masters Degree
  • 2 classes from April-June, plus 3 weeks over the
  • Family
  • Those people who live in my house.
  • Uncertain about my ability to return in the fall

Change in Attitude
  • After 3 weeks at the U of L, I felt refreshed,
    renewed, and rejuvenated due to increased amount
    of physical activity.
  • Lifting weights before classes.
  • A 40 minute run after classes.
  • I felt better at the end of summer than I did at
    the beginning.

At the Gym
  • Significant number of teachers and administrators
    from my old division.
  • How many were there when I wasnt?
  • How many werent there?
  • What effects could a comprehensive fitness
    program instituted on a Division wide basis have
    on teachers and teaching?
  • Will it help alleviate stress?

  • Factors that can cause physical, emotional, and
    behavioral disorders which can affect your
    health, vitality, peace-of-mind, as well as
    personal and professional relationships.
  • National Mental Health Association, n.d.
  • Internal or external conditions, incidents, or
    occurrences that cause the body to struggle.

  • Stressors those factors that cause stress.
  • Distress negative form of stress.
  • Eustress positive form of stress.
  • Acute stress a stressful incident of a very
    large magnitude.
  • Chronic stress stress of a long term,
    continuous nature.

  • Stress occurs as a result of a perception of an
  • Not objective, depends on the person.
  • Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan, 2000
  • Same event, different day (or person) may cause a
    different response.

  • Positive or curative stress.
  • Can be important since it helps us react to
    situations by mobilizing our energy and
    motivating us to greater efforts and
  • A factor in promoting and maintaining optimal
    health and performance in our personal and
    professional lives.
  • ASEBP, 2000

  • Negative stress.
  • Does not have a severe negative effect on our
  • The human body reacts the same way to all events
    that are perceived as stressful.

Acute Stress
  • Acute stress arises from threats to our health
    and safety as well as both normal and
    catastrophic life events.
  • ASEBP, 2000
  • ASEBP indicates that serious stress related
    troubles are less like to develop due to large,
    life-altering stressors than people might think.

Acute Stress
  • Uncomfortable and creates trying occurrences.
  • Can usually deal with them without severe
    physical repercussions.
  • Human body is designed to deal with them.

Chronic Stress
  • Less extreme than acute stress.
  • More likely to cause major health problems.
  • Long term nature of continue stress response
    create serious consequences for health and

Stress Response
  • Fight or flight syndrome.
  • Threatening events cause physiological response
    to help humans run away from or defeat the cause
    of the threat.

Bodys Response to Stress
  • Autonomic nervous and endocrine systems react.
  • Cortisol, aldosterone, ephinephrine,
    norepinephrine, and thyroxine are released.
  • Engs (1987)

Bodys Response to Stress
Stress Response
  • No change from stressor to stressor.
  • Our bodies react predictably and consistently to
    every event and circumstance we perceive as
    threatening our well being.
  • ASEBP, 2000, p. 51

Chronic Stress
  • Body is designed to return to normal after a
    stressful event.
  • Biological processes, such as digestion,
    circulation, etc., are interfered with if the
    stress does not abate.
  • Even though stress is a fact of life and cannot
    be eliminated, this normal human protective
    response for survival is linked with the
    development of many illnesses that claim the
    lives of countless people every year. The impact
    of excessive, prolonged, or poorly managed stress
    is far reaching.
  • ASEBP, 2000, p. 49

Side Effects of Chronic Stress
  • Reuters Health (2001) indicates that continued
    exposure to stressful conditions can result in a
    variety of physical, mental, and emotional

Physical Side Effects
  • Overstimulation of the autonomic nervous system.
  • May lead to heart attacks, irritable bowel
    syndrome, and chronic headaches.
  • Ulcers due to increased acid and decreased blood
    flow in digestive system.

Physical Side Effects
  • Depressed immune response may contribute to other
    diseases since development of healthy T-cells is
  • Infections, HIV and AIDS, Herpes, and Multiple
  • Rheumatoid arthritis aggravated by chronic stress.

Physical Side Effects
  • Reuters Health (2001) lists the following
    conditions as associated with continuous
  • Allergies and skin disorders, sexual dysfunction
    and infertility, strokes, muscle and joint pain,
    and diabetes.
  • Cardiovascular and musculoskeletal problems are
    also attributed to long term stress, due to
    decreased autoimmune response, increased muscle
    tension, and lack of energy.

Physical Side Effects
  • Increased biochemical response to the presence of
    long term stressors, including higher than normal
    corticoid steroid hormones, may lead to
  • Exhaustion, head or muscle aches, and the
    inability to sleep and/or improper sleeping
  • Excessive cortisol levels can be characterized by
    rapid weight gain (esp. around middle), high
    blood pressure, and excessive fatigue.
  • Alexander (2000)

Physical Side Effects
  • Snowballing of physical symptoms and ailments.
  • Stress researcher, Kenneth Pelletier, estimates
    as much as 70 percent 80 percent of many common
    health problems, from heart disease to cancer,
    the flu to the common cold, are associated with
    continuous stress. It is also thought to hasten
  • ASEBP, 2000, p. 49

Physical Side Effects
  • The National Institute of Occupational Safety and
    Health (NIOSH, n.d) estimates that 75-90 percent
    of all visits to primary care physicians are for
    stress related problems.

Mental and Emotional Side Effects
  • Depression and anxiety are related to increased
    levels of tension.
  • Reuters Health (2001) 2/3 of subjects who
    experienced a stressful situation had nearly six
    times the chances of developing depression that

Mental and Emotional Side Effects
  • Depersonalization, a feeling of unreality
    associated with anxiety and stress, can be caused
    by the stress response when people start to take
    deeper, more frequent breaths (hyperventilation
    and increased CO2 levels which lead to
    light-headedness, dizziness, and feeling of being
    outside their own body).
  • Mayo Clinic (2003)

Mental and Emotional Side Effects
  • Chronic stress and increased cortisol levels
    contribute to shrinkage in hippocampus area of
    brain, which is associated with memory.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder subjects had 8
    decrease in hippocampus.
  • Reuters Health (2001)
  • Other studies indicate a 20-50 decrease in
    memory function due to stress.

Mental and Emotional Side Effects
  • NIOSH (n.d.) suggests that mood swings and family
    problems are associated with episodes of chronic

Mental and Emotional Side Effects
  • As side effects build, we begin to lose physical,
    mental, and social functioning.
  • This is the grinding stress that wears people
    away day after day, year after year. Chronic
    stress destroys bodies, minds and lives. It
    wreaks havoc through long-term attrition.
  • American Psychological Association (1997)

Effects on Schools
  • Although teacher stress has certainly existed as
    long as teaching, recognition of a serious morale
    problem among teachers in this country has become
    more explicit in the last twenty to thirty
  • Farber, 1991, p. 2

  • Pattern of exhaustion one experiences when
    subjected to unavoidable pressures at the same
    time that there do not appear to be available
    sources of satisfaction.
  • Moss (1981), cited by Quick and Quick, (1984)

  • Burnout is a work-related syndrome that stems
    from an individuals perception of a significant
    discrepancy between effort (input) and reward
    (output), this perception being influenced by
    individual, organizational, and social factors.
    It occurs most often in those who work face to
    face with troubled or needy clients and is
    typically marked by withdrawal from and cynicism
    towards clients, emotional and physical
    exhaustion, and various psychological symptoms,
    such as irritability, anxiety, sadness, and
    lowered self-esteem.
  • Farber 1991, p. 24

Costs of Teacher Stress
  • According to Quick and Quick, 1984, there are
    direct and indirect costs.

Direct Costs
  • Absenteeism, expense of staff turnover and
    training, compensation awards and benefits, and
    the decreased productivity and efficiency of an
  • Classroom stress awards have already been awarded
    in the following amounts 47,000 (Joseph, 2000)
    and 250,000 (Jarvis, 2002).

Direct Costs
  • Teachers stress may have an impact on teachers
    as individuals, on the schools in which they work
    and on the pupils they teach. It is also
    estimated to have an economic impact on the
    education system in terms of lost teaching time
    and additional costs of replacement teachers.
    Unfortunately, it is difficult to quantify these
    costs because reported effects may actually be
    strategies to help teachers cope and it would be
    unsafe to assume that those who report no
    symptoms are necessarily stress free.
  • Scottish Council of Research in Education, 2002

Direct Costs
  • The human and financial costs of stress for
    individuals and workplaces are tremendous.
    Allocating a specific portion of the cost of any
    disease to stress is difficult because it is only
    one of many factors in a chain of events that
    leads to illness, but the estimated costs
    associated with stress in Canada are in the
    billions of dollars annually.
  • (ASEBP, 2000, p. 49)
  • At 143.18/day, it doesnt take long for the
    costs of absent teachers to add up.

Direct Costs
  • Job performance decreases. When stress becomes
    distress because the degree has passed the
    optimum level for the individual, then either the
    quality or the quantity of the employees work
    suffers, or both.
  • Quick and Quick, 1984, p. 86

Direct Costs
  • Teachers who experience burnout are less
    sympathetic toward students, are less committed
    to and involved in their jobs, have a lower
    tolerance for classroom disruption, are less apt
    to prepare adequately for class, and are
    generally less productive.
  • Leithwood, cited in Dyck, 2001

Loss of Teachers
  • There is little doubt that one of the major
    problems facing the teacher profession is the
    large number of teachers who decide to leave the
    profession after only a few years of service and
    those who continue but who become disaffected.
  • Kyriacou, 2001, p. 33

Teacher Loss
  • Some teachers are tired of the stress, and
    burning out. Some leave the profession.
  • Many younger teachers are burning out early,
    leaving in less than 5 years. Farber (1991)
    indicates between 40-50.
  • As well, Farber cites a source stating that
    around ¼ of our teachers are considering leaving
    in the next 5 years.

Direct Costs
  • Teacher training.
  • Loss of skilled veterans.
  • Failure to attract new teachers.

Indirect Costs
  • Lower productivity of others in the organization,
    and inability to maintain proper communication.
  • Loss of school climate.
  • Increased stress on those left behind.

Teacher Shortages
  • ¼ of Ontario teachers will retire by 2003, ½ by
    2008 (CTF, 1999) 77,000 jobs.
  • BBC (2001) indicates teacher shortages in the
    U.K. are at their worst level in decades.
  • CTF (1999) suggests a shortage of primary and
    secondary school teachers in Australia.
  • U.S. is facing the largest teacher shortage in
    history, needing 200,000 teachers per year for
    the next ten years (Phi Delta Kappan, cited in
    CTF, 1999)

Alberta Shortages
  • PWC Consulting states that there is not a teacher
    shortage in Alberta.
  • However, in their study
  • 78 respondents said that retirements in next 5
    years would impact teacher shortages.
  • 75 said that fewer graduates from education
    programs would impact teacher shortages

Alberta Shortages
  • CASS (College of Alberta School Superintendents,
    2001) survey found that
  • 94 of respondents had trouble filling sr. high
    science positions.
  • 88 had trouble filling sr. math positions.
  • 84 had trouble with CTS positions.

Increased Trouble
  • With a worldwide shortage of teachers, fewer
    graduates, the continued loss of skilled veterans
    and idealistic rookies is a recipe for disaster.
  • We must find a way to maintain the staff that we
    do have.
  • Active measures are necessary.

Causes of Stress For Teachers
  • Jarvis (2002) breaks causal factors into 3 main
  • Factors intrinsic to teaching.
  • Cognitive factors affecting the individual.
  • Systemic factors at institutional and political

Factors Intrinsic to Teaching
  • Workload and long working hours (Jarvis, 2002,
    Arnold, 2002, SCRE, Naylor, 2001a, Michelson
    Harvey, 2000, and Stinnett, 1970)
  • Teaching complexity inclusion of special needs
    students, larger class sizes, disruptive
    students, and curriculum changes. (Friesen, 1990)
  • Decrease in fiscal support. (CMEC, 1996)

Cognitive Vulnerability
  • Sense of self-efficacy and self-defeating
  • Coping styles low social support,
    disengagement, and suppression of competing
    activities lead to higher stress.
  • (Jarvis, 2002)

Systemic Factors
  • Implementing curriculum change.
  • Implementing policies you disagree with.
  • Changing provincial policies regarding programs.
  • Media treatment of teaching profession.
  • Friesen, 1990 and Naylor, 2001b

Rationale for Exercise as a Stress Management Tool
  • Active role to prevent loss through burnout.
  • While we try to make second order changes to the
    system, we must make first order changes to help
    individuals cope.
  • Teacher health and well-being is a key area.
  • The most common individually oriented approaches
    include activities that fall within the category
    of stress-reduction techniques meditation,
    relaxation training, jogging, swimming, and other
    forms of physical exercise.
  • Farber, 1991, p. 298

Importance of Exercise
  • The popularity of physical exercise as a means
    of stress management is reflected in the fact
    that nearly every recent publication on stress
    management includes discussion on physical
  • Quick and Quick, 1984, p. 249
  • Without ongoing attention to the maintenance of
    the health of our bodies, minds and spirits, it
    is a lot easier for unhealthy stress to take its
    toll on our overall wellness.
  • Hammill, Moxey, OHalloran, Thede, p. 24

Athletic Training for Teaching
  • Domenech (1996) suggests that being an
    administrator is like being an athlete. Peak
    performance requires mental and physical stamina.
  • We must train ourselves and our teachers to
    prepare for pressure.

Useful Tool
  • Exercise will help, but is not a panacea.
  • Continue to work to reduce stress causation.
  • Use other techniques to benefit teachers in the
    short term.
  • Teaching diverse segments of the population to
    use exercise as a stress-management technique
    provides an effective, efficient, and inexpensive
    approach to health enhancement. As Selye (1975)
    noted nearly a generation ago, stress management
    is critical to pursuing the well-lived life.
    (Berger, 1994, p. 113)

Physical Benefits of Exercise
  • WHO active lifestyle is an important way of
    maintaining personal health and well being.
    (Grantham, 1997)

Physical Benefits of Exercise
  • Elevates metabolism.
  • Increased aerobic capacity, strength, stamina,
    endurance, flexibility, mobility, speed, power,
    coordination, and reaction time.
  • Decreases blood pressure.
  • Increases break down of fat, promoting weight

Physical Benefits of Exercise
  • Improved appetite control.
  • Increases HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and
    decreases total blood cholesterol.
  • Improves heart efficiency.
  • Increases hemoglobin concentrations in blood.
  • Increases bone strength, helping to prevent

Physical Benefits of Exercise
  • Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles,
    and joints.
  • Increases the number and enlarges the size of
    blood vessels in the heart and other muscles.
  • Decreases triglyceride levels in blood stream.
  • Improves control of blood sugar.
  • Improves digestion.
  • Increased physical work capacity.

Physical Benefits of Exercise
  • Increased joint range of motion or flexibility.
  • Boosts immune function, helping ward off colds
    and other illnesses.
  • Reduces risk of premature death, and risk of
    death from heart disease.
  • Reduces risk of developing colon and breast
  • Reduces the risk of stroke.
  • Reduces risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

Physical Benefits of Exercise
  • Enhances capacity to handle physical stress.
  • Improved energy levels.
  • Helps prevent injury.
  • Increased chance of better quality of life.
  • List adapted from Berger, 1994 American
    Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Landry
    Center for Disease Control Canadian Fitness and
    Lifestyle Research Institute the Mayo Clinic
    the National Institutes of Health, 1997 and
    Georgia State University.

Physical Benefits
  • By preventing physiological problems and many
    diseases, it is clear that exercise is a powerful
    deterrent to lost time and decreased productivity
    since physically active people at all ages
    exhibit fewer health problems than the very
  • Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research
    Institute, Getting the words straight.

Mental and Emotional Benefits
  • Improved body function, improved mental and
    emotional function.
  • Reverses many mental afflictions including
  • Anxiety, depression.
  • Improves self-esteem, self-concept, and
  • Improves sleep patterns, cognitive ability,
    well-being, quality of life, mood, and ability to
    recover more quickly from psychosocial stressors.

Mental and Emotional Benefits
  • Creates self-discipline.
  • Increases likelihood of participation in
    individual, social, and community activities.
  • Great effect on decreasing stress.
  • Adapted from Landers Berger (1994) Reid, Dyck,
    McKay, Frisby (2000)

Negative Aspects of Exercise
  • Not a cure all.
  • Will not get rid of stress, just helps deal with
    the problems associated with it.
  • Self-diagnosis/prescription of exercise is
  • Not the only method.
  • Focus on dealing with the issue.

Negative Aspects of Exercise
  • Inherent risks to being active.
  • Especially for sedentary individuals.
  • Exercise addiction.
  • Danger of over-training.
  • Exercise withdrawal.

Proposal for Wellness Program
  • Active measures.
  • Stress its importance.
  • Allocate dollars.
  • Gym memberships, fitness purchases, purchase
  • Revenue neutral? Minor costs.
  • Promotion and advertising.
  • Administrators must model the behaviour.
  • RDPS promotion.
  • Creativity and flexibility.

Proposal for Wellness Program
  • Incorporate into PD/Three Year Plans.
  • Wellness goals in TPGP.
  • PD presentations on exercise, nutrition, stress
    reduction, etc.
  • Create a culture of physical fitness.
  • Embrace the idea that being fit is important.
  • Try new things.
  • Celebrate successes.

  • Stress is on the rise, and so are stress related
    illnesses and complaints.
  • Chronic stress is the main problem, creating
    physical, psychological, and emotional ailments
    which can then lead to burnout.
  • Teacher loss is increasing.
  • Replacing teachers lost to stress or retirement
    is getting more difficult.

  • Must mount an active campaign to deal with the
    symptoms of stress while we work to relieve the
    causes of stress.
  • Exercise is one of many ways to deal with stress.
  • It is an excellent method because it has
    physical, mental, and emotional benefits to the
    health and well-being of educators.
  • Division wide exercise initiatives can be started
    as part of a comprehensive teacher wellness plan.
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