District Administration November 2017 - 52

ProfessionalOpinion
Exercise is key to
leadership success
Why school leaders should get away from the desk and be active
By Lisa Gonzales

C

an exercise boost our effectiveness as leaders? Science supports
the importance of exercise,
especially for leaders. Proof abounds on
the internet and in magazines.
Have you made the connection yet?
If not, here are a few reasons you should.
It's energy-inducing
Exercise can improve energy by strengthening circulation and the heart muscle,
both of which increase energy levels. The
University of Georgia's review of more
than 65 studies on exercise notes that
more exercise equals more energy and
less fatigue, regardless of whether you get
out in the fresh air to walk around campus or hit the trails for a run after work.
"Exercise provides me a belief in myself to push through hurdles," says Eusebio Martinez, vice principal at Georgine
Brown Dual Immersion Magnet School
in Paso Robles USD. "After exercise, I
feel energized and empowered, and that
perseverance helps me deal with the challenges of the day."
It increases clarity and creativity
When exercise begins, the heart rate
increases and the brain processes the
change as "stress." To combat this stress,
the body releases a protein called brainderived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)
that acts like a reset switch to memory
neurons. Translation? It helps us think
more clearly and brings on a sense of relaxation because endorphins are released

DAmag.me/key

52 November 2017

The stress that comes
from our work often
cannot be avoided,
but the way we
process stress can
certainly be reduced by
regular exercise.
in the brain. During physical activity, we
are relaxed and at ease, which gets those
creative juices flowing.
"Exercise clears my mind and renews
my spirit," says Victor Rodrigues, principal of Sylmar Charter High School
in Los Angeles USD. "And I can often
come up with great solutions to problems I encounter at work. On those
days I don't exercise, I feel sluggish and
unproductive."
It helps destress
Exercise doesn't just help us stay healthy.
In leadership roles, the stress that comes
from the very nature of our work often
cannot be avoided, but the way we
process stress can certainly be reduced
by regular exercise, including running,
walking, yoga and more.
"I work out at least twice a week at
a barre studio and ride my spin bike at
home another three," says Nikki Dennis,
principal at Will Rogers College Junior
and Senior High in Tulsa Public Schools
in Oklahoma. "While I still fret about
my school, staff, students and community, my physical and mental strength are
better, and so is my attitude."

Anne Ginnold, professional development trainer at the Orange County
Department of Education, prioritizes
weekly time for her workouts. "Our central nervous system needs activities that
will increase oxygen in the blood and
help manage stress," she says. "We must
make time for conditioning to keep ourselves physically and mentally strong."
It's contagious
As leaders, we are often in positions of
influence, with followers who look to us
as an example. Exercise plays into this
when we engage others in the physical
activities we undertake. Silicon Valley
CTE Superintendent Alyssa Lynch, a
marathon runner, knows this all too
well. "In our district, we have running
and walking teams," she says. "We enter
community fun runs as a group, holding each other accountable. Our group
has grown as more want to be part of
healthy practices and team-building."
It may improve your reputation
According to the Journal of Managerial
Psychology, leaders who exercise regularly
have higher leadership skills. From stamina to mental clarity to confidence to
relatability, the leaders who regularly hit
the gym, the slopes, the trails and anything in between were rated higher than
their non-fitness-minded colleagues.
If the perception of effectiveness is
higher in those who regularly exercise,
what are you waiting for? DA
Lisa Gonzales is president of the Association
of California School Administrators and an
assistant superintendent of educational services
in Dublin USD.
District Administration


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration November 2017

District Administration November 2017 - Cover1
District Administration November 2017 - Cover2
District Administration November 2017 - 1
District Administration November 2017 - 2
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