Physical Exercise and Wellbeing

Physical exercise and wellbeing go hand in hand.

Evidence tells us that physical exercise is a strong influence on wellbeing. Here, we’re breaking down the evidence and identifying aspects of exercise wellbeing and overall wellness. Therapists who struggle with burnout in the industry know that self-care and intentional focus on wellbeing makes an impact on day to day tasks. But taking what we know as professionals and applying it to our own lives can sometimes be difficult! Let’s take a look at what science says about the benefits of exercise on wellness.

You’ll also find my top tips for using physical exercise to promote self-care as a busy therapist.

physical exercise and wellbeing go hand in hand in battling burnout in therapists.

Physical activity

Physical activity can mean different things to different people. The World Health Organization has a fact sheet on physical activity, including recommendations for physical activity levels for different ages.

Beyond the obvious physical health benefits, participation in physical activity benefits areas such as:

  • Physical health benefits
  • Physical activity reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Physical activity enhances cognitive functioning, including thinking, learning, and judgment skills
  • Physical activity ensures healthy growth and development
  • Physical activity improves overall well-being

We can break down physical activity into physical activity that includes a structured and repetitive, and has as an objective. This might include planning to and following through with a walk around the block every morning, or doing 20 crunches 3 times a week, or running a mile at the track. Physical exercise can come in many forms!

Physical exercise and wellbeing

Adding physical exercise has benefits in many aspects of wellbeing. Take a look at the wellness wheel.

Physical exercise impacts mood. Research tells us that mood and physical health are related. And, mood is a predictor of well-being in many ways, including self-esteem. Self-esteem includes how positive a person feels about themselves. That aspect of emotional skills impact mental health in areas of an individual’s thoughts, emotions, values, and goals. And, a positive level of self-esteem carries over to having a positive attitude about themselves and the world around them.

Other components of mood include a growth mindset, mindfulness, contentment, positivity, motivation, happiness or emotional regulation, and curiosity. These are the components of emotional well-being. These components allow us to meet the demands of everyday life.

Many studies show that physical exercise impacts emotional well-being.

All of this plays a role in burnout in the workplace.

Physical exercise tips for getting started to promote wellbeing.

Tips for Physical Exercise and Wellbeing

Incorporating physical exercise into a lifestyle doesn’t need to be difficult. Below are some tips and strategies to integrate physical exercise into the day-to-day.

When a physical routine involves your interests, that makes it easier to stick with it.

Make it personal– Personally, my favorite physical exercise involves running and walking. When weather is bad or it’s too cold outdoors, I turn to my treadmill. I love to run along to music, podcasts, and even Netflix when running on the treadmill. What motivates you?

Make achievable goals– Adding physical exercise doesn’t mean you need to sign up for a 5K race. Just 5 or 10 minutes on the treadmill makes a big difference in mood and emotional well-being.

Plan it out– Schedule physical exercise into your day. When it’s written down, it becomes more real.

Start slow– Take a walk around the block. Begin with low intensity physical exercise. On the treadmill, begin with an achievable goal using the programing options. A low intensity routine might include a fast walk or slow run at 1% or 2% incline.

If you are looking for exercise equipment to add to your physical exercise toolbox, check out Horizon Fitness for equipment and accessories at all levels.

Affiliate links are included in this post, but I only recommend products that I own, and love!

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Courneya, K.S., Friedenreich, C.M. Physical exercise and quality of life following cancer diagnosis: A literature review. ann. behav. med. 21, 171 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02908298

Gilani, S., & Feizabad, A. K. (2019). The effects of aerobic exercise training on mental health and self-esteem of type 2 diabetes mellitus patients. Health psychology research7(1), 6576. https://doi.org/10.4081/hpr.2019.6576

Penguin Snacks

penguin snacks for a penguin theme

We’ve been on a penguins activities kick around here lately.  These penguin snacks are cute little homemade penguin crackers that can easily be added to a penguin preschool theme. The bonus to kids making these are the many benefits of cooking with kids in developing fine motor skills, executive functioning, and other learning opportunities.

Be sure to check out the other penguin activities here on the website, and then add these penguin snacks to your line-up for building motor skills in kids. You’ll love the penguin yoga, the penguin themed social emotional skills game, and the penguin deep breathing exercise.

Penguin snacks for kids to make to help build fine motor skills

Penguin Snacks

These Penguin snacks were just the thing we needed one day when the temps were sooooo cold outside that we felt like penguins at preschool pick-up!  Our penguin snacks were the perfect ending to a frigidly cold day.  And, slightly owl-like, I think they would make a great owl treat too 😉  

Penguin Themed Snacks

This post contains affiliate links. 

Start with a little melted milk chocolate (I just used a chocolate bar broken up into pieces) and melted white candy melts, in two separate bowls. 

Dip round crackers 3/4 of the way in the melted white chocolate.  Let this harden in the fridge.  Or just put it outside on the porch like I did in the single-digit temps.  The chocolate will harden in a flash!

You’ll need to make sure the white chocolate is hardened before you dip the crackers again in the ilk chocolate.  Otherwise, you’ll get a mix of the two chocolates.  Once the white chocolate is hardened, dip each side and the very top of the penguins in milk chocolate. 

Pour out a handful of sprinkles and admire their prettiness.  Pull out a few of the orange ones.  You’ll need them for the Penguin’s feet and beaks. This is a great fine motor activity for kids.

I found these candy eyeballs on clearance after Halloween and knew they would come in handy. Stick the orange sprinkles and candy eyes onto the penguins with a bit of the left over melted chocolate. 

Cooking with preschoolers involves a lot of the prep-work, and this is one cooking task that is great for young children. They can sort and count the number of items needed for the recipe. It’s an easy way to add fine motor work as well.

Cute penguin snacks that kids can make for a penguin theme in preschool or older grades.

Pulling out the correct amount of orange sprinkles and eyes was a great job for Big Sister and Little Guy.  They made sure we had enough for each penguin.  And only snuck a few. 😉

Your penguins/owls are done!

For more penguin theme activities, (and fine motor work), grab the Winter Fine Motor Kit, with 100 pages of done-for-you therapy activities, including penguin themes. There are sensory bin materials, crafts, and activities designed to boost fine motor skills. These would be great additions to a penguin theme in therapy sessions.

winter fine motor kit

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

 

 

 
 

Penguin Activities for Kids

Penguin activities

Brrrr it is COLD out there! This is the perfect time of year to add a few penguin activities to a penguin theme or set of winter activities. Here, you’ll find penguin themed ideas for movement, play, cooking, learning, and crafting. Browse these ideas and add them to an occupational therapy intervention therapy plan or learning at home.

The penguin activities for kids here will give you plenty of fun indoor play ideas.    When we went through the links this week to pick our features, we had to go with a penguin theme.  We’ve been doing a few penguin activities around here (and are so excited to share them with you!) after we got a handful of penguin books out from the library.  The features this week show songs, games, crafts, sensory play, books, and even snacks…all about PENGUINS!  

Penguin activities for kids

Penguin Activities

Penguin Gross Motor (Penguin Yoga)- Use these yoga positions to incorporate gross motor skills, coordination, motor planning, balance, heavy work input (proprioception), and changes in positioning (vestibular input). This is a free Google slide deck. Click here for the penguin yoga activities.

Penguin Executive Functioning Activity (Make a Penguin Treat)- Cooking in the kitchen is a powerful way to develop fine motor skills and executive functioning skills. Try making these penguin snacks for a family treat.

Penguin Self-Regulation Activity– This penguin deep breathing activity can be a coping tool or a sensory strategy to help with self-regulation skills. Included is a free printable deep breathing worksheet.

Penguins Emotions Game- This free penguin emotions therapy slide deck challenges kids to identify emotions based on facial expressions. It’s a great way to work on visual perception, too.

Tactile Sensory Play– Use this Snow and Ice Penguin Small World activity from Stir the Wonder for penguin sensory fun. This Penguin Sensory Play from Fantastic Fun and Learning is another fun activity. Or, make a Winter Sensory Bin like this one from There’s Just One Mommy.  A Snow Dough Arctic Sensory Bin like this one from House of Burke is another fun idea.

Auditory Processing Activity- Use this 5 Little Penguins Counting Songs from Let’s Play Music to work on listening, sounds, and auditory memory. 

Tacky the Penguin Activities

For Tacky the Penguin activity ideas, pair a book with any of the activities listed here. Or try this Fun With Tacky The Penguin idea from Learning is Messy

Penguin Fine Motor Activities

You can add fine motor skills with crafts and motor activities. This penguin craft only requires paper and glue. Use colored paper or use crayons to color your penguin. It’s a fine motor folding craft to work on hand strength and precision.

Or, try this Penguin Math Activity to work on Scissor Skills– This counting/adding/subtracting fish activity builds eye-hand coordination too. Make and cut out fish from paper and catch them to feed the penguins.

Another fine motor Penguin Craft is this Penguin Craft with Printable Pieces from ABC Creative Learning to add fine motor fun to a penguin theme.

Use the fine motor activities, lacing cards, toothpick art, and crafts in the Winter Fine Motor Kit. It’s a 100 page packet with all winter themes, and you’ll find penguins there!

winter fine motor kit

Click here for more information on the Winter Fine Motor Kit.

 
 
 
 

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.