Teachers move their way to health and wellness

Updated: 04/09/2014 7:48 AM | Created: 04/09/2014 7:46 AM
By: Nikki Ibarra, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A group of Albuquerque elementary school teachers decided it was time to practice what they preach: Get healthy and stay healthy.

From September to June, their students are their priorities, leaving hardly any "me" time for teachers like Bernadine Perea. Perea teaches fourth grade at Pajarito Elementary School in southwest Albuquerque.

But that changed in January, when Perea and six other teachers decided it was time for the focus to be on them.

"We decided that a healthy body is a healthy mind and it creates happy people," she said.

As a team, they signed up for the Albuquerque Public Schools' "Choose to Move Fitness Challenge."

For the next six weeks, they logged all of their activities. From walking to jogging to dancing, they kept track of it all.

"We have boogie time. We do it for 10 minutes and we jump and I always have to start the dancing and stuff, but then they get into it and it's fun," said Crystal Avalos, a teacher at Pajarito.

But they admit it wasn't always easy, especially after a long day of work.

"I mean towards the end of the day you just want to relax and sit down," Avalos said.

"Once you actually do it you're like, oh, I feel much better and I have more energy," said Jennifer Lange, who also teaches at Pajarito.

They all said tracking and being a part of a team helped them stay accountable and kept them on track.

The challenge is now over, but their lifestyle has changed. They still allow more "me" time so exercise and healthy eating stays important to them.

"I find that I'm just a better teacher and that I'm more understanding and compassionate with my students," Heather Di Luzio said.

"It's not just a seasonal thing. It's not just because summer is coming, but it's a lifetime commitment. It's just a way of life," Perea said.

Out of all of the schools in the challenge, the winners were the teachers at Pajarito.

Last week, APS was named one of New Mexico's healthiest employers by Albuquerque Business First.

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