Stepping up your health: Get fit by staying with feet on pavement

As a car-less freshman with no knowledge or courage to try out the bus routes, walking used to be my only option for getting around campus. And living in Ikenberry Commons, that walk was no less than 15 minutes, whether I was walking to the Quad or to Green Street to pick up some Panera, or making that huge trek to the ARC to workout.

Then came sophomore year with not only a location that shortened the walk to the Quad to 2 minutes, but also allowed me to have my car on campus. Before I knew it, I was driving all over the place.

Need something from Walgreens? Car. Cold night that I didn’t want to walk all the way to Red Lion? Ask somebody else to drive my car. And worst of all came when I started driving to the ARC. Now that’s rock bottom.

So now, as a junior and having fully admitted to my laziness, it is time to see exactly how much potential exercise I am missing out on. So for one full day, I pledged to do my normal routine, but without — wait for it: driving or taking the bus anywhere. (I know, #firstworldproblems).

After downloading a pedometer application and hiding my car keys, I set off for my day by foot, and at the end of the day, realized that walking around campus to classes, to the ARC, and to the library, gave me an additional 5,582 steps, or about 3 miles, all without breaking a sweat. Seeing those numbers put in perspective just how much easy and almost effortless exercise I was missing out on as far as health prevention goes.

“When it comes to losing weight or maintaining weight, your physical activity plays a huge role in that, just as much as diet and exercise does,” said Kathleen Chizewski, senior in AHS and personal trainer at the ARC. “Walking from class to class can play such a big role because when we exercise, our metabolism is boosted.”

While this can be achieved from running on the treadmill or going on the elliptical at CRCE or the ARC, constantly walking all over the campus boosts metabolism all day long, and also can be a preventative measure for future health issues like heart disease or obesity.

“Walking helps overall health without any sort of medicine,” Chizewski said. “It’s a non-prescription health measure.”

While it can be difficult to log in a workout every day with class, club meetings, and homework, walking to class can take the place if done sporadically throughout the day.

“It’s important for everyone to get 150 minutes in a week of exercise like walking,” Chizewski said.“It doesn’t have to be done all at once. Skip taking the bus and walk to class or just take the stairs. The little stuff like that will start to add up.”

According to the YouTube video “23 1/1 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health” done by Dr. Michael Evans, an associate professor of family medicine and public health at the University of Toronto, small amounts of exercise do have a big payoff when it comes to overall health.

In the study explained in this video, when measuring the high blood pressure of adults walking to work, a short 11-20 minute walk showed decrease rates in high blood pressure by 12%. For walks over 21 minutes, the commuters showed a decrease in 29%.

All it takes to prevent future health issues and help maintain current weight is to say ‘no’ to the bus and take a nice stroll through the streets of Champaign-Urbana.

_Kelly is a junior in LAS._