Walking on campus jump-starts workout

Kelly Petryszyn

Distance isn’t necessarily the best way to gauge exercise

It isn’t the amount a person walks, but the intensity one is walking at, that makes it beneficial exercise. Using hand weights and bigger arm movements can help, said Ben Cope, fitness and wellness coordinator. Adam Cade | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Students walk every day. Whether it’s to get to class, a job or a social obligation, walking is a part of students’ everyday lives. But just how much walking do students do? The Stater gave three Kent State students pedometers to track how far they walked during a three-day period.

Egor Cravcenco, sophomore molecular biology major, walked 1.48 miles on Friday, but he walked 4.21 miles on Monday. Sophomore chemistry major Natalie Waddle walked 1.49 miles on Monday and 3.59 on Tuesday. Cara White, junior journalism and mass communication major, walked the most on Thursday, at 5.19 miles.

Walking as exercise

Even though students are walking more than a mile on campus every day, exercise specialists said the amount a person walks is not the determining factor in how much exercise a person is actually getting.

It’s not the amount a person walks, but the intensity one is walking at, said Ben Cope, fitness and wellness coordinator at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. If a person is just meandering around, it won’t do anything, he said. But if he or she is getting up to the target heart rate zone, then it starts to become good exercise.

One way to maximize the exercise of walking is to pick up the pace, Cope said. Using hand weights and bigger arm movements can help.

Ellen Glickman, professor of exercise science, said frequency, intensity, time, type and enjoyment are also considered in determining the difference between casual walking and exercise. She said students should exercise three to five days a week and burn 1,000 calories altogether.

Factors that affect walking

The weight students carry in their book bags may increase intensity because it affects the amount of energy expended, Glickman said.

However, Cope said students should be careful not to overload their bags. Heavy backpacks can put a lot of stress on the lower back, he said. A student should alternate carrying books in front of him or her, on his or her back or on his or her shoulder.

Choosing the right shoes is crucial, too, Glickman said. It depends on whether your foot rolls inside or out, she said. Flip-flops are not good, and padded shoes are recommended.

The start to a healthy life

Glickman said walking is an easy choice of exercise.

“(It’s) a good exercise across the life span,” she said. “It’s low intensity, and you can do it anywhere. (It can be done) with a dog, with a friend or with headphones. You don’t have to pay (to walk).”

For some students, walking on campus is the majority of the physical activity they get.

“I consider walking my only exercise,” White said. “I don’t go to the rec.”

But Glickman said it is important to get in a variety of exercise, such as aerobic, muscle strength and endurance exercises.

She said students need to weave physical activity into everyday life and start setting a foundation of fitness early on to avoid problems.

“Walking can reduce the risk factors,” she said, “such as obesity and diabetes, reduce the level of stress, increase caloric expenditure and improve the quality of life.”

Contact news correspondent Kelly Petryszyn [email protected].