I Heart Walking Week promotes sustainability
UCLA faculty, students come together for event designed to decrease carbon footprints
Crowds of UCLA faculty and students gathered together in front of the Ronald Reagan Medical Center on Tuesday afternoon, preparing to set off on a 30-minute walk through Westwood.
A bright yellow flier, reading, “I [heart] Walking,” swung high, directing participants to their starting point while exerting a simple yet multifaceted message of health and community through the crowd.
“The message of this event is two-fold,” said Nicole Keller, fitness and health promotions coordinator for UCLA Recreation. “One is to increase fitness by increasing activity, and two is to decrease our individual carbon footprints.”
This is where I Heart Walking Week began at UCLA and will continue until the end of the week, with more walks and informational gatherings taking place all over campus.
Walks are guided by trained members of UCLA Recreation’s Fit Squad and start at noon today and Thursday.
Friday will be the finale event where Carol Block, wife of Chancellor Gene Block, is set to join participants for walks through Drake Stadium.
The participation for this event is estimated to reach more than 600 people over the three days of walks. With more and more people coming out each year, participants said they believe that this event has been a success in creating a lasting difference for both the community and for individuals.
Some of the walkers said that participating in these walks over the past three years has made them more active in their day-to-day lives.
“I definitely became more active after participating in this event, and this is my third year,” said Tracey Allen, a staff member in the UCLA Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.“It’s really great for our group since we sit at our desks all day at work.”
Many people are lacking in physical exercise, and the growing numbers of obese people in the nation proves that sedentary lifestyles may be the culprit, Keller said.
To ensure the health of future generations, many parts of campus are involved in this event, sponsored by UCLA Recreation as well as UCLA transportation and the UCLA Health system, Keller added.
Other issues, like sustainabilty, will also be addressed during the week.
On a global scale, healthy lifestyles include living in a clean and healthy environment, Keller said.
Sustainability and saving resources are big parts of this event as well, starting from the simple level of collecting old shoes to be donated to those in need all the way to choosing to walk instead of drive, she added.
At the finale event on Friday, participants will be able to learn more about UCLA Recreation programs as well as visit the carbon footprint calculator.
It takes into account lifestyle decisions and provides a footprint of each individual’s impact on the planet, Keller said.
For many participants, this year was their first time joining the walks.
“At work, we always have work lunches, and it’s nice to get away for an afternoon and enjoy the community,” said Anu Kishore, director of development and communication at the UCLA Center for Intercultural Performance. She said the free stuff like T-shirts and chances to win other prizes lured her to participate as well.
UCLA Recreation staff members at the event also emphasized how joining the walks help people build a bridge to real behavior change and a more physically healthy attitude.
“This promotes exercise as part of your lifestyle which is the best way to make a change,” said David Frederick, personal fitness trainer at UCLA Recreation. “Taking a lunchtime walk could be a way to start.”
By conducting pre and post questionaires, Keller said they have been able to report the effectiveness of this event.
“Noticeable positive effects have been found in the past,” Keller said. “Also, students who arrive to this event also get engaged with other recreation programs, so it really acts as a gateway to a healthier lifestyle.”
So whether potential participants are looking to change the world by becoming more sustainable, or just get some help sustaining their own exercise behavior, Keller said participating can help to achieve all of those at once.
Published: Wednesday, February 18, 2009