Hannah Roberts, a post-baccalaureate student at SU currently taking additional science prerequisite classes in preparation for applying to medical school, and a few of her classmates approached Molly Welsh, assistant professor in the Center for the Study of Sport and Exercise, with an idea to increase the campus community's participation in exercise.
The initiative that resulted, SU Moves, is based on Exercise is Medicine-On Campus (EIM-OC), a program launched by the American Medical Association and the American College of Sports Medicine. SU Moves involves opportunities to participate in a midday mile walk three days a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), and a Hump Day 5K jog two times on Wednesdays.
"Hannah's enthusiasm for moving this initiative forward has been impressive," says Welsh. "Participating in the SU Moves midday mile reminds me to take a break from my sedentary desk behavior for a short 20-minutes, enjoy the protected garden paths that skirt the Seattle U campus, and spend the time connecting with students on a level that is removed from coursework and office hours.
"I find that the group conversations during the walk tend to become informal future course and career mentoring discussions. Sometimes the students also verbally quiz each other in preparation for their upcoming exams. The student leaders of this initiative are enthusiastic and motivated to get students, faculty, and staff to make a regular commitment to SU Moves. With increased participation in SU Moves from the campus community as a whole, Seattle University will demonstrate that exercise IS medicine, serving as an example to other universities."
My mom may be my best client of my entire personal training career. She's 66 and loves Crossfit, backpacking in the Cascades, rowing machines and jump ropes. She will harass me to give her more workouts, more exercises and to back it all up with science. I love that she and I have kettle bells in common and both have a commitment to being well and staying fit.
The pride I have in my mom's enthusiasm is countered with a worry about my dad. As a young man he could do two-finger pull ups on door frames, bike from the Pacific to Whitefish, Montana, rollerblade six miles a day. These days, he carries a belly, insists he hates walking, gyms, heart rate monitors, warming up, cooling down. He resists our attempts to encourage or include him in most things physical. It's indeed a source of concern for me-I want my pops around. It's also a major concern for my mom, who is watching her best friend and husband of 31 years exhibit more than a few warning signs of metabolic syndrome.
So she suggests, nudges and nags at him and he resists. She asks me to persuade, encourage, and get real with him. I try as well, and hopefully he knows that nothing says love like second-hand-nagging. He parries our suggestions and attempts like a seasoned fencer, which would be fine if he was actually fencing. Instead, he keeps defenses up that keep out vital minutes of moderate exercise and social activity.
I get it, though. He's busy. My dad works very hard and on the night shift and there are days that's about all the energy he's got in the tank. He's a brilliant man, and surely he can read and come to his own conclusions, but he doesn't, and it's a mystery to me why not and deeply worrying. So what can I do? What can we all do for the busy people in our lives that we love and care for?
I walk. But not like a sign-up, formal, raising money kind of walk. I walk to and from school. I walk for groceries. I take the stairs. I make time every day for even just a modest walk. I am convinced that even though I have an eighth of the work ethic of my dad, though perhaps I'm a bit busier these days back in school, but I squeeze it in regardless and I prioritize exercise. I don't think that walking a couple miles every day will make me fit enough to compete at a marathon or anything, but I do think that I'll set a good example and try and convince my dad, and others like him, that we can fight back against physical inactivity and obesity.
There is a program by the American College of Sports Medicine called Exercise is Medicine. Seattle University has a brand new on-campus chapter of EIM, but it's got to be more than a listing on an obscure website and a few active, concerned members of the founding team. We need participation from the university community in order for this to be a service to SU and our extended communities and neighbors.
EIM On Campus (or SU Moves!) is a social movement that will imbue our colleagues, peers, staff, student body with the habits that will reverse the tide of obesity and physical inactivity because it's hard to picture a just and humane world that does nothing to reverse the trends against these preventable pandemics.
What we can do for a just and humane world in this regard is relatively simple. SU Moves! for a just and humane world and it's participating in the midday walks (approximately one mile, wheelchair friendly, completely on-campus with no traffic crossings) or the Hump Day 5Ks (every Wednesday). It's taking the stairs and inviting people to come with you. It's offering walking office hours. It's anything that isn't sitting all day.
SU Moves! is on campus to get the call to action started and to facilitate our community as we all adapt to daily moderate exercise.