Promoting Health and Fitness Outside the Classroom

College of Nursing and Health Sciences | November 23, 2011
Promoting Health and Fitness Outside the Classroom

Promoting healthy lifestyles has always been an important goal at the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at UMass Boston. Assistant Professors Emily Jones, PhD, RNC-OB and Sarah Camhi, PhD, not only teach nursing and exercise and health sciences students how to be healthy in the classroom, they also practice what they teach. On October 16, Jones and Camhi completed a 7K trail-cross country race at Peaked Mountain in Monson, Massachusetts. Participants hailed from Massachusetts and its surrounding states.

Jones, who teaches in the nursing program, completed her first 5K in August. To prepare for running the 7K, for several weeks leading up to the race, she incorporated stairs into her regular running routine and she focused on increasing her leg strength by doing squats and lunges several times a week.

“I knew that I would need to increase my cardiorespiratory fitness more than was required to run a regular 5K on a fairly level road. I've found that I can tell a huge difference in my stamina while running depending upon how faithful I've been in recent weeks to do lower body strength training!” Jones says about her preparation for the race.

Camhi, who teaches in the exercise and health sciences program, is an avid runner and triathlete with a set weekly routine that involves 2 to 3 days of running, 2 days of cycling, and 3 days of weight training. She credits her love of exercise as one of the reasons she became interested in exercise science.

“I have always been fascinated with how the body moves and works–I enjoy being active, setting goals, training and watching the changes that happen–it keeps me interested and motivated.  Plus, it gives me great insight that I can bring into the classroom for my students. It has always been a priority for me to be a good role model to my students outside the classroom, and show that no matter how busy we are, we can make time to be healthy,” she comments.

Camhi also incorporates different types of recreation during the week, including swimming, walking, hiking, and dance, depending on the season. She regularly signs up for races as a way to set personal goals and motivate herself to amp up her exercise routine, which is especially difficult during New England’s harsh winter months.

“The Peaked Mountain race was very challenging. Trail runs are great in the fall with the cooler temperatures and beautiful fall colors, so it was a great distraction to the endless uphill course,” she says.

Both Camhi and Jones stress that incorporating a fitness routine in collaboration with others is a great way for a person to make their fitness goals, as they are being held accountable for them.

“The 7K trail run was a lot of fun, both because my lungs and legs were comfortable the entire time and because it's always more fun to run with a friend!” Jones says.

The College of Nursing and Health Science’s collaborative approach to education has led to the creation of programs such as the annual Go Red for Health Stepping Challenge, designed to promote heart health. Faculty, students, and staff work in teams to incorporate regular exercise such as walking meetings, recreational classes, or personal training sessions into their schedule. Faculty organized a heart-healthy potluck and offered health and nutrition tips to participants. Eighty-seven participants from 12 teams wore pedometers and recorded their daily steps, covering 16,600 miles over the six-week challenge. The Go Red for Health Stepping Challenge is set to start again in Spring 2012.

Tags: cnhs , exercise , faculty spotlight , fitness , health , health science , nursing

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