Round and round Courtney Schnell goes.
Armed with smart devices to measure her strides, the graduate assistant with Campus Recreation’s wellness and nutrition team mapped a mile-long trek through the first floor of Nebraska Hall on Feb. 22, each rectangle-shaped lap equaling a 10th of a mile.
The path is part of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s walking map database, a Wellness Initiative project that offers designated paths through campus buildings, providing faculty, staff and students an extra way to exercise during the workday.
“We have six buildings mapped and will be adding Nebraska Hall soon,” said Schnell, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Nebraska in nutrition, exercise and health science, and is pursuing a master’s degree in community nutrition. “Creating the maps is something I’ve been doing for about 18 months. It’s something I enjoy because the maps give the campus community an easy way to be active, especially when the weather outside is bad.”
The indoor walking maps are generated via requests by university wellness ambassadors, which are employees that volunteer to work with the wellness initiative and promote healthy activities and programs within campus departments and units. The building walking routes range from simple to challenging, from a quarter-mile jaunt between water fountains in Whittier Research Center to a mile-long climb through Oldfather Hall.
The maps are made available online and Smith provides paper copies that wellness ambassadors can post within buildings.
“This project is just a really simple way to bring wellness into the work environment,” said Kimberly Barrett, assistant director for wellness and fitness. “It can be passive encouragement or wellness ambassadors can design specific programs around the walking paths.”
Gretchen Mills and Lisa Lightner are among wellness ambassadors integrating the maps into a building-wide walking initiative. Their program, “Walking in Whittier,” is being incorporated into the Every Move fitness program, an online and smart device app that allows individuals to track their activity, and will include award incentives for participants.
“We worked with Courtney to create three different routes through Whittier,” Mills said. “They accommodate different levels of physical activity, ranging from a quarter to full mile, and with and without stairs.”
Along with providing added health benefits like strengthening the heart and helping with weight loss, the Whittier program is designed to tap into the mental benefits of walking — which range from preventing dementia to boosting mood.
“Getting up and moving just a few times through the workday is important for your mental health,” Mills said. “Our program is designed to show how easy you can improve wellness by integrating a walk between water fountains or a lap around the building.”
Buildings currently included in the campus walking maps include the Barkley Center, College of Business Administration, Hardin Hall, Manter Hall, Nebraska Hall, Oldfather Hall and the Whittier Research Center. The Wellness Initiative also has mapped outdoor walking paths by distance on both City and East campuses.
For more information on the campus walking maps and the Wellness Initiative, click here.