Get up, get moving

By Robin Rockey

Katie Chen’s usual exercise routine consists of a short trek from her apartment to campus, a hike up four flights of stairs to her Spanish class in DuSable Hall and a brisk walk to the music building for opera rehearsal.

“I used to exercise a lot more, but I’m just too busy this semester,” the senior journalism major said.

Chen’s sentiments about exercise are common among students on campus and in schools across the country, NIU kinesiology professor Connie Fox said.

“Judging from when I go to the [Campus Recreation Center] it’s not jam-packed,” Fox said. “I don’t see that many people jogging around campus or out on the tennis courts.”

Fox plans to focus on issues such as physical inactivity and obesity in the U.S. during her two-year term as the president of the American Association for Physical Activity and Recreation.

The 8,300-member organization was created in April when the American Association for Active Lifestyle and Fitness, which Fox led as president-elect, merged with the American Association for Leisure and Recreation.

Fox, who holds a doctorate in physical education measurement from the University of Georgia, will travel to Washington D.C. in January to gain national attention for the group, which also includes NIU professor Pamela Macfarlane.

The association’s objectives include increasing the amount of time students devote to physical activity during and after school.

“The obesity rates among children in Illinois are among the highest in the nation,” Fox said. “This is especially troubling since Illinois is the only state to require physical education for kindergarten through 12th grade. Just imagine how far behind this puts kids in other states.”

“I would call it a lack of physical activity epidemic,” she said.

Fox, who has been teaching at NIU for 21 years, said she understands it can be challenging for college students to develop good exercise habits.

“Students are incredibly busy, but the busier you are, the more stressed you are, and the more you need that physical activity outlet,” Fox said. “Activity can even improve your quality of life.”

Junior psychology major Vince Maloney agrees. That’s why he works out at the Rec Center four times a week.

“You tend to get lazy when you’re stuffed in your room,” Maloney said. “Exercising gives you more energy. It helps you stay awake in class.”

For students who want to get in better shape, Fox recommends designating time each day for exercise.

“Although walking to class is better than taking the bus or driving, it is not enough activity to get into a health-enhancing state.”