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Bruins Step To It Part 2: Resources to Step it Up

People often underestimate the power of a simple walk. We not only walk to get to where we want to go, we walk to clear our heads, get exercise, and enjoy the scenery. This blog is part 2 of Bruins Step To It, a three part blog series on walking. If you missed Part 1, we discussed some surprising ways walking can boost your productivity. Part 2 will explore some beautiful walking paths you may not have noticed right in your UCLA backyard. Stay tuned for Part 3, the last of our series, which will be exploring ways to implement more walking into our lives!

Walking resources abound at UCLA! Here is the whole collection:

1. UCLA 30 x 30 Nature Challenge

For the whole month of April, UCLA Recreation FITWELL is encouraging the community to activate their lives through the Nature Challenge. The array of daily challenges includes low intensity walking excursions on the beach or barefoot on grass. Fitwell highlights the various benefits of activity in nature. Read about it and follow the daily challenges here!

2. UCLA Walks App

Track your walking with UCLA Health’s UCLA Walks App! The app tracks your path, time, and distance and rewards walkers with points. Connect your walking routes and progress with your friends and keep each other accountable for wellness! The app is available for iPhone and Android devices.



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3. Bruin Commuter Club (BCC) Walk Benefits

Graduate students, Staff, and Faculty can receive benefits for commuting to campus via walking! Members can receive their $50 in annual benefits by choose between a $50 The Walking Company Gift Card or a UCLA Commuter Passport and $25 The Walking Company Gift Card. Apply here!

4. FITWELL Bruin Walkers Guided Walking Maps

Interested in finding new routes to walk around campus? The maps identify key landmarks on and around campus for your to find! Download the maps here!

5. UCLA Transportation’s Benefits of Walking

For those who can, walking as a means of commuting is incredibly beneficial for the mind and body. UCLA Transportation also provides tips to get started to pull the best from your walking commute. Read about it here.

6. Bruin Run/Walk

In its 20th year, the Bruin Run/Walk is a 5k benefitting the Chase Child Life Program at the UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. UCLA and its surrounding community will gather on Saturday, April 27th to enjoy live performances, free food, and, of course, the run/walk route. More information here!


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Bruins Step To It Part 1: Scoot Over, Let’s Walk!

People often underestimate the power of a simple walk. We not only walk to get to where we want to go, we walk to clear our heads, get exercise, and enjoy the scenery. This blog is part 1 of Bruins Step To It, a three part blog series on walking. Part 2 will explore some beautiful walking paths you may not have noticed right in your UCLA backyard. Stay tuned!

Uber. Lyft. Lyft Scooters. Bird. Lime. Jump. Spin. Wheels.

Bruins now have more and more options of traveling around campus on vehicles small and large. Dock-less electric scooters started popping up around campus in Fall of 2017 and have dramatically shifted campus transportation. Even Razor, the company that manufactures traditional kick-scooters, now has a fleet of EScooters available for minute-to-minute rental via an app. Injuries from crashing or falling off EScooters have led to a significant increase in student emergency room visits. UCLA’s partnership with Lyft and the cultural popularity of Uber results in 11,000 carshare rides from one part of campus to another each week. Though rideshare companies fund initiatives to offset the carbon impact of their cars, Westwood is directly polluted with emissions from these trips. For these short distances, many students turn to vehicles instead of walking and, in doing so, miss out on some of the positive impacts of the mind-body connection, experienced through walking.

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Here are 5 ways walking instead of scooting can benefit your productivity:

1. Refresh your study session:

Walking is correlated with an improvement in work attitude! 30 minutes of walking during the day is correlated with an overall significant uptick in mood and outlook pertaining to work! Even a 5 minute lap around Powell or Young Library will drive your study session towards productiveness!

2. Writer’s block? Go around the block!

Walking was shown to increase creative divergent thinking during the walk and continued creative output when seated. Walking outdoors produced greater creativity compared to walking indoors or sitting outdoors. Take a stroll to a different study spot when stuck writing an essay!

3. Enter a meditative state:

The rhythmic motion of walking can put the walker into a meditative state. Create a mobile, personal meditation space by being present and mindful of the sights, sounds, and smells embedded within our beautiful green campus. A study on university student cognitive task performance found that mindfulness practice increased concentration, reaction time, and working memory.

4. Shake off that fatigue:

Regular low-intensity leisurely walking has been shown to reduce fatigue symptoms by 65 percent in individuals and increased energy levels by 20 percent. A daily 40 minute walk from one side of Westwood to another and back is the perfect walk for increasing daily energy for those who don’t already do so!

5. Improve memory and attention:

Walking outside, even on gloomy or frigid days, benefits memory and attention. There is a correlation between walking in nature and greater memory and attention performance as compared to urban landscapes, so consider hiking to class along green paths rather than along the shortest route!

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The mind-body connection is dramatically illustrated in hippotherapy (i.e occupational, physical, or speech therapy on horseback). For some young children with delayed walking, speech is also delayed. Hippotherapy can be used to work non-leg muscles associated with walking and aid in helping develop speech! The forward/back, lateral, up/down movement of a horse is the only known method of replicating the sensation of walking in the torso without using legs. The three dimensional movement compels the rider to use their core muscles to adjust to the changing center of gravity with each step. Torsal organs settle in the body, allowing the diaphragm to lower more easily, increasing respiratory ability. Abdominal muscle stimulation allows for neural signaling the promotes the development of facial muscles and the jaw.

Stay tuned for a blog on some routes and commutes to and around campus that can add a little more green into your life!


Karan Ishii is an undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Biology. She is a blogger for MoveWell of the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative, as well as the Chief of Staff of the Student Wellness Commission and an intern at the Counseling and Psychological Services. She is passionate about dogs, curry, and skiing!

Image from Google

ThursYAYs: Get Ready to Start Moving in South Campus!

Hello my Bruin Movers and Shakers! I hope you are all getting the rest you deserve during this Spring Break and are ready for some amazing things we have in store for you during Spring Quarter!

Image from Rebecca Ferdman

Image from Rebecca Ferdman

Most students, staff, and faculty would agree that UCLA’s campus is gorgeous. However, most of us spend our time zooming through from one stop to the next. There are few outdoor spaces that invite us to destress and get moving. And sometimes the gym isn’t quite the right place to just relax or get moving for five minutes to kickstart the rest of your day. Well, we’ve got news for you!

HCI’s MoveWell pod is collaborating with BEWell to activate the Court of Sciences North and will launch activities starting at the beginning of Spring Quarter. More specifically, beginning on April 3rd, Mindful Music will play at noon on a monthly basis. And beginning April 5th, every Thursday at noon will now be dubbed ThursYAYs. Every ThursYAY in the Court of Sciences, UCLA REC and MoveWell will bring in loads of movement equipment, including yoga mats, ping-pong tables, a giant Jenga set, and sidewalk chalk, in order to help the students, staff, and faculty all across campus add a little more movement to their day or have an area just to relax with friends, just with a little more fun!

Image from Google

Image from Google

The pilot activation project includes adding and revising some of the landscape, adding some “connected” furniture as well as providing a storage unit for the games and equipment UCLA REC will provide for noon activities. This project was facilitated by pod leaders of BEWell and MoveWell, Renee Fortier and Angelia Leung, respectively. Leung says, “the Court of Sciences is a great space that could be really used well,” and explains that they created this project because they wanted to “utilize underused spaces that the campus community typically just walks through.” Fortier says that “with 75,000 people on 419 acres, the campus can’t really afford for these spaces to just be pass through spaces. We need to make these spaces active, alive, and contribute to the health and well-being of the campus.”

The Court of Sciences North was specifically chosen as a starting point because it has “a lot of people passing through but the space itself has very little in the way for amenities that could give people a chance to pause from studies, work, or stresses,” Fortier explains. “We wanted to give students, staff, and faculty a place to relax, to sit down and talk with colleagues, [to] meditate, or [to do some] impromptu nerf ball tossing.”

Image from The Tech Edvocate

Image from The Tech Edvocate

The ultimate goal is to have a place to help individuals deal with the fast-paced life of a college campus, whether by “being alone, to sit and meditate and relax, or engaging and being social,” Fortier says. Similarly, Leung shares that HCI as a whole wants to inspire the campus to “go beyond the sedentary habits” and “know when it’s time to get up and stretch or get out of the room and take a little walk to destress for two minutes.” By activating this space, HCI hopes to draw more attention to how easy it is to incorporate small breaks into one’s everyday life to help reduce stress and combat sedentary habits. We hope that many activations will follow all over campus that would include more fun activities!

Get ready for some de-stressing activities coming at you in the Court of Sciences! Later in the quarter, there will even be a kickoff event on Tuesday, May 1st, from 11:30 am – 1 pm, when HCI will celebrate this new initiative to transform the Court of Sciences into an inviting space for healthy activity and social engagement. Come join the fun, where there will be free food, prizes, games, fitness assessments, and more!

Your Thursdays will be looking like ThursYAYs!

Tiffany Hu is an undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics. She is a blogger for Move Well of the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative. She is the Assistant Commissioner of the Student Wellness Commission and the Special Projects and Alumni Coordinator of the UCLA Care Extender Internship.


Movement Breaks: A Colorful Adventure

Hello, Bruin Movers and Shakers! Ever felt like you just need a break during class when the lecture is droning on and your body is getting lethargic? Ever just wanted to get up for a quick second to get the blood moving through your body? Well we have another amazing example to show you!

Taking a “movement break” means moving in any way you like for at least a minute (could be for longer) to get your body grooving and to get the blood pumping!

Last year, we talked to the wonderful Dr. Elginer, faculty from UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, to get the inside scoop on how she incorporates movement breaks into her class to combat the effects of long term sitting. Now, we had the chance to speak with Elisabeth Nails, Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) for the MoveWell pod, to get her take on how to engage in movement breaks!

Tiffany Hu (TH): How did you come up with the idea of using scarves in your movement breaks?

Elisabeth Nails (EN): I learned about dance scarves through UCLA’s Center for Arts and Healing. I took a workshop with them and one of the facilitators introduced them in an assembly room full of adults at 9am. It was a bit stiff at first, but suddenly everyone was laughing and connecting and moving and all of the self consciousness dropped; people were just together having an experience, while having fun and moving.

TH: How did you first start incorporating movement breaks into your life?

EN: As an undergrad, I was a theatre major. I’ve directed many plays, so I’m always looking for different ways to warm up while building group energy. I also try to bring arts into everything I do, because the arts can do things that other things can’t. For the dance scarves, there’s a connection developed, even between strangers, derived from this feeling of “I see you” and “you see me” as we move together. The social and emotional benefits of that may seem really simple, but that can’t be beat!

TH: Have you done other kinds of movement breaks? How do you think using scarves is different than “typical” movement breaks (e.g. choreographed movements)?

EN: I appreciate any and all breaks, but for me, because I’m not trained as a dancer, I do not have that skill set as a facilitator; I want to bring something else to the table. I think that [movement breaks are] something anyone can do; the dance scarves take off the pressure of having to be a “cool mover” and help people feel confident in how your body moves. There’s something about [the scarves and their] simple structure that adds a layer of delight and freeing feeling.


“We need to grow a culture where we allow for moments where we completely shift gears to foster a culture of collaboration and listening.”

TH: How do you think movement breaks have enhanced your life? Have you seen the difference they make in other people’s lives (for example, a “change in the air”)?

EN: I’ve recently changed from being a staff member to a grad student and I realized how sedentary the student life is. I’ve been forcing myself to do my own fit breaks (like 30 second dance parties) which are super fast, but research backs it up that holding certain poses or doing certain movements reduces cortisol levels. I also think that we can’t ask people to sit for so many hours and ask them to be their best, their most creative, and engaged and open self.

TH: What advice would you give for professors or students who want to incorporate movement breaks in either their classes or their lives?

EN: I completely understand hesitation to shift the culture. It’s a vulnerable thing to put yourself out there and go: “Okay everybody we’re gonna break now and move.” The MoveWell pod is making a resource page for the variety of movement breaks with videos that can help you lead. You could also ask students to form a small committee who would be interested in leading these as well as create a class playlist. If you (the instructor) just create the space, then other people can come and fill it in. It’s also important to consider differently abled people and to always make room for that. It is important to be as inclusive as possible with the language, as not everyone can stand and not everyone can move in the same way. So make sure to offer multiple ways for people to participate!

TH: What’s your favorite part about doing fit breaks?

EN: Honestly, I love how at the end, there’s this slight shift and there’s this brightness in people’s eyes. It’s so subtle, but to me, it is so joyful to see! I hope to see more people embrace it, even just a trial, as it will create a shift!

We hope you all are as excited about these movement breaks as we are! Now that we gave you all the inside scoop on these movement breaks, for undergraduates and graduates, would you want them incorporated in your classes?  Share your opinions in the comments and let your professors know as well!

As always, keep moving, my Bruin Movers and Shakers!

Tiffany Hu is an undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics. She is a blogger for Move Well of the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative. She is the Assistant Commissioner of the Student Wellness Commission. Tiffany is also the Special Projects and Alumni Coordinator of the UCLA Care Extender Internship.