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Students stay slim beyond the gym

Stephanie Schmieding

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Health Education Specialist

Patti Horsley, professor and health education specialist, holds office hours in Butte Hall for her students and any other students interested in learning about health education. Photo credit: Stephanie Schmieding

Beyond the great windows and thick walls of the Wildcat Recreation Center, there is a utopia of natural space ideal for physical exercise and growth. For students who find themselves struggling with food choices, missing that group exercise class day after day or can’t find the motivation to burn calories on the treadmill, Chico’s natural environment provides the means to stay physically healthy through the trails and parks.

Patti Horsley, professor and health education specialist, encourages students to go outdoors for their physical activity, not only as a positive alternative to the gym but also as a way to enhance mind-body health.

“It’s common to feel stress from classes, jobs, internships and everything else that we do on a daily basis,” Horsley said. “Regular physical activity can help reduce that stress by releasing stress-fighting hormones. And when that physical activity happens in nature, people actually report feeling more revitalized and less tense.”

The city of Chico manages many local parks, including the Crown Jewel at Bidwell Park. Here are some must-see walking trails, green space, sport areas and picnic spots:

• Community Park (1900 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Pkwy, Chico)

• DeGarmo Park & Dog Park (199 Leora Court, Chico)

• Hooker Oak Park (1928 Manzanita Ave, Chico)

• Wildwood Park (100 Wildwood Ave, Chico)

Caelin Nieto, a junior communication studies major, also finds alternative ways to stay healthy and fit around Chico, besides just “laying off the Serrano’s.”

“When I don’t work out at the gym, I utilize how beautiful Chico is,” Nieto said. “Running in Bidwell Park is so refreshing, plus it always gives you an out-of-the ordinary workout. Running Monkey Face is difficult, but the view kills.”

Hiking is a powerful cardio workout that not only builds strength in leg muscles and your core, but can provide a stunning view while working out. These are just a few of the many hiking trails that students can enjoy in Chico:

• Big Chico Creek Loop (Lower Bidwell Park, Chico, 7.0 miles)

• Feather Falls Semi-Loop (Plumas National Forest, Oroville, 8.8 miles)

• Yahi Trail (Upper Bidwell Park, Chico, 3.2 miles)

• Bald Rock Canyon Loop (Plumas National Forest, Oroville, 4.4 miles)

“I’m a big fan of getting outdoors and being active in nature,” Horsley said. “But whether you choose the WREC or one of Chico’s great outdoor areas, the important thing is that you are moving.”

In addition to outdoor exercise, food and a healthy diet play a significant role in fitness and well-being. Maintaining a healthy diet is important for all students and it is essential for those who are physically active inside and outside the gym.

“If you want to be physically active you need to eat a healthy diet so your body is strong enough for that activity,” Horsley said. “Following ‘MyPlate’ and making half your plate fruits and vegetables is a good guideline.”

The MyPlate philosophy provides tips and tricks for students to make healthier food choices on campus and in their daily lives. This campus resource provides recipes, tips for how to eat well at different places on campus and the opportunity to become a MyPlate ambassador.

The Campus Alcohol and Drug Education Center is also offering a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Class open to all students, staff and faculty. This assists in reducing stress and teaches members of the community coping techniques to help with stress through a series of classes.

Horsley is a firm believer in taking time to relax in order to help students be healthier physically and mentally.

“Some people get that meditative aspect through physical activity like walking or running,” she said. “Some people get it through yoga, some people get it through sitting in their backyard and writing in their journal, the important thing is to make it a priority,”

Stephanie Schmieding can be reached at [email protected] or @stephbottt on Twitter.

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Students stay slim beyond the gym