Student seeks connection between outdoor exercise and anxiety
June 27, 2012
By Sebastian Moraga
Jovial and smiling, Kali Walker has an unusual source of fun. Research.
A graduate thesis away from her master’s degree, this North Bend resident gets weird stares when people hear that a word people learn to loathe in grade school is the equivalent of Chuck E. Cheese’s for her.
“A lot of people are stressed by research, I’m excited,” the 2006 graduate of Mount Si High School said. “I’m researching up here and meeting a lot of new people here, and when they ask me what I’m up to and I say research, they go, ‘I don’t know how to talk to you anymore.’”
The research that keeps her busy is for her master’s in exercise science from Humboldt State University.
She has seven years to complete it, but wants to start and finish this year. And for that, she needs you. Walker said she believes exercising outdoors has higher benefits than exercising indoors. She wants to gather 60 people three times per week for four weeks of exercise in four settings: indoors with windows, indoors without windows, outdoors in residential areas and outdoors in green areas.
“I believe there are more benefits to exercising in the outdoors than just exercising,” she said. “I believe it’s therapeutic. It can rejuvenate you mentally.”
Moreover, she believes that exercising in green areas has the highest benefits.
When planning her thesis she discovered little research existed regarding the benefits of outdoor versus indoor exercise. She wants to recruit five dozen adults ages 18-45 who exercise fewer than three times a week and have not been diagnosed with anxiety disorders.
She said she set those parameters because since the thesis deals with the therapeutic effects of exercise, studying people diagnosed with anxiety disorders may alter the results.
Also, she found research shows people ages 18-45 benefit the most from exercise. Lastly, she found most similar research use workout fiends and most people aren’t.
“Thirty percent of Americans exercise regularly,” she said. “That’s a huge gap in data.”
She admits she belongs in that 70 percent chunk.
“I try to exercise twice a week, I go a little stir-crazy if I don’t,” she said. “Like everyone, I’m really good at making excuses, ‘I’m busy,’ ‘I don’t have time,’ ‘It’s raining.’”
She credits her puppy for helping overcome excuses. Puppy needs playtime, which means walking and playing.
“She’s probably the reason I can put on a bathing suit in the summer,” Walker said.
Folks completing each week of 30-minute workouts will get a voucher for a free smoothie at North Bend’s Emerald City Smoothie, which Walker’s mother owns. People who complete all the month’s workouts will be entered in a drawing for an hourlong professional massage.
She has set no deadline to join the study.
“I would hate for people to not be able to participate just because they missed the deadline,” she said.
She would like to start Aug. 1, though.
“Since we don’t exercise regularly, they might realize it’s a great thing,” she said. “It’s not just the free massage. It may be a lifestyle-changer.”
If you would like to participate in this exercise research study, email Kali (KAH-lee) Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.