Saturday, October 21

I Heart Walking event promotes a method for improving health along with the environment


Kylie Reynolds / Daily Bruin

Carol Chen walks to exercise and socialize with fellow UCLA friends and coworkers.

For this reason, the administration and financial service manager for UCLA Housing and Hospitality is one of more than 1,000 people who are participating in UCLA’s I Heart Walking event this week.

Held from Feb. 9 to 12, the fourth annual event encourages participants to live more sustainable and healthy lives, according to the UCLA Recreation Web site.

For this year’s event, walking began at a different location each day, either on campus or in Westwood, with two staggered start times of 12:10 p.m. and 12:20 p.m.

Today, the event’s finale will be held at the Intramural field.

UCLA Transportation, Recreation and Health System began the event four years ago with a common goal in mind: to have people use alternative transportation and to be healthy, said Kyrie Bass, marketing manager for UCLA Transportation.

“(Walking) is something you can do to be multimodal, with taking the bus and biking,” Bass said. “A lot of staff who drive to campus also drive around to different meetings. We are trying to highlight that you can walk around to meetings instead of driving.” In addition to transportation, the event also targets the health of UCLA’s staff.

“The main goal for I Heart Walking is for faculty and staff, to get them out of their chairs, to make them realize that they do have time to take a 30-minute walk throughout the day,” said Bill Aberbuch, the marketing and promotional coordinator at UCLA Recreation.

Throughout the years, attendance at the event has grown, with only around 400 participants the first year and at least 1,041 registered this year. The increase can be attributed to past walkers asking their friends and coworkers to join them at the event, according to Aberbuch.

Although the event was scheduled to begin Tuesday at the bottom of Janss Steps, the location was moved to the Pardee Gym in the John Wooden Center because of rain. Walking began at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center on Wednesday and moved to the Lot 36 Shuttle Stop in Westwood on Thursday.

For today’s finale, prizes including an iPod touch and airline tickets for two will be raffled.

For every walk that participants signed up for and completed, they received a raffle ticket to be entered into the drawing and a chance to win a prize, Bass said.

Each walk is guided by the team of recreation staff that belongs to FITWELL, UCLA Recreation’s fitness and wellness resource. The team motivates and coaches walkers, Aberbuch said.

Carol Block, Chancellor Gene Block’s wife, also joined the cause and walked alongside participants on Thursday, as she did last year.

“It is definitely a highlight to have Mrs. Block walking with everyone and leading by example,” Bass said.

More than just a form of exercise, I Heart Walking has become a social gathering on campus, fueled by participants’ excitement about getting out and meeting new people, Bass said.

“The motivation for most people is to get together and see the people that they don’t get to associate with much during the regular work week. They get to mingle and exercise,” Chen said. “You actually get energized and feed off each other for motivation.”

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