SF State News {University Communications}

Image: Photos of SF State students and scenes from around campus

Examining wellness in the workplace

February 24, 2010 -- After beginning her career as an architect, Susan Forsman began to see that constant deadlines and 12-hour work days were keeping her from exercising. That was a problem for Forsman, who had been a long-distance runner at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and later took up ultra distance cycling, so she shifted careers.

An aerial photo of the area around Lake Merced with the route of one of three healthy walks starting at SF State traced in red.One of the walks beginning at the Cesar Chavez Student Center.

Now a graduate student in Kinesiology at SF State, Forsman's passion for exercise and health is yielding new ideas to improve the health of the general population. 

This spring, her master's thesis project will explore whether a walking kit containing a pedometer and pre-mapped walks will entice people to exercise more.

Modeled on a program in Oregon that provided planned walks in locations across the state, Forsman received pedometers from the company New-Lifestyles and partial funding from the San Francisco Public Health Department to put together a booklet of 12 planned walks of varying distances. Each walk features a full-color map and information about landmarks walkers are likely to encounter. Three walks begin from the SF State campus, while the others take place in the Mission, Marina and Sunset districts in San Francisco.

The booklet also features information and recent research about the benefits of increased physical activity and benefits of eating healthful foods."People will realize that you should exercise not just because you want to look good, but because you want to feel better," Forsman said. "The packet tells you recent research, like if you exercise every day, you'll be less stressed and experience decreased feelings of depression. I think little things like that help."

The study will last 12 weeks and measure the effects of exercise on such health factors as weight and blood pressure. Forsman said the program could become a part of wellness programs at universities and workplaces.

"We could take these to other schools so that faculty and staff could do walks from there," Forsman said. "A program doesn't have to be that extensive, but it could make it easier for people to improve their health."

Forsman is seeking SF State faculty and staff to participate in her study. For more information or to participate, e-mail sforsman@sfsu.edu

-- Michael Bruntz


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