No Time to Run to the Gym? The Library Has the Answer

You know the feeling: You're going on your third hour of studying in the library, and your legs begin to bounce, your fingers begin to tap and your mind begins to wander.

But with that big project due tomorrow, there’s no time to visit the gym to work off your nervous energy. What to do?

The McQuade Library has come up with an answer: stationary exercise bikes.

As part of its new Mindful McQuade program to reduce student stress, the library recently installed four stationary bikes for those who want to clear their heads while studying.

Two of the new bikes have desktops for books, notebooks and laptops so students can continue studying as they exercise. The other two bikes, equipped with fully immersive technology, can be programmed to create virtual hills and other physical challenges for those seeking more robust workouts.

“Exercise primes the brain for further study,” said C.J. Wong, the instruction/liaison librarian at McQuade, who won a Provost Innovation Grant to create and support the program.

Wong has left laminated instructions on the bikes that explain how exercising increases the capacity to learn and retain material.

“Even if they don’t use the bicycles at the library, they walk away with the knowledge that exercising during or before studying helps their brains recognize and organize that information better,” said Assistant Professor of Health Sciences April Bowling, who helped design the program.

The bikes also are beneficial because they help combat the sedentary lifestyle that many academics face, she said. Instead of being forced to choose between exercise and their studies, students can get some cardiovascular work in and still complete their classwork.

In addition to the bikes, the library will soon make available for checkout Mindful Kits designed to facilitate stress relief. Students will be able to choose from among chakra, sound healing, creative healing, bird watching, gardening, yoga and meditation kits to soothe their minds and bodies.

Additionally, the library is offering a stress-reduction class with Hamel Health clinician Jim Howland, on Tuesdays, and an empowered breathing and meditation class with “modern spiritualist” Danielle Federico, on Thursdays.

There’s also a new meditation room on the lower level of McQuade, and a program offering free plants to students for their dorm rooms.

Partners in the Mindful McQuade initiative also include Katell Guellec, director of Hamel Health and Counseling Center; Cynthia Carlson, assistant professor of civil engineering; and instruction/liaison librarians Michaela Keating and Katherine Turcotte.

For more information on times and locations for the programs being offered, visit the Mindful McQuade web page.

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