Office manager works fitness into her commute

After Mary Ann Pesa had cataract surgery on both of her eyes, she worried about getting to work at MCG’s Health Informatics department. Unable to drive during a ninemonth period, Pesa checked a map to see how close she actually was to her workplace.

Turns out, the Central Avenue resident could walk from home to office in 25 minutes. So she started commuting on foot last July, and said the benefits have far outweighed any inconveniences.

Dr. Catherine Davis, associate professor at the Georgia Prevention Institute, says that anyone who takes up walking 30 minutes a day can expect to see improved cholesterol levels, glycemic control and stress management; along with lower blood pressure and decreased osteoporosis.

“It’s doesn’t have to be 30 minutes at one time,” Davis stressed. “Three 10-minute brisk walks a day would certainly fit what’s recommended for cardiovascular risk reduction.”

From her two 25-minute walks each day, Pesa reported that shefeels calmer, her blood pressure and asthma have improved, and she has seen a reduction in her allergies. Her energy level has lifted, and she isn’t hit by the post-lunch snooze punch that has many people nodding off at their desks.

“So it means that I’m more alert at work and more efficient,” she laughed.

Dr. Ryan Harris, clinical exercise physiologist at the Georgia Prevention Institute, cautioned against taking up any exercise program too quickly, and recommended newbies get a baseline measure of their health statistics before they begin.

“But there’s nothing bad about walking,” he said. “Maybe shin splints, but a good pair of shoes will take care of that.”

There are times when walking is less convenient than driving. Inclement weather and seasonal temperature changes can impede even the best of intentions. But Pesa said that adaptation is the key. In the winter, she wears galoshes, a rain slicker and carries an umbrella. When the weather is “really nasty,” She said that her co-workers have helped her out.

But her winter walks have acclimated her to a cooler home. That means her heating bill dropped. So did her vehicle maintenance and fuel expenses. And with that money, she’ll do something she’s been putting off for years.

“With the money I’m saving on gas, I’m planning to visit my son,” she said, with a grin. “He lives in Hawaii.”

For ideas about how you can incorporate walking into your routine, check out the Wellness Center’s interactive walking maps at mcg.edu/wellness/walkmap.htm.

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