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A pedometer: The cheapest (effective) piece of exercise equipment you’ll ever buy.

Justin King

The Broadside

We here in Deschutes County have reason to take pride. A quick visit to the Centers for Disease Control website’s county comparisons for obesity and diabetes show that nationwide, we’re on top. The only other parts of the country to surpass our physical prowess were in the deserts of New Mexico and in western Colorado’s über-athlete terrain.

With 5.8% of Deschutes County citizens having diagnosed diabetes and only 17.3% considered obesity, the DC is looking good out there. Statewide childhood obesity is at a mere 9.6%, compared to a national average of more than 16%, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

It’s not time to pat yourself on the back yet.

The top two preventable causes of death in America according to the American Medical Association, are smoking and obesity. Guess what the leading cause of obesity is, fellow students? A Sedentary Lifestyle.

The hours that students spend sitting in class, reading texts, working at a computer, studying notes, stress and cramming for tests can lead us towards a domino-effect of deadly consequences. Grabbing a quick bite of comfort food, chugging down your favorite energy drink or soda, and driving from parking lot to parking lot can set us up for a myriad of self-destructive conditions.

What conditions, you ask. Anxiety. Cardiovascular Disease. Depression. Diabetes. Colon Cancer. Obesity. High Blood Pressure. Osteoporosis. Kidney stones.

What is a poor student to do?

Exercise and eat better. Sounds simple right? It is, and you can either make time to try harder, or you will be forced to make time later to deal with the consequences. One of the drugs used for abnormal heart patterns associated with heart disease is Coumadin, originally used in the 1940s as rat poison. Dr. Robert E. Sallis is Chairman of the Exercise is Medicine campaign and a physician with the Kaiser Permanente Hospital in California.

“If I could talk patients into taking rat poison, how could I not try talk them into doing some exercise?” Sallis said of physicians not recommending exercise.

“If we had a pill that gave all the benefits and side effects of exercise, physicians would prescribe it to every patient. Big pharmaceutical corporations would patent it, mass produce it, and charge huge sums of money for the purchase of this wonder drug,” said Sallis.

But exercise is still free, and we have a perfect campus to achieve a high level of fitness by simply walking.

10,000 steps a day

In the 1970s, Japan began recommending citizens take 10,000 steps a day, or five miles, for general fitness. The average American today takes 2,300 to 3,000 steps a day, or one and a half miles.

Dr. Michelle Lin at the Bend Medical Center advocates the 10,000 step plan for patients with busy schedules. She agreed with many health professionals not to emphasize weight as a measure of wellness.

“Overweight and active people are potentially healthier than the thin and sedentary. Create more opportunities for activity for yourself.”

Researchers measured the steps of 98 Amish adults with pedometers and found men took an average of 18,425 steps a day and women took 14,196. Compare that to about 3,000 steps for the average American adult, and you can see why only 4% of Amish adults are obese, versus 35% of Americans.

You aren’t expected to walk everywhere, muttering a step count under your breath while onlookers wonder at your mental stability.

The Pedometer, a step counter, is perhaps the least expensive piece of fitness equipment available. Once purchased, and if used regularly, the pedometer can provide a simple way to track your success in avoiding the dreaded finals 15.

Of course, you don’t have to stop at 10,000 steps.

“Greater than 10,000 steps decreases rates of disease, morbidity, and death,” says Julie Downing, COCC HHP instructor, Physiology Lab director and Northwest President of the American College of Sports Medicine. “Any step over 10,000 is a step in the right direction.”

“Exercise can transform you. It can give people better concentration and mental performance. You get better sleep, energy, and stamina,”said Dr. Sallis quoting many studies,

“It can improve self-esteem, self-image, and confidence. It is documented to decrease anxiety, hostility, tension and depression. These are the most positive side effects of any medicine I’ve heard of.”

Take Action

With holiday season around the corner and school picking up speed, stress is unavoidable. In between exams, quizzes, and homework take a walk. Add 30 minutes of exercise to your daily routine, and you’ll be amazed by the rewards.

  • The map and step chart describes the distance between buildings here at COCC. It’s a simple reference tool you can use to track your steps here on campus.
  • Other options are ride your bike to school or work.
  • Check out some discs from Mazama and play a round of disc golf.
  • Park half an hour before class at the Westside Church and take the stimulating mile and a half walk up to school.
  • There is a Bend initiative call that encourages commuter “teams” to use alternate transportation for prizes and actual cash!
  • Walk around your room while studying.
  • On breaks between classes, hike up to Grandview and back to get your heart pumping and turn your brain back on.

There’s hundreds of ways to get a workout. If you’re having trouble coming up with your own exercise ideas, visit page.

You may contact Justin King at



  1. right on! I never looked worse than the end of my last semester of my MBA. Looked like a cheese puff addled, red bull fiend, who hadn’t slept for weeks. A good solid summer of losing the car keys worked wonders. A bit of sunshine and a Nalgene of water a day is like heaven. Good tending the flock guy.


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