While summer in Arkansas may often restrict options for physical activity, our Faculty and Staff strive to achieve the goals even in these conditions. For example, Education II (ED II) building’s 9th floor walking route offers a unique opportunity to decompress and walk a mile or two during our lunch break while visiting with colleagues.
EOH Healthy Habits
Healthy Habits – Jay Gandy
Jay Gandy, Ph.D. (Professor and Associate Provost for the UAMS NWA Campus) My wife, Lisa, and I have been avid cyclists for many years. We ride with several different cycling clubs and typically ride our road bikes about 100-150 miles a week. Last year we purchased gravel bikes and have really enjoyed exploring the gravel roads in central and northwest Arkansas. Not only is biking a great activity to keep us physically active, it has allowed us to make many friends in the cycling community. We consider ourselves very lucky to live in an area with so many cycling opportunities, and with the mild winters in Arkansas, cycling is a year-around activity for us.
Healthy Habits – Tung-chin Chiang
Tung-chin Chiang, Ph.D., MPH (Assistant Professor) My Ph.D. advisor at Tulane University always tells others that Tung-chin collected degrees! After a warming southern experience at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), I became a Tar Heels fan and cheered for University of North Carolina (UNC). The best experience in at UAB and UNC was meeting many students from different counties and all ages. You are never too old to join public health; it is all about caring for yourself and learning to balance factors within your environment. That is why my research focuses on the health effects of environmental exposure, such as environmental estrogen and chemicals from Superfund sites. In 2016, we moved to Little Rock from Maryland. We love the state parks here. I always tell the park rangers that the state park here is better than the national park in the DC area! The Buffalo River is one of the best. Arkansans are lucky to be in this secret garden.
Healthy Habits – Gunnar Boysen
Gunnar Boysen, Ph.D. (Associate Professor) My main pastime is cross country skiing. Every year in February, I go to northern Wisconsin and participate in the American Birkebeiner ski marathon, a 50 km long and 5000 ft. elevation gain event. It is basically like skiing from Little Rock to Conway while taking the hilly route. To stay in shape throughout the year, I also roller-ski and bike on the Arkansas River Trail. You may have seen the tall, funny looking guy with wheels and sticks roller-skiing the trails – that’s me!
Stefanie Kennon-McGill, Ph.D., and Mitchell McGill, PH.D. (Assistant Professors) Since graduate school, we both have enjoyed running. It is also how we met each other. One of the most memorable races to us was the 2013 Diabetes Dash for Life, a 5-kilometer race in Kansas City, which benefitted the local chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). With two little children of our own and being both in academia, it became a bit harder to participate in the races, but we are still trying to stay active as much as we can by identifying other opportunities for activity. Mitch, for example, has discovered a newfound joy of kayaking and fishing.
Healthy Habits – Children See – Children Do
It is an open secret that we are programming our children for their future habits, as children often inherit behavioral patterns from their parents. Therefore, priming our children for healthy choices since childhood is an ultimate goal of our department.
Upper Left: Ping-Ching Hsu with her son Lucas (9) playing tennis at Little Rock Reservoir Park (Little Rock). Bottom Left: Igor Koturbash and his daughter Angela (7) at the top of the Hoverla Mountain (elevation 6,762 feet) in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains. Right: En Huang and his daughter Cadence playing Frisbee at Two Rivers Park.
Healthy Habits – Ping-Ching Hsu, PhD
Ping-Ching Hsu, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor)
Our family loves the beautiful parks and quiet life here in Arkansas! Being born-and-raised in the city, we started to learn and enjoy all kinds of activities: mountain climbing, fishing, cycling, tennis, and more. This is especially helpful during the pandemic, not only to keep the kids entertained, but also to relieve our stress and keep our bodies healthy. My husband works at the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Research Center, and I am in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health. Embracing healthy living by eating well and plenty of exercise is our goal!
Healthy Habits – Sean Young, PhD
Sean Young, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor) I usually start everyday walking around our neighborhood with each of my children, one at a time. It’s a short walk (about 0.3 miles or so), but it helps us all start the day being physically active, and it gives me a chance to talk with my children one-on-one to see how they’re doing, and answer their endless questions about the world around us. If for some reason I sleep in and forget to start the process of waking my children for our morning walks, one of them will come to my room and wake me up for the walk. None of us are exactly ready for a marathon, but the persistent efforts do pay off, and the side benefits from the fun and sometimes meaningful conversations have been wonderful. It has become a simple, healthy habit.
My wife Brittney and I have always loved maps, exploring and traveling, which is part of what drew me to my specialty of medical geography. I use geographic information systems and other technologies to investigate access to care, environmental exposures, clusters of disease, how infectious diseases spread, and more. Plus, I get to teach these tools to students and other researchers, which I love. While I get to work with maps and geospatial data and analyses every day at work, there’s something about being in nature that screens cannot reproduce. Brittney and I are also trying to keep our seven children (ages 1 to 11) active, happy, and healthy, which has been particularly difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic. One solution is frequent walks, bike rides, and hikes, when weather permits. We enjoy the break from screens and the chance to wander and explore. We especially like to find waterfalls and swimming holes within a short distance of Little Rock, like Forked Mountain Waterfall, which requires a long drive over unpaved roads, but a fairly easy hike of about 1.5 miles that even the small children can handle (with only occasional complaining).
Healthy Habits from Chris Fettes
Christopher Fettes, MA (Instructor and Program Coordinator, recipient of the COPH Best Staff Excellence Award, 2021) After I graduated college and started working in an office, I took an interest in running for exercise to compensate for lower levels of activity. I ran with several coworkers during our lunch breaks, and soon one of them suggested we attend an interest meeting for Team in Training. Team in Training supports the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through fundraisers linked to marathons, major hikes, century bike rides, and other endurance events. I committed to the program and raised several thousand dollars as I trained for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon in honor of my father, who died of lymphoma the prior year. Since then, I have completed several marathons and half-marathons linked to fundraising efforts. In March 2020, I completed the Little Rock Half Marathon and raised funds for Arkansas Children’s Hospital. When I consider registering for races, the charitable activities associated with each event are among my primary concerns. Running has been a way for me to maintain my physical and mental health, but has also given me opportunities to support organizations doing important work for the benefit of sick and financially disadvantaged people.