Jesia Choity ’27  |  Published December 18, 2023

Beating the 8 A.M. Blues

Jen Braun’s class teaches students to walk the line to a healthier lifestyle.

STARTING THE DAY OFF RIGHT: Two of the 31 students in Jen Braun's walking class make their way past the front of the ca... STARTING THE DAY OFF RIGHT: Two of the 31 students in Jen Braun's walking class make their way past the front of the campus last month.MONMOUTH, Ill. – A class that meets at 8 in the morning can be a challenge for a typical college student, but a new offering this fall at Monmouth College tackled that time slot with a different approach.

Inspired by a rock-climbing class offered last spring by Monmouth professors Logan Mayfield and Mike Nelson, kinesiology instructor Jen Braun believed that a walking class would be equally successful and suitable for all students, regardless of fitness level. And she was right.

“I have had several students talk about how they enjoy starting their day with a walk,” said Braun. “Anytime people get moving, there are both physical and psychological benefits, and it seems as if my students experienced and appreciated those benefits.”

Between the fall offering and the class she’ll hold in the spring, 60 Monmouth students are participating this school year. In the fall, 31 students walked from 8-9 a.m. every Wednesday. Braun, who instructed students on their mental and physical health, said she hopes the class helps develop a culture of physical well-being on campus.

HEADING OUT: Jen Braun (pictured on the right) and her students make their way from the Huff Athletic Center on a November ... HEADING OUT: Jen Braun (pictured on the right) and her students make their way from the Huff Athletic Center on a November morning.“Over the last three semesters, I have had many conversations with faculty, staff, individual students and classes as a whole about creating a culture of physical wellness on campus and what steps should be taken to do so,” said Braun. “One of the suggestions of my ‘Organization and Administration of Athletics’ class was to offer more credit-bearing physical activity classes. Most students, no matter their fitness level, can walk. So this class is a good way for everyone to get moving, no matter how physically active they are.”

Twenty-nine students have registered for the spring session class, which is weighted as a 0.25 credit and can be repeated twice. The students don’t have midterm exams or written assessments, but they do complete pre- and post-assessments to check how they are progressing.


Wanna step outside?

Although a walk around the Huff Athletic Center’s indoor track still qualifies as moving, Braun encourages walking outside as much as possible for students’ mental wellness.

“Surprisingly, students prefer walking outside, even when it’s cold,” she said. “We try to walk different routes outside so maybe they can walk those routes later, assuming that they will integrate a walk into their day after they are done with the class.”

Still, there are indoor sessions, as well.

“I have had several students talk about how they enjoy starting their day with a walk. Anytime people get moving, there are both physical and psychological benefits, and it seems as if my students experienced and appreciated those benefits.” – Jen Braun 


“When we are inside we try to focus on different things, such as pace, intensity and heart rate,” said Braun. “We also throw in some stretching and yoga at the end if we are inside, just to mix it up a bit.”

When outside, Braun and the students stroll for a predetermined time of about 35-40 minutes, rather than a set distance. Braun also urges them to listen to music and download a playlist with a beat per minute that increases their step count, allowing them to maintain a constant pace.

“I will discuss the class with my current students and take any suggestions they may have, but overall I am fairly satisfied with how the class has gone,” she said.

Next semester, Braun also intends to provide a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) walking session, combining walking with bodyweight resistance training.

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