When you walk into a library, the last thing you expect to see is a bike — but maybe it shouldn’t be.
Kathleen Hatch, Morrison Family associate vice president for student well-being, worked with Joe Mocnik, dean of Hale Library, to come up with a way for students to have an outlet that would spark creativity and focus available in the library.
Hatch coordinated with Mocnik and the Chester E. Peters Recreation Complex to put exercise bikes in Hale for students to ride when they need a break from studying.
Hatch studied kinesiology in college and said this taught her a lot about the connection between physical well-being and mental well-being.
“The bikes are good in and of themselves, but almost as important or more important for me is the visibility and reminder that we need to do things to have our brain functioning at its best,” Hatch said.
The bikes provide students the opportunity to escape studying for a few minutes and clear their heads while also increasing productivity afterward.
Hatch said that people tend to have a strict set of guidelines they want to follow when studying, like cutting out distractions and working for as long as they can, but what they don’t realize is at some point, they will lose focus.
“This is infusing and breaking the pattern to then really have the acuity and alertness to focus and be efficient,” Hatch said. “It’s not as much about how long I spend studying, but how fruitful was my time.”
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Located next to the bikes is an informational poster highlighting the benefits of exercising as a study break, and it says that five minutes of cycling between studying can not only reduce anxiety and depression but improve alertness, mood, energy and even encourage positive social interactions.
Hatch said that putting the bikes in front of students makes it harder for them to say they don’t have time in their day or any other number of excuses to get in some physical exercise, even if it is only five minutes.
Hatch said physical activity has so many benefits for brain health, and she does not want to stop with Hale.
“You don’t necessarily need equipment to use these strategies, so I hope this ignites other conversations in every building on campus,” Hatch said.
Julie Seeger, senior in psychology, said she is excited the bikes were put in Hale because it is convenient for study breaks.
“I know there are studies and stuff that outline the benefits, so I will go for walks or do something when I’m studying to help my focus, but having it right there in Hale where you can study and quickly hop on to take a break is really nice,” Seeger said.
Hatch said she feels like she is at her best when she incorporates movement into her work routines and hopes that students and staff will use the bikes to lead to more success in their work and mental well-being.