Kinesiology Student Projects Help Runners Stay Safe; Encourage People to Broaden View of Exercise
Students in the Kinesiology course Scientific Basis of Athletic Training recently created multimedia projects on physical activity-related topics, which included an online tool to assist runners who utilize local running trails and videos on exercise.
Mapping Crime “Hot Spots” Along UMD Running Trails
Three undergraduate students in the kinesiology honors program, along with a graduate student in the Department of Geographical Sciences’ MPS of Geospatial Information Sciences (GIS) program, created a map of violent crimes occurring near UMD running trails.
“We wanted to create a tool for the UMD community that was relevant to physical activity,” said Dr. Espen Spangenburg, associate professor of kinesiology, who teaches the course. “Safety is a paramount consideration when encouraging physical activity in the community, which led us to build a map that provides crime index information on local walking or running areas.”
The mapped area was selected by using data from the running app, “MapMyRun,” to identify the most common running trails near the College Park campus. Kinesiology students Greg Duvall, Taylor Keenan, Kevin Levi-Goerlich, and GIS mentor and graduate student Alysha Heckman, combined these trails with data on locations of assault, robbery, hate crimes, weapons crimes, and homicides collected from the University of Maryland Police Department (UMPD) and Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) during the six-month period of June 1-November 31, 2014.
On the map, trail segments that had one crime occur within a 75-meter buffer zone of that segment are colored yellow, with trail segments colored red where two to three crimes occurred. In addition to creating a PDF version of the map, their project can be opened within Google Earth, which can be viewed on a mobile device. [Users must download Google Earth, download the .kmz map file, and then open it in the Google Earth program.]
Dr. Spangenburg described the project as a starting point, which could be expanded to map crime that occurred over a longer time period in the future. He said one might use this map as a tool to determine which trail to use. For example, the map might influence a runner or walker to limit early in the morning or late at night activity on trail segments that featured multiple crimes.
Video Projects Explore Concepts of Exercise and its Importance to Public Health
All students in the KNES 455 class created short videos to explore what exercise means to them and to explain why it is important to community health. They also were challenged to think about how they will use and encourage exercise in their future jobs after graduation.
A selection of these videos, by seniors Sergio Cabrera, Melanie Galyen, Grace Kim, Michelle Quintanilla, and Benjamin Shafer, can be viewed on the School of Public Health YouTube channel.
In Ms. Quintanilla’s video, illustrated with graphical drawings, she asked her family members, “What does exercise mean to you?” and their responses included losing weight, playing soccer, and other activities. She states that exercise is good health, which encompasses mental and physical health, and describes the wide-ranging benefits of exercise, such as reduction in cardiovascular disease and stress, and increase in longevity and self-esteem.
Mr. Cabrera’s video describes benefits of exercise, but focuses on the joy of movement, such as skateboarding, and states that exercise is not simply a means to an end. He mentions the rise in Type 2 diabetes, even amongst children, and explains that his goal is to be a physical educator, who will place an importance on fun in physical activity and draw upon his background in nontraditional sports.