Walk a Mile for an Oreo?
Students measure calories burned on well-trod campus routes
You’ve taken a 15-minute, 1,766-step walk from Antonio’s Pizza in downtown Amherst to the campus’s Haigis Mall. How many Oreos do you think you’ve burned? The answer is less than two; you’ve walked off 76 calories, or just 1.4 Oreos.
Students from the UMass Amherst Nutrition Association and the Kinesiology Club banded together to measure the number of calories burned and steps taken on 11 popular campus routes and on the campus tour. They then translated the calorie counts into equivalents of unhealthful foods (Oreos, M&M’s, and Pringles) and healthful foods (almonds, baby carrots, apples, and pretzels).
The OREO (On-campus Research on Energy Options) Study raises awareness of the imperative to be more physically active, according to Barry Braun, the Kinesiology associate professor who supervised the project with post-doctoral student Cheryl Howe and the support of Patty Freedson, Kinesiology chair. “I think most students will find they don’t burn nearly as many calories in their daily routines as they think they do,” Braun says.
The figures for M&M’s are most disappointing: you’ll burn 21 walking from Orchard Hill to the Rec Center; 5.2 from the library to Fine Arts Center; 11 in a lap around the campus pond.
As a nutrition student, Katie Gustamachio, wasn’t surprised by these results. For her role in the study she wore a portable metabolic analyzer, complete with a large mask covering her face and mouth, around campus during open house last spring. She didn’t mind making a slight spectacle of herself for science. “I did look like an alien,” she says, “but it was great for prospective students to see that undergraduates here are actively involved in research.”