Summertime workouts are best made in the shade
Exercising outdoors during a Tucson summer can be a daunting proposition, especially during the workday. The sun can suck the vitality out of even the most fit people. But finding a shady spot can make exercising bearable, and safer. Fortunately, the University of Arizona campus offers a plethora of places where faculty, staff and students can get their heart rate up, while largely avoiding the withering stare of El Sol. Lo Que Pasa worked with the Enterprise GIS team in the Office of Planning, Design & Construction to create a set of eight maps indicating where university faculty and staff can get in a midday workout and beat the heat, at least a little.
Douglas Keen, a senior lecturer in the Department of Physiology, explained that exercising in full sunlight exacerbates a physiological tug-o-war between the body's need to regulate our core temperature in the summer heat and our muscles' demand for oxygen to fuel our activity.
"Being in a hot environment, up to 60% of the blood in the body can move to the skin to help keep us cool," Keen said. "So, exercising in the shade lessens the cooling demands on the body and allows for better performance when we exercise."
The biggest concern is dehydration. Even in the shade, afternoon temperatures in Tucson can push well past the 100-degree mark, testing the body's natural cooling systems. Chad Myler, employee health and wellness promotion manager with Life & Work Connections, recommends drinking a glass of water before heading out the door for a midday exercise break, and after returning to work.
"Staying hydrated can help ensure your body has enough fluid to sweat and keep other functions going too," Myler said. "And you can't go wrong with tried-and-true methods that desert-dwellers use to keep cool: Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing; wear a hat and UV protection; and, if possible, avoid activity during peak hours for UV rays – generally between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m."
This guide is intended for anyone looking to get out and get moving during the hot half of the year. All distances are approximate. The routes – which follow sidewalks or marked footpaths whenever possible – were designed to be accessible to everyone, regardless of their level of mobility. When walking on campus, always watch for bicycles and other vehicles.
Total distance: 0.4 miles
This path through the heart of campus offers good shade for much of its length until mid-morning and after mid-afternoon, protected by dorms, the Koffler Building, and Albert B. Weaver Science-Engineering Library south of the Mall, and the trees running between the Modern Languages and Administration buildings north of it.
Total distance: 0.45 miles
Starting from the same spot as the previous walk – Highland Avenue and Sixth Street – this path runs east under the trees that shade the south side of Likins Hall, then behind the building before heading north behind the Apache-Santa Cruz and Colonia De La Paz dorms and between the Hopi and Graham-Greenlee dorms to Fourth Street. A short jog back west takes the route back to Highland Avenue and a long home stretch south to Sixth Street.
Total distance: 608 feet (4 laps is almost a half mile)
This location hidden behind the dorms on the west side of Highland Ave. features a ring of trees around an oval grassy space sometimes used for events and lectures
Integrated Learning Center
Total distance: 587 feet (4 circuits is almost a half mile)
The ILC courtyard in the middle of the UA Mall provides a rectangular circuit covered by a 10-foot overhang. Access is available from the Mall by stairs or elevator, or through the first floor of the Main Library.
Park Avenue Olive Walk
Total distance: 0.15 miles
Shaded by the olive trees planted by faculty member Robert Forbes in 1895, along with several pines, this path runs from James E. Rogers Way to South Campus Drive and offers a shady spot to get fit nearly all day long.
James E. Rogers Way
North route total distance: 0.2 miles
South route total distance: 0.2 miles
A convenient and easy extension of the Olive Walk, this route also features Forbes's trees, which provide decent cover for much of the morning but become less effective much past lunchtime.
ENR2 (five laps of the first, second, third, fourth or fifth floor)
Sitting just east of Park Ave. on Lowell Street, the greenest building on campus offers five floors of shady breezeways built around a courtyard designed to maximize air circulation and keep down internal temperatures. Numerous large ceiling fans aid in that effort as well.
University Services Building Courtyard (10 laps)
This oval path on the east side of USB is shaded most of the day by a copse of trees. As a bonus, this location features easy access to the many shops and stores in Main Gate Square that offer cool drinks and other refreshments.
Other exercise locations
Walking is not the only option to get some exercise. There are several locations on campus that provide ample room for yoga, tai chi or other activities:
- Grassy area between Psychology and Education
- Grassy area outside Douglass
- Grassy area in Highland Quad
Do you have a favorite shady walk that we don't have listed? Tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, title and any photos you have of your route.