Campus spotlight: Faculty head of house builds healthy bodies and healthy minds

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When Alyssa Hasty, Cornelius Vanderbilt professor of molecular physiology and biophysics, connects with first-year students, she often does it inside a white painted circle on the Ingram Commons lawn.

Murray Faculty Head of House Alyssa Hasty hosts her weekly Circuit Workout on the lawn outside Murray Hall.

That’s because the faculty head of Murray House is leading circuit training and other workout classes as a way to help students move away from their computers and connect face to face.

“I want my students to feel not only physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy. It all wraps up together,” said Hasty, who is also associate dean for faculty in the School of Medicine and a researcher for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Hasty has always loved to share her passion for exercise and used to lead a group of runners from the Ingram Commons, which often started the year with 70 or more students. While the Commons Runners is on hiatus, she said COVID-19 safety protocols are creating some unique benefits.

“I think that all of us, including me, really appreciate when we get to be together. and the small groups create the physical and emotional room for more personal conversations,” she said. “What has been particularly gratifying to me this year is that most of my fitness classes have Murray students who are currently living on the Commons as well as those who live on the other parts of campus. 

Hasty said she strongly connects with students who are adjusting to the “new normal” of safety protocols.

“I went through a struggle myself in March when everything fell apart and all of a sudden I was fully working from home,” she said. “It took me a while to realize that I needed to break up my day and go outside and get my endorphins going with exercise.”

As part of building healthy bodies and healthy minds, students take part in a yoga class inside Murray.

Bringing research home

Beyond the Ingram Commons, Hasty is a leader in the field of immunometabolism, which is the link between the immune system, metabolism and obesity.

“In my laboratory we’re interested in how obesity increases risk of diabetes, so fitness has always been an important part not only of my research, but also my personal life,” she said.

And she said whether fitness is your thing or not, there are simple ways to help your body and mind.

“I would encourage students to at least take a ten- or fifteen-minute break, walk around the building and say hello to a few people on your way back,” Hasty suggested. “You really will be much better able to be engaged in your studies again after that.”

Healthy options

The Ingram Commons is also partnering with the Vanderbilt Recreation and Wellness Center for Zumba and Pilates classes geared toward first-year students, to help them get physically healthy and meet other students. Students can find these classes on Anchor Link.

The Rec Center is hosting multiple outdoor and safely distanced indoor classes for students, faculty and staff. See a list of classes here.

Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Alyssa Hasty, PhD, masks up as she practices Healthy Behaviors on The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons as Faculty Head of Murray House.

Author: Admin