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Although we certainly have many differences, perhaps one common goal that unites all members of the Harvard community is the idea that health and physical fitness is important. Therefore, while we may not appear to have a rampant obesity or what might be called a fat problem, “Harvard on the Move,” the University’s new community fitness program, is a worthwhile addition because it strengthens bonds between different groups in the Harvard and Cambridge communities. The program will consist of weekly runs open to all community members as well as University-coordinated lectures and panels on aspects of fitness and wellness.
As reported in the Harvard Gazette, Faust said, “Harvard on the Move offers a unique opportunity for Harvard’s many constituencies to come together outside the classroom and lecture halls.” In the Gazette, program manager and coach Alexios Monopolis said, “Our goal is to capture the sense of eagerness, exhilaration, and adventure we felt as kids during recess, as we take a break from our normal routines and actively spend time outdoors, interacting with members of our vibrant community with whom we may not have other opportunities to engage.”
Thus, even though we're not sure how effective it will actually be in improving the physical condition of the people who participate, this new exercise initiative is a positive addition to our community. While apparently a means of improving community fitness, the initiative is also a positive way of building community through fitness.
As students, professors, administrators, and staffers can conceivably participate, "Harvard on the Move" can help with breaking the divides among many respective sectors of our community. In the classroom, it can be intimidating and awkward to approach a legendary academic, but when you’re both in jogging apparel, the connection becomes easier and less serious. Similarly, exercise provides welcome conversation fodder for very different people across Harvard to talk to each other and understand that we have more in common than we might think. In this vein, it was good of University President Drew G. Faust to volunteer her time and come out for the first event.
And if nothing else, a sort of venture like this is a nice opportunity to see more of Cambridge and the surrounding area that students might not see every day.
“Harvard on the Move” has received its fair share of ire this past week. To be sure, the idea that hundreds of students, faculty, and staff will all be walking and trying to talk to each other at the same time—probably decked in outdated spandex—is a little funny. However, maybe we should see this “walking mixer” as analogous to the chairs in the Yard. It’s something that may seem silly at first but that ultimately could come to be seen as one of the many little things that strengthen ties across our community.
So start walking.
CORRECTION: Jan. 29, 2011
An earlier version of the Jan. 28 staff editorial "Walk it Out" incorrectly named the community fitness program the University is initiating as "Harvard Moves On." The correct name of the program is "Harvard On the Move."
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