When I catch up with Mary Jung, she’s walking on a treadmill and working away on her computer at the same time.
“It’s all about keeping moving,” said the 36-year-old UBC Okanagan researcher and assistant professor.
“I’m not walking very fast, about 0.9 miles per hour, which is about as fast as you can go and still concentrate on work.”
It’s just one way Jung walks the walk and talks the talk.
After all, she works at the university’s school of health and exercise and her research is on how healthy eating and exercise can prevent people with pre-dibetes from developing the full-blown Type 2 manifestation of the disease.
And she does it with style.
She’ll walk about four miles today on the treadmill in a striped black-and-gold dress, but with sensible flat shoes, of course.
Her high-heels are by the door, ready for a quick change if she goes out to a meeting or lunch.
“I can only do about four hours a day on the treadmill while I work and then my hips get sore,” said Jung.
“But it’s better than sitting all day at a desk. And speaking of my desk, it’s not a traditional set up, so if I have a meeting in here it is awkward with me walking on a treadmill with my back to my guest,” she said with a laugh.
Jung is currently only teaching one health and exercise class this semester because her research is so demanding.
She landed a hefty $500,000 grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for the pre-diabetes study.
The work has already begun to find a downtown or central space off the university campus to start helping the initial intake of 140 patients.
The program will start with an intensive 10 days of conselling
for those with pre-diabetes covering what circumstances brought them to this point and what can be done to reverse the bad health and prevent full onset of Type 2 diabetes.
“Pre-diabetes is a condition generally 10 years in the making,” explained Jung.
“It’s usually brought on by bad diet, being sedentary and carrying excess weight. So, they definitely have to change their lifestyle.”
Patients then get a one-year program for nutriton and exercise to follow, backed up by one-on-one coaching whenever they need it.
The goal is to find out if a year of changed behaviours can undo 10 years of unhealthy lifestyle and prevent Type 2 diabetes.
Jung hopes the research extends beyond one year so she can collect more data and come to more conclusions.
Jung will be helped in her research by human kinetics undergraduate and graduate students.
“Usually these students are hard bodies in their 20s who don’t understand how people can not take care of themselves and end up with pre-diabetes,” she said.
“That’s why the one course I’m teaching this semester is empathy. To help people you have to have the ability to understand where they are coming from.”
Jung is also busy on campus encouraging work-life balance and lobbying for gender equality in academia.
She also helps B.C. companies evaluate the effectiveness of wellness programs for employees and their families.
Besides walking on the treadmill at her desk, Jung also jogs beside her six-year-old daughter as she cycles, works out at the gym, eats well and drinks Okanagan wine, in moderation, with her husband.