Physical Activity | MUSC | Charleston, SC


Physical wellbeing recognizes the need to take care of your body in order to stay healthy now and in the future. Individuals who practice physical wellbeing apply knowledge about exercise, diet, fitness, healthy eating habits, and personal hygiene in their everyday lives.

Features of physical well-being:

  • Exercises safely and regularly
  • Knowledge of nutritional information
  • Balanced nutrition
  • Maintaining a regular sleep rhythm
  • Coping with stress through healthy strategies
  • Practice healthy hygiene habits
  • Regular visits to the student health service or your own health care provider
  • Pay attention to personal health
  • Avoid drugs such as tobacco that are harmful to physical health and limit alcohol consumption

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Rate Your Physical Activity – Complete the survey to win a MUSC Promotional Prize

Let us know your story, what you are already doing, what is contributing to your physical well-being and why it is good for you. At the end of each month we raffle several MUSC special prizes from the entries (e.g. water bottle, beach towel, yoga mat)!

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Useful resources

Benefits of Physical Activity – Beyond the Beach Bod

Regular physical activity can help you look good, but it can do a lot more! According to the 2018 Physical Activity Advisory Committee scientific report published by the U.S. Department of Health, physically active people sleep better, feel better, and function better. To break down the highlights of the report further [A2-A4]:

  • Strong evidence shows that moderate to vigorous physical activity improves the quality of sleep. It does this by shortening the time it takes to fall asleep and shortening the time you are awake after falling asleep and before waking up in the morning. It can also increase the time spent in deep sleep and reduce daytime sleepiness.
  • Individual episodes of physical activity promote acute improvements in executive function for a period of time. The executive function includes the processes of the brain that help organize daily activities and plan for the future. Tasks such as the ability to plan and organize, to monitor oneself and to inhibit or facilitate behavior, to initiate tasks and to control emotions, all belong to the executive function. Physical activity also improves other components of cognition, including memory, processing speed, attention, and academic performance.
  • Regular physical activity not only reduces the risk of clinical depression, but also reduces depressive symptoms in people with and without clinical depression. Exercise can reduce the severity of these symptoms, whether you have a few or many.
  • Regular physical activity reduces symptoms of anxiety, including both chronic anxiety and acute anxiety that many people experience from time to time.
  • Strong evidence also shows that perceived quality of life is improved with regular physical activity.
  • Physical activity improves the physical performance of people of all ages and enables them to lead their daily lives full of energy and without undue fatigue.
  • Physical activity reduces the risk of a wide variety of diseases and ailments

Some benefits are immediate. A single round of moderate to vigorous physical activity lowers blood pressure, improves insulin sensitivity, improves sleep, reduces symptoms of anxiety, and improves cognition on the day it is performed. Most of these improvements are even greater with regular exercise of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Other benefits, such as reduced risk of illness and physical functioning, occur within days to weeks of starting a new physical activity routine [A-3].

Infographic showing that 44 percent of MUSC students do at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous activity

For all the benefits of following the national fitness guidelines of many government organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one would assume that this would be “Not a Child’s Play”, to reach this goal. However, half of the US population currently does not achieve this level of physical activity [A-4].

The MUSC student population also reflects these statistics. According to the latest MUSC Student Satisfaction Study, fewer than half of our students said they achieved the recommended activity levels set by the ASCM.

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Physical Activity Guidelines – ACSM and CDC

The ACSM (and CDC) national fitness guidelines recommend that all healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 65 exercise at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week. Your challenge is to achieve this amount of physical activity for at least 4 consecutive weeks. It can be helpful to track your progress through various means such as a diary, daily log, or a digital tracker.

Medium intensity activities are measured by how heart rate and breathing are affected. Typically, the average adult does moderate activity at 50-60% of their maximum heart rate, and the activity can be done while speaking but not singing. Examples include:

  • Leisurely walking or cycling
  • Recreational sports or sports with less intensity
  • Slower dancing
  • Gardening, light gardening, or house cleaning
  • Aerobic exercise with little effect
  • Every activity equals effort

Activities of intense intensity are measured by how heart rate and breathing are affected. Typically, the average adult engages in intense activity at 70-85% of their maximum heart rate and wouldn’t speak more than a few words without taking a break. Examples include:

  • Running, jogging or hiking
  • Swim laps
  • Competitive sport or sport with higher intensity (basketball, soccer, tennis)
  • Dancing faster
  • Weight training or carrying heavy loads
  • Circuit training with a high impact
  • Every activity equals effort

Note: Out of the total of 150 minutes, 1 minute of intense activity equals 2 minutes of moderate activity (ie 30 minutes of intense activity equals 60 minutes of your total weekly amount).

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Avoid sitting study

Fact: Exercise promotes brain function. The following video shows Dr. John J. Ratey, an adjunct clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, speaking about the benefits of exercise on brain function.

John J. Ratey is giving a TED talk.

The next time you have a long study session, try to incorporate exercise into your routine. Alicia O’Connor, director of personal training at the MUSC Wellness Center, has put together a series of exercises called Everyday Desk Workout that you can use.

Select 5-8 exercises / stretches from the bottom at least once during your lesson. Aim to do 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions for each exercise; For stretches, do 3 sets of each by holding them in place for 15-20 seconds. Make sure to rest between sets.

Many of these exercises can be maximized with a resistance band; If you need one, contact the MUSC Wellness Center and inquire about a free resistance band (while supplies last).

Desk workout reference guide Desk workout reference guide

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