Student Wellness Program

Physical Activity

Physical activity is an important part of staying healthy, both physically and mentally. It helps lower the risk of coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, high cholesterol, and metabolic syndrome. Studies have also provided strong evidence that it helps prevent weight gain, reduces depression, and contributes to improved cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength. Engaging in physical activity is an excellent way to help relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety associated with the intensity of medical school curriculum.

Adults should generally aim for at least 2 ½ hours, or 150 minutes, of physical activity each week which should include both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. It is important to remember that physical activity comes in all forms and the key to sustaining engagement, is choosing an activity that not only matches your ability, but is also one that you enjoy. A good way to incorporate it into a regular routine, is to plan out a weekly schedule of activity.

In order to gain the health benefits associated with physical activity, here are some guidelines put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Aerobic Activities

  • Duration + Intensity
    • 2 hours and 30 minutes – moderate intensity, OR
    • 1 hour and 15 minutes – vigorous intensity, OR
    • An equivalent mix of moderate and vigorous intensity
      • Moderate-intensity (a person doing this activity can talk, but not sing during it)
        • Examples: brisk walking, water aerobics, tennis (doubles), ballroom dancing, general gardening
      • Vigorous intensity (a person doing this activity can only say a few words before pausing for a breath)
        • Examples: race walking, jogging, running, swimming laps, tennis (singles), aerobic dancing, jumping rope, hiking uphill with a backpack
      • Perform at least 10 minutes at a time
      • Spread aerobic activity throughout the week

Muscle Strengthening Activities

  • All major muscle groups should be worked (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, arms)
  • Exercises for each group should be repeated 8 to 12 times per set
  • Should be performed 2 or more days per week
  • Examples: lifting weights, working resistance bands, push-ups, sit-ups

If you’re not sure where to start, check out sample plans designed by the CDC, which include moderate and vigorous aerobic activity routines: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/downloads/pa_examples.pdf.

Check out the following tips to make physical activity a regular part of your day:

  1. 10 minutes – To reach your weekly goal, focus on doing at least 10 minutes of activity at a time.
  2. Support – Partner with a friend or family member to help motivate one another.
  3. Mix it up – Choose to swim one day, go for a jog, attend a yoga or zumba class, or lift weights so that you change up your daily routine.
  4. Be ready – Keep a pair of walking shoes in your car, bag, or locker to take advantage of any time you can for a quick walk or run.
  5. Work out during TV time – if you’re taking a break to catch up on a movie or TV show, try doing so as you jog on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike.
  6. Wellness at school – Look for on-campus opportunities (walking meetups, fitness centers, sports).
  7. Outdoors – Physical activity doesn’t have to be restricted indoors and can be found in a variety of venues, such as local or national parks (hiking, canoeing).
  8. Chores – Many people forget that cleaning the house, washing the car, or even mowing the lawn all contribute to the minimum 150 minutes of activity each week.

SuperTracker is a free resource developed by the USDA that allows you to be proactive in taking care of your health, by being able to develop personalized nutrition and physical activity plans, track your foods and physical activity, and get tips and support to help you make healthier choices. To take advantage of this great resource, please visit: https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/.

California Northstate University College of Medicine ♦ 9700 West Taron Drive ♦ Elk Grove, CA 95757 ♦ Phone: (916) 686-7300