Physical activity | MUSK | Charleston, South Carolina



Physical wellness recognizes the need to take care of your body to stay healthy now and in the future. People who practice physical wellness apply their knowledge of exercise, nutrition, fitness, healthy eating habits, and personal hygiene into their daily routines.

Characteristics of physical well-being:

  • Safe and regular exercise
  • Knowledge of nutritional information
  • Balanced diet
  • Maintain regular sleep patterns
  • Manage stress using healthy strategies
  • Adopt healthy hygiene habits
  • Regular visits to student health services or your own health care provider
  • Stay aware of your personal health
  • Avoid drugs, such as tobacco, which adversely affect physical health and limit alcohol consumption

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Evaluate your physical activity – Complete the survey for a chance to win a MUSC promotional prize

Share your story with us about what you are already doing that contributes to your physical well-being and why it benefits you. At the end of each month, we will leverage submissions and award several MUSC promotional prizes (eg, 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 great, but it can also do so much more! According to the 2018 Scientific Report of the Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee released by the US Department of Health and Human Services, physically active people sleep better, feel better, and perform better. To further break down the highlights of the report [A2-A4]:

  • There is strong evidence to show that moderate to vigorous physical activity improves the quality of sleep. It does this by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep and reducing the time awake after falling asleep and before getting up in the morning. It can also increase the duration of deep sleep and reduce daytime sleepiness.
  • Single episodes of physical activity promote sharp improvements in executive function for a period of time. Executive function includes the processes in the brain that help organize daily activities and plan for the future. Tasks such as the ability to plan and organize, self-monitor and inhibit or facilitate behaviors, initiate tasks, and control emotions are all part of 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 reduces depressive symptoms in people with and without clinical depression. Physical activity can reduce the severity of these symptoms, whether there are just a few or more.
  • Regular physical activity reduces symptoms of anxiety, including chronic anxiety levels as well as the acute feelings of anxiety that many people experience from time to time.
  • There is also strong evidence that the perceived quality of life is improved by regular physical activity.
  • Physical activity improves physical function in people of all ages, allowing them to lead their daily lives with energy and without undue fatigue.
  • Physical activity reduces the risk of many diseases and conditions

Some benefits happen immediately. Just one moderate to vigorous physical activity will lower blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, improve sleep, reduce symptoms of anxiety, and improve cognition on the day it is practiced. Most of these improvements become even more significant with the regular performance of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Other benefits, such as reduced risk of disease and reduced physical function, accumulate within days to weeks after adopting a new physical activity routine. [A-3].

Infographic showing that 44% of MUSC students engage in moderate to vigorous activity at least 150 minutes per week

With all the benefits that can be gained from meeting the national fitness guidelines set by many governing bodies such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one could assume it would be a “no brainer” to achieve this goal. However, half of the American population does not currently achieve this level of physical activity [A-4].

MUSC’s student population also reflects this statistic. According to the most recent MUSC Student Satisfaction Survey, less than half of our students reported having achieved the recommended activity levels set by ASCM.

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Physical activity guidelines – ACSM and CDC

The ACSM’s (and CDC’s) national fitness guidelines recommend that all healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 65 participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to achieve this amount of physical activity for at least 4 consecutive weeks. It can be helpful to track your progress through a variety of means, such as a journal, daily journal, or digital tracker.

Moderate intensity activities are measured by how the heart rate and breathing are affected. Typically, an average adult performs moderate activity at 50-60% of their maximum heart rate, and the activity can be performed by talking but not singing. Examples include:

  • On foot or by bike
  • Recreational or low intensity sports
  • Dance slower
  • Gardening, light yard work, or house cleaning
  • Low impact aerobic exercise
  • Any activity of equal effort

Vigorous intensity activities are measured by how the heart rate and breathing are affected. Typically, an average adult performs vigorous activity at 70-85% of their maximum heart rate, and they would not speak more than a few words without stopping to breathe. Examples include:

  • Running, jogging or hiking
  • Swimming laps
  • Competitive or higher intensity sports (basketball, soccer, tennis)
  • Dance faster
  • Strength training or carry heavy loads
  • High impact circuit exercise
  • Any activity of equal effort

To note: In the total of 150 minutes, 1 minute of vigorous activity equals 2 minutes of moderate activity (that is, 30 minutes of vigorous activity equals 60 minutes for your weekly totals)

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Avoid sedentary studies

Fact: Exercise promotes brain function. The following video features Dr. John J. Ratey, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, discussing the benefits of exercise on brain function.

John J. Ratey giving a TED talk.

The next time you have a long study session, try incorporating exercise into your routine. Alicia O’Connor, director of personal training at MUSC Wellness Center, has come up with a series of exercises called Daily Office Workout that you can use.

At least once during your study session, choose 5-8 exercises / stretches below. Aim to do 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions for each exercise; for stretching, do 3 sets of each, holding in place for 15 to 20 seconds. Be sure to rest between sets.

Many of these exercises can be maximized with a resistance band; if you need it, contact the MUSC wellness center and request a free resistance band (while stocks last).

Reference Guide for Workout in the Office Reference Guide for Workout in the Office

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