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Health and Wellness

Wellness Wednesday: Movement as Medicine

The concept of “movement as medicine” is one that has been around for centuries. We will unpack this message by sharing the benefits that movement has on our physical, mental-emotional and social well-being.

students participating in a dance fitness class

What is Movement?

Movement is any action that involves putting your body into motion. You may see the words “physical activity” and “exercise” used interchangeably to describe movement, however there are subtle differences. Physical activity is movement that puts your muscles to work, no matter how big or small the task, including washing the dishes or vacuuming your floors. In contrast, exercise is structured and purposeful with a goal to improve physical fitness. This can look like scheduling a walk, run, swim or strength training into your daily routine. 

Benefits of Moving Your Body

Physical Benefits

February is American Heart Month and physical activity is one way you can be kind to your heart. Physical activity promotes health by reducing the risk for disease, including high blood pressure, Type II diabetes and stroke. In addition to strengthening your muscles, you also support bone health which can improve your ability to carry out daily activities, including keeping your joints mobile and reducing the risk of injury from falls for older adults. 

Mental and Emotional Benefits

When you move your body, hormones are produced that can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. If you’re feeling anxious about an upcoming assignment, consider taking a walk as an effective way to clear your mind and relieve those feelings. Moving daily can also boost your mental sharpness, keeping you productive and alert.

Social and Community Benefits 

One essential component of wellness is our social well-being. Physical activity is a great way to build community and create new friendships, like joining a walking group or playing an intramural sport. Friends and training groups can also serve as an additional layer of accountability to help you establish an exercise routine. 

How Often Should We Move?

There is no single way to move and it will look different for everyone, but the CDC has developed guidelines to help you get started in creating a movement goal. The recommendation is 150 minutes of physical activity each week, which breaks down to 30 minutes of activity for five days. Think about activities you already participate in that contribute to this time – you are probably closer to this goal than you think! 

Get Active at NC State

NC State offers numerous opportunities and resources to stay active. The Wellness and Recreation Center, located on Main Campus, is a 430,000 square-foot facility that houses several unique activity spaces, including 11 multipurpose courts, four floors of strength and cardio equipment, two pools, an indoor track and more! Over 80 fitness classes are hosted weekly, including indoor cardio, cycling, dance, interval training, TRX and Yoga. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our free Fitness Basics: Gym Orientations to learn more about our equipment, spaces and programs that best fit your needs. 

Explore Centennial Campus through free activities, like Yoga and pickleball, offered weekly for the entire Wolfpack community, not just Wellness and Recreation members. For people who prefer taking their movement outdoors, there are several trails that run through NC State’s campus. 

The wonderful aspect of physical activity is its versatility, there are so many ways to be active. It’s beneficial to discover an exercise regimen that aligns with your lifestyle, goals and preferences, and by making small choices to be active, you will experience big results. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator; choose to walk instead of driving to a meeting; or incorporate “exercise snacks” into your day. Let’s get moving, Wolfpack!

Note: This article does not provide medical advice and wellness coaches do not prescribe treatment plans. Consult your doctor for more information.