Participating in regular movement (i.e. physical activity or exercise) has proven benefits for both our minds and bodies. Here are some tools to help you move your body in a safe and healthy way.

The benefits of movement

Oftentimes, when we think of movement, we automatically associate it with a sweat-inducing workout at the gym. However, movement can take a number of forms, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. In fact, all types of movement are beneficial for our bodies and minds. Here are just a few of the benefits of moving your body:

  • Releases endorphins and helps relieve stress
  • Allows us to take a break from everyday challenges and responsibilities
  • Helps emotions move through our bodies
  • Provides an outlet for self expression
  • Strengthens the connection we have with our bodies

Movement is a tangible and accessible coping mechanism for all abilities, fitness levels and ranges of mobility. It can also be a great outlet to meet people, build community and find support in tough times. 

Evaluating our relationship with movement

While physical activity can benefit our mental health in many ways, it can also have a dark side. In some cases, we may use exercise as a way to exert control over our bodies, alter our appearance or use it to determine what we are allowed to eat. Here are a few things to consider when evaluating your own relationship with movement and exercise:

Intuitive relationship with movement:

Your routine...

  • helps you feel connected with your body
  • makes you feel stronger, more flexible or have greater endurance
  • allows for rest and sick days
  • helps you relieve stress and is enjoyable
  • can move down on your priority list
  • is responsive to your needs
  • includes different types of movement
  • is respectful of your body’s limits

Potentially harmful relationship with movement:

Your routine...

  • is all or nothing
  • allows for very few or no rest days
  • must meet certain requirements to “count”
  • doesn’t include breaks or time off for sick days or injuries
  • feels like something you have to or are expected to do
  • takes priority over other things in life (relationships, rest, socializing, etc.)
  • causes you to feel upset or anxious if you miss a workout
  • determines what you are allowed to eat based on activity level or calories burned

    Shifting our focus and energy to activities that make us feel good, relieve stress and allow us to create a deeper connection with our body can help us to cultivate a more positive relationship with movement. It’s also important to remember that all forms of movement count toward your physical activity. Going for walks, practicing yoga, bird watching and other low-impact activities share many of the same benefits as intense workouts. 

    Making movement fun

    Another way to build a more positive relationship with movement is to make it fun! Not only will you be more likely to engage in healthy movement, but it will also be easier to make it part of your routine if it’s something that brings you joy, improves your mood or helps you de-stress. Here’s how to get started:

    There are so many different ways to move your body. Use these questions to figure out what kind of activities might speak to you:

    • Do you prefer to exercise alone or with other people?
    • Do you prefer indoor activities, outdoor activities or both?
    • What is your current fitness level?
    • How do you want to feel afterward (e.g. calm, energized, etc.)?

    Once you’ve answered these questions, we recommend completing our Physical Activity Rating Worksheet. This worksheet allows you to browse through different types of activities and rate the ones that are most interesting to you. It’s important to remember to start where you’re at and what is comfortable for you. If an activity seems too strenuous, look for ways to adapt it to your own abilities and needs.

    Physical Activity Interest Worksheet

    *You can complete this PDF worksheet by filling it out on your computer, printing it or taking a screenshot on your phone.

    Resources to help you get started

    Whether you’re looking for something new or starting out as a novice, there are resources at CU Boulder that can help you get started.

     Get started with movement

    Here are a few resources that can help you try new activities and find people to get active with!

    • Student Recreation Center: The Rec offers a number of resources for students looking to engage in joyful movement, including equipment, facilities, classes, free events and more.
    • Bike options: Interested in biking? Students can use BCycle for free! You can also rent a bike for the semester through the ECenter bike program
    • Student organizations: Exploring movement is sometimes easier when you are part of a group. Check out student organizations using Buff Connect to find a recreational group you’d like to join. You’ll get connected with students who have similar interests and can help you get started.
    • Virtual Recreation: If you’re in isolation, quarantine or at home, the Rec Center offers virtual programs to help you stay active.

     Healthy habits and lifestyle

    Here are a few resources to help you navigate healthy habits and lifestyle choices.

    • Healthy Living Workshop: Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) offers a free weekly Healthy Living Workshop that covers a variety of topics, including body image, nutrition, sleep and more.
    • Peer Wellness Coaching: Peer Wellness Coaching is a free service that allows you to meet one-on-one with a trained peer. They can help you explore resources, create a routine and explore different types of movement.
    • Nutrition Services: If you have questions about nutrition, condition management, meal planning or eating on a budget, Nutrition Services can help. They offer free consultations as well as one-on-one nutrition counseling services.
    • Collegiate Recovery Community (CUCRC): The CUCRC provides support for students in recovery or seeking recovery from eating disorders, substance use and other addictions. They provide students, staff and alumni with recovery-related services and resources.

     Injury prevention and treatment

    Here are a few resources that can help you learn to exercise safely and prevent or treat injuries.

    • Recreation Injury Care Center (RICC): The Injury Care Center is open to members of the Student Recreation Centers. They provide a number of services, including taping, injury assessment, referrals and more. They also have a library of preventive and rehabilitative exercises.
    • Physical Therapy and Integrative Care: Medical Services offers a number of rehabilitative services, including physical therapy, massage and acupuncture. Learn about services and how to schedule an appointment.

     Upcoming events and programs

    • Student events: If you’re looking for events and programs to get involved in movement on campus, check out the Student Events page for more information. 
    • Classes and programs: You can also sign up for classes, programs and more through the Rec Center