Photo of an outdoor yoga class.

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
  • Allows for rest and sick days
  • Makes you feel stronger, more flexible or have greater endurance
  • 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
  • Doesn’t include breaks or time off for sick days or injuries
  • Must meet certain requirements to “count”
  • 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

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.

Recreation Center
The Recreation Centers on campus offer a variety of programs, including inclusive rec, group fitness classes, small group training, personal training, outdoor trips, intramural sports, club sports and more.

Interested in biking? Students can use BCycle for free! You can also rent a bike for the semester through the ECenter bike program.

Nutrition Services
If you have questions about nutrition, meal planning or eating healthy on a budget, Nutrition Services can help. They offer free consultations as well as one-on-one nutrition counseling services.

Student orgs
Exploring movement can be easier as a group. Buff Connect can help you find recreation- and wellness-focused groups to join on campus.

Peer Wellness Coaching
If you're unsure about getting professional support, you can work with a trained student instead. Peer wellness coaches can help you explore resources, create a routine and explore different types of movement.

Recreation Injury Care Center (RICC)
The Injury Care Center is open to all members of the Rec Center. 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 (PTIC)
Medical Services offers a number of rehabilitative services, including physical therapy, massage and acupuncture.

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.