Physical Activity

Person running during the summer on campus


Physical activity can reduce stress, improve mood, and benefit your physical health! Physical activity is just as important for your emotional well-being as it is for your physical well-being. If you are thinking about incorporating more physical activity in your routine or need to find ways to stay motivated, check out the information below!

Benefits to Physical Activity

  • Physical activity can boost your mood.
    • Improves your mood and decreases feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress.
    • Exercise can increase the production of endorphins that help produce positive feelings.
    • Exercise can benefit your mood regardless of the intensity of physical activity.
  • Physical activity can increase energy levels.
  • Physical activity can reduce your risk of chronic disease.
    • Regular exercise can improve insulin sensitivity, heart health, and body composition. It also decreases blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
    • Helps prevent type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high cholesterol, and hypertension.
  • Physical activity improves brain function and increases memory.
    • Exercise increases heart rate, which promotes the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
    • Exercise also stimulates the production of hormones that enhance the growth of brain cells.
  • Physical activity can help improve sleep quality.
    • Energy depletion that occurs during exercise, stimulates restorative processes during sleep.
    • The increase in body temperature with exercise also improves sleep quality
  • Physical activity can promote a better sex life.

Information from Healthline 

  • Studies have shown that students who exercise regularly (at least 3 times per week) graduate at higher rates and earn on average a full GPA point higher than those who don’t exercise.
  • Physical activity stimulates the production of new cells in the brain, helping to improve concentration, keep the mind focused, and boost work productivity and academic success.
  • Exercise increases the number of brain cells in the hippocampus, which controls the formation, retention, and recall of memories,

Information from Colorado Tech University

How to Start Physical Activity

  • Choose a physical activity that you think you will like or that makes you feel good emotionally or physically. Forcing yourself to do a physical activity you don’t like will not benefit you emotionally or physically. As you start to make your exercise plan, consider how you like to move your body.
  • Need help finding a physical activity right for you? Chat with our health educator, Molly to have a conversation on physical activity. Additionally O’Connor Recreation Center offers personal training for an additional cost.
  • Once you’ve chosen the types of physical activities you want to engage in such as cardio, strength, sports, or stretching, consider where you would do these activities.
  • As a JHU student, there are several resources available to you. Check out the JHU Well-Being Site for specific information based on your campus and school.
  • Youtube is a great resource if you are looking for videos on stretching, yoga, or short cardio workouts. Just make sure to exercise safely by not pushing your body since there are no teachers making sure you practice safely.
  • Exercise outdoors! If you find videos, or going to a gym is not something you are comfortable with, consider going outdoors and walking at your local park or exploring hiking trails. You can also use outdoor spaces, such as a backyard to meditate, do yoga, or dance.
  • Once you pick a physical activity you want to try, make a plan to ensure you move your body every week!
  • Choose a few days out of the week that is best for exercise. Consider the days you are less busy or the days you think you will need physical activity even more!
  • Time of day is also important. You don’t want to exercise too late at night or it can disrupt your ability to fall asleep. Consider when you may need a break from classes or studying. Some individuals like to start their day with exercise, others like to break up the day and exercise in the afternoon, and others like to just before dinner. It’s up to you!
  • Once you pick out the days of the week and times you want to move your body, start implementing your plan!
  • At times, you will drift or fall off your physical activity plan, usually when life gets busy. That’s okay! Practice self-compassion and when you feel ready start moving again.

Getting started with a new physical activity can sometimes feel intimidating or overwhelming. This feeling is normal! Often times you need to try an activity a couple of times before you start feeling confident. Use the tips below to help explore ways to start physical activity and stick with it!

Get Physically Active

Homewood and Peabody

The Ralph S. O’Connor Center for Recreation and Well-Being has several ways for students to boost their physical well-being. Check some of their offerings below.

  • Group fitness classes offer students a structured format for physical activity with the chance to meet new friends.
  • Climbing and Bouldering Walls offers routes for all levels of climbers
  • Experiential Education offers students ways to explore areas outside and around Baltimore through hiking, kayaking, and more.
  • Sports Clubs offer students various ways to engage with their peers and sharpen their athletic skills.
  • Personal Training is available for an additional cost to O’Connor Recreation members. Individuals can have up to 10 60-minute sessions with a personal trainer.

East Baltimore

Denton A. Cooley Center

  • Features personal training, group classes, a women’s weight room, and intramural team sports. A satellite center is on the 9th floor of the School of Public Health. You can also visit the Cooley Center YouTube channel for on-demand classes.
  • Check out this Hub article for information on gyms at JHU.

Other Resources

  • The Wilderness Society’s partnership initiatives built an interactive map of outdoor groups in the US to connect nature lovers and provide resources in the LGBTQ+ community.