Physical Activity

Aerial view of variety of fitness equipment


Physical well-being recognizes the need for caring for your body to stay healthy now and in the future. Individuals who practice physical well-being apply knowledge about exercise, nutrition, fitness, healthy eating habits, and personal hygiene into their daily routines.

Characteristics of Physical Wellness:

  • Exercises safely and regularly
  • Knowledge of nutritional information
  • Balanced diet
  • Maintaining regular sleeping patterns
  • Managing stress through using healthy strategies
  • Practicing healthy hygiene habits 
  • Regular visits to Student Health Services or your own health care provider
  • Staying aware of personal health
  • Avoids drugs, such as tobacco, that hinder physical health and limiting alcohol consumption

Back to Top

Evaluate Your Physical Activity – Complete Survey for a Chance to Win a MUSC Promotional Prize

Share your story with us on what you already do that contributes to your physical well-being and why it is beneficial to you. At the end of each month, we will draw from the submissions and award multiple MUSC Promotional Prizes (e.g. water bottle, beach towel, yoga mat)!

QR code. Takes user to Redcap promotional survey about evaluating different health and wellness categories

Back to Top

Useful Resources

Benefits of Physical Activity - Beyond the Beach Bod

Regular physical activity can help you to look great, but it can also do so much more! According to the Second Edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report (2018) released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, physically active individuals sleep better, feel better and function better. To further break down highlights of the report [A2-A4]:

  • Strong evidence demonstrates that moderate-to-vigorous physical activity improves the quality of sleep. It does so by reducing the length of time it takes to go to sleep and reducing the time one is awake after going to sleep and before arising in the morning. It also can increase the time in deep sleep and reduce daytime sleepiness.
  • Single episodes of physical activity promote acute improvements in executive function for a period of time. Executive function includes the processes of the brain that help organize daily activities and plan for the future. Tasks such as one’s ability to plan and organize, self-monitor and inhibit or facilitate behaviors, initiate tasks, and control emotions all are 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 among people both with and without clinical depression. Physical activity can reduce the severity of those symptoms whether one has only a few or many.
  • Regular physical activity reduces symptoms of anxiety, including both chronic levels of anxiety as well as the acute feelings of anxiety felt by many individuals from time to time.
  • Strong evidence also demonstrates that perceived quality of life is improved by regular physical activity.
  • Physical activity improves physical function among individuals of all ages, enabling them to conduct their daily lives with energy and without undue fatigue.
  • Physical activity reduces the risk of a large number of diseases and conditions

Some benefits happen immediately. A single bout of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity will reduce blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, improve sleep, reduce anxiety symptoms, and improve cognition on the day that it is performed. Most of these improvements become even larger with the regular performance of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Other benefits, such as disease risk reduction and physical function, accrue within days to weeks after adopting a new physical activity routine [A-3]. 

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

With all the benefits that can be gained from reaching the national fitness guidelines set by many governing organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Center forDisease Control (CDC), one would assume that it would be a "no brainer" to reach that goal. However, half of the U.S. population does not currently attain this level of physical activity [A-4].

The MUSC student population also mirrors this statistic. According to the most recent MUSC Student Satisfaction Survey, less than half of our student body reported reaching the recommended activity levels defined by the ASCM.

Back to Top

Physical Activity Guidelines – ACSM and CDC

The ACSM (and CDC) National Fitness Guidelines recommend that all healthy adults aged 18-65 should 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 that amount of physical activity for at least 4 consecutive weeks. It can be helpful to keep track of your progress through various means such a journal, daily log or digital tracker.  

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

  • Leisurely walking or biking
  • Recreational or lower intensity sports 
  • Slower paced dancing
  • Gardening, light yard work or home cleaning 
  • Low impact aerobic exercise 
  • Any activity of equal exertion

Activities of vigorous intensity are measured by how heart rate and breathing are affected. Typically, an average adult performs vigorous activity at 70-85% of their max heart rate, and they would not speak more than a few words without pausing for a breath. Examples include:

  • Running, jogging or hiking
  • Swimming laps
  • Competitive or higher intensity sports (basketball, soccer, tennis)
  • Faster paced dancing
  • Weight training or carrying heavy loads 
  • High impact circuit exercise
  • Any activity of equal exertion 

Note: In the 150 minute total, 1 minute of vigorous activity is equal to 2 minutes of moderate activity (i.e. 30 minutes of vigorous activity equals 60 minutes towards your weekly totals)

Back to Top

Avoiding Sedentary Studying

Fact: Exercise promotes brain function. The following video features Dr. John J. Ratey, an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, talking about 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 the MUSC Wellness Center has put together a series of exercises called the Everyday Desk Workout that you can utilize.

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

Many of these exercises can be maximized with a resistance band; if you need one, contact the MUSC Wellness Center and inquire about getting a free resistance band (while supplies last). 

Desk workout reference guide Desk workout reference guide

Back to Top

Get Active Around Campus

MUSC Wellness Center

Collage of images showing people doing various activities in the Wellness Center, such as swimming, playing pickleball, walking the track, doing group fitness, etc.

As a student at MUSC, you are a member of one of the best health clubs in Charleston! The MUSC Wellness Center is an important resource for students and serves as the hub for opportunities to enhance your well-being. It helps to keep you energized and alert for classes and study time. It is open 7 days a week and has something for everyone. See what the facility can offer you: 

Membership Amenities/Services

See what the facility can offer you:

Wellness Center Spotlight: Group X Programs

Instructor teaching fitness class

The MUSC Wellness Center Group X program offers an impressive variety of exercise classes, each providing a fun and challenging experience. Classes are safe and effective and designed for all levels. 20+ classes are offered each week in three specialty studios and in the Jr. Olympic Pool.

In addition to having fun while getting fit, these classes offer the support and motivation needed to be consistent with your exercise habits.

Check out the latest Group X Schedule online, utilize the Wellness Center member management app, or call the HOTLINE 843-792-1649 for daily class listings with instructors, and all last minute changes and holiday schedules.

Back to Top

MUSC Wellness Center Spotlight: Play Pickleball!

Panoramic view of the Wellness Center pickleball courts

What is Pickleball?

A paddle sport created for all ages and skill levels that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. The rules are simple and the game is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players. The following video will give you a brief introduction of the sport.

pickleball thumbnail 

Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the United States today and the MUSC Wellness Center has 4 outdoor courts on the rooftop sports deck and 3 indoor courts in the basketball gym for you to use!

Ready to Learn to Play?

The MUSC Wellness Center has a PPR (Professional Pickleball Registry) certified coach who can help you learn this fun and fast-paced game. The Wellness Center has scheduled a few free beginner sessions exclusively for MUSC students and Wellness Center Members. Sign ups for these clinics will be on a first come, first serve basis. 

Sign Up Today!

Click to sign up for free pickleball clinics:

Can't make one of these sessions but want to learn? You can check back here for future scheduled dates. In addition, the Wellness Center offers open play games every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00-11:00 am; additional dates and times will be added soon! Equipment is also available for check-out at the cardio desk for walk-up play throughout the week when the courts are not in use for reserved events.

Back to Top

Exercise is Medicine on Campus at MUSC

Exercise is Medicine Gold Campus logo

Exercise is Medicine® On Campus is an initiative sponsored by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) that promotes physical activity as a vital sign of health. As an ACSM Gold Level recognized campus, MUSC encourages faculty, staff and students to work together toward improving the health and well-being of the campus community by:

  • Connecting university health care providers with university fitness specialists to provide a referral system for exercise prescription
  • Providing MUSC students with the tools necessary to optimize healthy lifestyle habits for effective self-care and the care of patients/populations they serve
  • Making movement a part of the daily campus culture by offering resources and opportunities for physical activity

All MUSC students are eligible to complete a Physical Activity assessment that allows the opportunity for reflection on current physical activity levels.

Completing the assessment automatically makes any student eligible for a free fitness consultation with a certified fitness professional at the MUSC Wellness Center.

EIM QR code

Physical Activity Assessment

Visit this site to take the EIM Physical Activity Assessment:

Take Assessment

Student Testimonial

White speech bubble icon on a blue background.

“So far I have lost 40 pounds (246 lbs -206 lbs), and I went down from a (tight) size 18 wide to (loose) size 16. I have worked myself up to 10lbs for the incline and 50lbs for the resistance, and I am consistently doing 30 minute sessions ( try to do) daily. I am also walking around Hampton Park as an alternative when I don't feel going to the gym. I am so happy in how far I have come, and I greatly appreciate all the help you have given me through my EIM consultation.”

Participation in this program (i.e. assessment and/or consultation) is entirely voluntary. You will not be contacted at any time in regards to your responses without explicit permission. EIM-OC MUSC and is facilitated by the MUSC Wellness Center in partnership with the Office of Health Promotion, Student Health Services, and Student Counseling and Psychological Services.

EIMOC at MUSC: For the third straight year, MUSC has received a Gold Level Status from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) for its Exercise is Medicine on Campus Program.  MUSC is one of only 3 schools in South Carolina, and the only stand-alone Academic Health and Science Center in the nation to achieve a gold level status.

Back to Top

Playing Sports at MUSC

Photos of students engaging in intramural sports

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), students perform better in school and often achieve better grades if they participate in vigorous physical activity, especially in organized sports programs.

The MUSC Wellness Center sponsors several opportunities to play individual and team sports on and off campus through intramural sports, pick-up game play, and involvement with area sport leagues. 

Intramural sports have been played at MUSC since 1982 and feature volleyball, indoor soccer, and basketball. Competitive and Recreational leagues are offered in each sport.  Eligible participants include MUSC students and their spouses, MUSC faculty and staff as well as Wellness Center members.

Current and upcoming sports include:

  • Volleyball - September-November
  • Indoor Soccer - November-February
  • Basketball - February-April

Ready to get in the game? Visit the Intramural Sports Page on Engage to get started!

Don't have a team?

Want to play, but don't have a team? Send us an email and let us know what sport you want to play and we'll put you on the free agent's list!

The Wellness Center also offers pick-up sports days in volleyball, indoor soccer, and basketball multiple times throughout the week. Weekly schedules can found by visiting the Wellness Center Gym Reservation Schedule.

Back to Top

Walk the MUSC Medical Mile or Create Your Own Route

Whether you are coming to campus or involved in distance learning, finding a walking route of your choice can have tremendous benefits on your well-being.

Map highlighting the MUSC Medical Mile Walk Trail

Back to Top

MUSC Fitness Park

The MUSC Fitness Park is located behind the Drug Discovery and Bioengineering buildings, near the corner of President and Bee Streets. Look for the Greenway Garden Circuit (PDF) sign at the MUSC Fitness Park and explore the benefits of exercising outdoors.

Chin Up Bar Fitness Park

Active use of trails and outdoor exercise equipment for positive health outcomes is being seen more and more by health professionals as an excellent way to encourage people to adopt lifestyle changes that will bring life-time health benefits. Scientific evidence from the CDC’s Guide to Community Preventive Services shows that providing access to places for physical activity, such as trails, increases the level of physical activity in a community. 

Fitness trails and stations combine scientifically designed exercises with walking or jogging to provide a well-balanced physical fitness routine for the entire body. Individual exercise stations with apparatus are spaced along a walking trail or jogging path. The participant proceeds from one exercise station to the next and performs the exercises illustrated at each station. Directions for each station are posted and can be done as a circuit as well.

Back to Top

Virtual Library

MUSC Wellness Center expert trainers and instructors including Alicia O'Connor, the Director of Personal Training and James Johnson, Director of Group X and Human Performance Programs have compiled several workouts you can follow along with from home or anywhere! The videos are designed to work into hectic schedules and require minimal equipment (if any at all).

15 Minute Cardio and Strength Training Workout with Alicia

3-minute Stretch Flow with Alicia

5 Steps to Back Health

Chair Flow Stretching with James

Releasing the Neck and Lower Back with James

Releasing the Neck and Lower Back with James

Strength Training Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

Try Foam Rolling

Science Behind Foam Rolling

Back to Top 

More Activity in Charleston

Go for a Ride with Charleston Bike Share

A woman in scrubs rides an electric bike

Lime, the world’s largest provider of shared electric vehicles, launched a new e-bike sharing program in Charleston with support from the Medical University of South Carolina’s health system (MUSC Health).

Lime is deploying a fleet of more than 200 of its new Gen4 industry leading e-bikes, which come equipped with a swappable, interchangeable battery that optimizes the efficiency and sustainability of its operations. The launch makes Charleston one of the only cities in North America to have a fleet of Gen4 e-bikes on the streets, joining major cities like San Diego and Washington DC.

All MUSC students and employees get 70% off rides in the Charleston area when creating an account using their MUSC email address. To take advantage of the discount:

  • Download lime app
  • Register for an account - Use your MUSC email and navigate the process to verify email.
  • Promo will apply: 70% off this ride message should show in the middle of the app home screen 

Back to Top

Adventure Out Yoga Series


Adventure Out Yoga Series is a year-long outdoor fitness campaign to encourage residents to visit city parks for exercise. Exercising outdoors or “green exercise” has many additional benefits to indoor fitness activities, including stress management, improved self-esteem and mood, increased frequency of exercise, and an improved sense of well-being. 

You can find the dates, time and locations of the MUSC Adventure Out Yoga Series by visiting the links below. In addition to this series, the MUSC Urban Farm also hosts free yoga. Be on the lookout for upcoming communications via the Adventure Out Facebook page and the Office of Health Promotion’s website

Back to Top

Train and Participate in an Outdoor Event - Run, Ride, or Swim (Triathlon Style)

Training and completing in outdoor events not only offers excellent health benefits, burns calories and improves overall fitness, it also offers a fun opportunity for socializing and improving emotional well-being.  Charleston offers many beautiful locations and a variety of events.

 View of people running a triathlon

Visit the Charleston Running Club's Race Calendar to learn about all the upcoming events in the Charleston area.

We are extremely fortunate to have the 3rd largest 10K race in the United Sates (40,000 participants) right in our own backyard! The 2022 Cooper River Bridge Run is scheduled for Saturday, April 2, 2022 and the organizers of the event are once again graciously offering MUSC Students a $10 discount off the registration fee. 

Visit the Cooper Bridge Run website and complete the registration process and use promo code: MUSCSTUDENT22 (all caps) at check out.

In addition, if any student or group of students want to volunteer for the Bridge Run to please have them either sign up on our website at:  Cooper River Bridge Run | Volunteer. You are also welcome to contact Bridge Run Volunteer Co-Ordinator, Eddie Curry.

 Aerial view of the Lowvelo race.

If you like to ride, consider getting involved with the LOWVELO Ride!


If you like to swim, join the Charleston – Kiawah Island Open Water Swim and Fight Cancel with Swim Across America.

Back to Top