Physical activity

Why physical activity is important

Regular physical activity can improve your physical, mental, emotional, and social health.

The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines encourage adults aged 18 to 64 to accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week and several hours of light physical activities, including standing.

It’s also important to work on muscle and bone-strengthening activities that use major muscle groups at least 2 days per week. While following these recommendations may be challenging at times, making gradual progressions towards any of these goals will lead to some health benefits. Every little bit counts!

Integrating physical activity with other movement behaviours, like reducing sedentary (inactive) time and sleeping well, can provide additional health-related benefits. Try to limit sedentary time to 8 hours or less, including no more than 3 hours of recreational screen time and break up long periods of sedentary behaviour when possible. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Find strategies to sleep better.

Benefits of moving more

  • Enhanced mental health and wellbeing
  • Regulated sleep patterns
  • Greater creativity and learning
  • Reduced stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Improved mood and self-esteem
  • Better concentration, memory, learning, and attention
  • Increased engagement and social activities
  • Higher productivity levels
  • Reduced risk of physical illness

Get started

You don’t need to be an athlete or have a gym membership to be physically active. There are many ways to start being active on campus:

  • Find out why
    Figure out the reason you want to move. Being more physically active can give you the energy and motivation you need to pursue other passions.
  • Get on a schedule
    Finding time to get active when balancing a busy schedule and other areas of life can be challenging, but try to work joyful movements into your schedule.
  • Build exercise into your daily routine
    Take a brisk walk around campus on your breaks or stretch and work on your core in your downtime, such as while watching Netflix.
  • Start slowly and build up gradually
    As your stamina increases, add on to the amount of time you spend on physical activity.
  • Ride a bike on campus
    You can use paid bike share programs at UBC, volunteer for the Bike Kitchen to unlock a shared bike, or bring your own bike to campus. Learn how to load your bike onto a bus.
  • Do some yoga
    Follow a yoga workout on YouTube in your room or find a common area to try it with friends.
  • Listen to your body
    If you feel pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or nausea, take a break. You may be pushing yourself too hard through your exercise.

Be motivated

Choose an activity that you enjoy so you can commit to doing it.

  • Plan your workouts
    Outline your workout in your calendar, and plan what you’ll be doing at the gym that day. 

  • Move with a buddy
    Exercising with a friend not only helps you to be social, but it also holds you accountable to your physical activity.

  • Do something you like
    You don’t have to go to a gym or a workout class if you don’t enjoy it. Find an activity you feel comfortable with, and you’ll feel more motivated to do it.

  • Pay attention to your energy cycle
    Some people have more energy in the morning than in the evening. Schedule your physical activity for when you feel the most energized or motivated.

  • Mix up your workout schedule
    Switch up your activities by season or day of the week. For example, run on Mondays and swim on Wednesdays. The diversity in activities can keep your routine engaging. 

  • Track your progress
    Logging your steps and physical activity can keep you motivated.

  • Be patient with yourself
    Celebrate your progress and keep up your physical activity knowing that you’re benefiting your health.

Stay active on campus

  • Get Active at Home
    Drop in to virtual fitness classes, get tips for exercises, and more, from UBC Recreation.
  • UBC Recreation
    Check out the Aquatic Centre for free, hit the BirdCoop or ARC for fitness and workouts, go to drop-in classes, and more.
  • Intramural events
    Sign up for fun events like Day of the LongBoat, Storm the Wall, or Yoga Rave.
  • Join an AMS club
    Make new friends while doing pilates, yoga, squash, Taekwondo, or your favourite activity.
  • Virtual Fitness Classes on YouTube
    Follow along at your own pace—from yoga to ab workouts to K-pop dance classes, UBC Recreation has you covered with recorded lessons.
  • Move UBC
    In February, join the UBC community in the annual university-wide initiative for fun activities, exercises, and events to increase physical activity.

Apps and interactive resources

These websites and apps have been carefully chosen by health professionals at UBC. They can help motivate you to become and stay active. 

  • ParticipACTION app
    Track your physical activity and win weekly or monthly prizes.
  • Runkeeper app
    Go for a run or hike, set goals, and monitor your progress.
  • Nike Run Club app
    Complete challenges, log your run records, and receive coaching on your physical activity.
  • My Fitness Pal
    Record your calories by scanning food items and noting them down in an online food diary to meet goals.
  • All Trails app
    Find the perfect hike, bike ride, or trail run by length, rating, and difficulty level.
  • Fitocracy app
    Get free workouts regularly, available at any skill level.

Peer support

  • Move U Crew
    Request a team of “movement specialists” to drop into your class, meeting, or event, and lead a fitness, dance, or stretching exercise.
  • Physical Activity Peer Coaching
    Book a 30-minute free Physical Activity Coaching Session where the Move U Crew will help you find ways to fit physical activity that interests you into your busy schedule.

Professional help

If you need more support around physical activity, speak with a qualified exercise professional at HealthLink BC to learn how to set goals for yourself and balance your physical activity.