Physical wellness refers to your experience of inhabiting your body. It can include physical activity, nutrition, routine medical care, and your sense of vitality.
Taking care of your physical health is one of the cornerstones of wellness. Staying healthy physically helps you stay healthy mentally & emotionally, too. And it can be tough working on your spiritual side if you’re feeling side or are in pain. When we feel good in our bodies, it frees us up to focus on other things. Thi lifts up our hearts, our mind, and our spirit.
Your physical wellness is important for your well-being now and in the future. The positive health behaviors you practice today will keep your body in good condition, inside and out, for your lifetime. As you start your journey toward enhanced physical wellness, consider what optimal health means for you today and for your future self. What does it look like or feel like? What does it enable you to experience? How does it affect your relationship with your body?
Tips for Building Physical Wellness
If you are currently doing well physically and are healthy, congratulations! Let’s talk about tips for staying that way and preventing disease. And if you have any chronic health conditions, like asthma, diabetes, anemia, or others, let's talk about some tips for managing your condition and preventing any worsening of symptoms.
How to be an active member of your healthcare team:
Schedule a yearly check-up with a primary care practitioner.
Schedule regular check-ups, as recommended, for any chronic conditions with your primary care provider or a specialist, if you have one.
Inform your provider of any changes in your health. Be honest when answering questions or questionnaires. If they don’t have all the information, they won’t be able to help you properly.
Explore these articles on being an active member of your healthcare team:
Be an Active Member of Your Healthcare Team by the FDA
Your Patient Role as a Partner on Your Healthcare Team on Very Well Health
Know the names of any medications you are taking, how much you take, and what they are for. This will help prevent medication errors, identify potential drug interactions, and make communicating with all members of your team easier.
Be sure to keep a list of all medications including prescription, over-the-counter, herbal medications, and supplements. Bring it to any medical appointments so the provider knows what you are taking. Even herbs and supplements have the potential for drug interactions. Just because they are natural doesn’t mean they aren’t powerful.
Never take someone else’s prescription. That can lead to serious adverse reactions.
Explore these articles and resources to learn more about safely and effectively using medication for your physical wellness:
Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Your Medications on Very Well Health
Resources for Arizona Students:
Rx Safely by Campus Health Service
Engaging in physical activity on a regular basis can help decrease your stress, improve your mood, lower your risk of disease, and increase your energy. And neuroscientists tell us that it can even help your concentration, memory and even helps you perform better on exams!
Exercise has been proven to lead to increased production of neurons and to assist with production of key neurotransmitters in the brain that improve mood, cognitive function, and brain growth. The brain's ability to change with experience is called neuroplasticity, and exercise helps facilitate this brain growth. In fact, the brains of exercisers look different from the brains of people leading a more sedentary lifestyle.
Neuroplasticity works like this:
Infographic courtesy of the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine
New research also shows that different kinds of physical activity affect the brain differently. This suggests that adding variety to your physical activity could help your body and your brain in many ways.
Image Courtesy of Conscious Life News
Read more: Different Types of Exercise Affect Different Parts of Your Brain on Conscious Life News
Explore these resources for getting the most out of your physical activity:
How Exercise Can Improve Your Health on Very Well Fit
How Physical Exercise Benefits Mental Health on Very Well Mind
Move Your Way (USDHHS) physical activity guidelines, tips on getting motivated, activity planner, and other resources.
Physical Wellness Toolkit from the National Institutes of Health
The Best Forms of Exercise to Improve Your Mood on Very Well Mind
The Science Behind a Runner's High and What to Do if You're Addicted on Very Well Mind
Resources for Arizona Students:
Student Recreation Centers
Student Clubs & Organizations
We all know that eating in a healthy and balanced way is an important part of physical wellness. This includes what we eat, how much we eat (not too little and not too much), when we eat, and the way we think about food and our bodies. But the benefits of nourishment go well beyond the physical body. Food is also closely linked with mood, cognitive functioning, sleep, and more!
Tips on Nourishing Your Body:
Find the Balance Between Lack of Control and Over Control With Eating
Learn what your body needs
Say goodbye to the food pyramid and hello to the My Plate Plan! It’s a lot simpler to follow. Half of your plate is devoted to fruit and vegetables, the other half, grains and protein, with protein being the smallest of the servings. Variety is good for you. Vary your vegetables and your protein. Make half of your grains whole grains. Limit your sodium, saturated fats and added sugars.
Because everyone is different, some people have food allergies and there are varying food preferences, your food plan should be individualized to suit your needs.
Practice Intuitive Eating
Intuitive eating is an evidence-based, mind-body health approach that follows 10 guiding principles on respecting your body and the signals it's sending. What intuitive eating is not: a diet. Whereas dieting emphasizes counting calories and following a regimented meal plan, intuitive eating emphasizes self-compassion and trusting your body.
Growing research on intuitive eating supports its health benefits. What we know so far is that being more aligned with intuitive eating practices is linked with higher body satisfaction, better coping skills, more optimism, and a higher motivation to exercise for pleasure. What this shows us is that living more harmoniously with your body is better for your overall wellness and satisfaction in life.
Find out more about intuitive eating
Explore these tools and resources to help you nourish your body:
CookSmarts Set cooking goals, learn basic skills, podcast, and meal-planning service.
Food Heaven Accessible and inclusive wellness tips and podcast.
Food Is Connection, and Connection Is What We Need Right Now on Living Wild
Nutrition resources for Arizona students:
Campus Health Service Nutrition Services Individual consultations on nutrition and/or fitness. Information & resources are available.
Campus Pantry Food Bank Located in Student Union next to UMART. Open Wed. & Fri. 11am-3pm during the academic year.
Nourishing Minds Providing nutritious food and wellness information to undergraduate students, including free Wellness Fueling bags.
Getting a good night’s sleep is so important for our health. Getting adequate sleep helps with:
- Managing stress
- A well functioning immune system
- Concentration & memory
- Energy level
- Overall physical health and emotional health
Tips on getting a good night's sleep:
- Keep a regular sleep/wake time-every day (even weekends).
- Make sure you see natural light every day.
- Take a time out from screen time before bed.
- Keep your room cool, dark, and quiet.
- The bed is for sleep (not work).
- Let go of worries about not getting to sleep.
- Learn how your body likes to relax before bed.
View more tips and resources on getting better sleep in our self-help library.
The Biggest Sleep Mistakes:
Learn how you relax best:
With the hectic schedules many of us live by, it's important to take the time to facilitate sleep-promoting relaxation. This means building in time to wind down at the end of the day. This is a great time for gentle stretching, relaxing music, a nice book, or a guided meditation.
Try a guided self-hypnosis recording for relaxation, sleep, and emotional wellness.
Or try binaural beats to get your brain ready for sleep. Binaural beats are a technique of combining two slightly different sound frequencies, one in each ear, to create the perception of a single new frequency tone. Research has linked binaural beats with stress relief, better sleep, and enhanced cognitive abilities.
More binaural beats for sleep, study, and relaxation:
Binaural Meditation Music YouTube channel
Brainwave Music YouTube channel
Free Binaural Beats Streaming by Gaia
Magnetic Minds YouTube channel
Read more about relaxation for sleep.
Optimize your bedroom for sleep:
Explore these tools and resources for better sleep:
What To Do When You Can’t Sleep (article)
Sleep Cycle App Tracks your sleep and wakes you at the most perfect time to feel rested.
Snore Lab App Track snoring and discover solutions.
Tide App for Sleep and Relaxation
The Risks of Using Nicotine Products
When inhaling nicotine, whether it’s from a cigarette or a vaping device, the nicotine readily absorbs into the blood. Upon entering the blood, nicotine immediately stimulates the adrenal glands to release the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline). Epinephrine stimulates the central nervous system and increases blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate. As with drugs such as cocaine and heroin, nicotine activates the brain’s reward circuits and also increases levels of the chemical messenger dopamine, which reinforces rewarding behaviors. This makes nicotine an addictive substance.
Because nicotine stimulates the central nervous system and causes the body to produce activating chemicals, it is a very stimulating drug. And therefore, it can exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety, making it even more difficult to cope during difficult times.
Acute and Chronic Health Conditions
Tobacco smoking can lead to lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. It increases the risk of heart disease, which can lead to stroke or heart attack. Smoking has also been linked to other cancers, leukemia, cataracts, and pneumonia. Smokeless tobacco increases the risk of cancer, especially mouth cancers. Secondhand smoke can lead to lung cancer and heart disease as well as other health effects in adults and children.
The Food and Drug Administration has alerted the public to hundreds of reports of serious lung illnesses associated with vaping, including several deaths. They are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate the cause of these illnesses. Many of the suspect products tested by the states or federal health officials have been identified as vaping products containing THC, the main psychotropic ingredient in marijuana. Some of the patients reported a mixture of THC and nicotine; and some reported vaping nicotine alone.
Nicotine is poisonous and, though uncommon, overdose is possible. Nicotine poisoning usually occurs in young children who accidentally chew on nicotine gum or patches used to quit smoking or swallow e-cigarette liquid. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, vomiting, fainting, headache, weakness, and increased or decreased heart rate. Anyone concerned that a child or adult might be experiencing a nicotine overdose should seek immediate medical help.
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
"I’m ready to quit. What do I do?"
- Have a plan. Develop a personalized quit plan. Set a date, identify reasons for quitting, identify your triggers, plan for how you will deal with cravings. Choose tools and strategies that will help you succeed.
- Get support. The more support you have around you to help you meet your goal, the higher the chance of success. Here are some very effective types of support:
- Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). It is one of the most commonly used family of quit smoking medications. It reduces cravings and the irritability you get from the nicotine withdrawal by giving you a small controlled amount of nicotine─but none of the other dangerous chemicals found in cigarettes. This small amount of nicotine helps satisfy your craving and reduces the urge to smoke. NRT can double your chances of quitting and staying nicotine-free. And research has proven it is safe. Talk to your doctor about the different options for NRT and if it is a good choice for you.
- Join ASHLINE, free quit program for Arizona residents, and get a Quit Coach.
- Call a quitline. They are staffed by former smokers who are there to help.
- Use the QuitGuide app for tips and inspiration to help you be smoke-free.
Explore these resources to learn about nicotine and your health:
Freedom from Smoking by the American Lung Association
Vaping Illness Update by the FDA
Resources for Arizona Students:
Campus Health Service nicotine & tobacco cessation information and resources
Do you know what being “in balance” would look like? Would you like to get feedback on your drinking or smoking habits to see how they compare to the norm? Try one of Campus Health’s interactive alcohol program tools or schedule an individual consultation.
Tips for safer drinking:
- Set a limit in advance.
- Pace yourself.
- Know how much you've had.
- Avoid drinking games.
- Stop drinking 1-2 hours before you need to drive.
- Know your limits.
- Follow these safer drinking guidelines:
View more safer drinking tips from the CAPS Self-Help Library
Tools for safer drinking:
Quit That! Habit tracking app.
Get support for staying sober:
SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recover Training) Free in person and online mutual support meeting using a science-based, self-empowered recovery model.
Sober Living Apps
I am Sober Sobriety goal-tracking and community app.
Nomo Sobriety tracking app.
Sober Grid Mobile sober community.
Sober Tool App for staying clean and sober.
Twenty-Four Hours a Day Daily AA meditations app.
Resources for Arizona Students
eCheckup to Go Get accurate and personalized feedback on your alcohol use patterns, risk, and goals.
Counseling & Psych. Services Contact CAPS for a brief counseling visit in our triage services to get recommendations and connection to services and/or resources that can help.
Red Cup Q&A, separating alcohol facts from fiction
Marijuana information and resources from Campus Health
Project 21 Plan a safe and fun 21st birthday. Includes mocktail recipes, birthday ideas, and test your alcohol IQ.
Wildcats Anonymous Provide meetings, activities, and peer mentoring for students who want to address their substance use. Provide free activities that actively promote alcohol and substance abuse awareness or provide an alternative to activities commonly associated with alcohol abuse.
For those of you who didn’t grow up in Arizona, you may not be well acclimated to the desert environment. And here are some helpful tips from experts on how to sustain your well-being during the summer months in the desert heat.
Be prepared for sun exposure:
Know the signs of heat illness:
More information on sun and heat safety:
Staying Healthy in the Desert tips from CHS
Safety in our relationships is an important piece of wellness. Engaging in practices that detract from our safety can seriously compromise our well-being. That can include unsafe sex practices, lack of boundaries in our relationships, among other things.
Tips for respecting and protecting yourself and your body from the Campus Health SexTalk Column:
View more from the SexTalk column.
Explore these articles and resources to learn more :
Birth Control Chart (Brochure)
HPV (human papillomavirus) (Brochure)
LGBTQ+ Health services and resources at Campus Health
Men's Sexual Health by Harvard Health
Women and HIV (Brochure)
Women's Sexual Health Health by Harvard Health
Resources for Arizona students:
Sex & Relationships on Living Wild
Campus Health STD Testing and Information
Online Resources for Your Physical Wellness
Tools & Services from Campus Health
CHTV Campus Health Service YouTube channel.
Living Wild Source for wellness tips published by the Health Promotion and Preventive Services department at UA Campus Health Service.
Passport to Health Attend Campus Health classes and get rewarded!
Take Charge of Your Well-Being in 2020 by Campus Health Health Promotion and Preventive Services
View all Campus Health services, including women's health, LGBTQ+ health, STD testing, physical therapy, and general medicine.
Articles and More for Physical Wellness
Take Charge of Your Health Care playlist on TED
More Campus Resources for Physical Wellness
Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine
The Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine is leading the transformation of health care by training a new generation of health professionals and by empowering individuals and communities to optimize health and wellbeing through evidence-based, sustainable, integrative approaches.Health and Well-Being Resources at the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine
The Confucius Institute at the University of Arizona
Provides the university and local community with learning opportunities in Chinese Health and Wellness culture, including martial arts and traditional Chinese medicine classes.
The goal of the UA Campus Pantry is to reduce food insecurity in our Wildcat Community. At our distribution events, students and staff can grab important food staples at no cost. All you need is your CatCard!Visit the Campus Pantry
Our Favorite Sites and Resources for Wellness
Good Good Good A newspaper, newsletter, and podcast about the good news in the world.
Greatist Covers the health and wellness stuff that matters — plus anything else that's cool, important, or maybe even life-changing.
Help Guide Guides to improve your mental health and wellness.
Living Wild source for wellness tips published by the Health Promotion and Preventive Services department at UA Campus Health Service.
Mindful A nonprofit dedicated to inspiring, guiding, and connecting anyone who wants to explore mindfulness—to enjoy better health, more caring relationships, and a compassionate society. Resources include articles, videos, and online courses on mindfulness.
Take Charge of Your Well-Being in 2020 Tips and resources by UA Campus Health Service Health Promotion and Preventive Services
The Minimalists Podcast, books, and films that focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more creativity, more experiences, more contribution, more contentment, more freedom.
My Wellness Coach App by the University of Arizona Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine.
Very Well Fit Library of more than 6,000 pieces of content, created and refined over the past 20+ years, that has been written by more than 100 healthcare professionals and industry experts including experienced dietitians, nutritionists, and personal trainers, and then vetted by board-certified physicians.
Very Well Health Award-winning library of more than 18,000 pieces of content, written by more than 100 healthcare professionals and industry experts including experienced doctors, nurses, and patient advocates, and is vetted by our panel of board-certified physicians.
Very Well Mind Online library created and refined over the past 20+ years, has been written by more than 100 healthcare professionals and industry experts including experienced doctors, therapists, and social workers, and then vetted by board-certified physicians.
Well Wellness articles by the New York Times.
Well and Good Articles, talks, and workouts about living a well life, inside and out.
Whole Life Challenge Blog Articles on improving health, happiness, and overall connectedness