Movement is medicine in several ways: it is physically beneficial, has proven to be good for mental health and can provide structure and create a routine — it is also used as legitimate medicine following an injury.
Moving my body is what gets me out of bed every day. Mornings are the only time I can fit in a workout during busy days. Starting my mornings with movement helps me wake up, clears my mind, and sets the tone for a productive day.
My journey with a regular workout routine began during the pandemic. What started as Chloe Ting workouts on the yoga mat in my bedroom has evolved into a daily mix of body-weight workouts, yoga, and a focus on getting my steps in. However; Chloe Ting’s 10-minute cooldown is still an all-time favorite of mine.
Movement is medicinal in different ways for different people.
Rithika Krishnamoorthy, a senior neuroscience major with a business minor here at the University of Maryland, says that she has seen a huge improvement in her mental health from moving her body.
“I feel more energized and mentally ready to handle whatever is thrown at me because moving my body allows me to get rid of some of the stress on my shoulders,” Krishnamoorthy said.
After having a busy undergraduate course load — Krishnamoorthy also started her pre-dental tract — she looked to exercise as an outlet for her stress. She has since noticed a “huge decrease” in her stress levels and “a much more positive” outlook on her school work and life in general.
Chaviva Nicholas, another senior at UMD studying criminology and criminal justice, uses exercise as her “undisturbed time” to take care of herself. Working out in the morning grounds her, helping her feel productive and less anxious throughout the day.
Nicholas considers the link between physical and mental health an opportunity to “compartmentalize your responsibilities” while “feeling less overwhelmed in the process.”
Beyond mental health matters, movement can also be medicinal to your physical health. Alysia Henderson, the head athletic trainer at RecWell, explained how physical therapy is an integral part of the road to recovery after an injury.
“When students visit our clinic in Ritchie Coliseum, we perform an orthopedic evaluation of their injury, and if applicable, we provide them with rehabilitative exercises to recover,” Henderson said.
RecWell does not like to clear students to participate in their respective sports until they return to their “pre-injured baseline measures” according to Henderson. This includes no more pain or inflammation, the return of their full range of motion and strength and the ability to use the skills required of their sport or activity.
Additionally, physical rehabilitation not only helps improve physical health but also mental health.
Henderson said she can see the improvement in students' mental health as a result of the exercises prescribed for their physical injuries.
“If a student sustains an injury where they will be out for an extended period of time, they may begin to feel left out from the team environment,” Henderson said.
“When the student begins to see their improvement in strength and function, they become hopeful and happy knowing they will soon rejoin their teammates.”
Whether you’re a student-athlete or a stressed-out student struggling with your mental health, movement is a form of medicine.