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.
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:
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:
- Medicine and Pregnancy
- My Medicines: Take Time To Care (Brochure)
- Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Your Medications
Resources for Arizona Students:
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. 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.
Explore these resources for getting the most out of your physical activity:
- How Exercise Can Improve Your Health
- How Physical Exercise Benefits Mental Health
- Move Your Way (USDHHS)
- Physical Wellness Toolkit
- The Best Forms of Exercise to Improve Your Mood
- The Science Behind a Runner's High and What to Do if You're Addicted
Resources for Arizona Students:
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!
Learn What Your Body 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 the Balance In Your Eating Habits
- Am I Overeating or Do I Have Binge Eating Disorder?
- Emotional Eating and How to Stop It
- The Illusion of Control in Eating Disorders
Explore these tools and resources to help you nourish your body:
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.
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.
Read more about relaxation for sleep.
More tools and resources for better sleep:
The Risks of Using Nicotine Products
Addiction: 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.
CNS Stimulation: Nicotine stimulates the central nervous system and causes the body to produce activating chemicals. This 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 is 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. Additionally, though uncommon, nicotine 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.
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:
- Arizona Smokers Helpline: ASHLINE
- American Lung Association Freedom from Smoking Program
- Vaping Illness
Resources for Arizona Students:
Campus Health Service nicotine & tobacco cessation information and resources.
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.
Tools for safer drinking:
- Calculate Your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)
- Care Clinic Alcohol Consumption Tracking App
- Quit That! Habit Tracking App
Get support for staying sober:
- SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recover Training)
- Cocaine Anonymous
- Narcotics Anonymous
- Wildcats Anonymous
Sober Living Apps
- I am Sober Goal-Tracking & Community
- Nomo Sobriety Tracking
- Sober Grid Community
- Sober Tool
- Twenty-Four Hours a Day AA Meditations
Resources for Arizona Students
Protect yourself from the sun and heat with these safety tips:
- Use shade from trees, umbrellas, or other shelters to reduce sun exposure.
- Sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB rays. Go for SPF 15 or higher. Be sure to check the expiration date and reapply throughout the day.
- When possible wear long-sleeved shorts and long pants or skirts.
- Wear a hat with a brim that goes all the way around. If wearing a baseball cap, protect your ears and back of your neck with shade or clothing.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and the skin around your eyes. Look for sunglasses that offer UVA and UVB protection. Wrap-around sunglasses offer the most coverage.
- Wear appropriate clothing.
- Stay in an air-conditioned place as much as possible.
- Pace yourself when outdoors. If activity makes your heart pound, makes you gasp for breath, or makes you lightheaded, stop and go indoors where you can cool yourself.
- Do not leave children or pets in cars, even with the window cracked.
- Stay hydrated.
- Know the signs of heat-related illness.
More information on sun and heat safety:
- How to Stay Cool and Hydrated on a Hot Summer Day
- Indoor Tanning: The Risks of Ultraviolet Rays (Video)
- Staying Healthy in the Desert
Drinking water is critical to your health. Proper hydration affects every system of the body, from kidney function to mood and cognitive function. If you don't drink enough water, you could become dehydrated. If you're thirsty, you might already be dehydrated.
Tools you can use to stay hydrated:
- Plant Nanny Water Tracker
- Water Intake Calculator
- WaterLama Water Tracker
- Water & Other Beverage Nutrition Facts
Learn more about hydration:
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.
Explore sex and relationship tips on Living Wild.
More sexual health resources:
- 10 Characteristics of a Healthy Sexual Relationship
- Birth Control Chart
- HPV (human papillomavirus)
- Campus Health LGBTQ+ Health
- Men's Sexual Health
- Planned Parenthood
- Women and HIV
- Women's Sexual Health
- What Is the Impact of Casual Sex on Mental Health?
Resources for Arizona students:
Resources for Physical Wellness
Try One Thing
What's one aspect of your physical wellness you could enhance? If you haven't already, complete your Pathways to Wellness Personal Wellness Plan and set a SMART goal to get you started.
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.
Campus Health Service
Your campus one-stop shop for health and wellness.
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!
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.
Student Rec Center
At the Rec Center, you can get active and meet new people with services like group fitness programs, outdoor activities, and sport programs.
Our Favorite Sites and Resources for Wellness