Image Provided by UBC Wellbeing

If you could use one word to describe life at UBC Okanagan, what would you come up with? Maybe you would pick “social” or “transformative.” Maybe you would say “exhausting” or “expensive.” Maybe you would even say “sedentary.”

Okay, you probably would not say sedentary, but considering the fact that you probably spend more than half of your day sitting down, it’s not a bad guess.

That’s right, more than half of your day. According to the UBC Action Frameworks to Increase Physical Activity and Reduce Sedentary Behavior, the nature of working and learning on university campuses often promotes sedentary behaviour and leaves little time in the day for physical activity. Sedentary behaviour includes sitting in classes and meetings, working on computers, and commuting to campus, so even if you consider yourself to be an active person, it is likely that most of your time on campus is spent sitting down.

This is a major concern, and the UBC Action Frameworks are treating it as such. Following the guidance of the Okanagan Charter, the UBC Action Frameworks assert that:

“UBC is working towards becoming a health-promoting university — embedding wellbeing into all aspects of campus culture and leading health promotion and collaboration globally and locally . . . Our UBC community has identified promoting physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviour as one of our priority areas for action.”

To promote physical activity among the UBC community, Move UBC was created in 2017. It is a university-wide initiative running through the month of February which aims to increase physical activity and reduce the amount of time that students, faculty, and staff spend being sedentary. 

Throughout the month, there is a mix of on-campus, off-campus, and virtual events that encourage staff and students to get moving, including glow-in-the-dark yoga and indoor lawn games. In addition to the events being hosted by the university, students and staff are encouraged to take movement breaks throughout the day and, if possible, travel sustainably by using active transportation.

Whether you spend an hour cross-country skiing, or take a five-minute walk between classes, incorporating physical activity into your day is essential for your mental, physical, social, and academic wellbeing. According to the Government of Canada, physical activity regulates sleep, reduces anxiety and depression, aids concentration, and impacts students’ test scores and overall achievement.

This initiative is really important, and the events sound like a lot of fun, so why not keep it going all year?

Kara Crampton, the coordinator behind Move UBC on the Okanagan campus, explained that “the initiative is similar to Thrive, where there is one month that the initiative is a campus focus and highly promoted,” so even though Move UBC only occurs in February, “there is a continual focus of promoting physical activity throughout the year.” 

When discussing the goals of Move UBC on the Okanagan campus, Crampton stated that:

“We seek to educate the community on the benefits of movement and how to incorporate more movement into their days. We also try to highlight and focus on non-traditional forms of movement . . . and encourage people to move in ways that they enjoy and that feel good for them.”

The 2022–23 UBC Wellbeing Annual Report also includes university-wide targets, including a 10 per cent increase in the amount of physical activity by UBC community members by 2025.

The report reveals that, on the UBC Okanagan campus, there has been a seven per cent improvement in the amount of undergraduate students who report meeting the Canadian physical activity guidelines. The report also reveals that 40 per cent of trips to and from UBC Okanagan were made by walking, biking, or transit. Not bad!

Clearly, there is more to university life than pop quizzes and parties. There is also a lot of sitting, so much so that we had to create initiatives like Move UBC to get people out of their seats. But it is just as clear that these initiatives are working. So regardless of why or how you move your body, get out there and take advantage of the resources and fun events available to you.

Upcoming Move UBC Events:

Wear your activewear to the gym on Activewear Wednesdays during Move UBC month and receive a free drop-in to the Hangar Fitness Centre, a group fitness class, or open gym time.

On February 16, the Indoor Lawn Games will take place. This is a drop-in event taking place in the UBC Ballroom from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. There will be a draw prize, and one lucky participant will win a $20 food services gift card.

If you would like to stay updated on Move UBC and other events happening on campus, visit UBCO Recreation and UBC Wellbeing.