Physical Activity

Aerobic physical activity or "cardio" gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster. Traditionally, we think of vigorous-intensity activities like running and swimming, but moderate-intensity activities like brisk walking from the subway stop and bicycling to the store can also count.

Muscle-strengthening activities, or resistance training, work all the major muscle groups of your body (legs, buttocks, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms). Examples include working with resistance bands, lifting weights, shoveling snow, and yoga. The most important thing is that they need to be done to a point where it's hard for you to do another repetition without help. 

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Recommended Physical Activity

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommend that adults:

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Office of Work/Life Resources Icon

Office of Work/Life Resources

The Office of Work/Life develops and offers programs and initiatives designed to help you meet the recommended federal physical activity guidelines for aerobic physical activity and muscle-strengthening activity, if able.

Walking at Columbia

Walking is a simple form of physical activity that can be done almost anywhere. With many notable health benefits, walking is also a powerful tool to strengthen relationships and engage with your colleagues, families, and community members.

Fall 2023: Columbia vs. NYU Uptown/Downtown Step Challenge

Columbia vs. NYU Uptown/Downtown Step Challenge. Increase physical activity and well-being this fall! For three weeks, each university will join together as one team to see whether the uptown or downtown NYC university will achieve the highest average step count by the challenge’s end.

Monday, October 2nd – Friday, October 20th

Deadline to register is September 28th! 


Create a Walking Group

Interested in setting up a walking group with your department or school? For groups who want to create and stay connected in motion, we can help. Movespring can help you track your steps, keep track of your activity, and chat with your group for meet-ups. 

Reasons to create and join a walking group with Movespring: 

  • It’s completely free
  • Everyone is welcome to join
  • Easy to use and track your progress

To learn more about this initiative, contact the Office of Work/Life.


No weights, bands, or equipment needed! This fitness class requires just your own body weight to strengthen and tone muscles. We practiced full body movements such as squats, lunges, and planks for a challenging, back-to-basics fitness class. Over eight sessions, we focused on form, building strength, and moving with joy. Any and all fitness levels are welcome - modifications offered.

Watch the full series in the Well-Being Video Library.

morningside campus walking map
morningside walking map for riverside park
manhattanville walking map south
manhattanville walking map riverbank state park
CUMC walking map hudson greenway
CUMC walking map hudson greenway

The League of American Bicyclists has recognized Columbia University as a Silver Bicycle Friendly University SM  for its efforts in supporting bicycling.

Bicycling is one of the most healthy, economically-efficient, fun, and environmentally-friendly ways to commute. Ranked among the top forms of exercise to improve cardiovascular fitness, bicycling to work, school, or other destinations as part of one’s regular daily routine can be both a sustainable and time-efficient exercise regimen for achieving adequate aerobic fitness levels, reducing cardiovascular risk, and preventing weight gain.

To learn more about getting to Columbia by bike and Columbia bicycle services and resources, including bicycling discounts, visit To receive updates about bicycle-related activities at Columbia, including group rides and free bike maintenance events, join Columbia's Bicycle Interest Group.

Bicycle Friendly Business Silver Medal

The Take the Stairs campaign encourages the Columbia community to choose the stairs instead of the elevator as a quick way to add physical activity to your day and save electricity.  In fact, stair climbing burns almost 700% more calories when compared to taking the elevator and has been shown to raise good cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health.  

Through the campaign, we have engaged several departments and schools in fun team challenges that encourage increased stair use.

To learn more about the campaign, contact the Office of Work/Life .

Combining physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation, yoga is a mind and body practice with historical origins in ancient Indian philosophy. Current research suggests that practicing yoga may reduce pain and stress, lower heart rate and blood pressure, relieve anxiety, depression, and insomnia, and improve overall physical fitness, strength, and flexibility.

An initiative of the Office of Work/Life and Columbia Physical Education and Recreation, Yoga is a challenging yet relaxing yoga experience focused on increasing flexibility, strengthening mind and body, and improving range of motion through postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation/meditation techniques. This program is offered on-site for you and your colleagues. 

To learn more or to discuss scheduling a session or series in your building or department, please fill out this brief form.

You can also access previously recorded yoga sessions here.

Gym Discounts

One Pass

Columbia offers One Pass, which gives you everything you need for a healthy body and mind with the convenience of a single program. 

With One Pass, from Rally – part of UnitedHealthcare – you have the flexibility to try different gyms and fitness classes to find something you love. On the One Pass website, choose your membership level and get one easy, affordable plan available to you and eligible family members.

*One Pass is open to all benefits-eligible employees, even if they are not a member of a United Healthcare plan.

Additional Fitness Discounts
  • Garmin offers wearable technology to support fitness goals. Columbia University employees are eligible for 20% off fitness trackers through Garmin in the following categories: Vivo series, Venu series, Forerunner, Fenix, Instinct, Approach, Index S2, Smart Scale. Visit the group membership website and enter your Columbia University email address and follow email instructions to set up your account. 
  • Additional wellness discounts are available to Columbia faculty and staff through Aetna Columbia Dental Plan’s GlobalFit Benefit and TELUS Health (formerly LifeWorks) Employee Assistance Program.
  • Columbia has also partnered with local vendors that provide discounts for Columbia affiliates on sales, bike rentals, maintenance, parts and accessories at local bike shops with your Columbia ID. Visit Columbia Transportation for more information.

For a comprehensive listing of other discounts, including computers, phones, arts, and travel, visit the Human Resources website.

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Columbia University Resources

Besides our own programs and initiatives, you can also get involved with these other Columbia wellness programs and resources.


Dodge Fitness Center (Morningside)   

The Dodge Fitness Center provides Columbia students, faculty, staff, alumni and affiliates fitness opportunities and exercise space right on campus. Membership allows access to a variety of fitness options:

  • Access to tri-level fitness center, open 114 hours per week during the academic year and 90 hours during the summer
  • Access to eight-lane, 25-yard swimming pool
  • Access to indoor running track
  • Access to open recreation hours in Levien and Blue Gymnasiums, as well as squash/racquetball courts
  • Free equipment checkout
  • Towel and locker service (additional fee may apply)
  • And personal trainers, classes, and group sport programs for additional fees

The Dodge Fitness Center is open 114 hours each week during the academic year, and as late as midnight from Sunday through Thursday to accommodate any schedule.  

Dodge Fitness Center 336
Morningside Campus
3030 Broadway Dodge, Mail Code 1900
New York, NY 10027


50 Haven Athletic Center (Medical Center)

CUIMC students, faculty, and staff are welcome to work out and play sports in the heart of the Medical Center campus at 50 Haven Ave. Athletic Center, Basement Levels 2 and 3. Membership covers facilities and equipment, including:

  • Locker rooms, restrooms, and sauna
  • Cardio room
  • Aerobics room
  • Free weight room
  • Strength training room
  • Pool
  • Basketball court
  • Squash court

50 Haven Athletic Center
Basement Levels 2 and 3
350 Haven Ave
New York, NY 10032

For convenience - you can now deduct your Dodge Fitness Center membership through your Columbia paycheck. 

To sign up for automatic payroll deductions to Dodge Fitness Center - log into CUBES to enroll.

Employee Assistance Program
The EAP is a network of services, including short-term counseling and life coaching, to help faculty, staff, and their household members cope with everyday issues including stress, relationships, depression, and addiction. Telus Health CareNow counselors are available 24 hours, 7 days a week at 1-844-636-1260.

Gym and Wellness Discounts are available for eligible employees through Telus Health Employee Assistance Program. 

Columbia Dental Plan
Gym and Wellness Discounts are available for eligible employees through Aetna Columbia Dental Plan’s GlobalFit Benefit.

Wellness Coaching is a healthy lifestyle program available to Columbia University medical plan participants and dependents at no additional cost.  Work with a wellness coach telephonically with additional web-based support to help you eat better, move more, and lose weight.   

To learn more or to enroll, call United Healthcare at 800-232-9357 or visit this website.

RALLY is an engaging digital health experience that starts with a quick health survey to measure your overall health and then recommends simple activities designed to help improve your diet, fitness, and mood and can support weight loss. 

Rally is available through – access Rally through the Health and Wellness dropdown in the Rewards tab.

For more information or to learn if you are eligible, call United Healthcare at 800-232-9357.

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External Resources

Looking for more? Here are resources outside of Columbia.

Visit the CDC’s website for further information about what counts or does not count as physical activity.

Join the Every Body Walk! Collaborative to spread the message that walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week really can improve your overall health and prevent disease.

Get inspired with Move it Monday simple workouts, tips, and inspiration to help you incorporate physical activity into your weekly routine.

Access Shape Up NYC’s free, drop-in fitness program with locations across the five boroughs.

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