Hi everyone, I’m Diane – a member of the Admissions team here at SIPA (and the in-house certified personal trainer 💪) . I’d like to introduce a few resources about adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, wellness and self-care as a Columbia University student. With the academic rigor of the MIA/MPA programs, internships, extracurricular events, or even family obligations, it can be overwhelming at times to try to balance these various commitments. What students may not realize or tend to forget is that a healthy lifestyle is valuable in managing your stress, boosting productivity, and setting you up for success in your academic goals.

A great resource to start with is Columbia Health – here you’ll find information about the benefits of physical activity and tips/advice on how to incorporate this into your everyday life. This can range from walking, cycling, yoga, weightlifting, etc. My advice is to start with a measured, attainable goal in a specific timeframe. For instance, establishing a goal of walking 10,000 steps per day within two weeks is attainable; you can start out with taking 1,000 steps the first day and gradually increasing this number day-by-day. If you want to implement resistance training – you can begin with two full-body workouts in the first week, then increase to 3 workouts the next. These small steps will allow you adhere to an active lifestyle much easier.

Within Columbia Health, there are a couple of programs that explore wellness and self-care from a holistic approach. The Alice! Health Promotion program houses health promotion initiatives and services like women’s health, stress coping, sleep assessments, men’s health, alcohol awareness, etc. The Gay Health Advocacy Project is another program that is committed to LGBT students and provides services and resources to students from all identities and orientations such as STI testing, peer counseling, birth control education, hormone therapy, and much more.

The main gym on campus is Dodge Fitness Center, which is a tri-level center that boasts two weightlifting areas, two cardio areas, an indoor track, aerobic rooms, basketball court, squash courts, and swimming pool. In order to access the gym, you’ll need to purchase a membership which isn’t included in your tuition and fees. Note: It’s better to purchase a package for the entire academic year because it’s more cost-effective. As a CU employee, my membership came out to be approximately $30 per month for the fall and spring semesters; it’s less expensive as a student. The prices for the academic year will be made available later this summer.

For those who enjoy lifting, the strength training areas, primarily found on the second floor and make up a portion of the ground floor next to the basketball court, are decked out. There’s your standard dumbbell equipment, cable machines, bench press, squat racks, as well as Olympic lifting platforms with bumper plates. It can get crowded, starting from 5 PM onwards, but if you have time in the mornings or during the day, you’ll find what you need to get your lift on.

The cardio areas are robust and can be found on the top level and part of the ground floor. There’s plenty of treadmills, elliptical machines, spin bikes in addition to a couple of Stairmasters and rowing machines. Cardio machines are readily more available but during evening peak times (5 PM and later), you can reserve your spot for a machine 30 minutes in advance. Guests are limited to 30 minutes of usage. The basketball court is usually open except for university events and intramural sports.

I highly encourage you to visit the Health office and website to explore your options. Establishing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle as a full-time, graduate student will really make a difference in how you handle different situations, balance competing priorities, and take care of your body physically, mentally, and emotionally.