No excuse needed: Why travel is good for your health

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When you’re deep into the semester and maybe exams, your future travel and vacations are likely not high priority. But the summer is not so far away, and looking forward to it can feel good now, as well as helping to set you up for a change of scene later. Most students want to travel, according to a recent CampusWell survey. And you’re pretty clear that the benefits of travel (including study abroad programs) go way deeper than a tan.* “I feel like I am a much better person when I travel more,” says Molly D., a student at Humboldt State University in California. “Travel encourages me to appreciate the unknown while recognizing the familiar,” says Joe Foley, a second-year undergraduate at American University in Washington DC, who in 2014 became the youngest-ever National Geographic Traveler of the Year.

What’s blocking your exit route? Not surprisingly, by far the biggest barrier to travel is cost. “You need to have money saved up to cover airfares, accommodations, food, and other expenses. As a student, it’s very difficult to do this,” says Alejandro C., a third-year undergraduate at the University of California, Irvine. In our survey, 93 percent of students who responded said lack of funds was a barrier; only 4 percent said they were uncomfortable with the prospect of unfamiliar places.

*And, by the way, there’s no such thing as a healthy tan. Use SPF 30+, whatever your skin color or tone.

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What you love about travel

“The cost of taking an airplane is a huge hassle. However, what’s living if you don’t spend your money to experience new things and go to new places?”
—Steven M., fourth-year undergraduate, University of Massachusetts Amherst

“How resourceful can you be when you’re out of money and 4,000 miles away from home? Do you panic? Do you run to the consulate? Do you go native? You learn that you can wash your undies in a hotel bathroom in Rome without embarrassment. You realize that street food really is the most delicious cuisine you’ll ever stuff in your face. Travel will grind you down to your truest self. Whether that is good or bad really is up to the person. In addition, foreign candy is legit way better. So the downside is you’ll never be happy with a Snickers™ again.”
—Lori T., third-year graduate student, San Diego State University, California

“Travel is the adventure of a new place and new people. Shortly after the earthquake in Haiti, I went on a cruise that visited a private beach in Haiti. I was taking an excursion to zip line across the ocean, which was amazing, but on the drive there, we drove through some rural areas of Haiti. Seeing the devastation of the population was just as impactful as the zip lining was. Now I’m all about helping people who need the help!”
—Laura B., second-year undergraduate, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Newfoundland and Labrador

Two friends traveling and taking a selfie“I love airports, planes, train stations, subways and underground metro systems, meeting new people, and dancing the night away.”
—Sarah A., third-year undergraduate, Saint Mary’s University, Minnesota

“Traveling is great because it can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. It can be a road trip to a different city or it can be a cruise or it can be a plane ride to a new country—there’s an option for many budgets and comfort zones!”
—Taylor R., fourth-year undergraduate, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, New York

“Travel experiences are built by the little things. The smiles, the first bite of a foreign country’s food, the hostel chitchat. Although the globalized world of Facebook, the golden arches, and American TV shows exist in every major city, the local cultures remain vibrant. The world today is as fascinating as it’s always been, and in most places it’s safer than ever to be a tourist. Travel gives us the thrill of adventure and somewhere new while reminding us of our shared humanity across cultures and encouraging us to push our horizons.”
—Joe Foley, second-year undergraduate, American University, Washington DC; National Geographic Traveler of the Year 2014

“It’s cool to immerse yourself in other cultures and environments around the world or in your own hometown. Just make sure to learn a bit of history, culture, customs, and experience non-touristy activities in addition to the well-known attractions.”
—Amy N., fourth-year undergraduate, Western Washington University

“You learn more through experience than books or articles.”
—Sarah M., third-year undergraduate, Millersville University, Pennsylvania

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Stuff you might not think of

Before you go

Check which currencies are performing badly against the dollar—your money buys more in those places.

Apply early for a passport.

If you need vaccinations, go to your student health center.

Check the insurance that comes with your credit card. Check your health plan for international coverage too.

Let your bank and credit card company know your travel plans so your account isn’t flagged for fraud and possibly blocked.

When you go

Search online for free stuff to do in any tourist-friendly city (e.g., “Montreal free”).

Electronic guidebooks and maps (not books) reduce the schlep factor. Use Google Maps offline by typing “OK maps” in the search bar; the current area will be saved.

Check the comments on Foursquare for passwords of free Wi-Fi in local shops and cafés.

Keep your electronics charged. If you’re going international, bring a converter outlet plug.

Your top 5 travel experiences so far: 1. Beach vacations 2. Outdoor adventures (e.g., kayaking and hiking) 3. Backpacking trips (US) 4. Study abroad 5. Organized guided toursYour top 5 destinations: 1. Europe 2. Hawaii 3. Japan 4. Canada 5. California

Source: Student Health 101 survey, January 2017

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Your barriers to travel

“Time lost that you could spend working to help pay down outrageous college debts.”
—Colin D., second-year undergraduate, Millersville University, Pennsylvania

“Your body might not be prepared for the different illnesses and pathogens in other countries.” [Ask at the student health center about vaccinations and preventive medications.] —Domo E., third-year undergraduate, University of Hawaii at Manoa

“The paperwork for international travel. The visas help keep track of visitors, but at the same time, it’s like having to complete a totally different job just to earn the right to relax from your normal one.”
—Tyler S., third-year undergraduate, University of the District of Columbia

“Looking at your depleted bank account.”
—Jonathan L., fifth-year undergraduate, California State University, San Marcos

“Packing. It seems you never pack enough, even though you have five bags for a weekend trip, but then you still end up leaving something important at home. Then, in the end, you only needed like a quarter of what you packed!”
—Verronika L., graduate student, Barry University, Florida

“Never wear heels when you have a short layover. If your first flight is delayed in air, and you have to run to your connecting [flight], heels are not conductive to that.”
—Ashe M., second-year undergraduate, Lakehead University, Ontario

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How to land cheap flights


Flexible fliers get the best last-minute fares; be open to a variety of destinations.

Use a travel search engine: recommends Skyscanner, Airfarewatchdog, Google Flights, and several others.

Try searching for airfare deals around 1 a.m. The unsold deals from the day before will be reposted.

Before buying any ticket to anywhere, check for student discounts.

Keep your online searches incognito to find the lowest price.

Don’t make the mistakes everyone else makes.

Be smart about budget airlines.

Get cheaper domestic flights in other countries.

Find the best way to get where you’re going.

Spend less to go farther

Best sites & tools

Kayak’s Explore
Find out how far your money can take you

Sort fares from your city by price

Get the Flight Out – free iOS app
The cheapest fares leaving from your city today

STA Travel
Expert travel itineraries and student discounts

Student Universe
Lower-cost airfares for students

One Travel
Cheaper flights for students

More cool tools
See Find out more today.

"Adventure is worthwhile in itself" -Amelia EarhartMoney icon

Cheap digs

Hotels, hovels, homes, & habitats
Stay with a family who lives in the city you’re traveling to

Be a guest at someone’s house; check out the reviews

Find over a million rental lodges, which may offer more space than hotels

Recommendations and red flags from real people

B&Bs, apartments, and spare rooms for rent; try to negotiate the price.
35,000 hostels in 180 countries (including US)

Hostelling International USA
Youth-geared US hostels
Need a place tonight? Deals start at 50 percent off

Reserve America
Beautifully habitable campgrounds across the US

National Park Service
America’s best idea (really—the best)
Way more to do than you realized

More cool tools
See Find out more today.

Why travel? Here’s how to talk yourself (and others) into it

Be a better person

Most students who participated in an international exchange program felt it helped them become more trusting, open-minded, flexible, confident, and tolerant, says a 2006 study by the International Student Travel Confederation.

Go global

Students expect travel to make them more “global”—in other words, expand their knowledge, perspective, and social and cultural connections, according to a small study at California Polytechnic State University (2010).

Run free

Students associate travel with freedom (e.g., a break in academic and work expectations), a boost to emotional health and relaxation, and an opportunity to experience nature (CPSU study).

Step it up

Students who have taken a gap year perform better academically and report greater job satisfaction than do those who haven’t, research suggests. Gap year experiences can reignite a passion for learning and influence personal goals and values, including career paths, say Karl Haigler and Rae Nelson in The Gap-Year Advantage (Macmillan, 2005).

Stay healthy

Physically active leisure helps us maintain physical and mental health, especially during times of stress, according to a study of 20,000 people in the Canadian Journal of Public Health (2001).

Get creative

Knowing people from other cultures makes us more creative in tasks that draw on multicultural influences and more receptive to new ideas from outside our own experience, suggests a study from Harvard Business School (2011).

Love your life

Even the anticipation of vacation travel makes us feel good about our lives and health, according to a 2002 study in the Journal of Vacation Marketing.

Your best Instagram

Your best Instagram - travel“Climbing sand dunes in the desert of Al Ain (United Arab Emirates) made me push myself to the limits. I climbed until I literally couldn’t go further, and then I sat down and let the wind whip around me. I felt strong and at peace.”
—Jamie Teal, graduate student, Arkansas Tech University

Follow us on Instagram, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #SH101Travel


Article sources

Meghan Horne, travel marketing coordinator, AAA Northeast, Providence, Rhode Island.

Charlotte Nichols, director of business development and travel marketing, AAA Northeast, Providence, Rhode Island.

Airbnb. (n.d.). [Website]. Retrieved from

Allerton, H. E. (2003). Not funny ha ha funny peculiar. Talent Development, 57(12), 87–88.

American Gap Association. (n.d.). Data & gap year benefits. Retrieved from

Bedbug Registry. (n.d.). [Website]. Retrieved from

Caldwell, L. L., & Smith, E. A. (1988). Leisure: An overlooked component of health promotion. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 79(2), 44–48.

Chua, R. Y. J. (2011). Innovating at the world’s crossroads: How multicultural networks promote creativity. Harvard Business School Working Paper 11–075. Retrieved from

Costello, C. (2012, December 13.). 10 packing tips every traveler should know. USA Today. Retrieved from

Couchsurfing. (n.d.). [Website]. Retrieved from

Crowdfunding Friends of Friends Travel. (n.d.). [Website]. Retrieved from

Gilbert, D., & Abdullah, J. (2002). A study of the impact of the expectation of a holiday on an individual’s sense of wellbeing. Journal of Vacation Marketing, 8(4), 352–361.

Greenberg, P. (2014, January 27). How to avoid every common mistake when booking a flight. Quartz. Retrieved from

Haigler, K., & Nelson, R. (2005). The gap year advantage. St. Martin’s Press: New York City.

Hostels. (n.d.). Hostels in USA, North America. [Website]. Retrieved from

Hostelling International. (n.d.). [Website]. Retrieved from

Hostelling International USA. (n.d.). [Website]. Retrieved from

Iwasaki, Y., Zuzanek, J., & Mannell, R. C. (2001). The effects of physically active leisure on stress-health relationships. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 92(3), 214–218.

Kayak. (n.d.). Explore. [Website] Retrieved from

Kugel, S. (2015, January 1). 8 ways to save on travel in 2015. New York Times. Retrieved from

National Park Service. (n.d.). Find a park. US Department of the Interior. Retrieved from (n.d.). [Website]. US Government. Retrieved from

Reserve America. (n.d.). [Website]. Retrieved from

Richards, G. (June 2006). Summary report of a research study undertaken for the International Student Travel Confederation. Tourism Research and Marketing. Retrieved from

Rome2Rio. (n.d.). [Website]. Retrieved from

Samiljan, T. (2015, March 20). Become a spontaneous traveler by using these apps. Time. Retrieved from

Smarter Travel. (n.d.). [Website]. Retrieved from

Smith, C. E. (2009). Students’ beliefs about the benefits of travel and leisure: A qualitative analysis. [Unpublished]. Retrieved from

STATravel. (n.d.). [Website]. Retrieved from

Steves, R. (n.d.). Rick’s packing list. Retrieved from

Student Health 101 surveys, December 2016 and February 2015.

Student Universe. (n.d.). [Website]. Retrieved from

TripAdvisor. (n.d.). [Website]. Retrieved from

US Department of State. (n.d.). Traveler’s checklist. Retrieved from

US Postal Service. (n.d.). Passports. Retrieved from

US Travel Association. (2010, February).The benefits are everywhere: The personal benefits of travel and taking a vacation. Retrieved from

Utrip. (n.d.). [Website]. Retrieved from

Bliss out, don’t miss out: The joy and solace of sleep

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Students adore and crave sleep. When we asked hundreds of you what you’d love to be doing right now, sleeping ranked second—behind only “being with someone I love,” and ahead of eating delicious food, having sex, and other pleasures. In a recent survey by SH101, 91 percent of respondents said they “look forward to and relish” their sleep.

And no wonder. Every time we sleep, we’re taking a luxury nano-vacation. “Each night we leave ourselves and enter a dreamworld…What a gift to spend a third of our lives in rejuvenation,” says Alyssa Rocco, a graphic artist based in Massachusetts (quoted online).

Which sleepy moments do you relish the most?

Getting into bed after a long day
The warmth and security of being in bed
Waking up refreshed
Reading or watching TV in bed
Waking up and remembering a good dream
The drowsy transition between being awake and asleep
Eating or drinking in bed

Source: Student Health 101 survey. 920 students answered this question.

Four ways to honor sleep as the hedonistic pleasure that it is:

1  Make your bed every day

Think of your bed as a gift to yourself. You’ll peel back the duvet and blankets (unwrap the gift) before you turn in.

Making our bed daily gives us a sense of control and is a surprisingly effective happiness fix, according to Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project.

2  Reframe your thinking

“Sleep isn’t something we have to do; it’s something we get to do. It’s a luxury. We do it because it feels good, not because we’re afraid of consequences,” said Heather Turgeon, a psychotherapist (to the New York Times). In our survey, four out of five respondents (81 percent) described sleep as “one of life’s greatest pleasures.”

3  Think “don’t,” not “can’t”

Here’s a mind trick that helps with desirable behaviors, like relishing bedtime: Frame your self-talk so it’s empowering, not punitive.

  • “I don’t use gadgets after 11 p.m.”
  • “I don’t stay up after 12:30 a.m.”
  • “I don’t deny myself sleep.”

When we remind ourselves “I don’t,” we are more successful than when we tell ourselves “I can’t,” studies show.

4  Pamper yourself


  • Changing the sheets: Fresh sheets mean better sleep, said 7 out of 10 people in a National Sleep Foundation survey. In our survey, only 1 in 10 students said they change their sheets weekly.
  • Lavender: It’s relaxing. Drop some aromatherapy oil on your pillowcase.
  • Memory foam pillows: They conform to the curves of your neck, head, and shoulders.

How do students rank life’s greatest pleasures?

Being with someone I love
Good food
Being in nature
Sex (or fantasy)
Music, literature, arts

Source: Student Health 101 survey. 800 students answered the question: Which of these would you relish most right now?

[survey_plugin] Article sources

Historical and cultural perspectives of sleep. (2008, January 2). Healthy Sleep, Division of Sleep Medicine, Harvard University. Retrieved from

National Sleep Foundation. (2014). Inside your bedroom. Retrieved from

National Sleep Foundation. (2014). Touch. Retrieved from

Patrick, V. M., & Hagtvedt, H. (2012). Empowerment refusal motivates goal-directed behavior. Journal of Consumer Research, 39(2), 371–381.

Rubin, G. (2009, August 28). Make your bed. The Happiness Project. Retrieved from

Sleep and pleasure. (2013, September 5). Retrieved from

Student Health 101 survey, November 2016.

Just dance: 7 reasons to bust a move

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Whether we’re jamming to Wiz Khalifa, rocking out to 1D, or foxtrotting with our beloved, dance makes us feel physically and emotionally revitalized. And any time we could use a workout, dance is available in unlimited styles and intensities. “It’s like exercise, but cheerful,” says Matthew M., a second-year student at the Community College of Denver, Colorado.

1. Boost your mood, brain, and confidence

“I can’t live without it. It makes me feel good about myself when nothing else does.”
—Alycia S., first-year undergraduate, Northern Michigan University

More information and stories

Dance is therapeutic, emotionally and mentally as well as physically. Dancing involves a complex combination of systems in our bodies and brains—motor skills, coordination, rhythm, synchronization, and so on—according to a 2006 study of dancers’ neural activity (Cerebral Cortex). This may help explain its multiple benefits.

  • Dance improves our mood and sense of well-being, and is an effective treatment for depression and anxiety, according to a meta-analysis of 27 studies in Arts in Psychotherapy (2014).
  • Doing the tango with a partner lowered participants’ levels of the stress hormone cortisol, reported the journal Music & Medicine in 2009. In a recent survey by Student Health 101, more than one in three respondents said they had danced to relieve their stress.
  • Dancing boosts cognitive activity in the brain, preserves motor skills, and is an effective way to stave off dementia, according to a 2003 study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“As a college student, I face challenging obstacles every day and there are times I just want to dance it off! Dancing is life, and it is such a confidence booster for me.”
—Gara G., fourth-year undergraduate, Towson University, Pennsylvania

“Dancing relieves my stress. After dancing, when I hear those songs anywhere else I relive those special moments, increasing my energy and confidence or giving me something positive to look forward to again.”
—Juan M., second-year student, Elgin Community College, Illinois

“I don’t really know how to express it. It’s just a feeling I get when I hear some music (especially salsa); it gives me the goose bumps and renders me a dancing machine for a while :).”
—Claudio M., first-year undergraduate, University of New Mexico

“Dancing makes me feel free but also located within a particular flow of music. It’s fun and it’s completely different than the kind of focus and composure required in my academic life. Phenomenal.”
—Brandi W., second-year graduate student, Yale University, Connecticut

2. Love your bod

“I feel powerful and connected to myself.”
—Alyson K., fourth-year undergraduate, University of California, Riverside

More information and stories

Dance can help improve our body image and self-esteem, research shows.

  • Dance makes us feel better about our bodies, according to a meta-analysis
    of 27 studies in Arts in Psychotherapy (2014).
  • In a 2006 study involving 50 British teens, a six-week aerobic dance program improved participants’ body image and sense of self-worth, according to the journal Body Image.
  • Dance students benefit from seeing slideshows about dance history featuring different-sized performers, says Anna Sapozhnikov, a performing arts dance instructor in Illinois. “It really helps [students] see that any body can move.”

“I dance to get over the fear of being too self-conscious about the way I look or feel. It makes me feel less worried once others I’m with are participating.”
—Jimmy T., third-year graduate student, University of California, Los Angeles

“Dance makes me aware of my body and how I use it throughout the day. It helps my posture and helps me communicate [through] body language.”
—Maya H., second-year undergraduate, Bates College, Maine

“Dance gives me a chance to put my life on hold and live in the moment. It lets my body be as free as it wants whilst still conditioning and controlling the movements.”
—Alyson K., fourth-year undergraduate, University of California, Riverside

3. Get fit and energized

“I dance because I am not athletic.”
—Kelsey C., third-year undergraduate, The College of New Jersey

More information and stories

Looking for a new workout? Dance offers a vast range of options. “It works on flexibility, strength, and other aspects of physical fitness,” says Anna Sapozhnikov, a performing arts dance teacher in Illinois.

  • Three months of low-impact aerobic dance training was as effective as cycling and jogging for weight management and aerobic fitness in overweight women according to a study in Applied Human Science.
  • Dancing for 20 minutes three times a week was more effective than traditional cardio workouts for improving heart conditions, in a 2008 study in Circulation: Heart Failure.

“Dancing has so many wonderful health benefits. It helps the cardiovascular system, strengthens bones, and releases endorphins that give you a wonderful high throughout your day.”
—Adriana O., third-year student, Tarrant County College, Texas

“Ballroom dancing is a great, fun exercise. It’s truly the fountain of youth; look at elderly people who have ballroom danced for decades.”
—Brian T., first-year undergraduate, Tulane University, Louisiana

“I have always loved dancing. It makes me feel good, and being in a wheelchair it helps keep my arm strength up and makes me feel happy. When I’m having a bad morning I always feel better after my dance class.”
—Brittany C., second-year undergraduate, Utah State University

“I’ve tap danced since I was three. Tap dancing tickles the math part of my brain and I’ll be able to do it when I’m in my 70s, 80s, etc. to stay in shape.”
—Dielle A., fourth-year undergraduate, Portland State University, Oregon

4. Give back or lead

“People who came in with no dance experience have really been empowered.”
—Nick, volunteer dance instructor, graduate of Indiana University

More information and stories

Looking to make the world a better place?

  • Dance does this too! So says Anna Pasternak, founder of Movement Exchange, a dance outreach program connecting university chapters and communities domestically and internationally. “Movement Exchange is truly the result of my desire as a dancer to make a positive difference in our world. As a student, you have a voice and can make a difference in your local or international community [by] promoting peace-building and violence prevention,” she says.
  • To get involved locally, volunteer at an after-school dance class for kids, or become a younger student’s “Big Brother” or “Big Sister.”

“We’ve had people come in with no dance experience and now they’re leading dance workshops. They’ve really been empowered and found a home in it.”
—Nick, a volunteer at Movement Exchange (teaching capoeira, a Brazilian dance incorporating martial arts); graduate of Indiana University

“If I had a chance to dance to make someone smile I would do it and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
—Elijah R., online student, Indian Hills Community College, Iowa

“I am blessed to say I dance for my university’s dance team. It is such hard work, but I love it. It makes me feel so good to be a part of such an awesome team, and performing is just an amazing rush.”
—Brittany R., third-year undergraduate, Western Carolina University, North Carolina

5. Connect culturally

“Dancing and the music help me culturally relate to the rest of the world.”
—Erika K., second-year undergraduate, University of Delaware

More information and stories

  • Volunteer at Movement Exchange, a dance outreach program connecting university chapters and communities; its workshops incorporate Indian dance, West African dance, samba, Chinese ribbon dance, ballet, and Mexican folkloric dance, and take place locally and internationally.
  • Take flamenco lessons to complement your Spanish classes.
  • Search online for unique dance events in your area, such as historical balls inspired by Regency England and Civil War America.

“I am part of a classical Indian dance team. It makes me feel like a moving piece of art with fluid lines and constant movement.”
—Shivani P., fourth-year undergraduate, The College of New Jersey

“When I first saw people dance [hip hop], I thought, ‘I need to learn how to be like them.’”
—Tyler A., fourth-year undergraduate, Concordia College Moorhead, Minnesota

“Dancing and the music help me culturally relate to the rest of the world. I was born to dance, there’s really nothing more to it. I feel like a whole new person.”
—Erika K., second-year undergraduate, University of Delaware

“Hula is a part of the Hawaii culture and it is important to perpetuate that.”
—Kira F., third-year undergraduate, University of Hawaii at Manoa

6. Express yourself

“Dancing is a language. I believe it to be a part of being a human being.”
—Ronann C., fourth-year undergraduate, Johns Hopkins University, Maryland

More information and stories

Dance is socially liberating. “We are providing a safe space to express feelings and emotions through dance,” says Anna Pasternak, founder of Movement Exchange. The social effects may be particularly powerful for anxious people. “I have taught dance for years and have built my bonds with my students. The shy ones take time; however, once they get comfortable it is amazing to see what they can achieve,” says Laura Barr, a second-year undergraduate at Memorial University of Newfoundland. In a recent survey by Student Health 101, 33 percent of respondents said they had danced for self-expression. Forty-six percent said they had danced because they couldn’t resist the music and movement.

“Dancing is an expression of exuberance. Or of joy, or happiness, or sometimes even grief. It lets you feel what words can’t say.”
—Leah D., third-year undergraduate, University of Southern Maine

“I enjoy the aesthetic of technical forms of dance. I see beauty in the art of dance more than some other forms because it uses the body to tell a story.”
—Angelle W., fourth-year undergraduate, University of North Texas

“Dancing is a language. You get to communicate with your dance partner without the need of speaking. I believe it to be a part of being a human being.”
—Ronann C., fourth-year undergraduate, Johns Hopkins University, Maryland

“Most people would say that my awkward flailing is not even considered dancing, but I feel so alive when I’m movin’ and groovin’ that I don’t even care. Dancing, in any form, is one of the most beautiful and vital forms of self-expression.”
—Rachael M., fourth-year undergraduate, Concordia College, Minnesota

7. Bond with others

“Intimate human interaction is a pleasure that is not easy to come by.”
—William S., fifth-year undergraduate, Georgia Gwinnett College

More information and stories

In a recent survey by Student Health 101, 68 percent of respondents said they have danced for social bonding—the leading reason, out of 12 options—and 37 percent said they had danced for romantic or sexual bonding. If you’re looking to dance informally with others, join a dance club or meet-up in the park, or find a flash mob.

+ Find a flash mob

“When you’re dancing with other people and they can share the enjoyment with you, that’s what I love most.”
—Samantha J., third-year undergraduate, Roger Williams University, Rhode Island

“[I dance for] the physical/romantic connection with someone you’ve never met. It’s exciting. Intimate human interaction is a pleasure that is not easy to come by all the time.”
—William S., fifth-year undergraduate, Georgia Gwinnett College

“It’s a great way to get some exercise while having a bit of fun. Sometimes my friends join in and it becomes a group effort.
It makes us feel alive.”
—Christopher H., graduate student, California State University, Chico

“A dance floor is the best place to see sides of people you haven’t seen before, like grandma killin’ it with the elbows flyin’... or momma rockin’ out to a song you’ve never heard before. I’ve really enjoyed dancing at weddings or school dances throughout the years. But especially weddings.”
—Ryan M., graduate student, Old Dominion University, Virginia


A bit more fit: The power of tracking your steps

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Do you ever wonder why your roommate is jogging in place while watching House of Cards? Do you have friends who talk about getting their steps in? Tracking your steps during the day using a wearable device or app is shockingly motivating.

We asked three students to track their activity over two weeks using the app Moves. Their first week was business as usual. Their second week was about incorporating more activity in whatever ways they wanted: walking extra blocks, taking the stairs, or hitting the gym. The goal was to see how simple changes in their routines added up and what that meant for their mood and behaviors.

“This challenge has honestly changed my outlook on exercise.”

Emily T., second-year undergraduate Saint Mary’s University, Nova Scotia

Distance walked (week)
Active week: 15 mi
Typical week: 7.5 mi

Distance walked (daily avg)
Active week: 2.1 mi
Typical week: 1.1 mi

Number of steps (daily avg)
Active week: 4,822
Typical week: 2,606

Time being active (daily avg)
Active week: 5.5 hrs
Typical week: 32 min


“I don’t consider myself to be an active person. I rarely go to the gym. I do try to walk everywhere I can, like the grocery store or friends’ houses, and I will only take the bus if it is raining, snowing, or extremely cold outside. For my active week I plan to take the stairs instead of the elevator, make it to the gym, and do small exercises at home. My boyfriend is very supportive. I’m up for the challenge!”

How I felt “I was surprised by how little I moved when I had no place to be. When I don’t have class I barely get any exercise!”


“I encourage other students to do this challenge because it has honestly changed my outlook on exercise. Before, I dreaded exercise, but now that I see results I’m motivated to keep up my routine. I’m not as intimidated now to go to the gym. Before, I thought I would feel judged. I plan to keep the app Moves, because it motivates me to break my record every day.”

How I felt “Every time after I worked out I felt refreshed and happier. Getting up and getting active made me more productive generally.”

“Seeing my steps is motivating! You want to hit a higher number every time.”

Usama Z., first-year undergraduate University of the Pacific, California

Distance walked (week)
Active week: 30 mi
Typical week: 17 mi

Distance walked (daily avg)
Active week: 4 mi
Typical week: 2.5 mi

Number of steps (daily avg)
Active week: 9,550
Typical week: 6,182

Time being active (daily avg)
Active week: 13 hrs
Typical week: 6.5 hrs


“I use transportation more often than walking because I commute to and from campus. I enjoy being healthy, and this is a nice motivation to not only start thinking about my steps but also eat slightly [healthier]. In my super-powered week, instead of driving to get food (less than half a mile away), or getting in the car to check the mail (less than a block away), I’ll walk. Also, I’ll ask my dad to drop me off farther away from my first class.”

How I felt “This has given me a new perspective on how active I actually am. Now that I see my steps, it’s kind of motivating! You want to hit a higher number every time.”


“It doesn’t matter what sort of physical activity you get. As long as you do it routinely, even if it’s just extra walking, you notice, feel, and see the difference. You don’t need a gym membership or fancy exercise equipment; it all starts with a single step. Keeping track of your steps really makes you feel you want to do a little extra to get to that next level. You feel stoked when you beat your personal best.”

How I felt “I’ve had more exams and things to do, but the extra walking did make me feel great! As opposed to saying, ‘Nah, I’m going to work out later anyways; I’ll be dropped off really near class…’ I now say, ‘It’s fine, I’ll walk.’”

“Just 30 minutes a day can change your outlook. I felt amazing.”

Briana J., second-year undergraduate, Midwestern State University, Texas

Distance walked (week)
Active week: 22 mi
Typical week: 18 mi

Distance walked (daily avg)
Active week: 3 mi
Typical week: 2.5 mi

Number of steps (daily avg)
Active week: 8,149
Typical week: 6,603

Time being active (daily avg)
Active week: 2.5 hrs
Typical week: 2 hrs


“I have to drive to work and school because I live far away. The only place I walk is to take out the trash or check the mail. Usually I end up exercising once or twice a week at a private gym. I love to play disc golf and be outdoors, though. For my step-up week I’m going to take the stairs, park farther away, go to the gym, and incorporate 30 minutes of daily activity.”

How I felt “I’ve been stressed out lately. I often find myself ready to take a nap after school. I’m more comfortable being lazy than working out.”


“I learned you don’t have to do much to be active. I’m new to weight management and working out, and this helped me ease into it. You don’t have to do extreme things to burn energy. Just 30 minutes a day can change your outlook. Since starting this study, my friends are competing to walk more steps than I am. I plan on trying to get 10,000 steps a day, no matter what I have planned.”

How I felt “My moods have improved the more activity I do each day. I’m happier and I feel energetic.”

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