What are the two pillars of wellness at Upenn?

The University of Pennsylvania promotes a holistic approach to student health and wellbeing through its ‘Two Pillars of Wellness’ initiative. This program focuses on physical and mental wellness as the foundations for a healthy, balanced lifestyle for Penn students.

Physical Wellness

Physical wellness refers to the health and vitality of our bodies. Upenn encourages students to adopt healthy habits and behaviors to care for their physical health through fitness, nutrition, sleep and self-care.

Some key aspects of physical wellness that Upenn emphasizes include:

  • Exercise and fitness
  • Healthy eating and nutrition
  • Preventative health care
  • Adequate sleep and rest
  • Responsible alcohol and drug use
  • Sexual health

Upenn provides students with numerous resources and facilities to support their physical wellness on campus, including:

  • State-of-the-art fitness centers like Pottruck Gym and Hutchinson Gym
  • Club and intramural sports teams
  • Outdoor recreation activities through Penn Outdoor Adventure
  • Nutrition counseling and education through Student Health Service
  • Alcohol and drug awareness programs
  • Sexual health services and education

In addition, Upenn encourages students to take personal responsibility for their physical health by making positive choices each day. Getting regular exercise, eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep, managing stress, and avoiding risky behaviors are all important for maintaining physical wellness.

Fitness and Exercise

Regular physical activity is vital for health and wellbeing. Upenn provides state-of-the-art recreational facilities to make exercise accessible and engaging for students.

Key fitness facilities and resources at Penn include:

  • Pottruck Health and Fitness Center – Large fitness center with cardio equipment, weight training machines, pools, courts for basketball/squash/racquetball, and group fitness studios for classes like yoga, pilates, zumba, spin, martial arts, and more.
  • Hutchinson Gym – Gymnasium for basketball, volleyball, badminton, floor hockey and other sports.
  • Class RecPass – Grant students discounted rates for fitness classes at local gyms.
  • Student Rec Center – More casual space for pick-up basketball, soccer, volleyball games.
  • Penn Park – Outdoor recreation fields for sports like soccer, lacrosse, flag football, rugby, softball.

For students looking for a social experience, Upenn offers 35+ club sports teams in diverse areas like soccer, rowing, fencing, boxing and Quidditch. There are also hundreds of intramural leagues and tournaments throughout the year.

No matter your interests, Upenn gives students ample opportunities to stay active and fit through competitive and recreational sports.

Healthy Eating

Along with fitness, nutrition is a key aspect of physical wellness. Upenn dining offers healthy meal options and nutrition education to help students eat well.

Upenn has 20+ dining halls and retail cafes across campus. All offer varied menus with wholesome items like:

  • Fresh salads, fruits and vegetables
  • Lean proteins including chicken, fish, tofu and beans
  • Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat bread
  • Healthy snacks like nuts, seeds, yogurt, hummus

Registered dietitians work with Penn Dining to design healthy menus using sustainable, locally-sources ingredients. Nutritious options are labeled with ‘Balance’ or ‘Plant Forward’ tags for easy identification.

For students with dietary needs, Upenn dining provides allergen-friendly stations and can accommodate most medical diets. Halal, Kosher, vegan and vegetarian options are available as well.

In addition to healthy meals, Upenn dining offers nutrition workshops, cooking classes and blogs run by nutritionists to educate students about eating well. Counseling is also available through Student Health Service.

Sleep and Rest

Adequate sleep and rest is crucial for physical health, yet many college students struggle with sleep deprivation. Upenn encourages students to make sleep a priority through education on sleep needs and programs to foster healthy sleep habits.

Educational resources on sleep offered at Penn include:

  • Sleep hygiene tips on Student Health’s website
  • Presentations by counselors on sleep optimization
  • Online screening tools to detect sleep issues
  • Sleep studies through Student Health Service

Some programs available at Upenn to promote restful sleep include:

  • Relaxation rooms for naps and meditation
  • Yoga and mindfulness classes to reduce stress
  • Adjustment of academic schedules and testing to allow for adequate sleep
  • ‘Sleep 101’ residential workshops to improve sleep environments

Getting on a regular sleep schedule, limiting nighttime distractions, avoiding caffeine, and creating a restful bedroom environment are all tips Upenn shares to help students get better sleep.

Mental and Emotional Wellness

In addition to physical health, mental and emotional wellness are also central pillars of the wellness initiative at Upenn. This means cultivating resilience, balance and inner resources to manage stress and thrive during college.

Key aspects of mental wellness that Upenn focuses on include:

  • Emotional health
  • Stress management
  • Building resilience
  • Self-care
  • Finding balance and social support

Upenn provides many counseling and support services to nurture students’ mental and emotional health on campus, including:

  • Penn Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
  • Peer counseling groups
  • Therapy pet programs
  • Reflective practices like yoga and meditation
  • Stress management workshops

Outreach programs like Mental Health Awareness Month also help educate students about mental wellness. Upenn emphasizes that tending to one’s mental health is just as vital as physical health.

Managing Stress

College students face many academic, social and personal pressures that can feel stressful. Upenn aims to provide students with healthy coping strategies and resources to manage stress.

Some stress management resources available at Penn include:

  • Mindfulness meditation classes
  • Massage therapy at Student Health
  • Counseling on burnout prevention
  • Time management workshops
  • Exercise, yoga, recreation opportunities
  • Pet therapy to relieve stress

In addition to traditional stress-reduction methods, Upenn encourages students to:

  • Focus on personal values and priorities
  • Nourish supportive relationships
  • Practice self-care and work-life balance
  • Develop resilience through challenges

With greater mental wellness habits, students are better equipped to manage the inevitable stresses of college in productive ways.

Accessing Mental Health Services

If students face mental health challenges like depression or anxiety, Penn offers counseling, crisis support, and psychiatric care:

  • CAPS – Confidential counseling for personal, emotional, social issues
  • Let’s Talk – Drop-in consultation hours with CAPS counselors
  • RESOLVE Crisis Network – 24/7 phone counseling for mental health emergencies
  • Penn Psychiatric Services – Medication and psychiatric treatment

These comprehensive services aim to be accessible and responsive to students’ mental health needs.

By providing education, resources and clinical services, Upenn empowers students to care for their emotional wellbeing as part of living a healthy, balanced life.

Holistic Health and Wellness

Together, physical, mental and emotional wellness form the two foundational pillars of the wellness initiative at Upenn. The university takes a comprehensive approach to empowering students to thrive in all facets of wellness.

Other Dimensions of Wellness

Beyond physical and mental wellness, Upenn also encourages students to explore:

  • Social Wellness – Building meaningful connections and community
  • Financial Wellness – Managing finances responsibly
  • Environmental Wellness – Respecting our natural world
  • Spiritual Wellness – Developing a sense of meaning and purpose

Programs addressing each dimension are available through different departments, creating a rich ecosystem of wellness resources on campus.

A Lifelong Journey

Wellness is not a fixed destination, but an ongoing process of learning and growth. Upenn encourages students to explore their unique wellness aspirations throughout college and beyond.

With the foundation of physical and mental wellness, students can delve more deeply into financial literacy, environmental sustainability, finding purpose, and other personal growth opportunities during their time at Penn.

Wellness requires active effort, but Upenn creates a supportive community for students to pursue balanced, healthy lives in college and develop lifelong wellness skills.


Physical and mental wellness form the backbone of the wellness initiative at the University of Pennsylvania. Upenn provides exceptional recreational facilities, health services, counseling programs and education to empower students to care for their bodies and minds.

By promoting regular exercise, nutritious eating, stress resilience and self-care, Upenn helps students lay the foundation for lifelong health and wellbeing. With a holistic focus on wellness, students are equipped to thrive during their college years and beyond.