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School Of Medicine Students Motivating Classmates To Stay Active In Challenging Times

By Kylee Denesha, UMass Medical School Communications

January 26, 2021

School of Medicine students are motivating classmates to tackle stress and fatigue through fitness. UMass Medical School’s chapter of Medicine in Motion, a national nonprofit, is dedicated to addressing burnout in health care through exercise, interdisciplinary community building and philanthropy.

UMass Medical School’s chapter of Medicine in Motion is dedicated to addressing burnout in health care through exercise, interdisciplinary community building and philanthropy.

“There are several chapters throughout New England that share our mission. Since the coronavirus spread began, we’ve recognized the anxiety and stagnation that can come into play. We’re working hard to develop ways to engage our fellow students and be active in trying times,” said Jennifer Sullivan, SOM ’23, chapter co-leader and vice president of finance for the national organization.

“I’ve helped lead a lot of our workout classes, and for me, staying active is paramount to my ability to navigate medical school and life in general,” said Emily Vicks, SOM ’23, chapter co-leader. “I truly celebrate physical activity. This is a great way to provide an inclusive environment to stay healthy and keep us connected in a quarantined state.”

In past years, the chapter has organized monthly runs and workouts, participated in a 100-mile bike race, and completed 5k races and triathlons. Now that the pandemic has necessitated social distancing, Medicine in Motion has transitioned to new methods and strategies.

Members have held at-home bodyweight workouts via Zoom, and in the warmer months, socially distanced classes outdoors. A raffle was held in which students completed a workout of their choice and provided proof for a chance to win a prize. Group leaders say they respect that their peers do not want to be online more than they already are and have found ways to accommodate this.

“While we want to provide a positive space, we also want people to feel comfortable, whether it’s going for a walk alone or hitting the gym in a mask. Not all workouts need to be the same for everyone. Our goal is to encourage others to move at their own pace,” said Marianna Paradise, SOM ’23, chapter co-leader.

“It’s important for us to get as many people involved as we can. We work closely with Student Affairs, and also try to connect with local businesses and resources in order to provide the best opportunities for our students,” said Vanya Zvonar, SOM ’23, chapter co-leader.

The group is also active in social justice issues, including contributing to a number of national organizations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Since the summer of 2020, Medicine in Motion’s UMMS chapter and UMMS alumni have raised nearly $3,000 for causes such as NAACP Legal Defense Fund, National Bail Out Fund and InnerCity Weightlifting. Members also held a run in memory of those who lost their lives to police brutality.

“As we have seen with COVID, there are a lot of issues with racism in public health. We took it upon ourselves to come together and do something to help,” said Shani Aharon, SOM ’21, chapter member and chief financial officer for the national chapter. “I think it’s a testament to the spirit of UMass Medical School students and alumni. We really care about this and it’s an incredible feat.”


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