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Student Wellbeing

 

Owing to advances in technology and communication, we are becoming increasingly inactive and sedentary in our lifestyles. It is easy to spend most of the day sat in front of a computer screen, in lectures, studying in the library, or watching TV in the evenings. But our body and our mind are connected and a lack of physical activity can have a big impact on how we feel emotionally.

There is strong scientific evidence to support the fact that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and happier life.  Research shows that physical activity reduces stress, increases feelings of relaxation and improves our overall sense of wellbeing.  It improves mood and reduces the chances of depression, anxiety and cognitive decline. Physical activity releases endorphins that make us feel good – boosting self-esteem, increasing focus, concentration and motivation and improving our sleep. The Mental Health Foundation has produced a short booklet highlighting the science behind and the benefits of looking after your mental health using exercise.

Research also suggests that there is a strong link between physical exercise and cognitive performance, with evidence suggesting that regular exercise improves memory and learning. So, whilst it may feel like you’re being really productive spending 12 hours straight in the library or pulling an all-nighter, there is a mass of evidence to suggest that going for a walk and giving your brain a rest every now and then is actually much better for you and will pay dividends in the long run.

But being active doesn’t mean we all have to be elite athletes! Nor does it mean we have to go to great lengths or expense to increase our levels of daily activity. Just 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on five or more days a week is all we need to improve our health. This can even be broken down in to 10- to 15-minute blocks.

If you’re not already involved in a sports club or society, it’s not too late to join; visit the University sport website or CUSU Societies page for more information.

If a sports club or society is not your bag but you would like to increase your activity levels, think about finding something that fits into your lifestyle and can easily be built into your day.  This could be walking briskly to lectures or cycling to and from College.  Or you might prefer a more structured activity, such as an aerobics class or a gym session a few times a week (see Sport below).

Some other ideas to inspire you:

There are lots of apps to help with fitness tracking and they can be very motivating

Once you start becoming more physically active, you will start to feel better and this is likely to motivate you to make positive changes in other areas of your life such as quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption and eating healthily

The sky’s the limit!

Sport

Whilst the University is well recognised for its illustrious sporting tradition, there are lots of opportunities for everyone to get involved in sport at Cambridge; your College, the University and the city offer a huge range of sports-based activities for all levels of ability and fitness. 

Your College will have a wide variety of sports clubs and teams playing at various levels, and all Colleges are equipped with sports facilities available to students. Visit your College website for more information. 

The University’s sport website also provides information about what’s on offer at the University, including sports clubs and societies: http://www.sport.cam.ac.uk/. The University Sports Centre also offers a state-of-the-art fitness suite, a strength and conditioning room, sports hall hire for basketball, netball, volleyball, korfball and badminton sessions, and classes ranging from Bodypump™, yoga, to circuits and studio cycling all with reduced student-rates.  There are also a range of membership arrangements available.

Cambridge City Council provide several indoor swimming pools, including the diving pool and 8 lane competition standard 25 metre pool at Parkside which is just off Parker’s Piece.  The Council also maintain the 91 metre outdoor lido pool on Jesus Green; one of the longest outdoor pools in the country, which is open during the summer from mid–May to mid-September.  You can find out more about the pools in Cambridge https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/swimming-and-paddling-pools.

For other city sports facilities, Kelsey Kerridge (opposite Parker’s Piece) offers two gyms, classes as well as student membership offers.  The centre also has facilities for archery, badminton, basketball, indoor climbing walls, cricket nets and football, martial arts, squash and table tennis.

Nature is good for you!

Whilst getting active in and of itself is important, there are also known benefits associated with getting out into the great outdoors; so why not combine the two?

The theory of ecotherapy (or green therapy) has gained traction within the scientific community in highlighting the positive impact that nature has on our communities generally and particularly on our mental health. Find out about a study conducted by the University of Essex and published by the mental health organization Mind

To find some nice walks in the local area:

http://www.walkingincambridgeshire.co.uk/index.php

http://www.gps-routes.co.uk/routes/home.nsf/county-walks/cambridgeshire

http://www.britishwalks.org/walks/Counties/Cambridgeshire/index.php