As World Mental Health day drew to a close. The sheer amount of support being shared, liked, retweeted all over every different platform of social media. One aspect that two individuals took to combat and raise awareness for, is the underrated importance of sport and exercise used as a way to battle mental health issues. I spoke to History Sports Rep, Suzanne Kanca and James Eddington, to talk about importance to increase awareness of using sport as a method to combat stress and mental health issues.
Why do you think it’s so important for students to remain active whilst at uni? And why is important for you guys?
James: Remaining active one you get to university is hugely important in maintaining physical and mental health. It has enabled me to continue playing a sport that I enjoy, as well as keeping myself reasonably fit and healthy. It has also given me the chance to make friends from other years, which I otherwise wouldn’t have come into contact with!
Suzie: I think that sport is so important for uni students because we have a tendency to get tied up in work and other commitments, so being active is usually a last priority. This means that our physical and mental health isn’t prioritised and it should be! Yes, our degrees are important, but looking after ourselves should be the most important thing. I like to stay active because it takes my mind off anything that’s stressing me out. For instance, if I have a deadline that I’m worried about,
then exercising really helps me take my mind off it, and then I can go back to it feeling refreshed! Team sports are also a nice way to socialise with people and do something different.
Sport is a great way to not only remain fit, but to socialise as well- in what ways do you think sports aim to do that?
Suzie: From my personal experience as a part of the History Netball Team, I know that we hold weekly training sessions. The session leaves room for a lot of communication between players, building strong bonds between people. There’s also a really nice atmosphere of support. So if you’re not playing, and watching from the side, then you cheer people on We also hold socials throughout the year. This isn’t just within netball, but with all the History Society sports teams!
James: We like to have sports socials at various point throughout the year in order for teammates to get to know each other. As well as this, we have mixed sports socials which bring everyone together! Last year we had a ‘Take Me Out’ themed social which was a lot of fun for everyone!
It’s not all about going to the gym 5/6 times a week, what do you think are good ways to get active?
James: As captain of the football team, I would obviously have to say that football is one of the best ways to get active. However, there are lots of other sports and hobbies which can help you get active. One of the best hobbies to take up is swimming as it doesn’t rely on the weather and works on the whole body.
Suzie: The gym is definitely not for everyone! Joining inter-mural sport teams are a great place to start. Whilst there is a level of commitment, it’s not as intense as the AU teams. Other societies within the university offer great opportunities to stay active. There are dance societies, which people might not immediately think of doing. They offer classes for all abilities and are a fantastic way of staying active but also having a lot of fun. My best piece of advice would be to try everything to see what you real enjoy. If you enjoy what you’re doing it won’t feel like exercise.
How has sport helped you?
Suzie: In my second year I had to deal with stress. I had also just started netball and was continuing to go to the gym and dance classes during the week. I noticed that when I was doing all that physical activity I wasn’t thinking about how stressed I was. It was when I would lie in bed all day that I felt my worst, but when I
was keeping active I hardly noticed how stressed I was. Obviously being organised with my work helped a lot too, but without exercise there is no doubt I would’ve been a lot worse.
James: Sport has been my escape from the pressures of deadlines at university. It’s allowed me to form a different friendship group away from the people I went to school with, or those that I’ve been in modules with or lived with at uni. It has given me a reason to get out of the house on a weekend that doesn’t involve going to a club.