From education to employment

Tackling physical inactivity and loneliness among students in one big step

Yesterday (10 June) a charity has launched an innovative way to tackle loneliness in young adults.

Living Streets has created Next Steps to University – a package aimed at encouraging and enabling university students, particularly freshers, to walk more.

Research suggests that a huge 40 per cent of 16-24 year olds feel lonely – the highest figure of any age group (this is compared with 27% of over 65s). Students transitioning from secondary school to university are experiencing huge changes as they adapt to these challenges and develop new habits, often moving to new towns or cities. 95% of higher education institutions have reported increase in demand for counselling services (Education Policy Institute, 2018).

Charlotte McHugh, Project Coordinator at Living Streets says:

“Research that we recently undertook with universities around the UK shows that mental health is the most important benefit for university students when considering getting active.

“Walking is an easy, accessible and, importantly for students, a free way of getting physically active and has proven mental health benefits.”

The Next Steps to University package includes bespoke themed walking maps to the local university campus – to encourage students to meet new peers and explore the area, led walks, promotional walking events – to encourage more daily walking and a student ambassador programme and training student volunteers – to promote walking from within the student body.

McHugh continues, “A quarter of 16-24 year olds don’t meet recommended physical activity guidelines of around 20 minutes a day. This can have a huge impact, not only on our physical health but our mental wellbeing too.

“It’s great that students recognise that being more physically active can benefit their mental health. Our job now is to encourage more university students to fit manageable bits of walking into their everyday life. Walking instead of driving will also save money and help the local environment.”

Related Articles