How important is sport for our welfare at university?

From an early age, children in Britain and in many other areas of the world are encouraged to stay healthy and take part in sport. Yet as we get older and come to university, participation in sport often dwindles.

Everyone has their hobbies, from football, to painting, to board games. Sports are not everyone’s cup of tea, which is entirely understandable with the vast array of activities available in modern life.

This is especially true at the University of Edinburgh, which boasts over 290 different societies. If you have been a first year at this university, then you will be well aware of the chaos that is the Societies’ Fair in Welcome Week, advertising all the activities with which you can get involved in your time here.

Yet, whilst not everyone chooses to get involved in sports and many people actively dislike sport, physical activities can have important benefits for your physical and mental health.

The physical benefits of cardio-heavy sports, for example running, rowing and cycling, have been well documented. Not only does cardiovascular exercise strengthen the heart, improve the body’s metabolism and stimulate muscle growth, it can also regulate diseases such as diabetes.

Cardio also has important benefits for general wellbeing. Regular exercise releases endorphins in the brain that are generally known as ‘feel good’ hormones. This means that a short run, or even just a walk, can improve your general mood and happiness.

Studies have also suggested that regular cardio exercise can improve concentration and reduce stress-levels. This is particularly important for students, as we often have work deadlines and exams weighing on our minds.

As well as these benefits, there is often an important social dimension to involvement in sports as, more often than not, people play in teams. This is particularly true at university, where even single-player sports are connected by a union or society that bring people together.

Sports such as football, rugby and lacrosse are clearly socially beneficial, as they involve a lot of co-operation and interaction with teammates and opponents in order to play the game.

Sports such as running and golf, which are not explicitly team sports, still bring people together here at university, as participants often run or play in groups and attend ‘socials’ together, where the societies will meet up and socialise, often over a few drinks.

Even if you are not particularly keen to get involved with sports societies that are offered by the university, there are plenty of other sporting options available in Edinburgh.

Park Run, the UK-wide organisation that has set up five-kilometre runs at no cost for the participants, operate in Edinburgh every Saturday morning near Portobello beach. This is a great way of getting involved in running, as contestants are of all genders, ages and abilities. You also have the option to receive your run time each week, so you can monitor your progress.

The university’s Sports Union, however, is a hugely inclusive and successful organisation and is highly recommended for people at this university who want to get involved in any sport, no matter what their sporting background or ability is.

The Sports Fair at the start of each year is a great way to find out about the various sports on offer and speak to people who are part of the societies.

The Sports Union website is also a useful place to find out more information about university sport and provides details on who to contact and how to get involved if you so wish.

The power of social media also comes into play here, as most sports societies now have Facebook pages with details of events and socials.

If you would like to find out more about sport at university and how to get involved, follow this link to the Sports Union website: www.eusu.ed.ac.uk/

 

Image courtesy of Edinburgh University Sports Union

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