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YSJActive

Campaigns

Find out about our health promotion campaigns for York St John University and the local community.

Student walking across campus

Ditch Your Desk

Do you often find yourself eating lunch at your desk? Or sitting for long periods of time without a break? If your answer is yes, then it might be time to Ditch Your Desk.

Ditch Your Desk is all about taking a break from your desk to move more and explore everyday, whether that’s campus, the city of York, your garden or your local area.

Spending time outdoors, especially in nature, has a range of health benefits such as:

  • Increasing vitamin D levels,
  • Increasing endorphin levels (which can help reduce stress and pain)
  • Improving memory
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Reducing fatigue
  • Improving mental health.

Doing some physical activity while outdoors, like walking, will have additional benefits such as:

  • Supporting weight management
  • Improving fitness levels
  • Improving cardiac health
  • Reducing the risk of developing non-communicable diseases
  • Improving mental health.

Activities such as forest bathing have a range of benefits and can be a great way to enjoy nature. Or you could even do some do some outdoor volunteer work through organisations like York Cares. Or if you’re at home, gardening is a great way of combining being outside with exercise.

10 Reasons To Walk

  1. Weight management - a 30 minute brisk (3 mph) walk can burn around 200 calories, so walking regularly combined with healthy nutrition can help us manage our weight, and could ensure we keep a good balance between calorie intake and expenditure.
  2. Bone health - weight bearing exercise (walking, running, dancing) can help us keep our bones healthy and help to prevent them losing their density. If bones begin to lose their density it can make them more susceptible to fractures and breaks, so engaging in regular weight bearing exercise is a great and easy way to reduce this risk. Regular weight bearing exercise is especially important for women approaching or who have been through menopause, as hormone changes can significantly decrease bone density.
  3. Mental wellbeing - there are strong links between physical activity and wellbeing, both physical and mental. Being active, such as walking daily, can help to improve our sleep, which can do wonders for our overall health. It can also reduce our risk of becoming depressed, feeling stressed or anxious and help to increase our self-esteem. Being active through methods like walking can also help us increase our attention spans, memory and reduce our risk of developing dementia. Walking is one way of getting our bodies to release natural endorphins, the feel-good hormones.
  4. Vitamin D - a walk outside can help us increase our Vitamin D levels, which is essential for bone health. Be sure to protect yourself from sunburn.
  5. Nature - going for a walk in nature has a range of benefits. Spending time in nature can help to reduce our levels of stress, anger and reduce our blood pressure. Nature can help to boost our immune system, energy levels, focus and creativity. It is also said to help us be better people through reminding us of the importance of relationships, community and sharing. 120 minutes a week in nature is the time needed to achieve the positive effects nature offers.
  6. Free - there are lots of amazing places to visit and enjoy a lovely walk for free (please ensure you follow COVID-19 guidelines). No memberships or special kit (other than some comfortable shoes and appropriate clothing) needed. We have lots of ideals for routes as part of our Ditch Your Desk campaign.
  7. It can be inclusive - going for a walk can be one of the more inclusive forms of exercise. Some routes may be accessible for wheelchair users and those who have limited mobility, and there are a number of websites that list accessible walks and many maps will indicate whether the route is accessible. Children (either in prams, carriers or walking) can enjoy walks and learn a lot about their environments. Walking is a great form of exercise for all fitness levels and can be much less intimidating than going to the gym or fitness classes
  8. Social - getting out and about can be a good way to meet people and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
  9. Easy to accommodate into daily life - as walking doesn't involve any special equipment, memberships or bookings etc it can be an easy form of physical activity to fit into your life. You can make some journeys on foot, have a walking lunch break (which may also help you to relax and refocus), or do things like get off the bus a stop or two early to increase your walking.
  10. Muscle strength - walking can help us to build muscles and increase our muscle strength and endurance. Walking can also help us to improve our stability, which could reduce our risk of trips and falls, this is especially important as we age and experience changes to our bones.

Bad weather might not always make going outdoors appealing. However a good waterproof jacket and some boots can make a massive difference. Also picking somewhere like a wood or forest can provide some shelter from the elements.

If you cannot go outside, then sitting by an open window and taking a minute to focus on your breathing, nature, the fresh air or even the rain can have a positive impact.

A big thank you to Guy Wallbanks from City of York Council and Indie York for their help.

Pledge for 30

With national lockdown restrictions in place, would you benefit from making some healthy changes to your life, like drinking more water or doing more physical activity?

YSJActive is launching a 30 day challenge that could really help you do something positive for your physical wellbeing. ‘Pledge for 30’ is all about supporting you to commit to a small, healthy behaviour change for 30 days, with the hope that after the 30 days is up, your good habits will become a normal part of everyday life.

Research shows that making a written commitment to a behaviour change, such as a pledge, can increase your chance of succeeding. So, YSJActive has put together a pledge pack which includes a pledge declaration, a pledge calendar, and some advice about how to pick your pledge and how to maximise your chances of success.

If you’re not sure what to pick for your pledge, we also have some pledge ideas to get you started. YSJActive are on hand to offer support and answer questions about the pledge process or healthy behaviour changes. Get in touch with us at ysjactive@yorksj.ac.uk

To Pledge for 30, we suggest you follow these 4 steps to get started:

  1. Read Why make a pledge? (PDF, 0.1 MB) and Pledge Tips (PDF, 0.1 MB) (we promise they’re not very long!)
  2. Download the Pledge declaration (PDF, 79.8 kB) and Pledge calendar (PDF, 49 kB).
  3. Pick your pledge and complete the Pledge Declaration. Make sure you put your completed Pledge Declaration somewhere you will see it everyday
  4. Carry out your pledge every day and tick off the Pledge Calendar, then take a minute to feel proud of your achievement

We would love to hear about your pledges on social media, please tag @ysjactive on Facebook and Instagram, and use #ysjpledgefor30

We hope you find Pledge for 30 helpful, if you have any feedback or would like more pledge ideas please get in touch ysjactive@yorksj.ac.uk

Pledge ideas

5x5 a day

5x5 a day aims to help you integrate some additional physical activity in to your day in manageable blocks of 5 repetitions, 5 times a day. For example, while you’re brushing your teeth you could do 5 body weight squats, another 5 when you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, another 5 while making lunch, 5 in the afternoon and the last 5 when you brush your teeth again.

We have created a weekly list of 5x5 a day exercises, a weekly checklist so you can tick off each time you complete a set of 5 and information on each exercise. If you experience any difficulties completing the listed exercise and would like to speak to us about it please contact ysjactive@yorksj.ac.uk or feel free to pick a different exercise.

Please visit our social media pages for more information and to let us know how you're doing with your 5x5 a day.

Please ensure you pick a safe space to complete these exercises and that you're able to participate in physical activity. If you have any medical concerns, or are new to physical activity please seek advice from a medical professional before starting.

Downloadable resources

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