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Durham University

Organisation Development

Be Active

Being physically ACTIVE is not only great for your physical health and fitness. Evidence shows it can also improve your mental wellbeing by raising your self-esteem and causing chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood.

You can now now exercise in gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools ensuring you follow the organisation's guidelines. The Fitness Centre at our Sports and Wellbeing Park has reopened with procedures in place to comply with government guidelines. From Monday 26th October the Fitness Centre will be running in-person classes. You can view the timetable here.


“By looking after your own mental and physical wellbeing it will help to reduce the risk of you picking up any illnesses or unwanted issues. It will also increase hormone profiles which will make you feel better about yourself and reduce the feelings of tiredness, lethargy and boredom. Continuing to improve health and well-being will improve many health markers such as heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate, by doing this your body is in a stronger position to fight away infection and remain healthy in the fight against Covid-19.”

Daniel Boulton, Durham University Fitness Centre Supervisor

Got 5 minutes?

  1. Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way which often causes injury.

    Sitting for long periods of time at computer desks, laptops or looking down at a phone/tablet can cause muscles to become short and tight resulting in bad posture. This hunched position is a main cause of back and neck pain.

    Health and Safety Executive guidance suggests short, frequent breaks are more satisfactory than occasional, longer breaks e.g. a 5-10 minute break after 50-60 minutes continuous screen and/or keyboard.

    Try not to sit in the same position for too long and make stretching a regular part of your daily routine.

    See Matty from Durham University's Fitness Centre demonstrate stretches for the hips and back here.

  2. Plank for one minute! The plank is an excellent core exercise. The plank strengthens your spine, the muscles in your back and your abdominal muscles, which naturally result in a strong posture. Start with 10-20 seconds 2-3 times with 30-60 seconds rest between, and then aim to try and build enough strength to hold the plank position for 1 minute or more, 3 times with a short rest between. See Caroline from the Fitness Centre demonstrate variations on a plank here.

  3. Steps can play a huge part in everyone’s day to day life. Regardless of your fitness goals, daily activity levels are often overlooked when health and fitness is mentioned! Steps have many benefits whether it be mental or physical.

    See Tom from the Fitness Centre describe the benefits to tracking steps and keeping active here.

  4. One area that is just as important as daily activity is fuelling the body correctly. By setting clear nutritional goals you can provide the correct amount of energy to manage your body weight and help to increase overall health.

    Key areas to consider;

    • Calculate and manage daily calorie intake in accordance to body weight and activity levels
    • Eat a large variation of foods (lots of different colours)
    • Build daily intake around whole foods (Vegetables)
    • Eat sufficient amounts of protein from varied sources
    • Make a plan
    • Drink a minimum of 1.5 litres of water each day
    • Have alcohol free days, for further information on alcohol click here.

    A good way of calculating and tracking your daily intake is using a daily calorie tracking app: Myfitnesspal available to download in the App store and Google Play. By setting this up and inputting your current height, weight, age and activity levels it will give you a daily calorie goal to hit. For advice from the NHS about eating a healthy, balanced diet click here.

  5. If you have others in your household, do a workout together. See Caroline and Jodie from the Fitness Centre’s home partner workout here.

Got more than 5 minutes?

  1. The Fitness Centre has now reopended but the team are providing University staff free daily live online workouts via Microsoft Teams every day. The classes are for all fitness levels and the instructors will adapt any workout or exercise to help you keep moving. Click on the link to join the a live fitness class at: Durham University Fitness - Live Teams class.

    The Fitness Centre staff are also providing fitness, health and nutrition advice on their Fitness Centre Teams Channel email for more information.

  2. Being active doesn’t mean you have to take part in an exercise class or go for a walk/run. Physical activity is defined as movement carried out by the skeletal muscles and requires energy. Activities you could do;

    · DIY

    · Cleaning

    · Washing the car

    · Gardening

    · Cutting the grass.

    The list goes on!

    This will help us improve our NEAT (Non exercise activity thermogenesis) which is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. This is really important for general health, weight management, mental state etc.

  3. The NHS have some great free to access exercise videos online including aerobic exercise, strengthening and resistance, Pilates and Yoga. There is a section that looks at 10 minute workouts.

  4. There are a range of eBooks with advice about how to be active available from Durham University eLibrary (bookboon) including:

    Wellbeing at work

    Total Wellbeing: From Stress to Success

    Managing Anxiety at Work

  5. Involve the whole family with keeping active. This could be with a family workout, walk, run or a scavenger hunt in the house or garden for any children in the household. Create your own scavenger hunt or click here for some examples.

Are there any other ways you have found to Be Active at Durham?

If so, please access the CIS Help us Help You Team. In this Team there is a Wellbeing and Working Differently channel – colleagues can share content about mental and physical health, wellbeing and balancing work and family life. All users can add, like and interact with posts.