Study reveals why students should stay active

Imogen Birkett reports on a Newcastle-led study concerning student health.

Imogen Birkett
9th October 2019
Image: Pixnio
Keeping physically active whilst managing a busy university timetable is difficult and can often be overlooked. However, a new study has shown the importance of incorporating exercise into a university student’s regular routine.

The study was led by Dr Kelly Bowden Davies from the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University. It aimed to determine whether adverse effects linked to metabolic problems began to appear in previously active individuals after 14 days of reduced physical activity.

The researchers instructed participants to reduce their amount of daily steps by an average of around 10,000 steps a day. Such metabolic problems can be seriously damaging to students’ health, including insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.

The results of the study revealed the importance of staying active. The researchers concluded that: “In young non-obese adults, short-term physical inactivity and increased sedentary behaviour led to decreased cardiorespiratory fitness and increasing waist circumference, liver fat deposition and insulin resistance, and led to a significant decline in endothelial function, a sign of developing cardiovascular disease.”

“The message to the public is to move more, as even small and subtle changes can make a big difference overall."

Dr Kelly Bowden Davies observed that the individuals’ health in the study returned to normal when their daily steps were increased. She said: “The message to the public is to move more, as even small and subtle changes can make a big difference overall”.

The researchers on the team acknowledged the ‘barriers to exercise’, such as lack of energy or enjoyment, but again emphasised how simply increasing daily physical activity can benefit. For students, typical periods of reduced activity occur during the exam season. However, the study has shown that even seemingly small changes such as walking instead of travelling by transport can be beneficial for the health.

Newcastle University offers many opportunities for students to stay active from university gym memberships and numerous societies. Many of the attractions of Newcastle upon Tyne, such as the Tyne Bridge or St James’ Park, can also be covered by foot, a great way to both take advantage of the beautiful sights and improve your health.


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