The schedule of events includes the Virtual Climbing Challenge, yoga, mindfulness, and nutrition tips.University of Cambridge Sport

This week (18th – 22nd May) is Mental Health Awareness Week, and the University of Cambridge Sports Service has put together a programme of events to mark the occasion, to help people stay mindful and active during these unusual times.

The challenges are designed so that as many people as possible, of different abilities and with different schedules, can feel able to get involved in some way, and the Sports Service encourages people to pick and enjoy a challenge that is suitable and ‘meaningful’ to them personally.

The week of events kicked off with the Virtual Climbing Challenge, with the Sports Service staff trying to do the number of steps which would get you to the top of Mount Everest (52,047 steps / 29,028 ft). In 12 hours, the staff and their families had achieved their target with 2,517 steps to spare, having done the equivalent of over 9,000 m of elevation!

“...it’s an ideal way for those who are home exercise novices to let off a bit of steam.”

There were also lots of other challenges listed on the website for people to take inspiration from, from virtually scaling the Cambridge landmarks of Great St Mary’s Church, King’s Chapel, or the UL Tower (a combined total of 580 steps / 103 m), to taking on The Shard (1,800 steps / 310 m) or the Burj Khalifa (5,250 steps / 845 m), or attempting other mountains such as Ben Nevis (7,905 steps / 4,408 ft) and Mount Olympus (18,400 steps / 9,570 ft).

In partnership with Cambridge University Development and Alumni Relations (CUDAR), the Sports Service is also raising money for the University Covid-19 PPE Fund, with the option for participants to donate or be sponsored if they wish, too.

The money made will be able to pay for safety goggles, surgical gowns, and FFP2 and FFP3 respirator masks (£150 would pay for a day’s supply of FFP3 respirator masks for a clinical team looking after someone in Intensive Care).

Lots of University departments and groups took part in the Virtual Climbing Challenge, including Team Farooqi Lab, Team TVP Lab and Team Savage Lab.

“The practical tools that can help you introduce mindfulness into your daily life.”

The Sports Service also has advice on ′how to make exercising at home more appealing’, with tips on things such as how to navigate distractions at home, time management, and equipment set up.


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The week did not end there, however. Tuesday’s activity was a ten minute yoga routine, led by Eloise, a Cambridge graduate, corporate lawyer and yoga teacher. The aim of the session was to facilitate the transition from work life to home life, and to help participants become more sensitive to how both their body and mind were feeling.

Wednesday will see the Sports Service’s very own Coach Lewis leading a 30-minute Workout of the Week. Providing clear demonstrations and instructions on how to do the exercises, it’s an ideal way for those who are home exercise novices to let off a bit of steam.

On Thursday, Elizabeth, the University Mindfulness Practitioner, will run activities built around the theme of mindfulness. Of particular importance in the light of the current pandemic, Elizabeth will not only talk about why being kind to yourself is so important, but will also discuss the practical tools that can help you introduce mindfulness into your daily life.

Last but most certainly not least, on Friday Performance Nutritionist Oliver Whiteman will discuss some simple steps to improve your diet. As they say, you are what you eat, and the focus of the session will be on how to improve your general wellbeing and energy levels through minor changes to your diet.

Already underway, this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is more important than ever, and hopefully we can all use it as a chance to learn and grow.

Find the full range of activities here.

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