Physical activity is very important to keep a healthy body and a healthy mind, it has great health benefits and it prevents all sort of diseases including diabetes, heart conditions, strokes, obesity, etc. Being physically active helps you have more energy and take a break from all the stress and worries of everyday life.

Physical Health

Below are some resources and additional information that can help with improving your physical health.

Active Travel

Active travel is a convenient, accessible and affordable way for people to be physically active. Active travel is about choosing to walk, cycle or scoot short journeys such as to, between and from our campuses.

Did you know?

  •  50% of all driven journeys in Scotland are less than 5km & 26% are less than 2km
  • The positive impacts of active travel include reduced congestion, pollution and carbon emissions as well as better physical, mental and social health

This content has been developed with support from funding provided to us through the Paths for All, Smarter Choices Smarter Places open fund.

Campus Facilities and Routes

Check out the link below for a map with campus facilities and route suggestions between campuses.

Active Travel Map

Medal Routes

Active Travel Hub

Active travel hub can help you with the following:

  • Route planning in Aberdeen
  • Bike maintenance issues and advice
  • Help you plan your active travel commute to campus or between campuses
  • Anything else we can do to make active travel more accessible to you

Email us with any questions at environment@abdn.ac.uk

Cycling

Cycling is a great active travel option and for most people, it is a safe and effective form of exercise. If you’re new to cycling here is a few tips on how to make a start:

  • If you haven’t cycled for a while, start slowly and find yourself a traffic-free or low-traffic area to practice.
  • Get all the necessary safety gear: helmet, clothing, pump etc.
  • Practice cycling single-handedly so that you can make hand signals
  • Improve your visual awareness by getting comfortable to look over both shoulders
  • Sign up to training schemes to get more confidence
  • Be aware of laws, regulations and the Highway Code (see Road Rules down below for more information)
Cycling Tips

How to get a bike 

  • Borrow a bike - You can borrow an on campus electric bike to travel between campuses or you can borrow a bike for free for up to a week from AUSA at the Students Union building.
  • Rent a bike - You can hire a bike from BeCycle for a £60 deposit.
  • Buy a second-hand bike - You can buy a bike either second hand from Gumtree or Facebook marketplace. Be aware of scams when buying a bike second hand. Consult us if you're unsure by emailing us at environment@abdn.ac.uk.
  • Buy a new bike - You can buy a new bike.

Love your bike
 

  • Get a lock: We recommend a D-lock or chain lock, email us at  environment@abdn.ac.uk for more information and suggestions on what lock you should get for your bike. Look for the Sold Secure logo when buying a lock.
  • Weekly maintenance: Clean the bike. Check tyre pressures (and if necessary, top up to recommended level). Lubricate the chain and lift the bike and drop from a few centimetre’s, see if anything rattles out of the ordinary.
  • Monthly maintenance: Degrease, clean and grease the chain. Check tyres for wear. Lubricate derailleurs. Check brakes and tighten if necessary. Check the wheels are straight and do not wobble. Lubricate brake pivots.
  • Yearly maintenance: Lubricate all moving parts, including pedal axel and wheel hub which must be opened first. Check that cables have not frayed significantly and move with little resistance, replace if necessary.
Road Rules

By law your bike needs:

  • A rear reflector
  • A yellow pedal reflector
  • A sufficiently visible white front light
  • A red rear light
  • Two sets of good working brakes

It is also recommended you have:

  • A bell
  • A front reflector and white reflectors on each wheel
  • A cycle helmet
  • Light-coloured or fluorescent clothing
  • Reflective clothing and accessories in the dark

Pedestrians - by law you:

  • Must not cycle on footpaths
  • Give pedestrians right of way on shared paths
  • You must slow down and give space when overtaking pedestrians

In traffic - by law you:

  • Must check the road is clear before pulling out of a cycle lane and indicate.
  • Must not carry a passenger unless your cycle has been built or adapted to carry one.
  • Must not hold onto a moving vehicle or trailer.
  • Must not ride in a dangerous, careless or inconsiderate manner.
  • Must not ride when under the influence of drink or drugs, including medicine.
  • Must obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals.
  • May use most bus lanes as cycle lanes as signs indicate.
  • Must not cross the stop line when the traffic lights are red.

Recommendations
 

  • Give a clear signal to show other road users what you intend to do.
  • Leave plenty of room when passing parked vehicles and watch out for doors being opened or pedestrians stepping into your path.
  • Park your bike at a conspicuous location where it can be seen, try to use cycle stands or other cycle parking facilities, secure the bike well so it is not an obstruction or hazard.
  • Be aware of car’s and truck's blind spots as they may not see you when turning or in a roundabout.
  • Give plenty of room to long vehicles in turns and roundabouts as they need more space to manoeuvre.
Walking

Walking is another great active travel option. Walking is free, simple and the easiest way to get more exercise. Here are a few walking tips:

  • Make sure you have comfortable shoes that provide adequate support. If you’re walking to work, you can always have a second pair of shoes at work to change to.
  • The easiest way to walk more is by including walking to your daily routine and making walking a habit.
  • Create entertainment for you during your walk: Make a song playlist that motivates you and makes you feel good, schedule a call with someone or listen to a podcast or an audio book. 

App suggestions that can motivate you to walk more
 

  • World Walking - Walk virtual routes of your choice all around the world, you can do it alone or as a group. The app is filled with facts and photos of locations, monuments and tourist hotspots
  • The Walk: Fitness Tracker Game - The app was created with the NHS and the UK's Department of Health. It is a story-based app with a spy theme about saving the world by walking the length of the UK
  • Geocaching - Do a classic treasure hunt in your area. Search and log or hide geocaches. If you are eager to solve puzzles or easily bored on walks this app is for you.
  • Pokemon Go - Get your self-isolation steps in by searching for pocket monsters. The app will keep you engaged and make walking fun.
  • Couch to 5k - Turn your walk into a run. The Couch to 5K app is a 9-week NHS approved interval training program, with 3 runs per week. If you have ever considered running but don't know where to start, this app is for you.
  • Strava - The app allows you to track your own performances and connect with other walkers or runners.  Whether you want a little friendly competition or just an analysis of your workout it is a good app to get.

Medal Walking routes University of Aberdeen.

In 2018 Ramblers developed a series of 700 15, 30 or 60 min walks based in local areas across Scotland. We have added the Aberdeen based ones to this map and created an additional route based at each of our campuses. You can find all routes for other local areas accross Scotland here

Get Active

Physical inactivity causes health problems.

Some points to consider:

  • Inactivity poses the same risk of heart disease as smoking, having high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
  • At least 70% of the UK population fail to do enough physical activity, are you in that 70%?
How to start

Why start now?

  • It’s never too late to start being healthier, you will see the benefits in no time.
  • You don’t have to run 10k every day or go to the gym, you can have power walks or long hikes, go swimming, practice a sport, do some dancing, be social while you do it or take a minute to be on your own.
  •  Trying new things will open doors to a world of opportunities and new hobbies that will only make your life better.
  • Feeling active and looking great will motivate you to eat better and live a healthier lifestyle.

How to start being more physically active.

  1. Starting is the hardest part, here is some advice on how to get away from your desk/couch/bed:
  2. Make a decision to exercise: make a conscious decision to be more active, leave the excuses behind and focus on what you want to achieve.
  3. Set a goal: it can be a small or a very ambitious goal but have a clear achievement in mind: doing a 30 minute walk per week, or going to the gym twice a week or hiking every weekend, it can be anything you want.
  4. Identify available time slots to exercise: monitor your daily activities for one week and try to assign at least three 30 minute slots for exercising. After you have identified your slot put it in your diary or calendar for everyone to see it.
  5. Save time to rest: after you have exercised make sure you take time off to rest, you deserve it!
  6. Prepare: organise your working out clothes the day before or pack your pre workout snacks so you feel more comfortable and prepared.
  7. Don’t be afraid to try it all: some people hate walking and running but really enjoy climbing or swimming, try everything until you find the one activity you really enjoy doing, there is so much to try out there!
  8. Start including physical activity everywhere: take the stairs instead of the lift, do your own garden, walk or cycle more instead of using your car.
  9. Join a fitness centre: take advantage of the Sport Village FREE Corporate Membership where you’ll have access to all fitness classes, energy zone, swimming facilities and fitness consultations. 
Getting active at home

If you are working from home, plan to do some kind of physical activity every day, easy workouts matter just as much as hard ones.If you can only do 10 minutes then do just 10 minutes. Any movement is better than sitting on the couch, you don’t need to run a marathon to make it count.For every hour of sitting get up and walk for 5 minutes.

Can’t get to the gym? You can still exercise at home.

Music is great to keep you motivated, put together a playlist of upbeat tunes and try some of these 10 minute workouts.

10 minute workouts:

  • 5 push ups
  • 10 squats
  • 15 sit ups
  • 20 jumping jacks

 Rest 45 seconds and repeat for 10 minutes.

  • Alternating lunges
  • Knee press ups
  • Plank hold
  • Jog on the spot

 30 seconds each, repeat all 4 times.


Cleaning your home is exercise, it requires you to do work and use more energy than being sedentary.

  • Sweeping or vacuuming the floor for 10 minutes burns approximately 35 calories
  • Making beds for 10 minutes burns approximately 25 calories
  • Washing dishes for 10 minutes burns approximately 25 calories
  • Ironing for 20 minutes burns approximately 50 calories
  • Mopping the floor for 20 minutes burns approximately 40 calories

 


Stretches:

  • 10 wrist circles in each direction
  • 10 neck circles in each direction
  • 10 shoulder shrugs forward and backwards
  • 15 toe touches
  • 15 light squats or lunges

Yoga is a popular form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental wellbeing. It is known to ease stress and promote relaxation. It develops inner awareness and focuses your attention on your bodies abilities at the present moment. There are many free apps available that are suitable for all levels of fitness and ability.

Yoga

Yoga is an ancient physical, spiritual and mental practice that originated in India, it focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to achieve mental and physical wellbeing and balance. Normally a Yoga session will consist on going through different postures and breathings that are designed to increase strength and flexibility.

Health benefits:

  • Balances the neurological system.
  • Relieves stress.
  • Improves posture.
  • Increases focus mental clarity and sharpness.
  • Stimulates creativity.
  • Builds strength and flexibility.

FREE Yoga Classes on Campus:

  • Hatha Yoga
    • Class suitable for all levels and abilities.
    • Join the Hatha Yoga classes every Tuesday 12:15 – 12:55
    • Where: Chaplaincy Centre
    • For more information contact Gillian Kerr 01224 438948
       
  • Hatha Yoga
    • Class suitable for all levels and abilities.
    • Every Tuesday 17:30 – 18:30
    • Where: Suttie Centre, room 402
    • For more information contact: suttiecentre@abdn.ac.uk
Meditation
Meditation is an ancient practice that helps train the mind to achieve consciousness (state of awareness of oneself). Meditating helps clearing the mind and putting the brain to rest, it induces a deep state of relaxation and it is a powerful way to get rid of stress and worries and to increase concentration and focus. There are many meditation techniques to suit each individual need.
Cycling

How to start cycling 

Cycling is a great option! It is very easy to start, makes your legs stronger and it’s good for the environment! Here are a few tips on how to start.

  1. If you don’t know how to cycle or haven’t cycle for a while start by practising in a no traffic zone such as a park, beach boulevard, etc. Do not go onto the road until you feel comfortable cycling single handed so you can make traffic signals with your hands.
  2. If you have the opportunity choose out of city natural places to cycle, it will be a more relaxing experience to cycle in a non-traffic zone, especially if you have kids.
  3. Get all the necessary safety gear: helmet, comfortable and warm clothing, signal lights, etc.
  4. Check the Highway Code.
  5. Start with moderate and short rides and gradually increase them, give yourself a challenge every day.
  6. Cycling can be an extremely enjoyable activity where you can connect with nature and meet new people, so stay motivated by taking cycling trips or join a cycling group.
  7. You can also do a combination of cycling trips and cycling to work, to the gym or the supermarket.

Cycling in Aberdeen

Recreational cycling routes:
Find a variety of scenic cycling routes around Aberdeenshire. For more information visit: Cycling Routes
BeCycle: 
An initiative based at the University of Aberdeen Campus that offers help to cycling enthusiasts; you can get a used bike for a considerable price, fix your current bike, attend workshops, get spare parts, get advice from experts and participate in their events. For more information visit: BeCycle
Cycling UK: 
A UK initiative to get people across Britain cycling, get advice and attend events and workshops. For more information visit: Cycling UK

 

Sport and Exercise Team

The University of Aberdeen Sport and Exercise Team is based at Aberdeen Sports Village. They are dedicated to encouraging participation, enjoyment and mastery in sport and exercise. They take pride in their teaching and the vast amount of opportunities they offer staff, students and the local community.

Visit the dedicated Sport and Exercise Team website where you will find a network of support that features a variety of services, programmes, and classes. So go on...feel inspired, be motivated and take a step towards a healthier you!

Aberdeen Sports Village

The University provides FREE off-peak memberships for Aberdeen Sports Village to all its employees, enjoy its world class facilities for free including access to pool and sauna and all off peak fitness classes. 

Off peak memberships allow users to access the fitness suite and classes from 06.30-16.30 Monday to Friday (last entry 16.00), and anytime at weekends. In addition, University staff will be allowed entry to Tuesday’s Total Fitness and Thursday’s Sports Conditioning evening classes free of charge. Please see the class timetable for details of times.

On your first visit to ASV, please take your Staff ID card along to reception.  You will be asked to complete a short membership application form and the ASV team will then activate your membership (Staff ID) card for you.

If you refer a friend, their ASV membership will cost just £30 per month.  more information

Upgrade options

Staff can upgrade their free off-peak membership to a peak membership (fitness suite and class access during all opening hours) with a small additional monthly cost. To upgrade, please contact ASV directly on +44 (0) 1224 43 8900 or click here for more information. If you are a squash player or use the athletics area, you may also upgrade to include these facilities with a different price upgrade plan – please call ASV for specific upgrade options.

Weekly Activities

*All fitness classes and events held on Campus are free for University Staff unless noted otherwise. *To Access all Well-being events visit our Events page

King’s Campus

JogScotland

Join the jogging team whether you are a beginner or an advanced runner.
Every Monday & Wednesday 17:30 – 18:30
For more information Contact Michael Chung.

Walk a Mile

Get away from your desk and follow the red arrows to walk one mile around campus, it will only take 15 minutes! Just walking for 15 minutes per day will improve your heart rate, help you lose weight and reduce stress levels. Why not try a walking meeting or catch up?
For more information visit: Walk a Mile.

University of Aberdeen - Campus Map

The Medal routes

The Medal Routes are three short circular walking routes that start and finish at the same location. These routes are designed to take approximately 15, 30 and 60 minutes. Medal routes in Aberdeen include:

Foresterhill Campus

Zumba

Suitable for all levels come join a FREE fitness/ dancing class.
Starting date: 18th of July 2016 18:15 – 19:15
Where: Suttie Centre, Room 217
For more information contact Arlene Ray.

Friskis & Svettis: Basic Jymba Exercise class

This class is suitable for all fitness levels; it is a combination of low impact cardio and floor work.
Every Monday 17:15 – 18:15
Where: Suttie Centre, room 217.
For more information contact  Arlene Ray.

Hatha Yoga

Suitable for all abilities. The class covers the full spectrum of yoga, including physical postures, breathing practices and relaxation.

Tuesday 17:45 - 18:45
Where: Suttie Centre, Room 402, Foresterhill.
For more information contact Arlene Ray.

For more information about events at the Suttie Centre visit http://www.abdn.ac.uk/suttie-centre/events

Your Health
Alcohol

Alcohol is a toxic substance that can create dependence and cause serious health and social problems. Drinking too much can not only affect you as an individual but those around you, friends, family and co-workers. Unfortunately Scotland has one of the highest alcohol consumption in the UK and Europe, leading to one of the fastest growing rates of liver disease in the world.

  • 1 in 4 men and 1 in 6 women in Scotland are drinking at harmful levels.
  • There were 35,059 alcohol related hospital stays in 2014/15.
  • In 6 out of 10 violent crimes the victim said the offender was under the influence of alcohol.
  • Alcohol harm costs Scotland £3.6 billion per year in health, social care, crime, productive capacity and other associated cost.

Guidelines

In the UK we measure alcohol consumption by units. 1 Unit of Alcohol = 10ml or 8g or of pure alcohol (amount the average adult can process in one hour)

  • The amount of Units in a drink depends on its size and its alcohol strength.
  • Men and Women should not drink over 14 units of alcohol per week.
  • If all units per week are to be consumed they should not be consumed on the same day.

For more information on how to calculate units and more, visit: NHS Live Well

Although alcohol seems to be a part of our social life, its consumption should be moderate or none. The previous position that some level of alcohol promoted heart health is now reversed by several studies and it is now known the proactive effects of alcohol are diminished by great health harms.

Some Points to consider:

  • Drinking less than 14 units per week is low risk drinking, it is not safe drinking because it still has an impact on your health.
  • Drinking increases the risk of cancer on mouth, throat and breast.
  • Regular drinking also increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, liver disease, brain damage and nervous system damage.
  • Drinking regularly increases the risk of road traffic accidents and other types of fatal accidents.
  • Alcohol consumption decreases your levels of vitamin B12, D and decreases calcium absorption.
  • Alcohol lowers serotonin levels, serotonin is the ‘happiness’ hormone that contributes to the general wellbeing of the body.
Smoking

Around 100.000 people in the UK die per year due to smoking related diseases.

The majority of smoking related deaths were caused by cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart disease. Here are some points to consider:

  • Long term smoking can reduce your life expectancy by 10 years.
  • Most cigarettes contain a variety of hazardous chemicals including nicotine that causes cravings, addictions, anxiety and hunger.
  • The average smoker spends around £2000 per year on cigarettes.

Some tips on how to stop smoking:

Write a list of the reasons you want to stop and keep it with you to refer to it whenever you are tempted.
Set a date for stopping smoking.
Tell everyone about your goal, friends and family can offer invaluable support and increase your motivation to quit.
Get rid of all cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters.
Cut down on those activities you used to associate with smoking such as consuming alcohol or drinking coffee, try fruit juices instead just for a few weeks while you get used to it.

Take one day at a time and mark it on a calendar as a reminder on how much you have achieved.
Focus on the positive side, think about how you’ll smell better, have whiter teeth, your breathing will improve, taste food better and have more energy.
Remember to limit the consumption of sugary and fatty food to avoid unnecessary weight gain, try eating fruits and healthier snacks.

Exercise and try new hobbies to help you discover new enjoyable activities and take advantage of your increased energy.

Food Additives

Food additives are usually added to help with processing, packaging and preserving food. Around 80% of the average consumer’s food budget is spent on processed foods with food additives. Most commercial food additives are the result of chemical processes and have no nutritional value and can cause several health problems. Here is a list of the most common ones to look out for and avoid. 

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG/E621):
Used to enhance flavour in foods. It overexcites cells to the point of damage or death. It also affects the part of the brain that controls appetite. Regular consumption of MSG can lead to depression, eye damage, fatigue, headaches and obesity.
Find it in: dressings, chips, soups, noodle bowls, cookies, seasonings, frozen dinners, cold meats and many restaurant foods.
 

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) or Glucose/Fructose:
(Sugar) A highly refined and popular artificial sweetener for food and drinks. It is the main source of calories in the western diet; it is in basically all packaged food. It increases bad cholesterol, increases risk of diabetes, contributes to tissue damage. It also has added mercury which can cause brain damage.
Find it in:  most processed foods, breads, candy, flavoured yogurts, salad dressing, canned vegetables, cereals, sausages and other.


Aspartame (known as Nutrasweet, Equal and E951):
A neurotoxin that produces methanol in the body, a cumulative poison stored by the body. Consumption can affect short term memory, cause brain tumour, lymphoma, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety attacks, nausea, mental confusion and migraines. See Also Acesulfame-K is a newer artificial sweetener linked to kidney tumour.
Find it in: diet foods, sugar free and low fat foods, diet sodas, diet coke, coke zero, some gelatines, desserts, sugar free gum, drink mixes, baking goods, cereal, breath mints, pudding, kool-aid, ice tea, chewable vitamins, toothpaste
 

Common Food Dyes
Artificial colouring can be found in food and other body care products. It can cause behavioural problems and reduction of IQ. Most common ones to look out for:
- Blue #1 and #2 (E133): found in candy, cereal, soft drinks, sports drinks and pets food.
- Red dye #3 and #40 (E124): banned in 1990, it is still in use in some products until supply is finished, it can cause thyroid cancer and Chromosomal damage. Found in: fruit cocktails, cherry pie mix, ice cream, candy, bakery products and other.
- Yellow #6 and Yellow Tartrazine (E102): found in macaroni and cheese, candy and carbonated beverages.
 

Trans Fats
Used to extend the shelf life of products. It increases bad cholesterol while decreasing good cholesterol, this increases the risk of heart attack, heart disease and strokes, inflammation and diabetes.
Find it in: deep fried fat foods, processed foods, margarine, chips, crackers, baked goods, and hydrogenated oils.

 

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydrozyttoluene (BHT) (E320):
It keeps food from changing colour, flavour and becoming rancid. Consumption increases the risk of cancer because it works as an oxidant in the body, it can also alter behaviour.
Find it in: cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, vegetable oils, frozen sausages, enriched rice, lard, shortening and candy



Sodium Nitrate/Sodium Nitrite:
Used as a preservative, colouring and flavouring. It is a highly carcinogenic additive, once in the body it enters the bloodstream causing issues with organs especially liver and pancreas. It can make old meats look bright red and fresh.
Find it in: Bacon, some sausages, processed meats, corned beef, smoked fish or any other type of processed meat.



Sodium Tetraborate or borax (E285):
Used to control acidity and preserve products. It can increase the risk of liver cancer.
Find it in: Asian noodles and rice dishes.



Sodium Sulphite (E221):
Some people are very sensitive to sulphites, causing headache, breathing problems and rashes, in severe cases it can even cause death by cardiac arrest.
Find it in: most wines, dried fruit and processed foods. 

 

Periods and Menopause

Let’s Talk. Period.

Let's Talk. Period.There was a time when the monthly Period was called ‘The Curse’. Through the years, it’s been called many things, none of them positive. Why be negative about something that’s going to most women every month for about 40 years? Did you know that it wasn’t always like this? There was a time when the monthly Period was an important and valued ‘time of the month’.

Long before the Period was considered an unclean, dirty, embarrassing and taboo subject, women from many cultures in our history took this time to step away from their usual jobs and responsibilities to nurture and care for themselves. Everyone benefited including their partners and community.

The women of today live very different lives and face different stresses and responsibilities. Due to contraceptives and perhaps illness our cycles may be different too. But fundamentally our needs haven’t changed.

Pause for Menopause

Pause for MenopauseWomen are re-defining who we are in today’s society.  As women’s matters come out of the cupboard and our voices are heard, let’s also use this time to be open about the Menopause – the gift that keeps on giving.

There are many events and workshops all over the city. Check the web for other workshops and talks on the physiological changes and medical interventions around the Menopause visit www.menopausecafe.net for a space your partner and you can talk about THE Menopause. Festivals and Awareness campaigns are held all over the country.

But where do you go to talk about YOUR menopause, YOUR experience, YOUR angst, YOUR frustrations, YOUR fears.

Some of you may feel joy or indifference, come share that too.

We hope to provide a caring, nurturing, intimate monthly space just for women to talk to each other or just listen, depending to your needs:

All women are welcome not matter where you are on your life journey