Inactivity in Colleges: what could be the answer?

Inactivity in Colleges: what could be the answer?


According to Sport England, approximately 300,000 college students aged between 16 and 19 are inactive. That’s one in five - way too high, if you ask us.

This inactivity amongst those entering adulthood poses a growing problem to our nation as it battles back the rising tides of obesity. Duly, from September 2017 through to August 2019, Sport England will be investing £5 million of National Lottery money through the Tackling Inactivity in Colleges programme.

What explains this problem? One key issue, identified by Sport England themselves, is the availability of amenities. They’re simply in too short a supply - and this is harming the success of sporting clubs and organisations alike. When 76% of sports halls and 73% of artificial grass pitches are located within schools, colleges and other educational institutions, the pressure is on to keep the availability of such facilities flowing freely - and there are benefits to schools of doing so, discussed in the above study.

What can building design do to help?

So, where do the solutions to this inactivity lie? Building design must contain some of the answers. As believers in the ability of timber buildings to enhance education and leisure experiences, there is certainly something to be gleaned from looking at how to make sporting amenities more readily available for sports clubs.

One of the key objectives for Sport England’s Tackling Inactivity in Colleges programme is the promotion of ‘traditional activities, such as gym and fitness classes’. Therefore, the ability of schools to be able to easily and cheaply create dynamic, unique spaces to serve as gyms, changing facilities or fitness halls is essential. This is where timber steps up to the mark. It’s sustainable, good-looking and more often than not, cheaper than alternative building materials - keeping that provision freely flowing.

Timber design caters to even the wildest imagination, with the possibilities for adaptations and sizes almost endless. Whether a gym, a set of changing rooms or a classroom set on the edge of playing fields, a timber build is a useful means to create space geared towards the end goal of being active.

One of Sport England’s ‘wider objectives’ for Tackling Inactivity in Colleges is to improve mental wellbeing. Recent research tends to back up the theory that building design can boost mental wellbeing - specifically, timber building design. The in-depth study, Appearance Wood Products and Psychological Wellbeing, shows that the texture and colour of wood has the ability to elicit feelings of comfort, reducing stress and anxiety. Wood’s subconscious affiliation to nature makes you happier, by proxy increasing your confidence - certainly not bad news for college students’ mental wellbeing! We’ve actually dedicated an entire article to timber’s ability to boost your health - check it out here!

We’re not going to claim timber is a panacea for all colleges’ problems. However, in the fight against inactivity amongst college students, timber building may well contain some crucial clues. Timber gives schools a vital tool in the fight against inactivity: the opportunity to create dynamic, affordable space for either direct or indirect use in sporting activity.

Our sports & leisure and education case studies may contain some inspiration for your next project - get in touch and discover how timber could unlock your students’ activity.

Oh, and by the way: there are options aplenty for securing funding for your timber project. This link contains a wealth of information.

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