Our campaign, Active at Oxford, is all about encouraging students to take part in more exercise, in order to enjoy the physical and mental health benefits associated with sports and physical activity.
However, we know that there are only so many hours in the day, which is why it’s important to be able to prioritise your workload and balance your activities and studies.
Rebecca Jurdon is one student who has successfully achieved this balance, and here we look a little closer at her story, and what her tutor thinks about her sports participation:
How I get active
“I captained the teddy hall women’s hockey team and played for the St Edmund Hall (Teddy Hall) mixed hockey team. In first year I did lots of running in port meadow, Christ Church meadow and University parks and managed to get a pretty good time in the Town and Gown 10K and raise some money for charity. I have also done yoga either once or twice a week at college since I first arrived as a fresher.
“Through the college hockey teams and yoga classes I have made friends with people in all years, and even in the MCR at Teddy Hall. Playing for a college team has given me so much Hall spirit and it’s great when people come down to support at big college sports events.
“All the sports I do provide a great way to get rid of stress and take a productive break from work. I find essay writing really hard but taking a break from my desk and doing something that’s so inexpensive and fun always helps me get through writers’ block or lack of motivation.
“It can be hard to find a time to schedule in matches when everyone is free, but I think the more matches people play the more willing they are to make time for games as you realise how beneficial an hour on the pitch can be to the rest of your week.
“If I can’t fit in going for a run, a yoga lesson or a hockey game in my week then that is a big warning sign that I’ve got a pretty unhealthy work life balance going on and is something my friends and tutors always check in on with me to make sure I’m not letting uni work control my life completely.
“All teams at uni are really keen to find more players, so no matter whether you’ve never tried the sport before or think you’ve lost all your fitness since school, they’ll be so, so happy to see you come along.”
St Edmund Hall, Medicine, 3rd year
The tutor’s view
“Studying at Oxford can be a very intense experience, particularly for undergraduates who are dealing with eight-week terms, and it’s important to work hard but also achieve a good balance that works for you. Any form of regular physical exercise can be a real help in giving students a break, and an opportunity to switch off for a short time, so that they can come back refreshed. As with any extra-curricular interests though, students need to be able to manage the commitments they take on and not over-commit, but those organisational skills can be a very valuable part of what a student learns at Oxford.
“Students who take part in high-level sport also have to demonstrate dedication to their training which often carries over into other areas of their life – so they have the self-discipline and the competitive nature that drives them to work hard and excel academically as well.
“It can be difficult to keep up with the demands of the course alongside team training sessions, and I’ve seen students sometimes struggle – particularly at the start of their time here – because of having unrealistic expectations of how much they can fit into a week. There are times when I’ve had to discuss that in a frank way and encourage them to drop something in order to achieve a more realistic timetable. However, the situation can often be improved significantly simply by figuring out how to be more organised and planning ahead in a way that will allow them to carve out enough time for both academic and extra-curricular.
“It helps to be aware of a student’s interests outside of their subject, particularly if it’s something like taking part in high-level sport that would require a significant time commitment, and to discuss this with them. The tutor is then in a much better position to see any potential problems with time management, and suggest strategies to improve those skills before it becomes a problem that will affect a student’s longer-term academic performance.
“Both Jacob and Rebecca are realistic about the demands of their course – it is a significant workload and they know that they will sometimes have to prioritise studies over other activities that they might perhaps prefer to be doing. But the fact that both are quite active on the College’s sports teams helps them to be more rounded individuals, and to stay healthy and happy which obviously also has a positive impact on their studies.”
Professor Robert Wilkins
Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics and American Fellow in Physiology at St Edmund Hall.
Read more student testimonials here.