By April Murphy
Improving the mental health and fitness of students is now even more of a priority for the University of Western Australia since the pandemic surge earlier this year.
The UWA has introduced a free 12-week supervised and personalised exercise program for students experiencing mental health difficulties. “Stride” is said to be the first program of its kind across Universities within the country.
“The goal of Stride is to help students feel physically and mentally healthier by introducing an individualised exercise program and providing an opportunity to develop long-term exercise habits,” Associate Professor Jackson said.
The program allows participants to utilise equipment or organised activities such as the gym, basketball, walking, or swimming. It is individualised towards the mentee goals and exercise preferences.
Stride also provides an opportunity for Master of Clinical Exercise Physiology students to gain valuable mentorship experience.
“The program allows mentors to give back to the university and support students, while also furthering their own clinical training in an area which is growing in community need,” says Accredited Exercise Physiologist Conor Boyd.
Stride program co-lead Dr Bonnie Furzer from UWA’s School of Human Sciences said that levels of distress among students, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, are extremely high.
“The Stride program takes a unique approach of integrating a number of services across campus, including the Student Guild, medical centre, UWA Sport, Student Life and welfare services to ensure the most positive student outcomes are supported,” Dr Furzer said.
Dr Furzer hopes other educational institutions will implement similar strategies.
“Once we are able to fully understand the benefits of Stride, we’d like to see the program implemented in universities across Australia and internationally,” she said.