5 Tips for Managing Stress from our University ‘Healthy Minds’ Supervisor

There is no denying that 2020 has been a difficult year and we have – individually and collectively – faced more challenges this year than we might ever have expected. Feelings of stress and burnout are rife this year in particular and we want to support you in managing and overcoming them!

What is stress?

Stress is a response which occurs when a physical, mental, or emotion pressure placed on an individual. This results in what many people know as the ‘Fight or Flight’ response – a release of chemicals within the body that heightens our senses and prepares it for battle or escape. The Fight of Flight response evolved as a way to keep us safe from very real and imposing dangers in the past – such as wild animals.

Nowadays, the Fight or Flight responses can be triggered by perceived threats such as a full email inbox, an impending deadline or a change to our routine. These perceived threats are everywhere in the modern world and it is our ability to manage our individual responses to these situations that can keep us in a more calm and relaxed state, increasing our ability to cope, and protecting our health long-term. 

How to manage stress

We spoke to Andrew Ford, our University of Bristol Healthy Minds Supervisor. Healthy Minds is a programme led by University of Bristol Sport which supports students in taking positive steps towards improving their mental wellbeing, through a varied, social and structured timetable of physical activity opportunities. Mental wellbeing, achieved via physical wellbeing.

Using his professional expertise and his own personal experience, Andrew outline his top tips for managing stress, and staying well:

Keep active

Find what works for you in terms of exercise and participate as many times as you can during a week. I’d recommend 3-5 times if possible. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to exercise and movement, but there are plenty of options you can choose from. It could be going for a run, strength training, yoga, a long walk, going climbing, dancing, or so many others. The best one is the one that you enjoy – really!

Any and every form of physical activity helps to release endorphins (mood boosting hormones) in the brain which encourage a more positive mindset and help to combat stress hormone levels.

Get enough sleep

This is often quite a tough one to do during University life, but studies show that a better nights rest helps to reduce stress hormone levels and give you more energy the next day to tackle any tasks you may have

The recommend amount of sleep for an adult is 7 to 9 hours per night. This tip links nicely linked with exercise, as those who exercise tend to get to sleep earlier, have better quality sleep, and don’t wake up as frequently during the night. It is best to exercise whenever you feel most comfortable, so this could be early in the day, or in the evening where you may have more free time.

Reach out for support

Speaking out and asking for is hard, but can be safe in the knowledge that you won’t be the only person feeling this way, and there are people who can help and support you. It may seem like a difficult step, but talking to someone – whether about what is going on and how you’re feeling, or just in for a social chat – is great way to help regulate your feelings and emotions, develop relationships, and gain new perspectives to any problems. This could be with anyone who you feel comfortable with, such as friends or family, or even within our services at the University.

The University Student Well-being Advisors are a friendly and approachable team who are able to provide non-clinical advice and support to help you find the best way to tackle whatever it is that you’re feeling.

Take a break

We know it sounds cliché, but it does really work. If a particular problem is causing stress, take a step back from it for a small amount of time. Taking a physical and mental break is the best way to get a little respite from that pressure, to take some time to relax and refresh, and be able to return to it with a fresh mindset and a more pragmatic approach.

It is helpful to plan in advance for this time which can reduce stress proactively, especially if you are someone who knows that they suffer from stress and anxiety when under pressure. Allow time to take these breaks, and you will be able to perform the tasks better, with more focus.

Do what you enjoy

Everyone has a hobby. It could be exercise, but it could also be cooking, gaming, craft, singing, or DIY. Whatever it is, if it is what you enjoy then make sure to find time to do that activity during the week – every week if you can. It is one of the more effective ways of switching off and giving yourself time to relax and reduce feelings of stress.

Planning ahead slightly at the beginning of the day or week, to create this free time for yourself will allow you to break up your day and avoid allowing a problematic situation to dominate your emotions. 

There are many ways to help alleviate stress. The Sport, Exercise and Health department are here to help you identify the best ways to do that in a physical activity capacity. Please feel free to speak to one of the team for more information as to how we can help you, and support you in feeling your best.

Join us online for live and on-demand fitness and well-being sessions via the University of Bristol Sport app (available on iOS and Android). You can also find well-being information for University of Bristol Staff and Students online, including self-help resources, guided support services and advice for supporting others.

10 things you can do with Bristol Uni Sport, that aren’t Sport

Did you know that the Sport, Exercise and Health Division at the University of Bristol has more to offer than just competitive sport? We know that Sport isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so here are 10 ways that you can get involved in active life at Bristol, without a referee or score-board in sight!

1. The Gym

The University of Bristol gym is located in the Indoor Sports Centre on Tyndall Avenue – right in the heart of campus. There is a range of cardio machines and an extensive free-weights zone, as well as a functional fitness and stretching areas located over two floors. Whatever your health and fitness goal, you’ll find everything you need.

2. Fitness classes

In the same building as the Gym, we have a number of fitness studios which are home to our gym-based fitness classes. We have over 100 in-person and virtual classes to choose from every week from ZUMBA and Aerobics, to Hatha Yoga and HIIT Pilates. As a Les Mills partner, you can join instructor-led and virtual classes from their popular catalogue including GRIT, RPM, Body Balance and Body Balance. Get unlimited access to classes with a membership, or PAYG for your favourite.

3. B:Active

B:Active is our non-competitive, low-cost and beginner-friendly fitness and activity programme exclusive for students. Split across two timetables, B:Active Campus and B:Active Residences, you can take part in as many classes as you like each week, no commitment needed.

4. Swimming

The University of Bristol Swimming Pool is located in the basement of the Richmond Building (Bristol SU building) and has over 100 hours available per week for casual and/or lane swimming. The Pool has six lanes, at full length is 32 meters long, and is 3.8m at it’s deepest point. If you’re looking for a low-impact, full-body conditioning activity, swimming might be the one for you!

5. Treat an injury

If you’re finding yourself sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, or you’re suffering an existing injury that’s keeping you from your favourite activity, get in touch with our Sports Medicine Clinic and speak to one of our expert physiotherapists. Book yourself and 10-15 minute (virtual) initial appointment for FREE for some advice on next steps and put yourself back on the path to peak physical condition.

6. Sign up to an event

In-person or virtual, events are a great way to join our #WeAreBristol active community and feel a part of something bigger – last year we had over 700 Bristol Uni students, staff and alumni sign up to the Great Bristol 10k. Events may be looking a little different for 2020/21 but keep an eye out for virtual event opportunities coming this year!

7. Learn or develop a skill

Book yourself a coached session to boost your skills and confidence! Our Tennis Coaches, Swim Teachers and Personal Trainers all offer 1:1 or small group coaching sessions to help support you in reaching your activity goals, whether that’s learning something completely new, or building on previous experience. It’s never too late, and you’re never too old!

8. Work with us

Student Activators form a valuable part of the S.E.H Team and help us to connect with students, run events and communicate all things active online! Student Activators are paid student staff, and can be a great CV-boosting role – as well as connecting you with other like-minded students. Keep an eye out for opportunities to get involved as a Student Activator during your time at Bristol by following @bristolunibactive and @bristolunisport on social media.

9. Volunteer

As well as paid opportunities, you can learn new skills and enhance your CV by taking part in our Sport Leadership and Volunteer programme, Game Changers. The programme runs continuously throughout the year to fit flexibly around student studies, and provides students with online and in-person training and qualifications to enable them to volunteer in a range of areas, including; coaching, officiating and community outreach.

10. Have your say

Join a committee, attend Bristol SU meetings or join student networks and groups that can have an impact on shaping the student experience around Sport and Physical Activity! Could you nominate yourself for a position on the University of Bristol Sports Network? If you’d like to see something done differently, you need to get involved and have your say – check our the Bristol SU website for opportunities and who to contact!

For more information on everything that Bristol Uni Sport has to offer, download the University of Bristol Sport app (available on iOS and Android) or head to our website.

Find us on Facebook.

Follow us on Instagram.

Join our virtual community on Strava.

Promotion to a Performance Specialist Club: Blog takeover with University of Bristol Archery

As a University of Bristol Sports Club, our Clubs can still choose to also work with external partners and governing bodies, to improve skills, enter competitions and gain notoriety in their sport for particular achievements or standards. For the University of Bristol Archery Club, this is Archery GB; the national governing body for archery in Great Britain. Archery GB’s Ontarget programme launched in 2010 and aims to equip grassroots level archery with the structure, vision and support to help the sport and its participants flourish and grow.

Following the announcement that UoB Archery had been recognised by Archery GB as an Ontarget Performance Specialist Club, we asked the Club to tell us a little bit about their journey to getting here.

The Archery GB ontarget scheme is designed to create a support network for archery clubs across the UK to develop and grow. Within this, clubs can achieve three specialisms: Community, Young People, and Performance. We [University of Bristol Archery Club] joined the scheme earlier this year, and have now been recognised as a Performance specialist Club!

To achieve this specialism, a club must work with its athletes, coaches, judges, and volunteers to promote an atmosphere in which sporting excellence is encouraged and promoted.

The club is in a great place to …continue bringing the sport of archery to the students of Bristol University.

Our new 2020/21 Club Captain, Will Black says that the recognition from Archery GB is “a testament to the great work of the past committees that we have been able to achieve. The club is in a great place to stay strong through the current crisis and continue bringing the sport of archery to the students of Bristol University. I am incredibly proud to be part of this club and hope to continue the success story this year.”

In university archery, archers that have shot (been in the sport) for less than one year have their own category. When archers move from being a ‘novice’ to ‘experienced’, they suddenly find themselves up against archers that have much more training under their belts – some upwards of 10 years! This can be incredibly demotivating for relatively new archers, especially those who excelled in their novice season.

To tackle this our club decided to create a new badge system during the 2018/19 academic year, for archers to track their progress through the standard indoor rounds. The badges take athletes from the beginner’s courses (white badge) to the very top of competitive archery (purple badge). The top-tier purple badge has only been achieved by one member so far! This new system has proved popular over the last year especially, with many archers in the club using it in their goal setting.

In 2019/20, we reformed the beginner’s course so that it was much more structured and used the time more effectively. A record number of 90 archers completed a course with the club in this year, and we are expecting many of these archers to continue with us in the 2020/21 season. Alongside the courses, our club ran a short ‘Introduction to Coaching’ course, during pre-season. Our volunteer coaches gained much more confidence through this course and it gave our Club’s coaching a much more cohesive approach.

The club has also increased emphasis on the importance of strength and conditioning over the last few years, with record numbers of archers attending Monday morning Motiv8 sessions during the 2019/20 academic year. Strength and conditioning has also been prevalent in keeping the club active over lockdown, with committee members running our own Motiv8 via zoom!

The 2019/20 season also saw the first off-range training sessions run by the club. We hosted a goal setting workshop in November and had another planned for April, which sadly had to be cancelled. These sessions are key to individual development as they boost motivation and encourage archers to maintain drive.

Photo credit: Malcolm Rees

For 2020/21 we are introducing a new tiered membership structure so that our athletes can maximise their experience with the club. We also plan to continue to run workshops both on and off the range, in addition to weekly bow drills sessions to promote good technique and strength for archery.

About the announcement, University of Bristol Sport Performance Manager, Matt Paine says “The Archery club at the University of Bristol has grown from strength to strength in the last 5 years. This has been made possible by the dedication and strong leadership provided by the club captains and committees. The creation of an inclusive and open club for all is not easy within a University, and providing opportunities for both new and Performance archers is a tricky balance alongside the degree pressures. The Archery GB Ontarget recognition for the club is a reward for all of this and we look forward to supporting the club as it continues to strive for even more success in the coming years” 

What to write a Club Takeover blog for us? Email us your ideas!seh-comms@bristol.ac.uk

Follow University of Bristol Archery on Instagram @uobarchery and Facebook.

Follow Bristol Uni Sport on FacebookInstagram and Twitter

Common Diet Myths Explained (part 2)

Which diet should you choose?

Ever suffered from information overload when deciding what diet to try?
What can we believe when the advice seems to change from one day to the next?
Are you confused.com?

In a previous post we looked at the ‘Low Carb’ and the ‘Low Fat’ diets – digging into the merits and flaws of each. In this post we will be looking a little more closely at the ‘Alkaline Diet’, the ‘Paleo Diet’, the ‘Keto Diet’…

The Alkaline Diet

What is it?

This diet makes the odd claim that a diet rich in alkaline foods can reduce the risk of getting Cancer by raising the pH of our bodies.  This diet recommends a high intake of fruit and vegetables, but also severely limits portions of grains, dairy, meat and fish – usually understood to be very healthy.

The Alkaline Diet Myth-Buster

There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that alkaline-rich foods can combat the risk of Cancer. Aside from this, our bodies naturally regulate the pH levels within our body to within a specific range (7.35 – 7.45) regardless of our diet.

The limits put on grains, dairy, meat and fish, could potentially have the effect of increasing your risk of some vitamin deficiencies and may also lead to protein deficiency – particularly if you are someone who exercises at a high intensity regularly. 

This diet would not be suitable for anyone aiming for muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth) – the advice to achieve this training outcome is to eat four to five meals a day, each containing 20 – 30 grams of protein. 

The Ketogenic (‘Keto’) Diet

What is it?

The Keto diet is the ‘ultimate’ low carb diet. In this diet, the amount of carbs allowed is limited to 5 – 10% of total daily intake. For comparison, the average diet in the UK (based on 2,000 calories per day) will comprise an average of 50-60% carbs! Unlike many other diets that we have looked at, The Keto diet also suggests that fats will make up a huge 60 – 70% and the remaining 20 – 30% will be protein.  

Why Keto?

The idea behind this diet is that a very low glucose (carbohydrate) intake will result in a depletion of glycogen (sugar) stores within the body and as a result the body will instead use fat to produce ketones, which can be used for energy. More fat burn = more fat loss!

The Keto Myth-Buster

Whole foods (foods like whole-wheat bread, pasta, potato and grains) are avoided in this diet. These foods provide the majority of our fibre intake, and therefore the lack of fibre in this diet can have negative impacts on the body – it is particularly responsible for the frequent unfortunate side effect of diarrhoea as fibre is what makes sure our poo stays healthy! 

Regardless of the proportion of fats, to carbs, to proteins, this diet will still only be effective in producing weight loss (also known as ‘fat loss’) if the calories expended exceed the calories consumed over the course of the day or week (e.g. calories in vs calories out). Fat loss may be rapid at the start, but this rate is unlikely to be maintained long term and weight regain is common. 

In addition, for those training regularly this diet may not provide enough carbohydrate energy in order to train at your best. A recent study found that the athletic performance of cyclists and runners was reduced after just four days on a ketogenic diet, compared with those on a high carb diet. 

The Paleolithic (‘Paleo’) Diet

What is it?

The Paleo diet priorities lean protein sources, and other foods that would have commonly been available to our ancestors during hunter-gatherer times. This primarily focuses on lots of fruits and vegetables, fish, meat, nuts and seeds. This diet claims that our digestive systems are not well adapted to eating ‘modern day processed foods’ and that the ‘basic diet’ of our ancestors would be better for our health – specifically our gut health. It heavily restricts entire food groups (mostly grains and dairy) which are usually considered to be a healthy part of a balanced diet as they a good sources of fibre, resistant starch, proteins, calcium and vitamin D. 

The Paleo Diet Myth-Buster

Research shows that resistant starch is actually associated with improved markers for bowel health, which disagrees with the ‘science’ behind the Paleo Diet. In addition, research has found raised levels of a particular blood biomarker for heart disease in people following a Paleo diet – likely a result of the fact that the paleo diet is high in saturated fat. 

The Paleo Diet, like all diets, will only work for weight loss (fat loss) if the overall foods consumed in a day, or a week, result in a calorie deficit – so taking this as an oppotrunity to eat steak every day may not get you the results that you desire! Finally, this is an example of another diet that is very carb-lacking, so it is not ideal for individuals who are training regularly, at a high intensity.

Do you have questions about something you read in this article? Why not Ask The Instructor!

We are giving you the opportunity to have you health, fitness and nutrition questions answered by an expert member of our Gym Team. To get in touch, email your question to: grp-gymteam@groups.bristol.ac.uk and one of our team will get back to you!

Disclaimer: if you have any pre-existing medical condition, or are pregnant, please seek the advice of your GP before starting any self-administered diet. 

Changing the landscape of volunteering in Sport during lockdown!

What is Game Changers?

Game Changers is our Sport, Leadership & Volunteering programme, led by the University of Bristol Sport, Exercise and Health Division. The programme provides students on campus with the opportunity to gain valuable leadership and coaching experience, by volunteering in a Sports environment alongside our Sporting community partners. Throughout the free programme, students have widen their skill set through taking on specific training modules, workshops, and qualifications.

This year, as with many of our Sports programmes, our Game Changers were interrupted by UK lockdown. However, with help from the staff behind the programme, and flexibility and motivation of our students, we have been able to work with our community partners to continue the programme.

Over the past 12 weeks, our Game Changer volunteers and leaders have been working to deliver training and volunteering opportunities online. Below are some examples of how our Game Changers completed their award during lockdown…

Meet our Game Changers


What year of study are you in? I am a 2nd Year Film and Television student

How did you hear about Game Changers? I heard about Game Changers through the Bristol Plus Award as I wanted to find an opportunity to volunteer whilst learning new skills.

What volunteering opportunities have you taken part in as part of the Game Changers programme? Before lockdown I planned to help with the Student-led Walking Tours – specifically I was going to lead a group to Mill Farm in Bristol, but unfortunately the walk was cancelled due to COVID-19. To lead this group I took part in an Event Management workshop as part of my training.

As a result of lockdown, I contacted Access Sport regarding a videography opportunity. Since then I have created an online awards platform for them, which digitally promoted their annual awards. In addition I used archive footage to compile a promotional video to for their initiatives. I have found this opportunity really beneficial as it has allowed me to develop my technical skills whilst supporting an important charity.

I hope to continue my volunteering for another 10 hours so that I can achieve the Advanced Game Changers award.


What year of study are you in? I’m currently in my 2nd year, studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

How did you hear about Game Changers? I heard about Game Changers while undertaking the Bristol PLUS Award. I found out about the Sport, Health and Exercise volunteering opportunities available, and I was particularly drawn to how you don’t have to be ‘sporty’ to take part in community outreach activities.

What volunteering opportunities have you taken part in as part of the Game Changers programme? Before lockdown, I participated in a Disability Inclusion workshop with Access Sport. This gave me an introduction to adapting physical activity to make it more inclusive. I found it an informative and engaging session about working with disadvantaged groups.

However, since the lockdown began, I have taken on some online volunteering for Zooniverse and helped find homes in Uganda to provide electricity. I have really appreciate how the Award was been adapted to enable me to still help and make a difference from my home.

Example of Solamipe’s volunteering


What year of study are you in? I’m currently in my 2nd year of a degree in Cellular and Molecular Medicine.

How did you hear about Game Changers? I first heard about Game Changers from a friend who was in the process of completing the award. This encouraged me to find out more about the program online. The structure of the Game Changers award was also explained as part of a Bristol Plus talk that I attended.

What volunteering opportunities have you taken part in as part of the Game Changers programme? Before lockdown, I attended a workshop organised by Access Sport. This provided training to volunteer at Bristol Children’s Hospital, leading fun sports sessions with current inpatients. The workshop was super fun and gave me valuable insight into sports leadership, disability inclusion and the need to adapt activities. Unfortunately, there was no opportunity to run any sessions at the hospital before lockdown began.

Since lockdown, I have started volunteering with the Coronavirus Tutoring Initiative. This is a tutoring platform that offers completely free tuition for those who might otherwise be unable to access tutoring. The aim is to reduce the educational inequalities which may be exacerbated during COVID-19 and learning at home. Seeing my ‘tutees’ progress and grow in confidence has been incredibly rewarding and it is fulfilling to know that I am supporting an initiative that is tackling important social issues.

I look forward to continuing to be a volunteer tutor during lockdown and possibly beyond!

I would definitely recommend this opportunity and Game Changers – it is really easy to start volunteering. I find it a rewarding way to spend time and remain connected with others during lockdown.

Find out more

If you are interested in taking part in the Game Changers programme next year (2020/21) you can find out more information on our website.

You can also email the Game Changers team to ask any questions: sport-active@bristol.ac.uk

Don’t forget to follow University of Bristol Sport, Exercise and Health on Facebook and Instagram for updates on when new Game Changers programmes will be starting, including pre-registration information evenings.

Common Diet Myths Explained (part 1)

Which diet should you choose?

Ever suffered from information overload when deciding what diet to try?
What can we believe when the advice seems to change from one day to the next?
Are you confused.com?

Outlined below are a few common myths that we tend to hear about different diets, to help you choose which – if any – is right for you.

The Low Carb Diet

What is it?

The Low Carb diet aims to achieve fat loss by limiting carbohydrate intake per day, without limiting your intake of fat and protein.

Why is it recommended?

Carbohydrates are made up of glucose molecules, and glucose is broken down in our bodies by a hormone called Insulin. When we consume more calories than our body needs, insulin stores the excess glucose (carbs) as fat within our cells. The theory behind this diet is that a reduced amount of carbohydrates will reduce the likelihood that fat will be stored in the body due to a reduction in the amount of insulin required to break down our food.

The Low Carb Myth-Buster

This is in fact incorrect. Insulin has not been proven to promote long-term fat storage in the body as people assume. Low carb diets can also be difficult to adhere to day -to-day and result in low mood and energy is not undertaken safely. Carbohydrates are our the preferred energy source for our brain and bodies, so if you’re engaging in any type of physical activity, consuming carbohydrates around training sessions is likely to actually improve your performance, endurance, and recovery.

The Low Fat Diet

Why eat low fat?

Low fat diets have been popular and widely advocated in recent years. Fat tends to be demonised in the fitness industry because of all of the macro-nutrients we consume (carbs, fats and proteins) it is more calorie dense. By this we mean that one gram of fat yields nine calories (units of energy) whilst one gram of carbohydrate yields on four calories. 

It is also widely publicised that a diet high in saturated fat is likely to raise blood cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease and other associated conditions.

The Low Fat Myth-Buster

Focusing on the calorie difference between fats and carbs in itself is problematic as the energy from fats and from carbohydrates perform very different functions within the body.

Additionally, the findings of a recent study in the Lancet contradict the popular opinion that that a diet high in saturated fat is likely to raise blood cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. They found that diets low in saturated fat increased the risk of early death by 13% over those getting a higher percentage of their total caloire intake from fat. It was also found that eating a diet rich in fats actually reduced mortality by up to 23%.

A summary:

The NHS guidance for optimal health is that fats should contribute around 35% of daily calorie intake and carbs around 50% to stay in the sweet spot between the two extremes. While low carb diets can result in rapid weight loss, this is more likely due to a reduction in water-weight due to the fact that 1 gram of glycogen (carbohydrate molecule) is stored with up to 3 grams of water. S by reducing carbs you are reducing the associated water storage also. This means that high-speed weight loss is usually only maintained in the first few days. Long term comparisons of low carb and low fat diets find no significant difference in weight loss over one year. 

Choosing a diet is not as difficult as it looks!  It boils down to choosing a diet that, above all else, works for you and your lifestyle. Make sure to check back for part 2 when we’ll discuss other diets, such as the Ketogenic Diet, the Alkaline diet and the Paleo diet!

Disclaimer: if you have any pre-existing medical condition, or are pregnant, please seek the advice of your GP before starting any self-administered diet. 

A 77 Mile Trip To Share Some University of Bristol Joy

During a week where we are reflecting on Kindness for Mental Health Awareness Week, it seemed fitting to shine a light on Arron’s BDT Cycle Challenge – undertaken for no greater reason than to bring some joy to his UoB team.

The Sport, Exercise and Health Division at the University are quite used to working as a socially-distanced team, having to operate day-to-day across three main sites; the Indoor Sports Centre on Tyndall Avenue, the University Pool in the Richmond Building, and Coombe Dingle Sports Complex.

Most of us in the Business Development Team (BDT), however, are brought together at our bi-weekly meetings, and it’s rare that many staff go more than a full week without ‘popping in’ to another office or two and seeing colleagues across the team and Division. As many other UoB staff can probably relate, the seven weeks since our facilities shut and we all transitioned to working-from-home, is the longest any of us have been without catching up with colleagues – in meetings, or over a freshly-boiled kettle.​​​​​​​Arron is our Deputy BDT Manager and this Bike Ride challenge started initially as a “joke between colleagues” – could we convince him to take on such a mammoth challenge for the sake of the team? Turns out, we could, and with some gentle encouragement the idea soon become a very real plan, much to the excitement of the rest of us! All in, the mapped route would see Arron cross the length and breadth of Bristol, down into North Somerset, and to the far-flung reaches of South Gloucestershire – final mileage yet to be determined…

Luckily the weather held out and the sun was shining when he set off at 8:00am for the shortest leg of the trip; just around the corner to stop number one and a slightly bleary-eyed morning “hello” from Molly, Sport’s Social Media Assistant! ​​​​​​​

From here he headed across Bristol to St George, for a (socially-distanced) coffee and home-grown flower collection from Events Manager, Kirsty, before moving on to see Jo, our Memberships Administrator – who was delighted with the delivery of flowers that came with him!

Over the course of the day Arron cycled a total distance of 77 miles, visiting 12 members of the Business Development Team, and exchanging stories and well wishes from one colleague to the next!

During a week where we are reflecting on Kindness for Mental Health Awareness Week, it seemed fitting to shine a light on this – Arron’s BDT Cycle Challenge – undertaken for no greater reason than to bring some joy to his UoB team. This act of kindness translated into further acts of kindness from the whole team, with each stop inviting an exchange of encouragement, coffee, flowers and snacks. Arron was even greeted by his very own personalized t-shirt for the occasion, expertly crafted by our Finance Administrator, Penny!

For all of us it was a welcome moment of social time with somebody new and also provided some mild entertainment during an otherwise ordinary day. But I think, most importantly, it re-connected our team during a time of disconnection – which was a wonderful thing.

Important disclaimer: This cycle is an exception to Arron’s usual ‘daily exercise’ – cycles of this magnitude are not regular occurrences – and social distancing was carefully observed throughout the entire day. 

TENNIS: Article review from Ali Blackett, Head Tennis Coach.

The article that Ali reviews in this blog post can be found here. It is titled “How to Play Matches the Same Way as you Play in Practice and has been shared by Tennis Mind Game.com.


As a coach, this topic comes up a lot with players commenting that they can do things in practice that they feel can’t do in matches or that they feel more confident in a training situation. This is particularly common in young players. This article is great at explaining the reasons why this is the case in an understandable manner and offering some solutions to minimise the differences between practice and training. It summarises the main differences as caring/being afraid (in a match) verses not caring/no fear (in practice). It is suggested the caring or fear in a match is due to the negative consequences of the outcome; this could be parents being disappointed or losing ranking points for example (note the fear is not actually losing the tennis match in itself!) and these are not present in a training situation.

Interestingly they comment in the article that this issue could be in part due to most competing players train 20 hours over 2 weeks compared to 1-4 hours of matches. This point is left at that but I feel this is one of the big issues with many juniors in our country now; they are happy to train but not compete, I am not sure of many other sports that don’t have the mentality that you are training to compete, you don’t just train and not actually play the sport properly which I feel is an issue in tennis.

The article raises two ways to combat the problem;

  1. Train as if you are playing a match, for example make sure you play competitive points and practice total commitment to drills or
  2. Play a match as you practice, in effect lowering the pressure in a match situation. I feel both methods are relevant and perhaps which one a player or coach adopts mostly should reflect the individual player and their drives.

My favourite part of the article is when it addresses dealing with stress and anxiety by checking and challenging thoughts so that the player focuses on what can be controlled for example tactics and rituals and moves the focus away from any potential negative outcomes. It goes further to suggest players should “accept what happens in a match”. This is possibly the most useful piece of information for a young player to adopt. It teaches them to channel their thoughts, control their emotions and show resilience. For example, if you can accept your opponent has won a game from a net chord and not dwell on it emotionally you are more likely to compete effectively in the next game.

Lastly a great suggestion here is for a player to spend time dealing with their fears off court (e.g. ‘If I lose everyone will think I’m rubbish’. Players, parents and coaches need to understand that if efforts are not made off court with this part of the players’ tennis, how will they be able to cope with them in an on court competitive environment. Easy answer, they won’t.

For more articles and resources from the Bristol Uni Sport Tennis team, head over to Facebook and make sure to ‘like’ the page so you never miss any update!

BUCS season highlights: Blog takeover with Men’s Lacrosse (UBMLC)

We asked University of Bristol Men’s Lacrosse to look back at their BUCS season and give us their top highlights from the team. Keep scrolling for UBMLC #BUCSlookback.

UBMLC has had a fantastic season for Performance. The Men’s 1st team had a fourth consecutive unbeaten league win, securing themselves a spot in the national quarterfinals. They played at home against Loughborough, in aid of CoppoFeel. Four of our 1st team players attended England University trials (scroll down for photos) and three were selected for the squad!

Our 2nd team had a hard-fought season with some close games, eventually securing fourth place overall in the league, joint in points with the team in 3rd place.

Our 3rd team saw some of their first wins in seasons, which was amazing – even more so as they were a team of players who were all new to the sport and hadn’t played in matches before but were all keen to push themselves and become better players!

A highlight, as it is every year, was the first -team BUCS home game against Exeter, which was played in memory of Ottie Uden (a member of our sister club, UBLC) who sadly passed away.

Photos 1 and 2: National Cup quarterfinals at Coombe Dingle, played against Loughborough and raising money for CoppaFeel.

Photo 3: A pre-season friendly game against Camden Capybaras in London. A match including past, present and future UBMLC players followed by a social.

Photos 4 and 5: Our 1st team at their game against Exeter, which was played in memory of Ottie Uden – a member of UBLC (University of Bristol Women’s Lacrosse)

Photo 6: Our proud 2’s after defeating the University of Exeter for a second week in a row and securing joint 3rd in the league.

Photo 7: (Right to left) Aidan Hood, Matt Giudici, James Clemetson and Jack Severino at the England University trials – Aiden, Matt and James went on to secure a position on the England University Squad.

Photo 8: Our 1st team at their final game of the season after winning a fourth consecutive league title, unbeaten.

Photo 9: A happy 3rd team after ending a great season with many players having not played before.

Thanks to Smif Sports for some amazing photos this season!

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Being Active During Ramadan

With up to 18 hours a day fasted, Ramadan is not the time to be smashing PBs; but aiming to sustain active behaviour is encouraged.  

Maintaining exercise activity is the key. It is certainly not the time to start on a new exercise regime so don’t be looking to up your reps, weights, distances, etc. Intense cardio sessions, plyometrics and heavy weights are not recommended to avoid strain on your body.  Limiting cardio sessions to two per week may also be advisable.  Your fitness levels will likely change and given the lifestyle changes this is understandable so should not be a cause for concern.

With interrupted sleep and dehydration, it can be hard to maintain a normal workout routine but finding the time to work out will help to clear your mind and keep energy levels up. 

When to exercise? 

  • Before suhoor.  If you are an early riser, before suhoor could be a good time for weight training with appropriate refuelling afterwards.
  • Before sunset.  This can be suitable for low-key exercise with resistance training, low reps and weights – plus lots of stretching. Or maybe a light jog. You can refuel at itfar and recover afterwards.
  • After itfar. Soon after eating is not advised though weight training may be more manageable on a fuller stomach.  Later in the evening, especially if you go to bed later, 2-3 hours after itfar, can be the better option, allowing your meal to have gone down a little.


  • Ensure a varied diet.
  • Foods high in slow-release energy are advised (oats, wholegrain, high-fibre).
  • On exercise days add a little extra food to fuel your body, and ensure you drink plenty of water to rehydrate.
  • Limit cardio duration due to limited glycogen stores. 
  • Hydrate well during non-fasting hours and especially before and after exercise. 
  • Prioritise load bearing activity to maintain healthy muscle and bone mass.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Ensure you get rest time during the day, including a nap where possible.
  • If you feel nauseous or dizzy when exercising – stop.

Useful Links: 

Fitness trainer Faisal Abdalla, known as Mr P.M.A. gives some useful advice

GB Rower Moe Sbhi shares experiences of training during a lockdown Ramadan