Choosing the right university is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever have to make. Not only should you choose one which will allow you to have the best opportunities for a brighter future, but the university you attend also determines where you are going to live for the next few years and even the rest of your life. No pressure then.
You may have assessed the academic credentials of your chosen universities, but have you considered how they rank when it comes to sports facilities? University sports may not be at the top of your list of things to do when you leave home, but joining a sports society or team can significantly improve your time at university.
Aside from physical wellbeing, here are some of the reasons why you should join a sports team at university.
You’ll make friends
Moving away from home and going to university is one of the most exciting times in your life, but it can also be one of the scariest. Some people find it hard to make friends when they first move, it could be that you just don’t click with your new flatmates or you are simply feeling too shy to approach people and make friends.
Whatever the reason, joining a sports team or society can help you make friends. It instantly gives you a reason to talk to the other people there and as you shared a common interest, there’s less chance of experiencing any awkward silences if you aren’t sure what to say.
Greater sense of achievement
People that regularly exercise or participate in sports have a greater sense of achievement and improved self-esteem. There will always be things you are naturally good at and things that you need to spend a little more time working on.
Working towards a goal, such as improving your personal best on the track or winning a football match, can really make a difference to your self-esteem if you feel as though you aren’t doing as well academically.
There’s no doubt about it, university life can be stressful. Uni assignments, budgeting, living away from home and not to mention that annoying flatmate who keeps stealing your food from the fridge (it’s almost as if they didn’t read your note!).
As these things can easily get on top of you, it’s good to find a way to channel your stress levels into a positive outlet, such as a sport. Exercise is a natural stress reliever, as your body produces happy hormones called endorphins during aerobic activity and it will also take your mind off things. You can read an article on how to beat student stress here.
So if your mammoth library session is getting you down, hit the gym instead of the pub – trust us you will feel much better for it.
Which are the best universities for sports?
With so many great universities out there, it can be overwhelming trying to assess which ones will be right for you. According to the consumer group Which?, these are the top universities for sports, as voted for by students in 2012.
1. Loughborough University
Want a university with real star quality? The British Olympic Association chose Loughborough as its training base and official preparation camp for Team GB during the run-up to the London 2012 Games
2. University of Bath
This uni has a sport for everyone, with 48 different clubs on offer, ranging from athletics and hockey to water polo and even American football. It is equipped with a £30 million Sports Training Village.
3. University of Stirling
The university of choice for the adventurer, with sports clubs including the mountaineering club, urban dance and an underwater hockey club.
4. Brunel University
The Active Brunel programme has a range of fitness sessions designed for all abilities and offers students a more flexible approach to sports.
5. Durham University
Durham has a rewarding sporting programme that enables students to give back to the community. It also offers a range of sports including, fencing, cricket, hockey and lacrosse to name just a few.
6. Leeds Metropolitan University
Olympic gold medallist, Jessica Ennis, often uses the Carnegie Sports Centre for her javelin training and they have a great range of sports on offer.
7. Cardiff Metropolitan University
It has a fantastic variety of facilities for sports, such as the National Indoor Athletics Centre.
8. University of Chichester
Chichester runs a host of adventure sports clubs, with activities like climbing, bouldering and kayaking to try.
9. University of Birmingham
London 2012’s Team Jamaica, including Usain Bolt, trained at the university prior to the Olympic Games.
10. University of Dundee
It has a wide range of exciting sports facilities, from its state-of-the-art gym and new dance studios to a specialist combat studio for boxing and martial arts.
Dundee is also a great place to go if you’re keen on water sports, as it is surrounded by lochs and rivers and has a Water Activities Centre on the River Tay.
11. Northumbria University
Northumbria has state-of-the-art gym facilities including a sprint track, golf simulator and squash court.
How to find clubs to join
Once you’ve arrived at university, you should be able to find a list of clubs and societies that are available to join by visiting your student union. You can join as many clubs as you want over the year, although some may require you to pay a small membership fee.