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University brings back dog walking sessions for students after popular demand

PUBLISHED: 12:52 04 August 2020 | UPDATED: 13:49 04 August 2020

The UEA is holding dog walking sessions to help students with their wellbeing as part of measures to allow physical activity during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: UEA

The UEA is holding dog walking sessions to help students with their wellbeing as part of measures to allow physical activity during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: UEA

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Norwich students are being given the opportunity to ‘doggy de-stress’ from coronavirus worries by walking some four-legged friends.

The scheme will allow UEA students to walk dogs on the university campus in Norwich. Picture: UEAThe scheme will allow UEA students to walk dogs on the university campus in Norwich. Picture: UEA

Dog walking sessions to help students with their wellbeing are being brought back by popular demand at the University of East Anglia as it thinks outside the box for activities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

They are being run in partnership with local dog walking and day-care business Tom & Toto, which will provide the dogs on extra-long leads meaning students can walk them while maintaining social distancing, using hand sanitiser before and after interacting with them.

MORE: UEA bans overnight visitors for students ‘while Covid-19 persists’

Dogs will be on extra long leads so students taking part in the UEA dog-walking scheme will be able to follow social distancing. Picture: UEADogs will be on extra long leads so students taking part in the UEA dog-walking scheme will be able to follow social distancing. Picture: UEA

Few would deny the power of walking dogs to cheer and calm people in even the most stressful of times.

Thought to be the first-of-its-kind when it was first introduced in January 2019, the initiative was backed by research produced by scientists at UEA’s Norwich Medical School who have found that dog walking helps people to not only maintain physical health, but also their mental health.

It offers an alternative to traditional sports and enables students who are missing their pets to have that animal interaction.

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Phil Steele, UEA’s director of sport and commercial services, said: “The sessions were hugely popular the first time round with most selling out extremely quickly.

“And with restrictions placed on our social interaction with other people, we think our students will love this quirky activity.”

The weekly sessions for up to 12 students at a time in the grounds of the university campus, start this week and will be running throughout the summer and into the new academic term from September.

Its return comes as the university looks at ways to offer a range of outdoor activities for the new academic year while still following government guidelines.

MORE: Colleges plan return to face-to-face lessons for all students

As well as the dog walking sessions, the campus’ waymarked walking routes are open, and some sports club training has resumed this week.

The UEA Sportspark has recently reopened while the university also has 58 clubs ranging from archery and ballet to rowing and cricket.

Mr Steele said: “We are so lucky to have 360 acres of lush campus grounds to host activities for students who will be beginning or returning to their studies this year.

“Things are going to be a bit different so we are thinking outside the box to ensure students can still enjoy exercise.”


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