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Student fitness levels boosted by work-ready project

Students at Furness College have access to facilities including a fully-equipped gym for working out on the Fit4Work programme

An innovative programme that is helping ensure Furness College students are ready in both body and mind for the workplace has smashed its target in the first two years.

Furness College’s ‘Fit4Work’ is a physical activity programme for groups of inactive students across both the college campuses which aims to get them involved in exercise at least once a week.

Latest figures show the number of inactive students across college have decreased from more than 1 in every 2 students to less than 1 in 5.

Matt Jefferson, physical activity co-ordinator at Furness College, who runs the Fit4Work programme

Matt Jefferson, who is leading the programme, said Fit4Work prepares students who have become inactive for the physical demands of their chosen area of employment.

“Our students go into careers in sectors including engineering, construction, catering and hairdressing where they may be on their feet for long periods of the day. It’s important that they not only have the skills to do a good job but also the stamina.

“In addition, we know exercise not only boosts physical strength but also mental wellbeing, concentration levels and resilience.”

Physical Activity was embedded within students’ timetables for at least one term, targeted and identified based on the demographics of their area of study. The college secured more than £70,000 in funding from Sport England to launch the programme and the college contributed nearly £16,000 to the total cost.

Now in its third year, this ground-breaking project exceeded its target reaching around 300 students each year with inactivity decreasing from 53 per cent to 14 per cent among the groups.

Target groups that were identified as having the highest concentration of inactive students were:

  • Health & Social Care
  • Early Years & Education
  • Hair & Beauty
  • Entry level full-time programmes (Channelside – highest concentration of disabled students)
  • Level 1 full-time programmes (Channelside)
  • Level 2 study programmes (Rating Lane)

Deputy Principal Curriculum and Quality Mark Nicholson said the Fit4Work project had many benefits for the students’ future careers.

“We’ve not only reduced the number of students who do less than half an hour activity each week but involved those who wouldn’t usually bother with sport. Across the country, college students are less likely to be active compared to students in other educational settings and we are able to help shape good habits at a crucial time of their lives. We’ve also seen friendship groups form through exercise as they work together towards a happier, healthier future.”

The college has used a variety of activities suitable for a range of abilities such as rock climbing, golf, dodgeball, yoga, gym sessions and boogie bounce. It has also signed up to the Association of College’s mental health and wellbeing charter, into which the aims of this project also fit.

Testimonials

Doing any exercise helps you mentally, so when I got back into fitness through the Fit4Work project it made me feel happy to get involved into something I enjoyed once again. As I was happier, I felt more positive about coming to College and the course I am studying. – Harry (Level 1, Diploma in Engineering).

I enjoyed being involved in the Fit4Work project because the focus was never on improving my skill, but more about me enjoying being active and feeling comfortable doing what I was capable of. I didn’t feel like any of my class mates had an opinion on how good I was. It has lead me into making new friends from within my course that I didn’t really know that well and confidence has improved. – Chloe (Level 1 student)

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