University hosts seminars to encourage people to embrace nature and get active

A paddleboarder at sunset

Hear about the experiences of a paddleboarder and an ice swimmer - two of the speakers at a free virtual seminar series this month.

  • 01 July 2021
  • 4 min read

Ever wondered if getting outside would really make a difference to your life? Now is your chance to find out.

A paddleboarder and an ice swimmer are two of the speakers at a free seminar series for the people of Portsmouth and beyond.

The seminars, which will run weekly through July, are hosted by the University of Portsmouth and sponsored by the Portsmouth charity The You Trust who work with GPs on ‘Social Prescribing’ – the things that keep us all connected, healthy and well. 

Funding is thanks to the National Academy of Social Prescribing with the support of Arts Council England and other partners. 

Dr Heather Massey from the School of Sport, Health and Exercise Science, said: “We’re offering these seminars because we want to encourage people to stay active or embrace new activities, but we’re keen for them to do so in a safe way. 

“We hope that hearing experienced swimmers, runners and paddleboarders talk about their experiences will be inspirational and informative, and will give people the confidence to try something new.”

One of the guest speakers is Andy Warner from FatStick paddleboards who discovered the sport later in life and is now passionate about getting others out on the water. 

Dr Massey said: “We’re researching how sports like stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) have helped people cope through lockdown. The pandemic has been a tough learning experience and we know that people have used certain activities to cope that have positively impacted on their mental and physical health.”

Another guest speaker is ice swimmer Kate Steels who has swum the English Channel.

We hope that hearing experienced swimmers, runners and paddleboarders talk about their experiences will be inspirational and informative, and will give people the confidence to try something new.

Dr Heather Massey, Senior Lecturer, School of Sport, Health and Exercise Science

Dr Massey, who has extensively researched extreme environments, said: “We’re interested in the potential benefits of cold water on mental health and we’re seeing a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that being immersed in cold water can improve people’s health and wellbeing. It will be fascinating to hear Kate’s journey into ice swimming.”

Another guest is Professor Alex Ford, a keen paddleboarder and marine biologist from the University’s Institute of Marine Sciences. Professor Ford wants to encourage paddleboarders and recreational sailors to help monitor the marine environment as part of a local citizen science project.

He said: “Our aim is to improve people’s physical and mental wellbeing, while also gathering scientific data for improving environmental wellbeing, too.”

Join Andy Warner’s seminar at 1:00pm this coming Friday 2 July. Kate Steels will speak at 7.30pm on Tuesday 6 July. The other speakers and dates are to be confirmed.

The seminars will take place on Zoom and can be booked via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/faculty-of-science-and-health-12774518026 

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