Tackling inactivity and loneliness among students

Our latest initiative in collaboration with UK universities encourages students, particularly freshers, to walk more. 

Research suggests that 40 per cent of 16-24 year olds feel lonely – the highest figure of any age group. Transitioning from secondary school or college to university is a challenging time for young people; involving settling in a new city or town, building new friendships and personal connections, while facing academic pressures and often limited financial resources. 

Walking is a free and accessible mode of travel, which doesnt only ease students’ financial pressures, but is proven to support mental health, while reducing congestion and tackling climate change. Whether implemented at campus or city sites, our services can help students feel healthier and more independent, explore their surroundings by foot and make new friends along the way.


Next steps

With Next Steps at University we want to raise awareness of the benefits of walking and embed a culture of walking into student life. 



of all 16-24 year olds don't meet recommended minimum physical activity levels, which are 20 mins/day


of 16-24 year olds feel lonely, which is the highest figure of any age group (compared with 27% of over 65s)


of higher education institutions have reported increase in demand for counselling services by students


1. Improve mental health and reduce the risk of depression

Next Steps encourages walking and cycling as main methods of travel to university – both of which have been shown to reduce feelings of stress and reduce the risk of developing depression (by up to 30%).

2. Boost physical health and general fitness levels

Walking is a great way of achieving part of recommended physical activity levels. An adult should be getting 20 minutes a day. Walking is free, easy and accessible and has been shown to reduce the risk of developing preventable illnesses such as heart disease, certain cancers and Type 2 diabetes.

3. Provide opportunities to socialise

Next Steps encourages students to meet up and walk new, local routes together. We know that university students can feel lonely and part of the Next Steps programme is encouraging students to meet each other and talk while on walks!

4. Reduces congestion and pollution

More students travelling by foot or bike, or walking the last 10 minutes to university means fewer cars outside the university campus or site. This improves safety in close proximity of the university and improves the air quality for all.


The initiative includes a set of different activities all aiming to implement a culture of walking and encouraging students to walk more.

  • bespoke walking maps, themed around the the local university campus
  • led walks to explore the local surroundings
  • promotional walking events on campus
  • student ambassador programme
  • training to student volunteers.

Our work in action

Led walks at Leeds university

We delivered a series of led walks, tailored for international students new to the UK. Themed routes explored areas of interest and shared local knowledge, allowing students to experience the benefits of walking in a safe and sociable way. Greg Hull, Get Out Get Active programme lead at Leeds University said:

"Students took part in a challenge to tweet #toteswalking photos and pledges, in and around Winchester, promoting the benefits of walking to their peers."


pledge cards

Walking promotion at Winchester university

Students took part in a challenge to tweet #toteswalking photos and pledges, in and around Winchester, promoting the benefits of walking to their peers.

"I pledge to walk because I want people to relax, stay calm and appreciate the good in the world. I walk to and from Uni everyday instead of wasting money on the bus! Even if it’s raining!"

Girls with canvas bags


We’d love to talk to you about how you can increase walking among your students.

Drop us a line on here and one of our team will get back to you, or call us directly on 020 7377 4926.