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Walking dogs helps students cope with university stress

Students say dog walking improves their mental health. Credit: ITV News Anglia

A new activity has been launched on campus to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of students - dog walking.

A group of around fifty at the University of East Anglia (UEA) near Norwich are getting their exercise by walking dogs.

One student said: "I've got a dog at home so it's really nice to spend time with a dog. It's great to clear your head and get some fresh air."

  • Click below for Kate Prout's report

Most of the dogs come courtesy of a local dog walking business

Emma Misri, Assistant Director of Toms and Toto, said: “We replied straight away that we would help. Using our dogs to promote mental health. This is our local community so why wouldn't we help?"

Students face all manner of pressures from managing money to making friends and passing exams.

Around 50 students at the University of East Anglia are taking part. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Dr John Sharp, Director of Student Services, UEA, said: “It's fantastic. I'm more of a cat person than a dog person, but we can't do cat walking.

“It works on so many levels. At the basic level it's fun, lots of people like dogs, you get fresh air and meet people you've never met before.

“But on a more profound level, simply spending time with an animal like a dog, with that unspoken empathy, that can have a profound effect on people's sense of wellbeing.”

The University has £12,000 to promote the scheme. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The UEA received around £12,000 to promote student well being every Wednesday afternoon.

Dr Sarah Hanson, Lecturer, Health Sciences, UEA, said: “What an amazing thing to do to bring in dogs.

"Kids really miss their pets when they go to university and the whole idea of getting out and doing an exercise you enjoy is brilliant. And the dogs have been fantastic.”

Students often miss their pets when they go to university. Credit: ITV News Anglia