Monthly Archives: May 2017

Join Our Team: Staff Tutor

Staff Tutors have an important role in keeping The Open University at the forefront of distance learning in higher education. As a Staff Tutor in The School of Education, Childhood, Youth and Sport, you will lead and manage a team of highly qualified Associate Lecturers (ALs) tutoring students enrolled on a range of modules. You will select, train, develop and supervise ALs and contribute to the development and management of the School’s work, including the Student Support Team.

You will have a higher degree in a field relevant to the programmes covered by the post and experience in the effective planning and management of staff and resources. It would also be advantageous to have used Information and Communications Technology to enhance learning in an educational context.

The post is home-based, but you must also be prepared to travel when necessary within the UK and particularly to Nottingham and Milton Keynes.

Closing date: 5.00pm on 15 June 2017

For more information click here.

Join Our Team: Lecturer in Sport and Fitness

We are seeking an enthusiastic Lecturer to join our vibrant team of nine academic staff in Milton Keynes involved in writing online/print materials, overseeing teaching activities and engaging in research/scholarship that connects with our growing BSc (Hons) in Sport, Fitness and Coaching. You will have good knowledge of a range of sport and exercise related topics and be willing to work collaboratively with colleagues to develop high quality distance learning materials for students and for wider public engagement.

You will join a team which has developed an innovative approach to Sport and Fitness education based on our expertise in distance education, and will contribute to the maintenance of our existing curriculum and potential new curriculum developments (e.g. new modules, Master’s degree, higher/degree level Apprenticeship).

You must have a higher degree or equivalent professional knowledge in Sport and Fitness or a related field and a good understanding of approaches to studying this topic. You will have an understanding of distance learning; an ability to write clearly and cogently for a diverse student audience and have some experience of teaching in higher education.

For more information about the post please click on the links below:

S&F AC2 Lecturer Post

Click here to apply

Downloading the E117 App

This page provides guidance to E117 Introduction to Sport and Fitness students on how to download and install the E117 App.

The E117 App is designed to support and enhance the learning of Level 1 Sport and Fitness students studying the Open University module E117 Introduction to Sport and Fitness The App comprises two augmented reality models; the muscular system and the digestive system.

Downloading and Installing the E117 App

Click on the links below to download the E117 App onto your Apple or Android device. Once you have downloaded and installed the E117 App you will need to use the trigger image below.



Please note that the E117 Introduction to Sport and Fitness App requires access to your device’s camera in order to provide the Augmented Reality (AR) experience.  The application does not record any audio, image or video in the process of providing the AR experience.

Trigger Image

Below is a the trigger image needed for the augmented reality part of the App. If you are an E117 student you will have been provided with a copy of this image on a coaster. If you are not an E117 student, or if you have lost your coaster, you can download a jpeg copy of the image by right clicking on the image below and selecting ‘save picture/image as’ (or similar). Alternatively you can download a PDF version of the trigger image by clicking here.

Navigating the E117 App

Once you have successfully downloaded and installed the App on to your device point the device at the trigger image and you will see the augmented reality model of the muscular system as well as the ‘Menu’ option in the top right corner.  Click on ‘menu’ to reveal the full list of functions available in the App. For further information on each function located within the App please click on the link below.

E117 App Menu

To see a demonstration of how to use and navigate the App once you have it downloaded onto your device please watch the video below.

What if I don’t have an Apple or Android device?

For those on the module who do not have an Android or Apple device there is a desktop version of the App available from the ‘Resources’ section of the E117 Module Website.

To download the desktop version of the App please follow the instructions in the document below:

Downloading the E117 App Desktop Version

The menu on the desktop version can be navigated in exactly the same way to show both the muscular and digestive systems, however the models will only be presented in 2D rather than in augmented reality 3D.


Student Hub Live: Careers Showcase

On 16th May 2017 Open University Sport and Fitness lecturers Jessica Pinchbeck and Karen Howells, along with careers advisor Ros Johnston, took part in a Careers Showcase for Student Hub Live. This event contained lots of useful information about careers in sport and fitness and our sport and fitness qualifications. If you missed it you can watch it again below.

For more information on Student Hub Live visit:

Exercise: The miracle treatment for mental health?

By Caroline Heaney

Recent campaigns such as Heads Together have helped to raise awareness of mental health difficulties. Mental health issues affect everyone – it is estimated that 1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem each year, which means that most of us will be affected by a mental health condition at some point in our lives, either directly or through someone close to us. It is vital that once someone has taken the difficult step to disclose mental health difficulties that they can access the right treatment and support, however, NHS funding for mental health services has been reduced whilst demand has increased. It is estimated that by 2030 there will be 2 million adults with a mental health problem, and an NHS funding shortfall of £44-54 billion over the next decade. There are various treatment options available including therapies and medication, but medication is reported to be the most commonly used treatment for mental health problems. This comes at a huge cost to the NHS who reportedly spend £285 million per year on antidepressant medications. If only there was a low-cost treatment with few side effects and many additional health benefits. Well there is – exercise!

Image courtesy of nenetus at

Exercise has long been recognised as an effective intervention in both the prevention and treatment of mental health conditions. For example, in their meta-analysis of the literature exploring exercise in the treatment of depression Josefsson, Lindwall and Archer (2014), found exercise to be an effective treatment in those with mild and moderate depression, with the potential to be effective with those with more severe depression. Similarly, exercise has also been found to be an effective tool in the prevention of depression (Mammen and Faulkner, 2013). The simple logic behind the link between exercise and mental health is that exercise can make us feel better. This means that exercise can benefit your mental health whether or not you have a diagnosed mental health problem. As well as combating diagnosed mental health conditions such as depression, exercise can enhance mood and reduce stress levels, thus allowing us to tackle daily challenges in a more positive, optimistic and constructive way.

BBC 1’s Mind Over Marathon showed the power of exercise as it charted the experience of a group of people with mental health conditions as they prepared to run the 2017 London Marathon. The people in this programme were not unique in their experience of finding exercise therapeutic in their fight against mental health conditions. Up and down the country there are many people who are advocates for the beneficial role of exercise in preventing and treating mental health conditions. A few years ago I was lucky enough to meet a group of inspiring people in Essex who were referred to a Healthy Lifestyle Programme which involved prescribing exercise as part of a programme to tackle mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. A clear message from these participants was that exercise was a powerful tool in helping them to combat mental health challenges. They described exercise as a far more positive treatment than medication.

Potentially, exercise can be used to treat mental health problems in place of or in addition to medication and other therapies, but in order for patients to benefit, medical professionals need to be confident in its role as a treatment and have access to suitable programmes to which they can refer their patients. Data from the Mental Health Foundation suggests that whilst more than half of the GPs they surveyed recognised exercise as an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression, only 21% would actually refer a patient to a supervised exercise programme. This could however be due, in part, to a lack of access as 40% of the GPs surveyed said that they didn’t have access to an exercise referral scheme.

There lots of evidence to show that exercise can have a positive impact on mental health, but why is this the case? What is it about engaging in physical activity that leads to enhanced mental health? There is no one theory or hypothesis that has been universally accepted to explain the link between exercise and mental health. Instead, several different hypotheses have been proposed. These can be split into two categories: physical or psychological explanations (see table 1). It may be that a combination of factors is causes improvements in mental health, rather than one factor alone. Additionally, because people differ greatly, explanations for improvements in mental health may vary according to the individual concerned.

Table 1: Examples of physical and psychological explanations for the relationship between exercise and improved mental health (adapted from Weinberg and Gould, 2015)

Physiological Explanations Psychological Explanations
  • Increases in cerebral blood flow
  • Changes in brain neurotransmitters (e.g., norepinephrine, endorphins, serotonin)
  • Increases in maximal oxygen consumption and delivery of oxygen to cerebral tissues
  • Reductions in muscle tension
  • Structural changes in the brain
  • Enhanced feeling of control
  • Feeling of competency and self-efficacy
  • Positive social interactions
  • Improved self-concept and self-esteem
  • Opportunities for fun and enjoyment



It would appear that exercise can be a highly effective tool in the prevention and treatment of mental health conditions. Exercise is a comparatively low cost treatment that can be used on its own or as an adjunct therapy and has virtually no side effects. In addition, it can tackle many other health conditions such as hypertension and heart disease. Surely prescribing exercise to treat mental health is a no brainer!

To find out more on this topic try our free course Exercise and Mental Health.