University to investigate cycling as a bereavement aid

Wed 15 June, 2022
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An academic from the University of Bedfordshire is launching a new research project to explore how cycling can help improve grief outcomes following a bereavement.

Dr Jane Williams, a lecturer in Psychology, is the lead on ‘The Grief Cycle’ project, working alongside Harriet Wingfield, a PhD student from Sheffield Hallam University, and Professor Angel Chater, Director of Bedfordshire’s Institute for Sport and Physical Activity Research (ISPAR).

The project is currently in the recruitment stage, with Dr Williams hoping to find approximately six participants who meet the desired criteria:

  • An adult aged 18+
  • Someone who cycles outdoors at least two times per month
  • Someone who has experienced a personal bereavement in the past 10 years

Successful participants will take part in an interview either in-person or online and be asked to share their experiences and opinions about using cycling as a way of supporting grief outcomes.

Dr Williams undertook a PhD with ISPAR at the University of Bedfordshire’s Bedford campus, which she completed in 2021, before starting a full-time role with the School of Psychology

Speaking about The Grief Cycle, she said: “This project is important as there is limited research investigating the role physical activity can have within bereavement support. There is an abundance of research to show the benefits of physical activity on mental health, but very little on grief. With this logic and the limited research available physical activity can be an alternative support to grief.

“This project adds to the body of work I started within my PhD, however this project is interested in the specific aspects outdoor cycling can do in supporting grief outcomes.”

Professor Angel Chater added: “One of our research streams in ISPAR is to investigate health, wellbeing and behaviour change and we are proud to support research in this area related to bereavement. Experiencing the death of a loved one can be really tough and it can have a significant impact on our health, wellbeing and relationships.”

She continued: “Our previous research has shown us that being outside in nature, and going for a walk or run, can all help with feelings of grief. This research will aim to see if cycling can also be an activity that helps those who have experienced a bereavement.”

For more information about taking part in the project, contact Jane.Williams@beds.ac.uk.

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