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A day in the working life: Stuart

Our Meet the Walkers blog series is back! We asked walkers who have taken part in the Step Count Challenge why they decided to take part and what walking means to them.

Published: 03/09/2020

Stuart Brown works for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland. Stuart supports people living with, or at high risk of developing, chest, heart and stroke conditions to be more active in a way that works for them. So, who better to speak with about keeping active whilst working from home?

Tell us a bit about your average working day

My usual routine is to be woken up at the crack of dawn by either my 3 year old or 10 month old daughter. I am doing well if I get past 5.30am so the day starts early. After a cup of tea though, the day properly kicks off!

Has Covid-19 impacted on the way you work?

Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the charity across the board. I hadn’t long started at the Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland and three weeks prior to going in to lockdown we had just signed off on a plan going forward for physical activity across the organisation and then of course Covid-19 and the lockdown happened. In some ways, the work hadn’t changed, the outcome for us was to support people to be active; what had to change though was how we would do this. Many of the charity’s services or our affiliated peer support groups had to stop in their tracks so we had to quickly adapt plans and innovate.

What do you do to fit some activity into your day?

Wherever possible, I try to go for a walk during my working day, it’s so easy to do and I definitely find that when I do get out I come back more focused and refreshed. If going out for a walk isn’t possible then moving around the house in lots of different ways can be entertaining… think Hugh Grant in Love Actually. Sitting on an exercise ball at the desk or even doing some stretching in the chair is good for you. It’s all about keeping moving.
In addition to this, every day since lockdown started I have been doing a one kilometre run at the end of the day. It is short, snappy and means I can squeeze it in to a busy work and life schedule. 

How are you and your colleagues keeping active during the working day?

Over the past few months we have being doing a series of videos called Stay Active and these have been light-hearted videos, always with a bit of a tune playing in the background that show how you can stay active in lots of different ways. The videos are all about moving in a way that works for you and the staff have been absolutely amazing at engaging with it and sending in brilliant ideas.

We also ran a Virtual Walk pilot within our directorate and it basically gave staff the opportunity to, rather than have a ‘virtual tea and chat break’, go for a walk instead. We plan to promote this to the wider organisation now as a way for people not only to get some exercise into their day but also to have that more informal conversation/sharing that with everyone being home based has been lost a wee bit.

In addition to this we have been sending out some videos, hints and tips on staying active and general wellbeing. It is so important we all continue to move as much as we can and in a way that works for us.

What tips would you share with others that help you be active during the working day? 

It is so so difficult sometimes to see how you can possibly fit activity in to your day. I have been there, the hours and the days come and go and before you know it you have been rooted to a chair and staring at a screen for hours on end. We all need to make a conscious effort to step away from the screen. Nothing bad will happen if you step away from the screen a few times in a day to move around in a way that works for you. An email, a call or a piece of work can wait to allow you the time to look after yourself. If you find it hard then block out some time in your calendar to prompt you or find a colleague to do it with, peer support can really help. You might find you are actually more productive when you get back to the desk.

Stay active while you work; step away from the screen, stand up, stretch. 

Do what you enjoy, you won’t if you don’t. Keep it real and i

ncorporate activity and movement in to your daily life. 

Be creative and use what you have available to you; cans of beans or soup work as excellent weights and g

et some fresh air, don’t underestimate how good it is to get some fresh air!

What motivates you?

Three things that motivate me: 

  1. Towards the end of last year I realised how poor my own activity levels were. I am ashamed to admit it but I had, over a period of a few years, been spending less and less time doing the things I loved and more and more time working, driving or juggling family and other commitments. Those juggles are still there but I have found a better balance and I never want to look at myself in a mirror again and not recognise the person staring back. I had always been so active in the first 25 years of my life, I let things slip for a bit but it won’t happen again.

  2. Working for a charity like Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland you are reminded every day how precious your health is. I have only been at the charity a short time but already I have met some truly inspirational individuals who have been through some really difficult times but through their own drive and determination and a little bit of activity thrown in for good measure, they have been able to get their lives back and not only survive but thrive. You don’t need any more motivation to get up every day than that. 

  3. My kids are a huge motivation. I want them to grow up as I did, being active every day was just the norm. Kids will respond to their environment and I want to make sure my girls have every opportunity to be active, happy and healthy.