Ultra running GP named Government physical activity champion

Dr Andrew Murray admits to being overtaken by a donkey during part of his trip

A GP WHO ran from John O’Groats to the Sahara Desert in just 77 days is teaming up with the Scottish Government to promote the importance of physical activity.

Ultra marathon runner Dr Andrew Murray, of Edinburgh, will highlight the benefits of being active on a six-month secondment at the Scottish Government starting next week.

He will explore new opportunities to promote physical activity including looking at the role of GPs and other health professionals, and will promote the clear, simple message that getting and staying active will help people stay healthy, and is for everyone.

The 31-year-old who has previously run in the Himalayas and at the North Pole accomplished an incredible feat last year, running 2,659 miles – averaging over 34 miles a day – from Scotland to the Sahara.

He ran to raise money for the Yamaa Trust, which aims to improve conditions for people living in South Gobi, Mongolia and to raise awareness of the benefits of staying active.  More than 1,300 people jogged with him during parts of the run.

Shona Robison, Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, said: “We want to make Scotland a fitter and healthier nation. By increasing levels of physical activity we can make serious inroads into tackling some of the serious challenges facing Scotland’s population – not least the health implications that arise from being inactive.

“Andrew’s ultra run to theSaharadesert was inspirational and I’m absolutely delighted that he has agreed to become our Physical Activity Champion, working in the Scottish Government for six months to promote the importance of Scots being active for life.”

Dr Murray said: “I’m delighted to work in the Scottish Government on what I think is the fundamental health challenge of our age. Becoming, or staying active is the single best thing you can do for your health. Research has shown that having a low level of fitness is equivalent in risk to having diabetes, smoking, and being obese combined.

“The benefits of staying active are amazing, with evidence consistently showing those that are active live longer, function better, and have a much better quality of life.  The Scottish Government have been very proactive in moving this forward working to help Scots become and stay active. The key message is to find something you enjoy, it doesn’t have to be running. Walking, cycling, dancing, football are just as good, and 30 minutes five times a week is a good start.

“Running to the Sahara was tough. I’m not a natural runner and even got overtaken by a donkey one day so anyone can get fit.  The first few days are the hardest but there is so much to gain.”

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