A super-fit dad who once weighed 18 stone has made the top 10 in a competition to find the most active employees in the UK.
Peterlee man Andrew Kirtley is ranked sixth in the country out of the thousands of people taking part in Sport England’s fitness initiative The Workplace Challenge.
The 54-year-old, who works for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust in Peterlee as a contact centre officer, cycles up to 150 miles a week and since he started the challenge in January has clocked up 3,997 miles, around the distance from Peterlee to Russia and back.
Funded by Sport England and delivered locally by sports partnership County Durham Sport, the Workplace Challenge aims to boost the health of office workers by tackling sedentary work cultures.
Participants gain points for every activity they do – from running and cycling to canoeing, going to the gym, or even hula hooping and standing at a breakfast meeting and are ranked on a national leaderboard.
Andrew first caught the cycling bug three years ago when weighing 18 stone and with a 54-inch waist he realised he needed to shape up to improve his health. He now weighs 11 stone with a trim 30-inch waist.
“I had a very sedentary job and just never did any exercise and so the weight piled on,” said Andrew, who lives with his wife Michelle in Peterlee and has a son, Ross, a former Durham cricketer who now works as a climbing instructor in Germany.
“I started going to the gym and enjoyed the spinning classes and so I thought I’d give cycling a go and I loved it. I get up at 6.30am every day and do about 15 miles. It sets me up for the day. If I can’t do it for some reason, and I have to drive into work then I just don’t feel as motivated or energised.
“If I have an hour for my lunch I will try and get out for a bit too. I also cycle on evenings and weekends when I can and recently did 100 miles in a day for the first time.
“I feel so much better in myself and just have so much more energy.”
Andrew Power, physical activity manager for County Durham Sport said: “This is a fantastic achievement by Andrew.
“Both Andrew and the team at the Trust have really embraced the Workplace Challenge and I hope they will be an inspiration to others to sign up.
“A large proportion of office workers will find themselves sitting at their desks for hours and hours a day. Research has shown that even standing compared to sitting burns an extra 50 calories an hour.
“This challenge is about trying to change sedentary office cultures and encourage staff to introduce more activity in their daily lives.”
To sign up visit http://www.workplacechallenge.org.uk/countydurhamsport/ join in on twitter @WorkplaceChall #myteam15