GP runner Andrew Murray given sports education role

Dr Andrew Murray Dr Andrew Murray ran from John O'Groats to the Sahara Desert in 77 days

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A marathon-running GP, who ran from John O'Groats to the Sahara Desert, has been recruited by the Scottish government to promote the importance of physical activity.

Over a six-month secondment, Dr Andrew Murray, from Edinburgh, will explore new ways to get people moving.

This will including looking at the role of his fellow GPs.

Dr Murray, 31, believes that becoming or staying active is the single best thing people can do for their health.

The GP last year ran 2,659 miles - averaging more than 34 miles a day - from Scotland to the Sahara in 77 days.

Start Quote

Research has shown that having a low level of fitness is equivalent in risk to having diabetes, smoking, and being obese combined”

End Quote Dr Andrew Murray

Dr Murray, who has previously run in the Himalayas and at the North Pole, 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.

In his new role, which is part of his Sports and Exercise Medicine training, he will be looking at new ways to promote physical activity, including examining the role of other health professionals.

"Becoming, or staying active, is the single best thing you can do for your health," he said.

"Research has shown that having a low level of fitness is equivalent in risk to having diabetes, smoking, and being obese combined."

Dr Murray said the benefits of staying active were "amazing", with evidence consistently showing those that are active live longer, function better, and have a much better quality of life.

'Overtaken by donkey'

"The key message is to find something you enjoy, it doesn't have to be running," he said. "Walking, cycling, dancing, football are just as good, and 30 minutes five times a week is a good start."

He added: "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."

Sports Minister Shona Robison 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 the Sahara desert 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."

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