Healthy eating is the way forward for Hatfield bus drivers

IT was far from a busman’s holiday as Uno staff embarked on a mission to get fit.

Some 50 drivers, engineers and operations employees took on the University of Hertfordshire’s gauntlet to make the Hatfield-based workforce fitter and healthier.

The 12-week programme challenged the workers to individual and team events – designed to encourage regular exercise – and commit to healthy eating plans, prescribed by fitness experts and dietetic graduates.

Their levels of activity were measured with an accelerometer, which recorded distance travelled, steps taken and estimated the number of calories burned.

The scheme saw 63 per cent of participants go from having dangerously high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels, to achieving a reduction in both.

Some 44 per cent achieved a decrease in cholesterol and 47 per cent lowering their resting heart rate, while 63 per cent reported increased energy levels and 91 per cent said their happiness had improved.

Rhian Crawford, of the uni’s sports village, said it was a “fantastic result”.

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The project officer for sport, health and wellbeing added: “We are overwhelmed by the results of the programme and are so happy that the participants and in particular the drivers, embraced the challenge and have improved their health.

“You can now see them walking around campus in their high visibility jackets and many have started using the university’s gym facilities.

“The shift to healthier eating and increased activity and energy levels has meant that many are spending better quality time with their families, which is a fantastic additional benefit of the intervention.

“A group even trained for and ran the Herts 10k, which they would never have completed before.”

In total the group shed a combined 4.5 stone, and lost 71 inches around their hips and waists; the biggest individual weight lost was almost 1.4 stone.

She added: “The weight loss doesn’t look like a lot but it’s worth reiterating the major benefits were seen in the reduction in blood pressure and cholesterol and we weren’t expected to see large amounts of weight loss over the short amount of time.”

Stan Sawdy, 53, operations manager at Uno, added: “I’ve lost three to four inches off my waist and my blood pressure has come down.

“I had a tendency to go home and sit down, but now I like to go out walking and my daughter has even joined in.”

The uni is now encouraging other businesses to start the project, while offering Uno participants and family reduced membership.