Stuart Strange

I have been an active person ever since I was a child, and always loved playing football. I played for several local clubs and enjoyed the training and social aspect which team sports bring. At the time I was deciding to give up playing competitively, I suffered a serious knee injury which made me reassess how I could remain active. As part of my rehabilitation, I was cycling off road as I prefer being in the countryside. After around 18 months of doing this, I was looking for ways to develop this new interest. I trained as a Level 2 mountain bike leader to help develop other people's skill set and found a group of people who ride mountain bikes regularly, so started going out with them on evenings and weekends, which I have been doing for the last two years. They are based out of Hitchin as there were no other mountain bike groups in the Luton area. We all enjoy the social side of riding, and the trips we have been on have been a great experience.

As part of a challenge to myself last year, I decided to try to get outside everyday to do some sort of physical activity. With the constraints of work and family life, this could be anything, from cycling, walking, running, depending on how much time I had. I often would go for a 20 minute walk around my local area at the end of the day just to clear my head and switch off from work, or walk my daughter to school and then ride to work. During lockdown, the group riding obviously stopped so I needed to stay motivated to keep getting out on my own. I would always try to walk in the countryside where possible, and it was nice to see so many more people doing this in the spring time. I continued to ride around the local area and go for short jogs, and this became even more important to gain that release from working at home. My youngest would sometimes join me for a bike ride or walk and she has learnt to use a compass and read a map during our adventures.

I completed the challenge to get outside and realised that it has become a habit, and I have continued to walk, ride, or run on a daily basis. I have discovered lots of new places in my local area and have enjoyed the sense of discovery and need to just take in the surroundings. It has helped me to keep fit and I always feel better after getting outdoors for an activity.

As an Active Bedfordshire ambassador I want to encourage others to try and find 20 minutes to move, be that a short walk or a cycle around where you live and see how you feel afterwards.

To find local walks, jogging or cycle routes check out our Getting Active in the Community page.