You snow the drill, time for our Active Advent Calendar

23 December 2019 | Healthy living

Lucy Turriff, Business Placement Trainee, and Ruth Wilson, Regional Business Manager work at Health Education England (HEE) in the South-West region. They are both part of the HEE South-West health and wellbeing group, and staff also get involved in supporting cancer charities, so when they saw that World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) had an initiative to raise awareness and fitness in the build up to Christmas, they were really interested.

Have you ever seen about 30 people in an open plan office stand up all together and start a sort of three minute line dance? That’s what we are doing three times a day up to Christmas, thanks to the WCRF Active Advent Calendar.

We work in modern, open plan offices; comfortable in lots of ways, but seated at computers most of the time. The Active Advent Calendar gave us a great way to get people involved across all teams and across our three South-West offices (Taunton, Plymouth and Bristol). All optional of course – people choose to take part, and if they are busy when we do the routine, that’s ok!

We adapted WCRF’s instructions a bit, to build up to the set of seven steps they recommend. In the final days we are doing ten repeats of each step, three times a day. Our Head of School for Public Health gave a talk (with Christmas crackers!) and the gym opposite came in to give mini health checks and to take us through the movements.

It’s got us laughing as well as exercising, and everyone feels better for it – we even played Christmas music one day!

Health Education England

At HEE, we support the delivery of excellent healthcare across England by ensuring that the workforce of today and tomorrow has the right numbers, skills, values and behaviours, at the right time and in the right place. For the NHS, staff health and wellbeing are a vital part of being a modern employer, so it’s important we get things right for ourselves here at HEE.

Don’t sit still all day!

There is increasing evidence that sitting for long periods is a health risk (unless you are a wheelchair user).

It is thought to slow down our metabolism, which affects blood sugar, blood pressure and our ability to break down body fat, leading to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and cancer. The UK Chief Medical Officers’ report on Physical activity guidelines recommends breaking up long periods of sitting time with activity for just one or two minutes.
We are really grateful to WRCF for coming up with Active Advent at work. They kindly sent us a webinar with information about the value of exercise. It’s been good fun!

“It’s great – it’s got people up and moving, a real stress reliever”

– Karen

“I didn’t do it to start with – now I’m a convert!”

– Anastasia

“I really enjoy it – I like the way it brings people together.”

– Katherine

“We’d like to keep doing it.”

– Louise



Lucy Turriff, Ruth Wilson | 23 December 2019