FIT U’s success inspires Saj, Terry and Chris to continue their more active lifestyles.

Three men determined to shed the pounds and live a healthier lifestyle have set up Oxford’s newest walking club after enrolling on a free health programme for men and women.

Saj Rana, Terry Winter and Chris Jones meet at Risinghurst Cricket Club every Thursday from 6.30pm as part of a shared ambition to be more active, get fitter and lead a better-connected life.

The trio met via Oxford United in the Community’s FIT U’S programme. The free 12-week course was launched this summer and combines theory behind living a healthy and active lifestyle with fun and engaging activities.

Average weight loss statistics for the FIT FANS programme are impressive and exceed those of many other programmes. On average women lose well over 3kg and men over 5.5kg by the end of the 12 weeks. We also have evidence that lifestyle change, and weight loss are sustained over the following 12 months. More than 90% of men and 85% of women lose weight during the programme with many losing a clinically significant amount.  Our data shows FIT FANS helps people to increase physical activity, and reduce sedentary time, leading to weight loss, a significant reduction in reduction in blood pressure, and improvement in self-reported mental wellbeing measures.

Saj Rana has been busy shifting the pounds and making new connections with FIT U’S with a very personal reason for doing so.

He explains: “I feel much healthier for joining FIT U’S. I have two beautiful grandchildren and want to see them grow up and spend as much time with them as possible.

“It does cross my mind occasionally how many years do I have left, and how can I improve my lifestyle to ensure I live for as long as possible.

Banbury-based exercise and nutrition expert Rebekah Stapley leads the programme, which aims to tackle cardiovascular disease (CVD) rates locally.

It comes after figures revealed CVD causes a quarter of all deaths in the UK and is the leading cause of premature deaths in people experiencing homelessness, mental health issues and those living in deprived areas.

Saj added: “Eating the right foods and drinking responsibly while being active by getting the body moving is the best solution, and FIT U’S has given me the motivation needed to make those changes.

“I found it very reassuring that every person can set their own individual goal and there is no pressure or expectations at our sessions. Turning up is an achievement in itself and the social benefits are equally important.

“I’d encourage anyone considering making simple but effective changes to their lifestyle to sign-up now and get involved – you’ve got nothing to lose.”

Saj Rana in full flow at FIT U’s!

Saj, 58, hopes to welcome more members to the club this winter while the charity recruits’ people to enroll onto its next FIT U’S programmes, which start on November 15.

“It started off as just a one-off walk, but now we meet every week and the health benefits are fantastic,” said Saj. “Although we had never met before starting FIT U’S, Terry, Chris and myself share a lot in common and combining talking and walking really accelerates the time.

“We’ll be 6,000 steps into our walk, equivalent to burning 300 calories, and barely noticed we had started. It makes a huge difference exercising in the company of likeminded people but finding something to facilitate this isn’t always easy if you’re overweight or not comfortable going to the gym.

“Typically, we’ll walk for 45 minutes but there are no set rules or commitments. It would be fantastic to welcome more people, especially through winter when sitting at home watching TV is a far easier decision to make.”

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