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Photography: Magnus Kermack

In May 2020, my colleagues and I took on a team exercise challenge to walk, cycle, run or ride 1000km to raise money for Vetlife. COVID19 had split our team into two with some members also on furlough and the challenge gave us something positive to work towards during what was otherwise a stressful time. We exceeded our target and completed over 1700km! I was so encouraged by the level of engagement and boost in team morale that I decided I wanted to share our event with the rest of the profession.

The Vet Month of Movement: October 2020 saw individuals and teams from practices across the UK come together for a month of exercise, fresh air and support from the veterinary community. Together we raised over £5000 for Vetlife charity. 

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Active Vet Movement aims to inspire you to find headspace in the outdoors and enrich your life with exercise, to find an activity you enjoy and time for you to step outside and take part, to encourage you to take notice of  your surroundings, explore your local area and find joy in your everyday walk, run or ride. 

Head outdoors. Live in the moment. Discover the joy. #BEMORELABRADOR

Helen Wilkie Vet  |  Runner, Mountain Lover

I graduated from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in 2017 and now work in mixed practice in Ayrshire, Scotland. 

I thrive on being outdoors. I particularly love exploring remote places and you can find me running, hillwalking or horse riding in my free time. I turned to running in Autumn 2019 as a way to help clear my head and stop worries and to do lists from my working day extend into my time at home. Running has not only helped restore my work-life balance but has given me opportunities and experiences I would not have believed were possible. 

I know how easy it is to fall into a cycle of sleep-work-repeat and how quickly work stresses can start eating away at you, how finding time to do anything else can seem impossible. I am proud to be part of the

veterinary profession but it saddens me that year on year we have such poor mental health statistics. I believe we can all play a part in making the profession a better place for everyone. 

I started the Active Vet Movement to inspire and encourage others to incorporate regular exercise into their routine to support their mental wellbeing. I was inspired to push my boundaries with exercise, plan to fit it around my working day better and to take on bigger challenges by other amazing individuals in our community. As well as becoming physically fitter, I have noticed a shift for the better in my day to day mental wellbeing. I have created the Active Vet Movement to be a space to share stories of what we do outside of our veterinary roles and how time outdoors and exercise benefits our lives. 

I hope what you find here will inspire you to give exercise a go, plan for an adventure you've always dreamed of or, in a positive and proactive way, open up the topic of mental health in your workplace. 

Read more: "Taking lessons from trail running into the clinic and beyond", Vet Record, 5th September 2020