To enter the Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Winter Run, visit:

A team of paramedics are to take on a 5k challenge in the New Year to promote positive mental and physical health among their workforce.

Donna Hendry, from Leven, and Alan McIntyre, from Kirkcaldy, both work as specialist paramedics in the Scottish Ambulance Service at Leven Ambulance Station.

They both support the workplace's Healthy Working Lives initiative, which encourages health and wellbeing at work. They promote the scheme to encourage others to join them in taking part in events to help improve their physical and mental health.

The paramedics decided to support the scheme to allow them to de-stress away from their job, as well as improve their working relationships together.

Thanks to the scheme, both have transformed themselves into confident runners who regularly take on events for charity and to support Healthy Working Lives.

As part of Healthy Working Lives, Donna and Alan have signed up to the Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Winter Run on Saturday 13 January, in order to train together across winter and to kick start their new year at the event.

They also hope to raise money for the Scottish Ambulance Service Retirement Association, which supports their colleagues when they retire or become ill.

Donna, 46, said: “Healthy Working Lives was something I adopted from a manager, who thought I would be good at keeping things going.

“I agreed and continued to support it in my own time initially because I believed that it would help staff including me, to keep motivated and to improve our health, safety and wellbeing at work.

“It is an award scheme, meaning the Scottish Ambulance Service has to support the initiative for it to work.

“There are so many roles within the Scottish Ambulance Service and each has their own stressors, you deal with traumatic things on a daily basis.

“Healthy Working Lives is designed to improve recognition of the signs and symptoms of mental health illness by offering training to managers and staff on how to recognise and manage different mental illness.

“Healthy Working Lives assisted with the process of setting up and maintaining staff counselling, Occupational health services and return to work conversations for staff who have to stay off due to stress related illness.

“The physical activity that we participate in together is one way of helping to relieve stress and reduce the instances of illness, with the added bonus of improving our physical health. It's a win win!

“Running improves our fitness and releases feel good endorphins and it makes you feel really good.

“There's also a bit of pride when you reach a goal or complete a challenge like the Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Winter Run.”

Donna and Alan will join 3,000 others who will start 2018 with a scenic 5k run at the Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Winter Run.

The event starts and finishes in Edinburgh's Holyrood Park and travels up and around Arthur's Seat, offering fantastic views of the city.

Runners then cross the finish line next to the Palace of Holyrood House after a fast downhill section. Alan, 61, also took part in the 5k last year and has gone on to run half marathon distances, thanks to the scheme and the positive effect it has had on his life.

He said: “My running has improved so much since I first started taking part in the scheme a couple of years go.

“At first I complained that I wouldn't be able to do it but now I can manage a half marathon distance, which is amazing.

“I run most days to give me a focus and to allow time to mill things over. It also helps me reduce anxiety.

“On top of this my physical fitness has drastically improved as well as my weight.”

To enter the Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Winter Run, visit: