Jared Scott’s social media page reads “Jared Goes for a Walk” – but some might say that’s putting it lightly after seeing the mammoth challenges he’s undertaken in the last half-year.
In the span of six months, Jared would lose his mother Sue Scott, 57, and his older brother Sam Scott, 36, to undiagnosed heart conditions.
To honour their memory and cope with his grief, the 32-year-old nominated himself to carry out a year of fitness – calling it “Jared’s Not Stopping for a Year”.
Since February, Jared has walked more than 420,000 steps, hiked the West Highland Way in five days and climbed Bennachie 30 times in one month.
He hopes to encourage people to be “fitter, healthier and happier” because doing a “little now” can help so much more later down the line.
‘It didn’t feel quite real if I’m honest’
“My mum, who didn’t have any kind of previous health conditions – passed away to a very sudden heart attack. It was completely unexpected,” Jared explained.
“It had a huge impact on my life. I mean, she was only in her mid-50s. It was hugely distressing to my family and I.
“It didn’t feel quite real if I’m honest. And then six months later, in June 2020, my older brother passed away from an undiagnosed heart issue as well, which was also very sudden.”
Figuring out how to grieve in lockdown
The Aberdeenshire Council worker said it was difficult with his family living in Cumbria and unable to offer any support at the height of the pandemic.
Lockdown restrictions were particularly hard on bereaved families and friends.
He added: “Through that time, trying to figure out how to grieve, especially in the things like lockdown, when I would normally do things like going out into the mountains – I just couldn’t do it because of the restrictions.
“One day, I decided I’m going to channel that negative energy into something positive.
“The next day I created a Justgiving page and started this year-long challenge.”
Grief: ‘When I’m at home, it can be quite intense and hits me hard’
Being outdoors and keeping active has always kept Jared “balanced”, and whenever he struggled – going for a walk or run has helped him.
He said: “And to describe the impact that my mum’s and brother’s passing has had on me – it’s almost like flashes.
“I find when I’m at home, it can be quite intense and hits me hard.
“I have to stop, and I have to take care of myself. If I’m out on a walk, there’s a flash but then it’s gone, because I’m in a place that I feel happy and comfortable with.
“And I feel like I’m doing something.”
It’s led to a lot of tears, but it’s also led to just a lot fixing.
Jared added finding a way to grieve that works best for you and having a support network are important.
“I’m looking at my mom’s artwork and paintings that she did that I’ve got around my flat.
“My older brother was a huge film geek – he had 25,000 DVDs. So, I’ve been doing film nights with my little brother, like virtually.
“That’s really helped us be able to like watch films that we knew that Sam loved. And it’s led to a lot of tears, but it’s also led to just a lot fixing.
“It’s trying to find something that works for you personally and being happy to take on something which you’re not sure if it’s going to work or not.
“You never know when you actually try it, if it’s going to work.
“But again, that’s where getting out with your friends and family is important. For me that’s just been huge.”
Five days across the West Highland Way
One of Jared’s monthly challenges included hiking and camping along the West Highland Way.
He treaded 96 miles with a 9.5kg pack in inclement weather… and said his feet did not thank him for it.
Jared’s year of fitness is both an effort to raise awareness of living healthier lifestyles for better heart health and fundraising for the British Heart Foundation.
In February he walked 42,000 steps, in March he ran a 5k every day and finished it up with a 10k, the next month he and a group of friends took part in a virtual Kilt Walk walking from dusk until dawn, and in last month he climbed Bennachie 40 times in 30 days.
He said: “I think it is really important for people to remember that if you start exercising now, it becomes easier to exercise later.
“And the fitter and healthier you get now, the easier things are going to be later.
“It’s such a big regret of mine that I’m never going to get to see my mum and my brother again.
“I really wish I could have pushed them to perhaps be that little healthier and make a few lifestyle choices that would have been that little bit more beneficial. I’ve learned that the hard way.
“And now I’m speaking to people like my dad and my brother about these kinds of things, and friends and family.
“I’m trying to encourage people to be better and healthier and happier, but doing a little now is just going to help so much later on down the line.
“Especially when these sorts of things like Covid are happening and everything is so uncertain.
“Having a structured routine of exercise is just the lifesaver, literally.”
To donate to his cause and follow Jared’s year-long journey of fitness visit his Justgiving page.
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