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​From far left: Arvic Penaranda Mandawe, Ng Poh Leng and Christina Loh are among the 228 participants from Tan Tock Seng Hospital who signed up for The Straits Times Virtual Run this year. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

The Straits Times (15 October 2020)

TTSH workers join ST Virtual Run to boost awareness of health and regular exercise

As Singapore fought to clear foreign worker dormitories of Covid-19, therapy support associate Arvic Penaranda Mandawe from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) was deployed to Cochrane Lodge on June 20 to help migrant workers and dormitory operators.

Although the working hours were similar to those at the hospital, carrying out tasks for up to eight hours in personal protective equipment made the days feel longer.

Yet, during that month-long stint, Mandawe, 42, found himself running more, clocking four to five 10km sessions weekly.

He found it challenging and it required self-discipline, but he was motivated to keep his immune system strong for those around him. Mandawe said: “We had a great team (in the dormitory) and every member looked forward to serving each day despite the harsh and challenging work environment.

“So that’s why I need to stay fit and healthy. “It was important to me to boost my immune system so that at the same time, I could function efficiently.” The avid runner, who takes part in about eight or nine races yearly, also participated in virtual runs.

He first took part in the SG Circuit Breaker Virtual Run, before completing 324km as part of the #SGOutrunCovid, one of the races supported by TTSH’s human resource wellness department.

As part of its health and well-being programme, the department has been sponsoring staff for external running events, including The Straits Times Virtual Run (STVR), which Mandawe will be taking part in.

He is among the 228 participants from TTSH who have signed up for the race.

“The thing that I like about virtual runs is that I can choose the place where I want to run and the time, especially the place,” said Mandawe, who will be taking part in the 175km category, which begins on Monday and ends on Dec 17.

“At the same time, I encouraged some of my colleagues to join me in that category so it will be part of my challenge to help motivate them to finish.”

Not everyone who has signed up for this year’s STVR has had as much experience with virtual runs. With many traditional mass participation events cancelled, senior nurse clinician Ng Poh Leng decided to try for the ongoing 17.5km category, which will finish on Oct 23.

The 63-year-old, who exercises two to three times a week, has been a vocal advocate for exercising regularly and feels that it is important that she practises what she preaches too.

She said: “When you keep active, the person can lose weight, can keep the blood sugar down and keep their mind sharp and de-stress. “I also hope to be a role model to my patient; you need to walk the talk.”

Some like Christina Loh, assistant director of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases clinical operations division, were drawn to the flexibility of the virtual run.

The 44-year-old said: “Virtual runs allow me to complete certain distances with flexibility, in terms of selecting my routes and the time I want to run, at my own convenience. “It is also an avenue to connect digitally with new running kakis.”

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