ST Virtual Run: Tan Tock Seng Hospital's frontliners keep fit to help with fight against the coronavirus

SINGAPORE – As Singapore fought to clear foreign worker dormitories of Covid-19, therapy support associate Mandawe Arvic Penaranda from Tan Tock Seng Hospital was deployed to Cochran’s lodge on June 20 to help migrant workers and dormitory operators.

Although his working hours were similar to those in the hospital, carrying out tasks for up to nine hours in a full personal protective equipment suit made the days feel longer.

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

He found it challenging and it required self-discipline, but he was motivated to keep his immune system strong for those around him.

Penaranda 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 to nine races yearly, also began to participate 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 runs supported by Tan Tock Seng Hospital’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 Penaranda will be taking part in.

He is among the 228 participants from Tan Tock Seng Hospital who have signed up for the event.

“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 Penaranda, who will be taking part in the 175km category, which begins on Oct 19 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 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 this year, 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, the assistant director 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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