Wellbeing Committee launches weekly cycling exercise for Unit Staff

Wellbeing Committee launches weekly cycling exercise for Unit Staff

On 15th January 2022, the Wellbeing Committee at the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine launched its weekly bike riding exercise for Unit staff, as part of activities to promote healthy lifestyles and nurture the holistic wellbeing of staff.

About 20 staff joined the maiden exercise, cycling a total of 27 kilometres from the Fajara campus to Banjul, and back.  

Yahya Touray, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Officer at the MRCG at LSHTM said, “This initiative is part of the wider wellbeing programme to promote physical, mental and environmental health. This cycling idea was initiated to encourage physical health, ensure staff are in good shape, and maintain a healthy lifestyle not just for work but for their personal wellbeing.”

He added that as part of the Unit’s EDI policy, this exercise will be decentralised and introduced in Keneba, Basse and other stations to ensure that there are no limitations for staff to participate.

Joseph Osatuyi is the Network and Telecommunication Manager at the MRCG at LSHTM. He is a member of the Wellbeing Committee and was the lead organiser of this exercise.  

He said, “This initiative will help to break the new normal of staying indoors all the time. It does not require physical contact with others and is enough to maintain one’s physical health. It’s important that we embrace the initiative, and we are hopeful that the turnout will continue to grow in the coming weeks.”

Professor Beate Kampmann, Vaccines & Immunity Theme Leader at the MRCG at LSHTM said that wellbeing is an essential part of what the Unit should be promoting for staff, but also for our environment. “Cycling today was a great exercise for all of us, but also very good for the environment and contributes to planetary health, which the Unit is now invested in”, she noted.  

The exercise was also an opportunity to staff members who regularly exercise to join and motivate colleagues, while strengthening interpersonal relations. Dr Abdul Karim Ceesay MBE, Head of the Unit’s Genomics Strategic Platform said, “Exercise is part of my daily routine. It helps you to maintain a healthy body and changes your mood. It takes you away from your comfort zone and in a group like this, it’s even better under this cool Gambian weather.”

Similarly, Eunice Kiamba, a PhD student and Lead of Academic Culture Committee expressed delight and commended the organisers for the initiative. She expressed delight for taking part in the exercise with her colleagues and thanked the organisers for providing all participants with the necessary protective gear.

Habibou Mbye, Health and Safety Officer at the MRCG at LSHTM spoke about the safety standards and impressive level of preparedness.

He said, “Everyone got the protective gears required for this exercise, and from a health and safety point of view, that is remarkable. We had a vehicle escorting the riders in case of any emergencies.”

The MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM recognises the importance of maintaining and optimising the overall well-being of all its staff and students. The Wellbeing Programme was first introduced in 2015 as a response to a high number of reported cases of lifestyle-induced illnesses such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and back pain at the Staff Clinic. The primary aim of the programme is to promote lifestyle change to prevent or delay the onset of preventable diseases, thereby reducing sickness-related absenteeism and improving quality of life.

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