Two Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) employees are setting the standard for healthy living through their love of exercise.
Dr Abdulaziz al-Kuwari, an orthopaedic surgeon at the Bone and Joint Centrer, and John Smith, project manager, Support Services with HMC’s Ambulance Service, have a passion for endurance sports.
Dr al-Kuwari is a keen cyclist who first took up the sport after being introduced to it by one of the surgeons who taught him at university in Canada.
“I noticed that he was never tired and I asked him how he managed this. He told me that he cycled to stay fit and it helped him focus at work. So I bought a bike and began cycling with him and from there my passion for the sport was born,” Dr al-Kuwari said.
Following a 27-year career in the British military, for which endurance running was part of his job, Smith was encouraged by friends to run the Ooredoo marathon in 2014, the first formal marathon he had entered.
“Though I hadn’t done any formal training for the marathon, it was a brilliant experience. I’ve since completed the Ooredoo marathon every year and to challenge myself I now look for marathons in various countries around the world. In the past four years I’ve completed 14 marathons, including in China, Jordan, Myanmar, and Switzerland,” Smith said.
Dr al-Kuwari also combines his passion for cycling with travel and has taken part in many road and off-road cycling events around the world.
“I have travelled to more than 20 countries for various cycling events. My most recent challenge was cycling 400km across Cambodia with 14 friends,” said Dr al-Kuwari.
“One of my proudest accomplishments was achieved through the Global Biking Initiative, which organises cycling events across different countries in Europe. With other members of the Qatar Cyclists group, of which I am the chairman, we have raised over QR4mn to build a school in Gaza,” he added.
Smith offered some advice for people wanting to get involved in sport or regular exercise for the first time.
“People need to overcome the psycho-social barriers and believe that they can do it. Setting a goal is a great way to motivate yourself, even if the initial goal is to walk just 500m. From there it’s simply a case of progressing and increasing the goal gradually. Don’t think you can’t do it, you really can,” Smith said.
Both sportsmen believe that physical activity has had a positive influence on their health and their overall lives.
“Cycling has really changed me as a person. It gives me a lot of positive thoughts and helps me perform better in other aspects of my life and work. As a surgeon, I have to stand and concentrate for many hours at a time and cycling has really improved my endurance and focus, enabling me to become a better surgeon,” Dr al-Kuwari added.
“By holding several programmes for the National Sport Day for all sections of the society, Qatar is advocating a healthier and more sound community. HMC is keen to develop a healthy population in the country,” said Nayef al-Shammari, assistant executive director of media, HMC.
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