Sur­geon leads by ex­am­ple

Na­dia Badarudin talks to a cy­cling en­thu­si­ast on the ben­e­fits of the sport to heart health and gen­eral fit­ness

New Straits Times - - Heal - Na­di­

Ar­dent cy­clist Dr Jeswant is one among the many IJN’s health prac­ti­tion­ers who have taken up cy­cling to stay fit.

WHAT will you do if you wake up in the morn­ing feel­ing lazy or tired? Some may give in to the sit­u­a­tion and stay longer in bed, if they have the op­tion. Oth­ers, though, turn to ex­er­cise, in fact any phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, to rid them­selves of that lethargy and lazi­ness.

Ar­dent cy­clist Datuk Seri Dr Jef­frey Jeswant Dil­lon, se­nior con­sul­tant car­dio­tho­racic sur­geon at the Na­tional Heart In­sti­tute (IJN) does just that: He grabs his road bike and goes for a long ride when­ever he feels too lethar­gic.

“I’m men­tally very strong. I’ve fixed it in my mind that I’ll feel bet­ter af­ter ex­er­cise. I stick to that mind­set ev­ery day and never let lazi­ness or tired­ness get in my way,” says Dr Jeswant who heads the depart­ment of car­dio­tho­racic surgery.


In his early 50s, Dr Jeswant is a mem­ber of the IJN Car­diac Cy­cle (IJNCC).

The club was es­tab­lished in 2014 with the aim of pro­mot­ing a healthy heart and healthy life­style through cy­cling. At present, it has 20 mem­bers com­pris­ing per­son­nel from IJN and IJN Foun­da­tion, a char­ity body that raises funds for un­der­priv­i­leged pa­tients at IJN. Its mem­bers in­clude IJN chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Azhari Yakub, car­dio­tho­racic sur­geons, car­di­ol­o­gists, phys­io­ther­a­pists, car­dio­vas­cu­lar tech­ni­cians, car­diac an­giog­ra­phers and staff from IJN’s cor­po­rate di­vi­sion.

“It’s among our var­i­ous ini­tia­tives in prac­tis­ing what we preach at IJN. Rather than merely fo­cus­ing on treat­ing pa­tients, we also want to pro­mote healthy liv­ing and pre­ven­tive health­care among our staff and the pub­lic,” says the fa­ther of two boys.

Apart from weekly week­end rides and races, IJNCC or­gan­ises My Heart, My Life, an an­nual cy­cling con­voy event cum com­mu­nity out­reach pro­gramme that raises aware­ness on the im­por­tance of be­ing ac­tive to re­duce the risk of heart dis­ease, while, at the same time, rais­ing funds for the IJN Foun­da­tion.

“The con­voy is a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort be­tween IJN and IJN Foun­da­tion. Last year, we went down south and rode from Jo­hor to Kuala Lumpur. In Fe­bru­ary this year, we rode from Batu Fer­ing­ghi, Pe­nang and ended at Kuala Kangsar, Perak, cov­er­ing a

The IJN Car­diac Cy­cle cy­cling club at the re­cent My Heart, My Life con­voy in Pe­nang. Dr Jeswant has cov­ered more than 8,000km at var­i­ous lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional rides in Asia and Europe. Dr Jeswant (sec­ond from left) is a mem­ber of IJN Car­diac Cy­cle, the in­sti­tute’s cy­cling team which was es­tab­lished to pro­mote a healthy heart and life­style through cy­cling.

dis­tance of about 360km within three days,” he says.

Dr Jeswant adds that be­sides the cy­cling club ini­tia­tive, IJN also pro­vides a gym for its staff and or­gan­ises var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties such as zumba classes and healthy cook­ing con­tests in line with its ef­forts to en­cour­age a healthy life­style at the work­place.


Dr Jeswant has al­ways been ac­tive in sports, even in pri­mary school and did well in football, ath­let­ics and rugby. The for­mer stu­dent of High School Bukit Mer­ta­jam used to rep­re­sent Pe­nang in football at the na­tional ju­nior level and rep­re­sented Univer­siti Ke­bangsaan Malaysia in the Kuala Lumpur football league.

“I stopped play­ing football af­ter my knees were in­jured. And that even­tu­ally led me to cy­cling to keep fit. Cy­cling is the ideal sport for me since it has low im­pact on joints and mus­cles, un­like run­ning. I be­came a se­ri­ous cy­clist in 2013,” says Dr Jeswant, who rides be­tween 80km and 120km ev­ery Sun­day on his Pinarello Dogma bike.

To date, he has cov­ered more than 8,000km at var­i­ous lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional rides in­clud­ing in Asia and Europe.

Dr Jeswant uses Strava GPS cy­cling and run­ning apps and Garmin Con­nect to keep track of his fit­ness level and per­for­mance. He loves us­ing apps be­cause be­sides track­ing his per­for­mance, they keep him mo­ti­vated and make him com­pet­i­tive es­pe­cially when they al­low him to see how oth­ers (who

are us­ing the same apps) are pro­gress­ing.

“It’s like be­ing in a vir­tual real­ity com­puter game. That makes work­ing out more fun.”


Dr Jeswant†says be­sides be­ing a good car­diores­pi­ra­tory work­out that burns loads of calo­ries, cy­cling en­cour­ages dis­ci­pline and ded­i­ca­tion. “It teaches dis­ci­pline and ded­i­ca­tion in the sense that it re­quires a lot of ef­fort to wake up early on week­ends to com­mit to a group ride or go to the gym af­ter a long day at work dur­ing week­days to main­tain fit­ness lev­els.

“Cy­cling may be seen as an in­di­vid­ual sport but it is more fun to do it as a team. It fos­ters team­work and ca­ma­raderie re­gard­less of age, sex or sta­tus,” he ex­plains.

The adrenalin rush and en­dor­phin re­lease al­ways adds to the joy and feel-good fac­tor. The sense of ac­com­plish­ment af­ter a ride is re­ally sat­is­fy­ing too, he says.

“Cy­cling al­lows me to ex­plore roads less trav­elled. For in­stance, the stun­ning sights of the ris­ing sun bi­sect­ing the morn­ing mist on the hills of Grik’s East West high­way is a sight to be­hold! It also al­lows me to eat more and en­joy food bet­ter as I burn more calo­ries.

“And on top of it all, com­pared to run­ning, a cy­clist gets to sit. Sir Win­ston Churchill once at­trib­uted his suc­cess in life to econ­omy of ef­fort “never stand up when you can sit down”. We pre­sume Churchill was a fan of cy­cling.”

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