How happy are cyclists? Very much so, it seems!

Cycle Challenge featured in local academic research

06 May 2021 | Sports

An academic article by Dr Wesley Pieters, alongside Sheona Boardman was recently published by the International University of Management (IUM) Namibia Journal of Managerial Sciences.
The study sought to investigate the impact of general health and psychological well-being on the happiness of cyclists in Namibia. This research sample was taken from the Nedbank Cycle Challenge of 2019.
For over three decades, Nedbank Namibia has been the country's leading supporter of cycling growth, beginning with the first hosting of what would later become the Nedbank Cycle Challenge in November 1986. Each year, the Challenge increases in popularity as more and more enthusiastic cyclists participate, indicating the sport's growth.
The global health pandemic essentially put a halt to hosting the Nedbank Cycle Challenge in February this year, and a rescheduled race increasingly looks unlikely with the continued limit on the number of patrons allowed at any given event, as well as the anticipated congestion of the national sporting calendar towards the latter stages of 2021.

Key insights
Employee health and well-being has become a major concern in the 21st century, according to Dr Pieters' literature review. The study captured information about the various participants' sex, age, educational qualification, number of years of cycling, cycling sessions per week, average cycling distance per week, and participation in the road and/or mountain bike races by using a biographical questionnaire.
Dr Pieters and his team reveal that poor health and well-being have generally contributed to less productive employees, lower quality-decisions and higher levels of absenteeism. Employee well-being encompasses both physical and psychological well-being.
The research illustrates a growing recognition that organisations' well-being is increasingly dependent on the well-being of its workers. People who exercise at least two to three days a week not only have lower levels of depression, frustration, and stress, but also have a lower risk of heart disease.
The findings of another Namibian study reviewed during Dr Pieters assignment found that 42% of employees at a large industrial organisation in the country are overweight, with 32% being obese. Obesity has a major impact on working ability, the study demonstrates.

Workplace ties
Dr Pieters stresses the value of “establishing good relationships at work” suggesting that in order to improve personal ties between colleagues, managers, and superiors, employee interventions such as team building and emotional intelligence training are needed. He shares that the Nedbank Cycle Challenge provides a forum for this to happen.
In many cases, the Nedbank Cycle Challenge, which some businesses have taken on as a team-building challenge, has resulted in partnerships growing and being mutually beneficial and fruitful. Inter-level synergies have been shown time and time again. “As a passionate cyclist, I realised that many organisations may be unaware of the benefits of sport and should begin looking into how they can promote such activities. The benefits are multiple for both the workers as individuals and the employers,” he reiterates.

Benefits
The findings were conclusive and recommend that employers and organisations prioritise the psychological and physical well-being of all employees to ensure longevity, quality of life, and organisational stability.
Companies that invest in their employees' well-being gain benefits such as a less stressed workforce, improved problem-solving skills, and a greater zest for life, both of which contribute to increased productivity. In addition, self-efficacy allows workers to complete more challenging tasks on a micro level, and as more employees gain trust in their abilities, their success translates to a macro level. Dr Pieters further notes that increased physical fitness results in fewer downtime and sick days, as well as a reduction in the amount of money spent on health claims and benefits. This in turn then has a knock-on effect on talent retention.

Continued support
Nedbank Namibia’s Head of Marketing and Communications, Gernot de Klerk, congratulated Dr Pieters stating that the study was well received. “We can’t escape the fact that cycling makes us feel and operate better. This underlying evidence supports our dedication to cycling and how it contributes to the well-being of our customers, staff, and the general public. It is always a paramount consideration for us, having been amplified so vividly in the last year, and remains the most compelling reason for the bank's continued sponsorship of cycling in the country.”
Equally, the President of the Namibian Cycling Federation, Axel Theissen, was also appreciative of the overall merits of the study. “The study is comprehensive and its findings will certainly assist and guide the NCF in the promotion of cycling,” said Theissen.

Choices, choices, choices
Cycling is now comfortably the bank's largest sponsorship property, with several local and international races successfully hosted this year, and in full compliance with the prevailing health regulations.
Mountain biking is one of the many platforms supported and its popularity has risen in recent years, owing to its suitability for family recreation, with Windhoekers in particular, enjoying the freedom of the open veld on their bicycles whenever they feel the need to get away from the humdrum of city life.
The Nedbank MTB Challenge, a spin-off of the Cycle Challenge, was born as a result of this. The Nedbank Kidz Challenge, Nedbank MTB Challenge, and Nedbank Road Race Challenge each attract about 2,000 cyclists annually. Whilst the iconic Nedbank Desert Dash will be supported for the eighth consecutive year in 2021.

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