Physical Activity: a Foundation for Your Wellbeing

On the flying trapeze

On Wednesday, February 18th, 2015 from 7 to 8:30 pm, I’ll be at Cariboo Hill Secondary School (8580 − 16th Avenue, Burnaby) speaking on behalf of the Burnaby Division of Family Practice in our continuing Empowering Patients series of public health education.

The topic is Healthy Physical Activity. I’ll discuss: (1) why we were meant to move – the benefits of regular physical activity, (2) the 6 key aspects of physical function and how they enhance all your activities of daily living, and (3) practical tips to fit physical activity into your day. 

The talk is free to everyone of any age. To register, call Leona at (604) 259-4450 or email 

The greatest predictor of your health tomorrow are the habits you practice today.

I recognize four facets of self-care. They form the foundation of your future.

The first is what you eat (a healthy diet); the second, how you feel (effective emotional management); the third, how you relate (healthy relationships) and the fourth, what you do (physical activity).

For some illogical reason, human beings take some if not all of these four foundations for granted. We can spend more time websurfing and updating facebook than talking face to face with the people we really care about. Most of us spend more time in chairs, in cars, on transit and in shopping malls than in getting the physical activity our bodies were designed for.

If we put more thought into what we eat, how we feel, how we relate and how we move, we wouldn’t leave choice to chance, and we would all be empowered to take control of our own health.

In fact, many of my patients feel they are too busy to fit healthy activity into their days. They see exercise as a luxury – something they vaguely hope they will get around to some time in the future. But if you’re sedentary now, it is less likely that you’ll enjoy good health and be able to move so freely in the future.

Exercise is not just for athletes. Any body can adapt and improve with healthy activity. Even in our 60s, we can build muscle and increase strength with resistance exercises, such as light weight training. Our brains and bodies are engaged in sports: we can learn new skills and new dances at any age.

But what we don’t use atrophies. The muscles we neglect shrink and become weak. Our cardiac and respiratory fitness plummets if we restrict our movements to short walks. If we become accustomed to moving little and very slowly, we will lose our sense of balance. Without stimulation and practice, coordination deteriorates and we are more prone to falls and injuries.

At the end of your workday, you may feel tired and feel you’ve had enough physical activity for the day. If you’re a firefighter or a Vancouver Canuck, you may be right, but for the rest of us – even if we’ve been on our feet and walking most of the day – our bodies require particular types of activity to remain in peak condition.

Consider the six aspects of physical function (from Carolyn Kisner and Lynn Allen Colby’s text, Therapeutic Exercise): cardiopulmonary fitness (endurance), flexibility (the ability to move freely), coordination (smooth, efficient movement), stability (joint stability and muscle balance), dynamic balance, and muscle performance (strength, power and endurance).

Just running and cycling is not enough, neither is weight training alone. A good exercise program will address all six aspects of function – reduce falls and injuries, maintain vigour and strength, and keep us fit well into our golden years.

About Davidicus Wong

I am a family physician. I write a weekly newspaper column, Healthwise for the Vancouver Courier, Burnaby Now, Royal City Record and Richmond News.
This entry was posted in Burnaby Division of Family Practice, Exercise, Healthy Living, Physical Activity, Positive Change, Positive Potential, Preventive Health, Self-care and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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