empowering patients Healthy Living Physical Activity

Our Smoky Air: Another Reason to Stay Indoors and Wear a Mask?

by Davidicus Wong, M.D. September 14th, 2020

Most people don’t realize that Smokey the Bear’s real name was Smokey Bear, and that he was an orphaned bear cub rescued by firefighters in New Mexico 70 years ago. He has remained a symbol for forest fire prevention and wildlife preservation.

Today, smoky air – from wild fires in California, Oregon and Washington – have given all of us in BC another reason to stay indoors or wear a mask. 

Wildfire smoke poses a health risk to everyone including those of us who are otherwise healthy. It can cause irritation of the throat, nose and eyes; coughing, and shortness of breath. 

Those at highest risk are babies, young children, older adults, and those with chronic conditions such as respiratory or heart disease. For example, individuals with asthma, chronic bronchitis or emphysema will notice increased shortness of breath and wheezing.

While our air quality temporarily ranks among the worst in the world, we should all stay indoors as much as possible. Keep your windows closed, and if you are using an air conditioner, you should close the outside air intake and keep the filter clean to reduce bringing smoky air into your home. HEPA air purifiers can help remove small particles from the air but you are less likely to find them in our local stores. 

Although cloth and surgical masks provide some protection against COVID-19 and other respiratory infections and you should wear them when you are unable to maintain physical distancing (2 meters) from others, facemasks only protect against larger particles in the air and not the fine particles of wildfire smoke. 

N-95 facemasks do offer some protection as they filter smaller sized particles if fitted correctly. However, they are more expensive, hard to find and are really no substitute for staying indoors as much as possible. 

Prior to the wildfires, we were encouraging more outdoor exercise during the pandemic. While our air quality remains so poor, even the fit should avoid strenuous outdoor exercise such as running. 

The challenge of this unfortunate time of wildfires at the end of summer during a pandemic is to remain cool indoors but away from others. I anticipate the shopping malls may be more popular than our park trails over the next week. Remember to maintain your distance and hand hygiene. 

If you or anyone you know is suffering from shortness of breath, a possible infection or any other medical condition, remember that your healthcare providers, including your family doctor and our emergency departments remain open.

The majority of family physicians have remained available for their patients throughout the pandemic. We have reduced in person clinic visits to what is essential; however, we’ve been connecting through telehealth – phone or video if appropriate. 

Don’t hesitate to call your family doctor as you normally would for your usual medical concerns, including the management of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. If you have a chronic lung condition such as asthma, call the clinic if you are running low on your inhalers. 

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician. His Healthwise Column appears regularly in the Burnaby Now, Royal City Record and Richmond News.

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Free Public Health Talks for 2020: The Empowering Patients Program

Tapestry Talk

The Empowering Patients Free Public Talks for 2020

with Dr. Davidicus Wong


  • Monday, February 3rd, 2020 The Keys to Positive Change
    • Tommy Douglas Library in the Edmonds neighbourhood


  • Monday, February 24th, 2020  The Patient-Doctor Relationship
    • Bob Prittie Library in Metrotown


  • Thursday, March 12th, 2020  Emotional Wellbeing
    • Brentwood Community Resource Centre, 2055 Rosser Avenue


  • Wednesday, April 8th, 2020  Healthy Eating
    • McGill Library in North Burnaby)


  • To be scheduled: Healthy Relationships and Healthy Physical Activity


To register online or call (604) 259 4450

For more information about our Empowering Patients Public Health Education Program, please see the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s website or Dr Davidicus Wong’s website


Christmas empowering patients Healthy Living Physical Activity Relationships

Four Ways to Give

Dr. Pooh & Tigger


The perfect gift is the one most needed.

This season, consider four gifts that we often take for granted.

Mobility and Physical Independence

Unable to stand or walk without crutches, I’ve been dependent on my family these past two weeks. Almost everything takes twice as long: getting out of bed and to the washroom, showering, dressing, preparing meals and simply negotiating stairs.

I have even greater empathy for my elderly patients – and those with back and limb disabilities – for whom getting up from a chair and onto an exam table is a precarious effort. At any time, a fall is possible.

Many of our elderly are at high risk for falls at home and would benefit from a homecare assessment from a registered nurse, physiotherapist or occupational therapist. Many would qualify for Handidart – a transportation service for the disabled who are unable to use regular transit services – and handicapped parking.

One in three seniors (over 65) has had one fall in the past year, and the effects of a fall can be devastating for the frail. 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls. Vancouver’s falls prevention clinic is at VGH. If you or someone you know is at risk for falls, you can contact the clinic at Fraser Health has a mobile clinic that moves from city to city (but not directly to your home). To find out more, call (604) 587-7866 or e-mail

Be patient with older adults and others who are limited in their independence. Give them time and space to get on elevators or escalators. Take the time to hold doors or to lend a hand. A small gesture of kindness from the able-bodied can make a difference.


Though many of us will be feasting during the holiday season and resolving to lose weight in the New Year, the cost of food is rising. Many of your neighbours are struggling to get enough nutrition.

The Canada Food Price Report recently released from Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph predicts that in 2020, the average Canadian family will spend $487 more on food than in 2019.

With rising housing costs, some families can’t afford their daily meals.

Though food banks may get more food donations during the holiday season, the need is present all year long. There are food banks open throughout Greater Vancouver on most days of the week. The schedule is available at

Consider making a cash donation. This requires less work for the volunteers, allows the food bank to take advantage of bulk buying and may ensure a better supply of all the essentials.

A Safe Home

I’m not able to drive at the moment, but I feel lucky to have a car.

Because of the disproportionate cost of housing, I know of many for whom their vehicle has taken the place of their home. One of my patients, though working, cannot afford to rent and sleeps in his car each night.

For those without nearby family, the loss of a job can herald homelessness. It can happen to almost any of us.

Consider a donation this year to the Society to End Homelessness in Burnaby ( or the Progressive Housing Society that won the Burnaby Board of Trade’s Best Non-Profit Award for 2019.

Burnaby has three warming centres that are open from 8 pm to 8 am from November 15th to March 30th. They provide overnight shelter, hot beverages and snacks for the vulnerable in our community. They are located at the Kensington Pitch and Putt, Swangard Stadium and 5970 Beresford Street.

To find a warming centre in Vancouver, call 211.

Donations of blankets, socks and warm clothing are welcomed.

Family and Friends

Though some social gatherings may seem an obligation, consider the many among us who do not have family and friends with whom to celebrate. Newcomers and the elderly living alone can be socially isolated in our big cities.

Neighbourhood houses have been created to fill the need for social support and connections. Burnaby has two neighbourhood houses: 4908 Hastings Street in North Burnaby and 4460 Beresford Street in the Metrotown. For more information:

There are six Neighbourhood Houses in Vancouver. For more information:

I wish all our readers a safe, happy and healthy holiday season.

Whistler view

Dr Davidicus Wong is a family physician. His Healthwise column appears in the Vancouver Courier 

empowering patients Physical Activity


Empowering Patients: HEALTHY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY  Davidicus Wong

 We were made to move. When we don’t, our health suffers. When we do, we thrive.


  1. Decreases your risksfor heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer.

Exercise plays an important role in managing and improving chronic health conditions.

  1. Prevents weight gainand – complementing healthy nutrition – helps you maintain a healthy weight.
  2. Improves the fitness of your heart, lungs and muscles. Physical activity conditions your body to function better, making everyday activities easier.
  3. Prevents falls and improves cognition. When your limbs, eyes and brain are accustomed to movement, your balance, agility and ability to react improve. When blood flows better throughout your body, it also provides better circulation to your brain. A healthy body promotes a healthy brain.
  4. Weight bearing exercise(e.g. walking, hiking, weight training) helps maintain bone density, reducing your risks for osteoporosis and fractures.
  5. Improves sleep. Although vigorous exercise just before bed may be too stimulating, activity earlier in the day can improve the quality of your sleep.
  6. Improves emotional wellbeingby decreasing stress hormones, such as cortisol, and raising endorphins, natural painkillers. Exercise can raise your confidence and sense of accomplishment. There are social benefitsto physical activities such as yoga, zumba, dance and spin classes, ballroom and line dancing, Tai Chi, weight training, running clubs, lap swimming, badminton, ping pong, walking groups and hiking.


PHYSICAL LITERACY: The 7 Fundamental Movement Skills These are the essential sports skills taught to children from birth and throughout their school years, but each remains relevant throughout your lifetime.

  1. Running You may need to run without falling if being pursued, trying to retrieve a purse, escaping a burning building, chasing your newspaper down the street or avoiding a collision with a fast-moving object.
  2. Jumping You have to be able to do this without tripping to avoid falling into a puddle or stepping on the droppings of dogs (or horses in Victoria).
  3. Kicking To kick out the window of a burning or sinking bus or car. To defend yourself from an attacker.
  4. Striking (as with a racquet) To swat a mosquito with a flyswatter.
  5. Throwing When you don’t want to walk to the trash can. A faster way to move your laundry.
  6. Catching To catch the keys someone tosses you. To catch a dish before it crashes on the floor.
  7. Agility, Balance & Coordination To change your own clothes, shower and bathe, cook, shop and drive. To avoid falls and fractures. This is especially important for the man who does all his shopping at the mall on Christmas Eve.


The 6 Aspects of PHYSICAL FUNCTION (from the textbook,“Therapeutic Exercise” by Carolyn Kisner and Lynn Allen Colby)

  1. CARDIOPULMONARY FITNESS: Endurance housecleaning, yardwork, walking, laundry, cooking, shopping
  2. FLEXIBILITY: The Ability to Move Freely picking up the paper, reaching the top shelf, changing, bathing, footcare
  3. COORDINATION: Smooth, efficient Movement cooking, dusting, eating, drinking, changing, driving, grocery shopping
  4. STABILITY: Joint Stability, Muscle Balance putting on socks, shoes & support stockings; getting into the tub; bathing
  5. DYNAMIC BALANCE: Maintaining Balance in Action walking at home & outdoors; shopping; bathing; ladders; stairs
  6. MUSCLE PERFORMANCE: Strength, Power and Endurance driving, taking out the trash/recycling, vacuuming, mowing the lawn, raking leaves, moving tables and chairs, sweeping, dusting, grocery shopping



TOYS EVERY GROWNUP SHOULD OWN (and play with regularly)

  • A skipping rope; sidewalk chalk for hopscotch: to practice balance and jumping
  • A soft rubber ball: to kick, dribble, bounce, catch and throw outdoors
  • A foam ball: to toss and catch indoors
  • Badminton racquets and shuttlecocks: to practice striking and promote agility, balance and coordination 

FITTING PHYSICAL ACTIVITY INTO EVERY DAY Look for simple ways to increase your level of physical activity.

  1. Walk or bike to school or work.
  2. Get off the bus a few blocks further from your destination.
  3. Buy a bright, new umbrella and raincoat, embrace the rain and do an extra walk each day.
  4. Go hands-free at home and walk while you talk on the phone.
  5. Dance to your favourite music.
  6. Limit your screen time (in front of the television or computer).
  7. Stretch and exercise while you watch your favourite shows.
  8. Check out the local pool, gym and community centre. There’s sure to be something you’ll enjoy learning and doing.



  1. Talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program ifyour current workout is moving from couch to fridge, you’re over 40, at risk for heart disease or have a chronic health condition (such as diabetes, heart failure, asthma, chronic bronchitis or arterial disease).
  2. If you have osteoarthritis, choose activities that do not harm your joints(e.g. With degenerative arthritis of the knees and hips, avoid running. Swimming would be a better choice.)
  3. To reduce injuries: start at a lower intensity, b. exercise in a safe environment, c. get expert assistance and instruction, and d. use proper equipment (e.g. helmets for cycling, appropriate footware).
  4. Avoid dehydrationby drinking adequate fluids
  5. Avoid OVERexercise. Watch out for the signs of overexercise: a. excessive weight loss, b. constant muscle soreness and tiredness, c. recurrent injuries, d. recurrent infections, chronic fatigue, and e. neglect of work, school, friends and loved ones.
  6. Balance activitywith rest and healthy nutrition.



  • Choose Wisely. A goal that matters to you.
  • Visualizeyourself having achieved your goal, reprogramming your subconscious mind and priming the pump for success.
  • Break it downfrom supersized into manageable morsels. You’ll gain confidence with early successes.
  • Write down the details.


  • Specific: What will you do? Where?
  • Measurable: How much? How long?
  • Achievable: Realistic and do-able
  • Relevant: Important to you, your values and your health
  • Time Frame: When will you start? When will you finish?
  • Evaluate: How did you do? What did you learn?
  • Stepping Forward: What will you do next? What will you do differently?
  • Together: Who will you work with? Who will you share with?
  • Anticipateand prepare for roadblocks
  • Enlist support. Consult with your family doctor. Choose a coach or teammate: your partner, friend or neighbor.



  • What you eat(What you put into your body).
  • What you do(physical activity and rest).
  • How you feel(emotional wellbeing).
  • How you connect(healthy relationships).


Please share this information with your family, friends and anyone else who may find helpful.

Together we’ll create a healthier community and a healthier future.



Burnaby Division of Family Practice Empowering Healthcare Exercise Healthy Living patient-doctor relationship Physical Activity Preventive Health

Healthy Physical Activity . . . One of the 4 Foundations of Self-Care

WWYD sign

In celebration of Burnaby’s Move for Health Day this Wednesday, May 10th, join our family doctors and community members of every age for the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s 2nd annual Walk With Your Doc.

I’ll be presenting a free talk, “We Were Made to Move” at 6:30 pm at the Confederation Community Centre. This will be followed at 7:15 pm with an easy Walk With Your Doc around the Confederation Park track. You’ll learn about the benefits of exercise, how it can improve your enjoyment of life and your ability to do everyday activities, and how you can make daily physical activity a new healthy habit. All members of the public of any age are welcome to join our team of Burnaby doctors as we walk the talk! Each participant at the walk will also get a free pedometer (while quantities last).

Burnaby WWYD 3

Most people – including patients and healthcare providers – may think of healthcare as what doctors, nurses and other allied health professionals do for you. Although it is our role to partner with you, giving you the support, knowledge and resources to make informed decisions and achieve your personal health goals, I believe the bulk of your healthcare is self-care: what you do for yourself – when we’re not watching.

The four foundations of healthy self-care are (1) healthy eating (or consumption) – what you put into your body, including alcohol, drugs and tobacco; (2) healthy physical activity, (3) emotional wellbeing and (4) healthy relationships. Think of your self-care as what you eat, what you do, how you feel and how you relate.

Regular physical activity is so essential to health that doctors will be walking the talk during the week of May 10th – the World Health Organization’s Move for Health Day.

The Doctors of BC is supporting doctors for the annual Walk With Your Doc events in communities across the province. Physicians are volunteering their time to walk and talk with their patients and other members of the community of any age.

The message is simple: physical activity is important to your health, and walking is one form of activity that most of us can do.

Over recent years, more doctors are literally writing prescriptions for exercise, and there’s even a global organization called Exercise is Medicine. A typical dose is 30 minutes of moderate exercise (such as walking) in single or divided doses 5 days a week. Of course, every prescription has to be tailored to individual preferences and conditions.

The key message is that regular exercise can be as potent as pills in preventing disease, maintaining your health, managing chronic conditions and extending your life. But some of my patients would rather pop a pill than start exercise to lower their blood pressures.

Yet you don’t have to wear running tights, cycling shorts or a swimsuit, and you don’t have to go to the gym. The variety and range of healthy physical activity is broader than formal exercise alone.

To many, exercise is a dirty word. They associate it with work, pain and the school gym classes of their childhoods.

You can reap the benefits of physical activity doing many of your regular household chores: mowing the lawn, doing the laundry, gardening, raking, mopping, sweeping and vacuuming.

All these activities get your feet moving and use big muscle groups. Watch out for marathon sessions of chores. Mowing the long grass for the first time in the spring, raking and composting can be a grueling triathlon. To avoid injuries warm up, stretch and pace yourself. Break up big jobs into smaller ones. Take breaks and stay well hydrated.

Walk whenever you can – up and down the stairs, around the block, to visit your neighbours, to run errands and get to the park. Dance to your favourite music.

To celebrate Move for Health Day in Burnaby on Wednesday, May 10th, Burnaby’s Healthy Community Partnerships Committee has organized a variety of health-related events. During the day, the school district has planned a community walk with some elementary school students and Moscrop school will have a health fair for its own students.

For all adults, we have a Community Wellness Fair from 2 to 4 pm at the Confederation Seniors Centre at 4585 Albert Street in North Burnaby. There will be great displays, people and resources to help you lead a healthy, active life.

Burnaby Parks and Recreation offers a variety of free activities at our pools and community centres throughout the day and evening. For more information check online at

I’ll be presenting a free talk, “We Were Made to Move” at 6:30 pm at the Confederation Community Centre. This will be followed at 7:15 pm with an easy Walk With Your Doc around the Confederation Park track. You’ll learn about the benefits of exercise, how it can improve your enjoyment of life and your ability to do everyday activities, and how you can make daily physical activity a new healthy habit. All members of the public of any age are welcome to join our team of Burnaby doctors as we walk the talk! Each participant at the walk will also get a free pedometer (while quantities last).

To register or learn more about the Doctors of BC’s Walk With Your Doc events in communities across the province, check

Burnaby WWYD 1

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a Burnaby family physician.


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Celebrate Move for Health day: Walk With Your Doc!


To celebrate Move for Health Day in Burnaby on Tuesday, May 10th, I’ll be presenting a talk, “We Were Made to Move” at 1 pm at the Edmonds Community Centre (at 4585 Albert St, Burnaby) and again at 5:45 pm at the Confederation Community Centre at 4585 Albert St, Burnaby (to be followed at 6:15 pm with an easy Walk With Your Doc around the Confederation Park track).

You’ll learn about the benefits of exercise, how it can improve your enjoyment of life and your ability to do everyday activities, and how you can make daily physical activity a new healthy habit.

All members of the public of any age are welcome to join our team of Burnaby doctors as we walk the talk! Each participant at the walks will also get a free pedometer (while quantities last).

The 1 pm talk at the Edmonds Community Centre requires registration

No registration is required for the Walk With Your Doc event at the Confederation Park track.




Burnaby Division of Family Practice Empowering Healthcare Healthy Living Physical Activity Positive Change

Achieve your potential in health


Dave and Baldev high five at WWYD
Drs. Davidicus Wong and Baldev Sanghera at the 2014 WWYD

When we think about health, many consider it from the negative.

The focus is on symptoms, injuries, illness or disease.

Many approach their healthcare the same way.

They see a doctor or other healthcare provider mainly for the treatment of these conditions. Health is defined in the negative: the absence of disease, and healthcare becomes passive: the treatment given by a healthcare professional.

I think of health as the optimal balance of the important areas of your life (physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, family, social, work, rest and play) – guided by what you value and where you find meaning – and the achievement of your positive potential in life.

I believe we each have a unique potential. It is our duty to realize our potential and to help others achieve theirs.

Though we all need the assistance of doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers at different points in our lives, most of your healthcare is provided by just one person. That person, of course, is you.

In this way, real healthcare is self-care. The best predictors of your future health are the habits you practice today.

The four foundations of self-care are (1) what you eat (what you put into your body), (2) what you do (physical activity), (3) how you feel (emotional wellbeing) and (4) how you relate (healthy relationships).

WWYD Albert and Donna Gomes
With patients, Donna and Albert Gomes

Over the past two years, I’ve led the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s Empowering Patients health education campaign. Our goal is to improve the health of our community by providing unbiased health information on a variety of topics including the four foundations, chronic conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, preventive and proactive care, medical ethics, improving your hospital experience and communicating with healthcare providers.

So far we’ve delivered 14 free public lectures in Burnaby’s schools, libraries and community centres and created health education posters, handouts and videos. To see our growing library of health information, check the Burnaby Division’s website at

The family doctor’s circle of care has expanded from the care of the individual patients of a practice to the care of our community. We care about our patients, and we care about our community.

On Monday, April 25th at 7 pm, I’ll be speaking at the Tommy Douglas Library (7311 Kingsway, Burnaby) on “Healthcare is Self-Care: Achieve Your Potential for Health.” You can register for this free talk online at or by phone (604) 522-3971.

If you’re thinking of improving your future health by becoming more active today, jump on board with the rest of us next month as we celebrate Move for Health Day and the Doctors of BC’s Walk With Your Doc events. On Saturday, May 7th at 10 am, I’ll be the emcee for the Doctors of BC’s annual Walk With Your Doc at Kitsilano Beach Park.

To celebrate Move for Health Day in Burnaby on Tuesday, May 10th, I’ll be presenting a talk, “We Were Made to Move” at 1 pm at the Edmonds Community Centre and again at 5:45 pm at the Confederation Community Centre (to be followed at 6:15 pm with an easy Walk With Your Doc around the Confederation Park track). You’ll learn about the benefits of exercise, how it can improve your enjoyment of life and your ability to do everyday activities, and how you can make daily physical activity a new healthy habit. All members of the public of any age are welcome to join our team of Burnaby doctors as we walk the talk! Each participant at the walks will also get a free pedometer (while quantities last).

WWYD Greg Kennelly Michelle and John Albano
With patients, Greg Kennelly, Michelle and John Albano

For more information on the variety of fun events Burnaby has planned for Move for Health Day look on page 5 of the Leisure Guide (or check online at$!26+Events/Move+for+Health+Schedule+of+Events.pdf

To find out about the Move for Health Day and Week events close to you, check out your local community centre or the BC Recreation and Parks Association website To learn more about the Walk With Your Doc events in every community, check

WWYD Burnaby
Drs. Davidicus Wong, Karime Mitha and Shelley Ross

Burnaby Division of Family Practice Empowering Healthcare Exercise Physical Activity Preventive Health

What do you know about heart failure?

Davidicus Wong's Black Bag

What do you know about heart failure?

If you’re like most people, not enough.

In fact, it is believed that most people who have heart failure are not even aware of it. It is estimated that 30% of those who have heart failure but are not aware of it will go on to develop full blown symptoms requiring urgent medical care within the next three years.

The overall one-year mortality rate (risk of dying) for patients diagnosed with heart failure is 30%. The risk is higher with those with three or more other chronic health conditions (up to 50%) and higher still in the elderly (up to 61%).

But patients who are informed and engaged in self-management in partnership with their family physicians have much better outcomes – slower disease progression and fewer hospitalizations.

Your heart is a muscular organ that acts as a pump. The right side of the heart receives blood returning from the body through veins and pumps this oxygen-depleted blood to the lungs. Oxygen-rich blood then returns to the left side of the heart which delivers it to the rest of the body (including the brain) through the arteries.

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is due to the decline in the pumping ability of the heart. This results in shortness of breath when blood backs up into the lungs, edema (or fluid retention) particularly in the legs and feet when blood backs up into the extremities, and fatigue because less blood is getting to the brain, muscles and organs.

The most common causes of heart failure are high blood pressure and atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries). Because the effects of these chronic conditions accumulate over time, the onset of symptoms is often gradual, unrecognized or mistaken for normal aging or deconditioning.

Other causes for heart failure include irregular heart rhythms, smoking, obesity, thyroid disease and excessive alcohol. Less common causes include disease of the heart muscle following viral infections, as side effects of medications (including some types of chemotherapy) or due to metabolic conditions such as hemochromatosis (iron overload).

In addition to the symptoms of fatigue, fluid retention and shortness of breath with physical activity, another classical symptom is shortness of breath when lying flat. In patients with worsening heart failure, blood fills the lungs unless they are sitting upright.

Several classes of medications have been shown to improve both the survival and quality of life in heart failure. These include beta blockers and ACE inhibitors. The condition requires close medical follow-up and regular monitoring.

Individuals with heart failure can maintain their health with diligent self-care and lifestyle management, monitoring their weight to pick up on fluid retention that may indicate a sudden worsening of their condition; limiting salt, alcohol and fluid intake, and maintaining regular appropriate exercise.

To learn more about “What You Should Know About Heart Disease”, come to my next free public lecture on behalf of the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s Empowering Patients series. You’ll learn if you are at increased risk, practical tips to reduce your risks and how to maintain your best health in spite of heart disease.

I’ll be speaking on Wednesday, March 30th at 7 p.m. at the Alan Emmott Centre at 6650 Southoaks Crescent in South Burnaby. Register online with or call Leona at (604) 259-4450.

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#36 The ABCs of Health and Happiness

Leftover Happy Face Cookie

The ABCs of Health and Happiness Davidicus Wong

Accept responsibility for your own health. Be active. Create happiness for yourself and others. Don’t drink to excess. Eat a healthy diet. Follow your bliss. Greet each day with gratitude. Help yourself to happiness by helping others. Identify your strengths. Jump at every opportunity to make someone else’s day. Kickstart each day by counting your blessings. Love unconditionally; we are all human and worthy of being loved. Mind your thoughts; they shape your moods. Nurture healthy relationships. Open your heart and mind. Project inner peace. Quit smoking. Respect your body. Smile and see the beauty in your world, in others and in yourself. Transform every problem into a positive goal. Understand that it takes a village to care for a village; everyone matters. Visualize your goals. When feeling rushed, wait for your mind and body to move together. Exude passion. Yield to your better and wiser self. Zestfully embrace this day.

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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.