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

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.




Emotions Empowering Healthcare Exercise Healthy Living

The Power of Walking

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

The health benefits of walking are clear.

Walking conditions the heart and lungs; maintains muscle strength, balance and coordination; and helps us maintain a healthy weight. Staying fit is not just for looks; it helps us perform the essential tasks of everyday life, including bathing, cooking, shopping and cleaning.

Yet the simple act of walking also fosters our emotional and social wellbeing.

When we walk, we are more connected with our community particularly the people, our neighbours, whom we meet face to face. This is lost when we commute, shop and run errands by car. When we drive, others contained within their own vehicles are depersonalized and may even become objects of irritation, competing for space in the line of traffic and appearing as obstacles to where you want to be.

Walking is the cheapest and simplest form of transportation, and it’s the best for our environment. The footprints you leave will be healthy, human and not carbon.

When we walk, we are more connected with our bodies and the neighbourhood. We move at just the right pace to really look around and see – every house, every shop, every flower and every tree.

We can feel our hearts beating and feel each breath. We sense the energy and warmth of being physically active, using our bodies as we were meant to.

A ride on the bus or Skytrain is like an extended walk, particularly if we get off an extra stop ahead of our destination. A ride in a car, on the other hand, is like an extended sit, and most of us do enough of that.

Physical activity, walking included, has been shown to reduce stress and the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Walk with a friend and you’ll feel even better.

Rain or shine, why don’t you go for a good walk today and notice how great it feels?

To celebrate the power and value of simply walking and to help more people in our communities acquire the habit of being physically active, the Doctors of B.C. has organized Walk With Your Doc events throughout the province.

During the week of May 9th to 15th, doctors throughout British Columbia will be promoting physical activity in a variety of community events.

On Saturday, May 9th, we’ll kick off the week with a free and fun 2 km walk at Kitsilano Beach Park in Vancouver at 9:30 am. As the event’s emcee, I’ll be there with many of my colleagues along with our patients.

Even if your doctor isn’t there, you’re welcome to attend. All members of the public are invited, but come early to get your free pedometer. For more information about this event, check online at

With patients, Greg Kennelly, Michelle and John Albano
With patients, Greg Kennelly, Michelle and John Albano
Burnaby Division of Family Practice Empowering Healthcare Healthy Living

The Habit of Exercise

WWYD 2015

How do we acquire our habits?

Often it is from the standard set by those around you.

If your friends each have more than 3 alcoholic drinks when you go out on the weekend, you might think that’s normal and healthy (If you do, it’s not. Ask your doctor or your liver.)

If your friends and family are couch potatoes, you are more likely to be one, too. And it’s not because it’s contagious or genetic (unless your dad really is a potato).

My role models for physical activity were my parents.

My dad was very athletic and trained us in the fundamental movement skills of throwing, catching, jumping, running, agility (balance and coordination), kicking and striking (balls but not each other). He has shown us from our toddler years into his 80s that a variety of physical activity is a fundamental key to healthy living. Always a do-it-yourselfer, he continues to do his own house and yard work.

My mom – when she wasn’t cooking, cleaning and running errands for the rest of us – exercised daily. This included aerobic classes, Tai Chi, bowling and line dancing. Fast walking was always a part of my parents’ habit of being physically active.

To help more people in our communities acquire the habit of being physically active, the Doctors of B.C. has organized Walk With Your Doc events throughout the province. The doctors who treat you in their clinics and hospitals are now your role models in the community. We really do walk the talk!

During the week of May 9th to 15th, doctors throughout British Columbia will be promoting physical activity in a variety of community events.

On Saturday, May 9th, we’ll kick off the week with a free and fun 2 km walk at Kitsilano Beach Park in Vancouver at 9:30 am. As the event’s emcee, I’ll be there with many of my colleagues along with our patients.

Even if your doctor isn’t there, you’re welcome to attend. All members of the public are invited, but come early to get your free pedometer. For more information about this event, check online at

To celebrate the World Health Organization’s Move for Health Day on Sunday, May 10th (Mothers’ Day), the City of Burnaby has organized a large number of free events including pole walking, canoe lessons, boot camp,. For more information check the City’s website at

regularly in this paper. You can read more about achieving your positive potential in health at

Compassion Emotions Empowering Healthcare Happiness Healthy Living Love


7 Mantras (Davidicus Wong)
7 Mantras (Davidicus Wong)


  1. Be active. Make physical activity part of each day.
  2. Get a good night’s sleep.
  3. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  4. Avoid saturated and trans fats in butter, hard margarine, lard and shortening.
  5. Limit salt and alcohol.
  6. If you smoke, stop.
  7. Let every strong emotion be your meditation gong, reminding you to ask, “What am I feeling, thinking, saying and doing?”
  8. Choose your thoughts. Abandon thoughts that foster negative feelings and behaviour.
  9. Actively manage stress. Accept what you cannot change; take responsibility for what you can.
  10. Be kind to others and yourself.
Burnaby Division of Family Practice Exercise Healthy Living Physical Activity Positive Change Positive Potential Preventive Health Self-care

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.

Exercise Healthy Living Physical Activity

The side-effects of exercise. Some of them are positive!

abreast in a boat team

I recently wrote of the many benefits of regular physical activity. These include improvements in cardiovascular fitness, sleep quality, mood and anxiety levels and reductions in the risks for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and osteoporosis.

In fact, doctors across B.C. have been writing their patients prescriptions for exercise.

Of course, every treatment has potential side effects. Fortunately, these risks are by far outweighed by the benefits of exercise.

Musculoskeletal injuries – strains, sprains and fractures – are the most common risks of exercise. The risks depend on your chosen activity, where you exercise and your individual risks. To reduce your risk for injuries, begin at a lower intensity (i.e. walk before you run, hop before you leap), use proper equipment (i.e. appropriate footwear, helmets and other protective equipment), a safe environment (i.e. a designated bike path) and expert assistance (i.e. coaching, training and supervision).

The less common but serious risks of exercise include irregular heart rhythms, heart attacks and respiratory distress in those with asthma or chronic lung disease. Another rare risk is muscle injury so severe that it results in the rhabdomyolysis, the breakdown of muscle cells and kidney failure.

To avoid these more serious complications, understand the risks of extreme exercise, including marathons and vigorous exercise in extreme weather conditions – and if you could be at increased risk by personal or family history, consult with your doctor.

There is appropriate exercise for everyone but it has to be individualized according to your interests, physical condition and personal medical history. Like all prescriptions, the dose is important.

You can overdose on exercise. Yes, regular aerobic activity with its release of feel-good endorphins can be addictive. You’ll know you’ve been overexercising if you are getting more frequent colds, feel achy all over all the time, feel exhausted every day and suffer frequent injuries.

Often the side effects of exercise are positive and unexpected. Almost 20 years ago, Dr. Don McKenzie of the McGavin Sport Medicine Centre at U.B.C. put together a study group to dispel the myth that strenuous upper body exercise may cause lymphedema in women who have had breast cancer.

After one year, no one in the study group developed lymphedema. As a positive side effect, the women discovered that they loved paddling together so much that they founded the Abreast in a Boat Society, the world’s first dragon boat team comprised of breast cancer survivors.

The mission of the now approximately 165 members who paddle on five crews throughout the Lower Mainland is to raise awareness of breast cancer and to demonstrate that women diagnosed with breast cancer can enjoy full and active lives. For more information about these inspired women who serve as living symbols of hope, visit their website at

abreast in a boat

The safest way to begin a more active lifestyle is to join the Doctors of B.C. on Saturday, May 3rd at 9:30 am for a free and fun 2 km walk at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach Park. I’ll be there with many of my colleagues along with our patients. There won’t be a safer place to walk anywhere in town.

All members of the public are invited, but come early to get your free pedometer. For more information about this event, check online at

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician and Physician Lead of the Burnaby Division of Family Practice. 


Healthy Living

Keys to Staying Young #6: Calculate Your Real Age

#6 Check Out Calculate your physical age, based on your health risks and lifestyle choices. It may give you a better age than the calendar and it’s based on medical science rather than the preferred methods used by most over 30: fantasy and denial.

This website will also show you what a difference a healthy diet, regular exercise and a supportive social network of friends can support your health and promote longevity.

Of course, it will also show you how bad lifestyle choices, such as smoking, can shorten your life.

Next: See With the Eyes of a Child

This Friday, October 21st at 7 pm, as part of the Tapestry Foundation for Health Care’s Dialogue on Aging Public Presentation Series, I will be speaking on “The Positive Potential of Caregiving: Surviving, Thriving & Finding Meaning” at the Norman Rothstein Theatre 950 West 41st Avenue (at Oak Street) in Vancouver.

Caring for a loved one is a special challenge. I will present a caregiver’s guide to healthcare: the challenges of caregiving, care of the caregiver, seeing the whole person and finding meaning as we weave together the tapestry of our lives. You can register for this free presentation online or by phone 604-877-8335.

For more on healthy living and positive change, listen to my Positive Potential Medicine podcast at wgrnradio.

Balance Positive Change Your Goals

Homework for Grown-ups: A Healthy Mind Needs a Healthy Body

The most important homework for my kids is the daily care of their own bodies.

I can keep an eye and give greater direction to my daughter in grade 8 and my son in grade 12. I can only hope that my son in university is getting enough sleep in his dorm and not skipping breakfast.

We encourage our kids to prepare for each day well in advance. This means a routine of making a healthy sandwich for lunch the night before and packing fluids and fruit in their schoolbags.

Though studying and completing their assignments is important, adequate rest is essential. Without guidance, teens can easily stay up past midnight and cheat on the 8 to 10 hours of sleep their brains and bodies need.

We grown-ups still need on average 7 1/2 to 8 hours of sleep each night and too often we let other matters take priority. It’s okay to let a minor family crisis steal a few nights’ sleep, but late night TV is a poor substitute for a proper rest.

With kids in school, the whole family can be rushed in the morning, and all of us could find ourselves eating – or not eating – breakfast on the run. If we don’t plan our lunch, we may end up skipping it or eating fast food.

I make it a point of eating healthy breakfast every day. This is particularly important on the busiest days. It doesn’t take much effort to eat a bowl of high-fibre cereal with skim milk with fresh blueberries, blackberries or a banana.

I pack my own lunch, usually a salad with fresh fruit and chicken breast or a sandwich on whole wheat bread. I also pack plenty of fruit and protein bars for my morning and afternoon breaks.

I also schedule physical activity into each day. This is crucial with high-stress and sedentary jobs. I swim 2000 metres at the pool each morning before the rest of the family wakes up. After a short workout in the weight room, I’m back home to have breakfast with the kids.

On most days, I can sneak out during my lunch hour to swim another 800 to 1000 metres at our community pool. Just 20 minutes of intense aerobic activity refreshes me more than a few cups of coffee.

Your homework assignment: Plan for the day ahead. Where will you schedule physical activity? What will you have for breakfast and lunch? And don’t forget: get to bed on time!



Your Goals

Prescription for Health

Yesterday, I wrote how grownups can get into that Back to School spirit by re-examining their routines, choosing fresh new goals and taking the first steps towards an even healthier, happier future.

Since June 1, 2011, the Ministry of Health in partnership with the GPSC (General Practice Services Committee) launched the Healthy Lifestyle Prescription for Health program. Family physicians have been given new tools to help their patients adopt healthier lifestyles. You can book a special Personal Health Risk Assessment with your family physician if you have at least one of the following risk factors: (1) smoking, (2) unhealthy eating (excess calories, fat or sodium), (3) physical inactivity (less than 30 minutes of activity several times a week) or (4) obesity.

At these visits, British Columbians will be able to set a health goal with their family doctors who can refer them to free-of-charge telephone-based lifestyle support services. These include the physical activity line, dietician services, smoking cessation programs (, patient voices network peer coaching program, self-management programs and Bounce Back (for mental health). For more information, check the program website at

If you’re not a BC resident, you can still find great resources on healthy lifestyle changes at