Column: Take the first step to slow down aging


Davidicus Wong, M.D., of PrimeCare Medical Centre in Burnaby, says physical activity is the best prescription to slow down aging for all.

My dad turned 94 this year.

Not only does he continue to live an active, independent life, he is still fit to drive and do his own yard work.

Although good genes, good luck and never smoking have contributed to his health, he’s also remained mentally, physically and socially active even after retiring at age 81.

For the rest of us, there are physical changes we expect with age: reduced strength, balance and endurance; a slowing of our metabolic rate and weight gain; the loss of muscle mass and bone density; reduced cardiac output, increased blood pressure and cognitive decline.

We have to accept inevitable changes with the passage of time, but what if you can do something today — regardless of your current age — to slow down down the effects of aging?

What I prescribe most to my patients is not a drug. It’s physical activity.

Four types of exercise that are particularly beneficial focus on endurance, flexibility, strength and balance.

These activities can prevent and help us manage chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes; reduce our risks of injuries, such as falls, and make the activities of daily living easier.

Endurance exercise can include cycling, swimming and yard work but can be as simple as walking.

Flexibility can be maintained with regular stretching exercises. Strength can be maintained and increased at any age with light weights or resistance bands and body weight exercises. We can maintain our sense of balance and reduce falls with activities such as Tai Chi, yoga and exercise classes targeting fall prevention.

Doctors recommend an activity such as brisk walking (where you can maintain a conversation but can’t sing at the same time) at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a Burnaby family physician and has written for the NOW since 1991.

One of my patients, Greg Kennelly is famous for his long, daily walks (so I’m not breaching any confidentiality) and has joined me on my annual Walk With Your Doc for over 10 years. In fact, he was featured in one for the Doctors of BC’s WWYD YouTube videos.

I’m looking forward to seeing Greg, many of my other patients and members of the public at Burnaby’s Walk With Your Doc today, May 11. Our Burnaby event has continued to grow over the years with tremendous community support, and this year, it will be the official launch of the Doctors of BC’s province-wide Walk With Your Doc health promotion. In most communities over the next few weeks, doctors will be walking the talk, inviting their patients and everyone else in their community to walk and talk about the benefits of healthy physical activity.


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