Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Walk with a Doc in Leduc

Last week, the Leduc Beaumont Devon Primary Care Network, in partnership with the Leduc Recreation Centre and led by Dr. Trevor Byers of the Smyth Clinic, launched Walk with a Doc to a full room of participants.

The weekly event takes place each Thursday at 7pm at the Leduc Recreation Centre. Participants meet in the Vantage Room upstairs by the gym for a quick health-related presentation, then gather outside for a walk around the trails behind the LRC. Feel free to ask Dr. Byers any health-related questions, or just chit-chat!

This event is FREE and open to all; please bring a friend! Registration is not required, just show up and be prepared to walk outside. If the weather is terrible, we will walk on the indoor track at the LRC.

Here are a few pictures from our inaugural event!

Full house in the Vantage Room at the LRC - Dr. Byers gave a presentation titled "Physician, Heal Thyself" about his own past health concerns, what triggered him to change and how he did it.

Recipe for Change

Enjoy the ride!

Off we go for a quick walk around the trails behind the LRC. Dr. Byers brought flashlights for everyone - it was dark out there! But NO EXCUSES :)

Like, it was REALLY dark out there.

We look forward to see you this Thursday at the LRC!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

LBD PCN Launches Walk with a Doc Program in Leduc

The Leduc Beaumont Devon Primary Care Network (LBD PCN) is encouraging Leduc and area residents to take a step toward better health with Walk with a Doc, a health program that brings doctors and patients together to get out and walk.

Walk with a Doc is an initiative whose mission is to encourage healthy physical activity in people of all ages and reverse the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle in order to improve the health and well-being of the country.

“This program has had tremendous participation and success in hundreds of cities in both Canada and the US,” says Dr. Trevor Byers, a LBD PCN member physician. “I’m very pleased to bring this exciting and simple program to Leduc as it has shown such improved health results for countless people.”

Walk with a Doc is open to the community. Participation is free and pre-registration is not required. The first Walk with a Doc event will take place on October 20, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. Walkers will first listen to a short health-related presentation in the Vantage Room at the Leduc Recreation Centre and then enjoy a refreshing and rejuvenating walk on the trails with Dr. Byers and other LBD PCN healthcare professionals, who will provide support to participants and answer questions during the walk.

“Walk with a Doc is honoured to team up with the LBD PCN. By incorporating this program into the practice, Dr. Byers (pictured) and the PCN are demonstrating an exceptional level of care and commitment to their community,” said Dr. David Sabgir, founder of Walk with a Doc.

Why walk?

“First, because it is fun and it feels good.  Also, an active lifestyle reduces the risk of many chronic medical illnesses, including coronary heart disease, breast and colon cancer, Type 2 diabetes, depression and anxiety.” says Dr. Byers.

According to the Heart & Stroke Foundation, walking as little as 30 minutes a day can provide the following benefits:

·         Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
·         Help maintain a healthy body weight and lower the risk of obesity
·         Enhance mental well-being
·         Reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke

Leduc joins a growing list of communities in both Canada and the US that have started local Walk with a Doc (WWAD) programs. WWAD was created by Dr. David Sabgir, a cardiologist with Mount Carmel Health Systems in Columbus, OH.  He has walked with patients and community members every weekend since 2005.

Learn more about Walk with a Doc at www.walkwithadoc.org.

Friday, 7 October 2016


Tell me this; are you happy with how you feel?  Are you satisfied with your health and feel you are getting the most out of life? Really? Then why are you reading a health blog?

I'm going to guess that, like me, you have had health challenges in your life. You would like to feel better, but don't know where to start. Maybe you feel isolated and alone. You have been to the doctor but he or she can't seem to help.

Let me tell you, I know exactly how you feel. Not only have I been there with my own health, but as a doctor I have spent 16 years trying to tell people how to be healthier, with little success. I see a constant parade of patients that have chronic illnesses for which medication does little to no good, but lifestyle changes seem to be impossible for people to follow. 

A few months ago, I read a CNN article on the Walk with a Doc program. This is a program started by Dr. David Sabgir, a cardiologist in Ohio. He was also frustrated in his inability to change his patient's behavior. He invited them to go for a walk with him in the park and to his surprise, over 100 took him up on it. He has now been walking with his patients for 1 hour every week for 10 years. Each walk is accompanied by a short discussion of a health topic.

This program intrigued me. A one-hour walk a week may not seem like enough to make a major difference in health, and it probably isn't. But this program brings together people with similar challenges, and similar goals. It provides a community where people can learn about health and interact with health professionals as peers in a non-threatening, non-judgmental, and health-promoting way. It can help kick-start them adopting a healthy, active life.  If we all have the same goal of feeling better, we can encourage and mentor each other toward better health.

I have experienced this first hand. Twelve years ago, I was sedentary, overweight, stressed, and tired. Over the next number of years, I changed the way I lived life, choosing a more active lifestyle, to the great benefit of my physical and mental health. Along the way, friends who were making the same changes in their own lives were great support to me, as I probably was to them. The shared journey was fun and rewarding.

I am hoping that this is what the Walk with a Doc program can do for people in the Leduc area. Every Thursday evening, we will meet at the Leduc Recreation Center, for a brief (5-20 minutes) health discussion and then a 1-hour walk, where the conversation can continue. On good weather days, the walk will be outside. On bad weather days, the walk will start inside on the walking track and then anyone who is brave enough can continue outside with me, as I always prefer outside to inside, regardless of the weather. The program is free, has no age restrictions and is open to anyone who can walk (or wheelchair, or otherwise propel themselves forward) and wants better health.

The first date is set for October 20, at 7 p.m. Please meet me in the Vantage Room at the Leduc Recreation Centre were I will talk about my own personal journey to health. After that, we will go for a walk outside on the trails around the LRC. Please join me, invite your friends and family!  Let's get healthier and happier together. 

Dr. Trevor Byers  

Monday, 3 October 2016

Mental Illness Awareness Week

Mental Illness Awareness Week
October 2 - 8, 2016

The World Health Organization defines Mental Health as: “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”  On the other hand, “mental disorders comprise a broad range of problems, with different symptoms…they are generally characterized by some combination of abnormal thoughts, emotions, behaviour and relationships with others”. 

During any given year, about one in five Canadian adults experience mental illness, and American research estimates that about half of all adults will be diagnosable with a mental illness at some point during their lifetime. 

Having good mental health can encompass a broad range of functions and activities, including:
  • The ability to think clearly and realistically about oneself, others, and the world around us;
  • The ability to cope with, and manage, stress or changes in our life;
  • The ability to feel, express, and manage a wide range of both positive and negative emotions;
  • The ability to make and maintain good relationships with others;
  • The ability to learn and problem-solve.

 Having a mental illness goes beyond just having a bad day and is often characterized as problems with thinking, mood, or behaviour that results in significant distress and impairment to one’s relationships, work, school, and/or social life.  Examples include, major depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, trauma disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and addiction-related disorders.

Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is an annual national public education campaign intended to raise awareness and engage Canadians in a national conversation about mental illness.  The hope is that by raising awareness, the stigma of mental illness will be reduced and that people will have greater access to information around services and support available to those living with mental illness. 

The Canadian Psychiatric Association initiated the week-long campaign in 1992, and it is now coordinated by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH).  The CAMIMH is a non-profit organization that includes health care providers and organizations that are committed to ensuring that mental health and the lived experience of those affected by mental illness (including caregivers and families) are represented on a national level. 

Through initiatives such as MIAW, the CAMIMH and partners work to promote a National Action Plan that upholds three principles.  They believe that:

(1) Mental illness and mental health issues must be considered within the framework of determinants of health, with recognition that mental health is inexorably linked to physical health;
(2) Mental illness contributes to a considerable cost to individuals, social services, health, education, the criminal justice system, as well as the economy.  As such, the CAMIMH believe it is imperative that Canadian governments and health planners consider ways to address mental health to reduce the burden on society; and
(3) Mental health promotion and the treatment of mental illness must be timely, continuous, interdisciplinary, culturally appropriate, and integrated across the full life cycle and the continuum of care (including primary care, home/community care, and tertiary care).

On September 2, 2016, the CAMIMH launched a comprehensive policy document, entitled Mental Health Now! That outlines a call to action for the government to improve the mental health of Canadians.  Click here to read more.

Check your mental health and reflect on your mental well-being with the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Meter.  Click here to take the quiz. 

Where to find help: 

·         Phone Services:
o   Health Link: 811
o   Community social services information: 211
o   Mental Health Helpline (24/7): Call 1 (877) 303-2642 for confidential help, information on mental health services and referrals
o   Distress Line (24/7): (780) 483-HELP (4357)
·         Local Mental Health Resources:
o   Leduc Addictions and Mental Health: (780) 980-7580, or visit, alberta.health.ca for more information on Addictions and Mental Health Services.
§  Leduc: (780) 980-7109
§  Leduc County: (780) 979-2385
§  Beaumont: (780) 929-1369
§  Devon: (780) 987-8325

o   Leduc Beaumont Devon Primary Care Network Mental Health Program: Access is through a referral by your family physician.  Please talk to your family for more information.

Dr. Sheila Gothjelpsen is a Registered Psychologist at the Leduc Beaumont Devon Primary Care Network.