Keen To Improve The Quality Of Life
During his seven years in Vietnam, Dr. Pedro L. Trigo has tried to improve the quality of life - the top priority for this Argentine doctor.
- by Trung Chau, Saigon Times Weekly, March 25, 2017
This January, Dr. Pedro completed his first 21-kilometer marathon at the 2017 HCMC Run, which attracted the participation of more than 1,100 runners. This was one of his greatest achievements after joining the race for the third time. He had said that to “break the record” he had to compete against himself every day. Three years earlier, he ran only three kilometers. Since then, he has set and tried to win new goals every day. Now he can run 21 kilometers. “When you make exercise a habit, it will bring about many benefits, and you are able to do many things,” Dr. Pedro said about his achievement.
More importantly, what is most pleasing for the Argentine doctor is that he has realized his goal since arriving in Vietnam in May 2010—to improve the quality of life for himself and his family.
“Western people’s quality of life is not so good in some ways, as we must spend our time traveling on highways between one city and another to go to work,” Dr. Pedro said about the reason he moved to Vietnam. “We used to work 14 hours a day. Time for family was short. This is the reason why I live here. When I had the opportunity to come to Vietnam, I decided to move here.”
However, not everything went smoothly for the doctor. Although some movies had shown him that Vietnam is a peaceful and happy place with friendly people, Dr. Pedro’s early days in Vietnam shocked and surprised him. “It was all different, from the weather, the smell, sound, color and food,” he said. “I was scared of that because I had left my life and family behind in Argentina. I gave up everything to come to Vietnam to improve the quality of life for myself and my family.” Slowly, when Dr. Pedro felt more settled and at ease with his new surroundings, he arranged for his wife and children to travel to Vietnam. One of the best things that Dr. Pedro realized is that Vietnam is a good place for outdoor exercise, especially walking and running.
Make Exercise a Habit
Dr. Pedro started to participate in marathons from his earliest days in Vietnam. He set exercise regimes and persuaded his friends and colleagues to train together. “We could go on a marathon, which is fantastic,” Dr. Pedro said, adding that marathon is a skill that people can share together. They enjoyed practicing running together, and enjoyed sharing experiences on how to run, how to take rests and how to choose the proper kinds of drinks and food. “And after the third year, I feel very good now,” he says. “If you do exercise regularly, it’s a good habit. When you do exercise, you can reach some specific goals. Life changes. You realize this is a habit to reach your goal.”
The Argentine doctor also told Expat Life that after doing exercise, people can feel fresh and full of energy when they go to work. Moreover, benefits from doing exercise come in many different ways. You improve your muscles. Your cholesterol is lowered. Your job activities increase. The relationship with your friends is better. “The best way to prevent and treat diseases—even cancer—is by doing exercise,” he added.
One thing that saddens Dr. Pedro is that he has seen a decrease in the Vietnamese habit of doing exercise. Six years ago, when he woke up at 5:30 to exercise and walk around, Dr. Pedro saw many elderly people taking a walk. Sometimes they would walk with their kids. Younger men also woke up early to walk or ride a bicycle. But gradually, they did not seem to do this anymore. “Since last year, I have seen less and less people do it,” he said, adding that this is possibly one of the reasons why Vietnamese people have become fatter while more Vietnamese people suffer from diabetes.
He guesses that now in the morning, instead of walking, people stay in bed sleeping and turning on their smartphones to see what’s happening in the world. Moreover, according to the Argentine doctor, life is changing. Before, people traveled by bicycle and did physical jobs. Now more people ride motorbikes and drive a car. Physical jobs have been replaced by machines. There is more office work. Furthermore, after working weekdays, on weekends they go shopping and eat Western food.
Dr. Pedro is a doctor. His oath is to help people. For these reasons, he really wants to help Vietnamese people make exercise a habit. After curing any patient, Dr. Pedro encourages them to do exercise in the proper way. He often talks to patients about how exercise is critical to improve the quality of life. They should understand the link between quality of life and physical activity. However they should also take care: “When you run, do not just keep running,” he says. “You must do your training properly, with a step-by-step increase of distance and speed to avoid injuries to the foot, ankles, hips—and even, of course, the heart.”
Besides, to Dr. Pedro, it is necessary to teach children the habit of doing exercises at home and at school. Parents should teach them to do exercise and let them feel happy about running faster every day.
Regarding his private life, he says he is very happy. The city is developing fast with more conveniences. He has a good job at a medical center in downtown HCMC that helps him do what he loves: helping patients. However, his future in Vietnam is very open. Maybe one day he will become a grandfather, and return to Argentina. One of the blessings of having a long, healthy life is that the future always has more surprises in store.
BOTTOM LINES OF DR. PEDRO L. TRIGO
Q: What is your normal day and weekend?
A: I wake up at 5:30. I ride a bicycle or run for one and a half hours. After I have breakfast with my son, I take a bus to go to work. At 5:30 p.m. I come back home, enjoy the news and shows on TV with my family. I enjoy my weekends a lot. As per Argentine culture, we eat ground beef. I also enjoy adventures with my son and talking about life with my teenage daughter. We also ride bicycles together "exploring the world" around our home.
What are your hobbies?
Running, riding bicycles and dancing. We dance every Friday night and on weekends.
What are your favorite local foods?
Banh xeo (rice pancake) and pho (rice noodle soup)
What are best places in Vietnam to your mind?
Phu Quoc Island. I have traveled to Phu Quoc three times with my family.
What is your motto?
At work, I love helping people. In life, I want to be a good father.
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