Running: just what the doctor ordered for this Leaside surgeon


Dr. Rezende-Neto and his family at the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon.
Dr. Rezende-Neto and his family at the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon.

If you need any proof that exercise makes people happy, keep an eye out for Dr. Joao Rezende-Neto running through Leaside on any given day. Dr. Rezende has one of those smiles that radiate warmth. (Truly, I dare you to find this man not smiling!)

After studying and training for a career as an acute trauma surgeon in his native Brazil, as well as in Boston and Denver, Dr. Rezende completed a one-year research fellowship at Sunnybrook Hospital in 2009. During that year, Rezende, along with his wife, Luciene, and their daughters, Laura and Manuela, lived in Leaside, before returning to Brazil. The family was eager to return to Toronto and was thrilled in 2013 when Rezende received a permanent post at St. Michael’s Hospital as a surgeon and at the University of Toronto as a professor. Choosing a place to call home was an easy call for the family. Not only did they find Leaside a perfect distance from the hospital, they also remembered the friendships they had made and the strong sense of community.

Now in his early 50s, Rezende started running at the age of 15 and over the years has run countless 10Ks and other distance runs. But it was during a residency in Denver that he caught the running bug (infectious, but in a good way). In 2001, he ran his first marathon and has never looked back. He’s run two marathons per year ever since and has added biathlons and triathlons along the way, including winning first place in a triathlon in Brazil in 2005.

Rezende attributes his endurance as a surgeon to his running. “Running has always been a pleasure,” he says, “but in the last five years, it’s been so important to be physically fit for surgery, which can sometimes require standing for up to eight hours at a time.” He has even operated on fellow runners after races who show up in the ER with various injuries and other conditions. He himself, though, has avoided injuries in all of his years of running – a remarkable feat, as most runners could tell you.

Some of the doctor’s medals from his many races.
Some of the doctor’s medals from his many races.

Rezende has also discovered the benefits of adding extra workouts to enhance his running, including chin-ups on a most architecturally impressive bar set up in his laundry room and weight-lifting in his basement addition. The recent addition to the house, in fact, was a turning point in Rezende’s training regimen. When the winter roads are icy, Rezende is now able to train on his treadmill in the house instead of the garage where he used to keep the machine.

What a schedule the good doctor keeps, between spending time with his extremely supportive family and two dogs (on whom he dotes), furthering his medical career, and indulging his gardening hobby (bonsais are a specialty), all on top of his running habit (a good habit). While some runners aim for personal bests in their runs, he is simply happy to “finish and to be able to go to work on Monday.”

With 30ish marathons, numerous triathlons, biathlons, and countless other races under his belt, running is, in the case of Rezende, just what the doctor ordered.

About Susan Scandiffio 156 Articles
Susan Scandiffio was born in Scotland and raised in Toronto. While she holds a master’s degree in history, her main passion (besides her wonderful family) is sports. Susan can often be found at the A.C.C. or in a Leaside arena or playing field, scoping out stories for Leaside Life.