Health and happiness

“A sound mind in a sound body is a short but complete description of a happy life.” 

– John Locke, English philosopher and physician, 1632-1704

“Health makes for the pursuit of happiness, and gives us a longer time to do it.” 

– George Sheehan, M.D.

Most of us can probably agree that achieving a state of good health and overall happiness is a goal that, if achieved, can make a significant impact on our lives. In most situations, having good physical health can lead an individual to a state of happiness and a more positive disposition. 

For example, if one’s blood pressure, cholesterol and body weight are within normal limits, that would seem to assist that individual in becoming happier and having a more positive outlook on his/her life.

Physical health parameters also can include factors such as tobacco usage, sleep, stress management and being free of any diseases such as heart disease, cancer or diabetes. When it comes to one’s risk score for developing life-impacting diseases, the “less is more” rule applies.

Studies show than individuals who are physically active are more energetic and productive in addition to being less prone to developing life-limiting diseases. Becoming physically active is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to decrease one’s risk for developing hypertension, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, low-back pain and other diseases that inhibit the potential to live life to its fullest. Movement is medicine.

The newest health guidelines indicate that accumulating 150 minutes of physical activity in a week (at a moderate intensity) will improve one’s health, enhance overall energy levels and decrease stress as well. The good news is that you do not need to be working out in a fitness center for hours each day to obtain the health benefits that being physically active provides. Thirty minutes for five days each week will be enough to achieve the suggested number of active minutes per week (150.)

Who wouldn’t be happier if they lost excessive fat weight, had more energy throughout the day, slept better and could handle stressors more effectively? Positive physical health usually transmits to improved emotional health and better moods overall. 

An example of this can be found in fitness centers. In my 25-plus years of experience in working in fitness centers, I rarely have noticed members leaving the facility (after a workout) in a bad mood. Workouts could also be called “positivity sessions” or “happy hours” as they virtually guarantee an enhanced positive mood or outlook on the rest of the day or evening. 

Being physically fit provides you with greater energy and provides a big boost in self-esteem, which is directly related to your happiness and productivity.  In the words of Dr. George Sheehan, “Becoming the best you can be (physically fit) makes you feel the best you can feel.”

If you are not currently active, go out and find an activity that you enjoy. Start slowly and gradually increase your duration of each workout. 

Wellness is having the energy and capacity to basically function as you are supposed to function. Physical health, mental/emotional health and spiritual health all combine to help individuals become happier and able to live a life full of positivity.  Life is all about making choices and choosing a lifestyle that promotes positive outcomes and healthier, happier lives.

Karl Lenser
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