Health and happiness go hand-in-hand. Recreation and staying active are key ingredients of life altering health habits that give significant returns on investment.

Good health helps you to be at your best at home, profession and community. The best present you can give your family is good health.

Being in good shape gives you the ability to work long hours without getting tired. There is a limit for all of us but being healthy supports an early to bed – very early to rise lifestyle.

Consider the deep meanings of exercise and why it is smart to maximize the gift of movement.

Walking and running support positive rewards, including release of stress, getting stronger and improving mental health. Trails nudge us into moving more. Condition yourself to think positive and release negative vibes. People with positive attitudes are happy.

Happiness comes from experiences, not material things. Enjoy the journey. It can be hard, like training for a marathon, but there are valuable lessons learned along the way, like perseverance, hard work, self-discipline and goal achievement. Fun comes every day, not just when you cross the finish line.

Understand there will be ups-and-downs. That doggone human trait that we all make mistakes happens all the time. Behavior change takes much time.  

Gardening is another super recreation activity with additional benefits – a healthy diet. Fresh vegetables are the best but preserved Brussels sprouts, beans, corn, carrots and beets were tasty reminders over the holiday break the garden supports a Mediterranean type diet year-round.

The parks-recreation profession provides much happiness by offering activities that serve others with value – Special Olympics, youth fishing derbies and Seniors Art4Life, to name a few. Volunteering has a reciprocal happiness effect.

Writing is another favored leisure activity. A gratitude journal, writing down at least one good thing that happens every day, reminds you about the good things in life. Thankfulness is conveyed by handwriting personal notes, including about 250 Christmas cards. One should never be too busy to take the time to express thanks and gratitude.

Do good things every day and write them down. We can’t change yesterday and though it’s good to plan for tomorrow, consider the value of your today minutes. Running is a time for contemplation, mindfulness, thought and positive focus. Replace every negative thought with positive. Manage yourself.

Reading is a quality leisure activity and a voracious habit, mostly for lifelong learning. Much of the information for this column was derived from a Humanities North Dakota article entitled “Finding the Heart of Health and Happiness” by Melanie Carvell.  

Things happen when they have a personal bias. There is motivation to be physically fit for quality family time together. Strong family and social bonds are at the heart of our health and happiness. A case in point was Christmas break in Texas where it all paid off.

Father ran a few miles with daughter and son-in-law. We run at a pace where conversation is easily held, a smart thing to do while training.

Good health supported day-long attention to Grandson George. Walks and runs pushing a stroller, nature hikes checking out colorful and tasty plants, a walk on the white sand beaches of Galveston, Texas, watching thousands of ducks like black-bellied whistling ducks at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge and swinging at a nearby playground were among highlights. All experiences, not material things.

Schedule exercise at the start of each week. Start little habits that eventually culminate into big things. Strength training, for example becomes really important as one ages. A little habit that works well is doing pushups after each run. After a few times, it becomes automatic.  

Make your lifestyle one that embraces physical fitness, quality leisure, giving and healthy eating. Your attention to self-care will benefit many others.


Wayne Beyer is the director of Wahpeton Parks and Rec.


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