Two Important Conclusions About the Joy of Being Physically Fit

Bill Abbate

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Everyone knows the importance of keeping fit physically. There is so much written about it each year it is practically overwhelming. We are routinely bombarded with new exercises, methods, supplements, eating plans, superfoods, and countless other things. It is big business, after all!

Health and fitness

How big is the health and fitness business? Here are three segments and their approximate global revenue projected for this year:

  • Gym industry – $97 billion
  • Dietary supplement industry - $152 billion
  • Health and wellness food market - $811 billion

Worldwide far more than a trillion dollars is spent annually on those three areas alone, with many billions more on diet plans, workout equipment, apparel, health coaches, books on the subject, and other such health-related items.

For millennia the importance of keeping fit and healthy has been recognized. Scripture contains many such references, all dating back thousands of years.

A century ago, an American newspaperman and novelist wrote:

“The joy of feeling fit physically is reflected in a clearer and more useful mind. You may read and study forever but you come to no more important truthful conclusions than these two: 1. Take care of your body (eat and exercise properly) and your mind will improve. 2. Work hard, and be polite and fair, and your condition in the world will improve. No pills, tablets, lotions, philosophies, will do as much for you as this simple formula I have outlined. The formula is not of my invention. Every intelligent man of experience since time began has taught it as a natural fact.” E. W. Howe (1853-1937)

The formula for staying fit and improving your world

As Howe states, you can draw two important conclusions from being physically fit, resulting in “clearer and more useful thinking.” When you do these two things, you benefit your life tremendously.

The first conclusion from Howe is:

“Take care of your body (eat and exercise properly) and your mind will improve.” E. W. Howe

By eating and exercising properly, you can absolutely improve your ability to think. I learned this firsthand after suffering from four consecutive widow maker heart attacks in one day. Upon getting out of the hospital in such poor condition, I could not stand without a walker, and my mind remained in a fog for well more than a year.

Having been a serious athlete much of my life, I worked hard to regain my strength, but my mind was slow to respond because I was not exercising it enough. I was in such poor physical condition after two months in intensive care, all I could think about was working to regain my strength. Eventually, this led me back to reading and writing, which helped me get rid of the fog.

Thankfully, I regained a “clearer and more useful mind.” and finished writing and publishing my book. Since then, I write articles almost daily and publish in several places. This has helped me not only regain my ability to think clearly, but perhaps more clearly than I have my entire life! Exercising the mind is as important as exercising the body.

On the “exercise properly” side of the equation, I continue to work hard to stay fit. It was a huge blow to go from racing and sprint triathlons to not having the strength to walk due to so much muscle atrophy. Now that I have much of my health back, I have concluded I need only walking and limited use of light weights to maintain my health.

Here’s a little advice from one of our country’s founding fathers from a few hundred years ago that is completely valid today:

Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.” Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

I admit I miss running tremendously, but that is no longer an option for me because of the heart damage I suffered. I am so committed to walking I recently got rid of some very nice gym equipment, only keeping some dumbbells. Countless studies and reports on the internet say walking is a fantastic exercise and is likely the best. You can also find many references to how resistance or weight exercise is great for us as we age.

So far as diet is concerned, I find it best to stick with the basics and stay away from as much processed food as possible. You can try all of the diets in the world, and you may or may not make progress. The best diet is to stick to the basics and portion control. What could be simpler than that?

The second conclusion from Howe is:

“Work hard, and be polite and fair, and your condition in the world will improve.” E. W. Howe

We human beings were created to work. Working hard and keeping a good attitude is vital to our well-being, as Howe noted. Scripture and life tell us this. Working hard is great for the overall fitness of our mind and body. Keeping a positive attitude also aids our life tremendously. Notice I did not say overworking or being unrealistically optimistic. Taking anything to an extreme can be highly counterproductive.

Work can be mental or physical, depending on what you do. I like the wit in the following quote:

“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.” Henry Ford (1863-1947)

I have always believed in the old saying, “Hard work is good for the wallet and the soul.” A few of the considerable number of benefits from hard work include building character, contributing to success, increasing confidence, and promoting happiness. What’s not to like about those! There are numerous health benefits as well, and it goes without saying work can help us stay mentally sharp and keep our minds clear.

Final thoughts

I love that Howe starts his quote with “The joy of …” His mention of joy is so important. When anything becomes a joy, it can become part of who you are. Joy turns a chore into a pleasure.

Were it not for the fact that I find it a joy to be able to walk and work hard, it would be more difficult for me to stick with it for years as I have. Find joy in whatever you do, and it will become a pleasure and no longer a chore in your life.

“Find joy in everything you choose to do. Every job, relationship, home… it’s your responsibility to love it, or change it.” —Chuck Palahniuk (1962-present)

Countless people in history prove Howe’s two conclusions, and if you think about it, so does your experience. Why not simplify what you do to stay fit in body and mind. Save your money and effort by doing simple things like walking, portion control, and working hard. You and all those you love will benefit when you do this in your life!

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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