Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D., is a clinical and fitness psychologist living, working and loving life in San Diego, CA.
If you are reading this column, you are probably well on your way to increased happiness and, stated simply, that translates into longevity. Here's why: exercise promotes better health and exercising on a Total Gym alone, or better yet with friends, your spouse or partner, with your children and grandchildren (kids love it, try it!), is pure FUN!
You already know the health benefits of using Total Gym for a full-body functional workout. But if you care about your physical wellbeing, youâ€™ll be sure to add large doses of happiness to your workout as well! Adding happiness to your workout routine can add years to your life.
Here is one of dozens of studies to ponder. Ten years ago, University of Kentucky researchers studied young women entering the American School Sisters of Notre Dame order and asked them to write a one-page autobiography. Years later, the researchers examined the contents of nearly 200 essays and found that those who filled their essay with positive emotions, happiness, love, gratitude, contentment lived nearly 11 years longer than those who didn't. This study, like so many others, demonstrates the happiness/health connection.
When exercising and engaging your positive mind, not just your muscles, you let go of chronic anger, worry and sadness, all highly related to heart and other diseases. Researchers coast to coast have documented that long-term positive emotions, especially when combined with the benefits of consistent total exercise, can actually reverse cardiovascular damage.
So next time you prepare yourself for a total-body workout, ask yourself these questions first:
- Is my life close to my ideal?
- Are the conditions of my life excellent?
- Am I satisfied with my life?
- So far, have I gotten the important things I want in life?
- If I could live my life over again, would I change almost nothing?
If your answers are not loud yesses, then give real thought to adding gratitude for what you do have, to bolster positivity in your everyday outlook and to build sensitivity to yourself and others. Research tells us you won't find happiness in money and material things, youth or children. While children can be a source of joy, their daily care can be demanding and stressful.
Its the ability to savor pleasure in your life, to be totally engaged (especially when feeling the flow on the Total Gym glideboard), to enjoying healthy relationships, to see meaning in your life and in the value of exercise, taking pride in your accomplishments and in the achievements of those whom you love. These are the real ingredients of happiness.
Exercising, eating healthy, easing stress, smart dieting, controlling your spending, adding positive psychology, curbing your unhealthy habits ”these are all areas to contemplate increasing in order to make true lasting lifestyle change. You'll add years to your life and life to your years!
Michael R. Mantell earned his Ph.D. degree at the University of Pennsylvania after completing his M.S. degree in clinical psychology at the Hahnemann Medical College, where he wrote his thesis on the psychology of obesity. He has served as Chief Psychologist of Childrenâ€™s Hospital and Health Center of San Diego, and created and led the nationally recognized Psychological Services and Employee Assistance/Wellness program for the San Diego Police Department. He is a member of the Sports Medicine Team at The Sporting Club in La Jolla, California, maintains a private clinical practice in La Mesa, California, and writes and speaks for the American Council on Exercise.