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Father’s Day: Happiness, Love and Health

Alexandra Williams, MA

Father & DaughterWhat does Father’s Day have in common with exercise? Is there a link between movement and how positively your view your life and relationships?

Sunday was the designated day to celebrate fathers. If your father is alive and you get along, then it’s a day of love and appreciation. If your father is no longer alive or you are estranged, then it’s a day that seems to highlight that loss.

Yesterday morning I went to the memorial service for the father of a friend of mine. In the afternoon I called my own dad, with whom I am quite close. In the evening I watched as my son did chores he knew would make his dad happy.

As the circle of life (curse you, Lion King for co-opting this phrase; I prefer Joni Mitchell’s “Circle Game” ) is on my mind, I got to thinking about what this means to us boomers. More memorial services, more taking on of responsibilities by grown children, more contemplation on love, happiness and longevity.

A Paddle Out Memorial Service to Honor a Man Who Doted on His Daughter

A Paddle Out Memorial Service to Honor a Man Who Doted on His Daughter

Sometimes I get sad, thinking about the few years I have left with my dad, or the fact that my kids are on the path to leaving this home and creating their own. But getting sad just makes me feel stuck and powerless. So I try to think instead of the many years I’ve had with my dad and how much we’ll enjoy the ones still left to us. And I think of the pride I feel, seeing my boys make their way as contributing world citizens. That makes me feel hopeful and happy. And I go for walks. Those really clear my “stuck” moods. Which is good for my health!

According to the Mayo Clinic,  physiological and emotional links between movement and happiness have been established. And the exercise doesn’t have to be hardcore; it can be softcore. Hmmm, that sounds slightly off. In any case, gardening, strolling or washing the car (anything that’s movement) counts. Exercise can:

Release feel-good brain chemicals (neurotransmitters and endorphins)
Reduce depression-related immune system chemicals
Increase body temperature, which may have calming effects
Help you gain confidence as you meet exercise goals or challenges, even small ones
Improve your assessment of your appearance
Take your mind off worries.
Increase your chances to chance to meet or socialize with others. Just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help your mood.
Help you cope in a healthy way. Doing something positive is a healthy coping strategy.

Additionally, life satisfaction increases when you exercise. Not only is that good news for me, it’s especially relevant to my college-aged son, as his age group is at the most risk for life dissatisfaction. So, my happiness goes up if I exercise, and my worry-warting goes down if he exercises! Win Win!

sound of music photo: sound of music the_sound_of_music.jpgSo go for a walk! Or wash the car. Better yet, wash MY car. My happiness will definitely go up. And in case you’re wondering – I took my own advice and went for a hike up the mountain this morning. The views helped contribute to my feeling of joy as I walked above the fog blanket. And it’s fun to do the “Sound of Music” spin when I near the mountain top. Try it. You’ll feel loved, lovely and loving. Just try not to burst out singing, “The hills are alive….” when bicyclists are passing. It might make them crash.

What do you do to make yourself happy?

I dedicate this post to my friend Caitlin and wish her many joyous memories of her dad.


Photo of Julie Andrews courtesy of Photobucket

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About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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6 Responses to Father’s Day: Happiness, Love and Health

  1. Shira June 18, 2013 at 7:17 am #

    I really appreciated this post. Lost my dad 12 years ago and the funeral was on Father’s Day, so that holiday can bring up lots of emotions and it made me feel great to see how grateful you are so have your father in your life. On the other topic you bring up, I absolutely see the link between movement and happiness. I try to do something active almost every day, whether its a hard gym workout or a walk outside on a nice day. :)
    Shira recently posted..Can a nutrition “cleanse” help clean up your mind?My Profile

  2. Kathy June 18, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    Your soft core hit me hard core, A. After a pleasant Father’s Day lunch, I realized how lucky I am to have both of my parents around (I wish they lived closer). I’m taking your advice and focusing on the days we have left and stretching my own exercise muscles so I won’t be a burden to my kids. If you’ll leave your car outside, I’ll take good care of it via a shimmy with a chamois. Oh, right. There are 2000 miles between us. The rule is still that it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it? It’s my way of saying thanks for your beautiful post. xo
    Kathy recently posted..Mirror, Mirror: Hit a BullseyeMy Profile

  3. Dr. Lynn K. Jones June 18, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    This father’s day my folks and I went to see My Fair Lady. It was a fabulous show and once again we laughed and shared in the joy of the message of how when you live and share openly and generously with one another you find love, “I’ve grown accustomed to your face.” We often don’t realize it until we don’t have it, so your reminder to appreciate and value what we have is such an important one.
    Dr. Lynn K. Jones, Certified Personal and Executive Coach

  4. Jody - Fit at 55 June 18, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    Such a poignant & full of feeling post!!!! I can tell you that yes, it is hard & age as you know, we lose so many – I have lost too many & most of my older relatives are no longer alive. I am the youngest of 4 kids & so it does hit home that the years are shorter to the end than the beginning.. we must embrace.. & love how you tied it all in!!! HUGS!

    For some reason comment luv does not work for me a certain blogs these days…

  5. TriGirl June 18, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    This was very sweet (and funny :D) Almost lost my dad a couple of times and it makes you realize you just never know how much time you have.
    TriGirl recently posted..I Got My Shred On with My Sister (Because she forced me to go)My Profile

  6. Sue | London Life Coach June 24, 2013 at 12:22 am #

    Great and I must a say a very sweet post. Thanks for sharing this to us. We are what we are because of our fathers. I agree with TriGirl. Life is too short so make the most out of it not only with your fathers but to all people you love the most. Treat each day specially and always show your love so you won’t regret anything. Enjoy life.

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