Just in time to help you recover from holiday stress, a new 6-week Qigong Class begins January 9 through February 13; the 45-minute class will start at 3:30PM. Qigong is similar to Tai Chi, but easier to learn.  Regina Wolgel will continue to teach this amazing class. Cost is $120 for the 6-weeks ($25 drop-in).  Call or email us to register.


Want a good idea for a New Year’s resolution?  How about “BE HAPPY”.

Why Be Happy? (from IDEA Fitness Journal, Dec. 2012)

Contrary to old notions that happiness is frivolous, shallow, naïve or a waste of valuable time, there is a growing body of evidence that happiness is beneficial for morbidity (risk of illness), survival of illness and longevity (Diener 2011).

Researchers know that negative emotions such as sustained stress or fear can contribute to heart disease, stroke and diabetes; that chronic anger and anxiety can hasten atherosclerosis and increase systemic inflammation; and that early-childhood “toxic stress” from neglect or abuse has harmful effects on the brain and other organ systems (Rimer & Drexler 2012). In the Harvard Public Health Review (Rimer & Drexler 2012), researcher Laura Kubzansky notes that happiness appears to have a positive health benefit independent of the impact of not having negative mental health factors. “It looks like there is a benefit of positive mental health that goes beyond the fact that you’re not depressed. What that is is still a mystery. But when we understand the set of processes involved, we will have much more insight into how health works.”

In a study that followed more than 6,000 men and women, aged 25–74, for 20 years, Kubzansky and Thurston (2007) determined that emotional vitality—a sense of enthusiasm, hopefulness, engagement in life, and the ability to face life’s stresses with emotional balance—appears to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

According to a meta-analysis of 83 studies, optimism is a significant predictor of positive physical health outcomes related to mortality, survival, cardiovascular outcomes, immune function, cancer outcomes, outcomes related to pregnancy, physical symptoms and pain health (Rasmussen, Scheier & Greenhouse 2009).

Diener and Chan’s 2011 review—the most comprehensive of its kind—concludes, “All of these different kinds of studies point to the same conclusion: that health and then longevity in turn are influenced by our mood states.” The studies suggest that high subjective well-being may add 4–10 years of life compared with low subjective well-being (and the years will also be more enjoyable than they would have been for less happy people, the authors note!).

One of the studies reviewed followed nearly 5,000 university students for more than 40 years and found that those who were most pessimistic as students tended to die younger than their more optimistic peers (Brummett et al. 2006). An even longer study that followed 180 Catholic nuns from early adulthood to old age found that those who wrote positive autobiographies in their early 20s tended to outlive those who wrote more negative accounts (Danner, Snowdon & Friesen 2001).

What Happy People Do

Research has shown distinct differences between people who are generally happy and those who are generally unhappy. Happy people

  • devote a great amount of time to nurturing and enjoying relationships;
  • are comfortable expressing gratitude;
  • are often the first to offer help to others;
  • are optimistic about their futures;
  • savor life’s pleasures and try to live in the present moment;
  • make physical exercise a weekly and daily habit;
  • are deeply committed to lifelong goals and ambitions; and
  • have stresses and even tragedies, but are able to cope in the face of challenges.

Becoming Fit for Happiness


  • In his best-selling book, Be Happy: Release the Power of Happiness in You (Hay House 2009), Robert Holden, PhD, says: “The intention to be happy is what changes everything. When you decide with all your heart to be happy, you are calling upon the grace and power of your original nature to help you out.”
  • Holden believes that when you choose to be happy, “you are not trying to create something that doesn’t exist; you are choosing to be yourself again.” He adds that the happier you are, the more you will express these natural qualities: presence, acceptance, selflessness, authenticity, equanimity, wisdom, altruism, enthusiasm, kindness and love.
  • Fitness and happiness share important common ground. Both contribute to significantly better overall health, and both are lifelong processes that create lasting change. If you are a PFTL client, you are already on a path of transformation, so integrating strategies to develop greater emotional well-being may become a natural, powerful (and joyful!) fit.