Someone once said the description of health is “to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like and do things you’d rather not.”

Comedian Redd Foxx added to this satirical remark by saying, “health nuts are gonna look funny in a hospital dying of nothin.” Granted, these are humorous comments about an important subject.

But have you really stopped to think just how vital your health is. Without it our quality of life takes a downward spiral. Our physical and mental well-being is also paramount to our overall happiness.

We have all heard in every media outlet how obesity is a growing epidemic among children and adults in the United States. Correct me if I’m wrong, but being overweight was not such a huge concern among the population as little as several decades back.

Maybe that’s because back then there were only a handful of TV stations. X-Boxes and Play Stations were not even thought of. Besides, there were more important things to do like play outside with all your neighborhood friends. And, if you wanted to “instant message” someone, you either picked up the phone or rode your bike to their house.

In today’s technological age there are far too many pursuits that lure children and adults into sedentary lifestyles. The uses of advanced technologies do have their place, especially in research and educational forums, but here we are exercising the mind.

Enjoying our outdoors is a great step in the right direction in leading a healthier lifestyle and it’s as close as your front door. Better yet, it comes with little or no cost. It can start with something as simple as a daily walk. Whether included in a structured exercise program or just a small part of a daily routine, all physical activity adds up to an increase in your overall fitness.

Feeling the wind in your face and the sun on your back is much more enjoyable than trodding on a treadmill in some sterile environment. You are also more likely to continue with a physical activity you enjoy.

Every outdoor sporting activity possesses health benefits. Hunting, ice fishing, camping and bicycling are all fun and build healthy minds and bodies. Hiking, swimming, water and snow skiing are also great fitness builders that can be done at our own particular level. Even shoveling snow during our coldest season can prove therapeutic benefits, if done in moderation depending on your physical level. Convenience is also provided with the fact that we have activities that can be utilized during every season.

Using our outdoor resources in a daily fitness routine also brings to light another benefit — appreciation of our environment. After all, isn’t our environment a barometer of our life? When trees, fish or wildlife can no longer survive ... how much longer can we?

Remember one thing. If you don’t make time for your health now ... you will have to make time for illness later!

John Martino is the Tribune’s outdoors columnist. He may be reached by email at

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