Yesterday I went for a run. It was 60 degrees and sunny, and I decided not to let that beautiful day slip by without me getting out in it. This time of year, when it feels like the sun starts setting at 4:30, I love the fact that being a freelancer allows me to get out in the middle of the day, even if that means I’m proofreading after supper.

While jogging by the neighbor’s yard where their new cow was resting in the sun, I also reflected on how lucky I am to live in North Carolina. Here I was, outside in short sleeves the week of Thanksgiving. Granted, it was winter-like last week with sleet and freezing rain, but as we North Carolinians know, the weather here can change on a dime. There are times when you’re wearing shorts and flip flops in February and then there are times you have a foot of snow on the ground in March.

Don’t be impressed that I went for a run. I’m not an exercise fanatic. I don’t work out every day, I don’t run for miles, and even the couple of miles I do run I’m often seen taking a break to take a picture or change the song on my iPod. I run because it makes me feel better. It helps my attitude to be outside for a while. It refreshes my mind and helps me concentrate on work when I’ve been up and moving a little bit. And it just makes me a happier person overall when I’ve had a chance to work out a couple of times during the week.

That mental well-being that comes from exercise is one of the things Joe Boone emphasizes in his book, Healthy Body, Healthy Mind, Healthy Life. A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to edit this book, which is now available for sale. The book provides a very in-depth, scientific look at what your body does with the foods you eat (all in laymen’s terms). He also talks about different types of exercise and goal setting. But the thing that I appreciated most is throughout the book, the emphasis is not on losing weight or bulking up. Instead, he focuses on giving you the tools to build a healthy lifestyle and maintain a healthy mental attitude. That’s exactly what exercise means to me. It’s not about whether I’m the fastest at the 5K or can lift the most at the gym. It’s about the fact that being outside makes me happy. Doing my Pilates workout helps melt away the stress of the day. Riding my bike by the cow pastures helps me think about the beauty of our creation and focus less on the disheartening news I see every day on TV. And even while running I get a chance to reflect and enjoy being outdoors.

Maybe it was the long walks with my brother Locke through woods, over creeks and along dirt roads when I was a kid, or maybe it was the emphasis Davidson put on making exercise a part of your daily life (and not a course you took for a grade), but whatever it that inspired me to make exercise part of my regular routine has paid off. Like I said, I might not be the most dedicated when it comes to my workouts, but I know it’s important to me, so I make time for it in my schedule. And that is one of many things I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving week. Blue skies, warm sun, and a long country road that invites me out for a run.