Donald B. Ardell

On this date in 1938, humanist fitness authority Donald Bruce Ardell was born in Philadelphia. After 12 years of parochial school (which he now calls “miseducation in Catholic dogma and superstition”), he served for three years in the U.S. Air Force, then enrolled at George Washington University on a full basketball scholarship. He continued his education at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Stanford University to focus on urban planning and business before earning a doctorate in health and public policy at Union Institute & University in Cincinnati.

Working initially in 1965 as an urban planner and then as a health planner, he started developing and promoting the wellness concept in 1973. Ardell modified the concept in 1998 to REAL wellness (Reason, Exuberance, Athleticism, Liberty), a science-based lifestyle approach to well-being focused on exercise and nutrition. Since 1984 and as of this writing, he’s published nearly 900 online editions of the Ardell Wellness Report.

Practicing what he has preached, Ardell has won seven age-group world triathlon championships and a dozen titles in U.S. triathlon and duathlon nationals. He has two patents for a hands-free, fast-transition running shoe that speeds the switch during triathlons from the bike to the run.

The first of his 15 books was High Level Wellness: An Alternative to Doctors, Drugs and Disease (1977). Planning for Wellness: A Guidebook for Achieving Optimal Health (1982) and The Book of Wellness: A Secular Approach to Spirituality, Meaning and Purpose (1996) followed, among others. Not Dead Yet: World Triathlon Champions 75 and Over Offer Tips for Successful Aging (co-author Jack Welber) came out in 2019. Freedom From Religion in 30 Days, available from FFRF and other sellers, followed in 2021. An excerpt is here.

As an admirer of “The Great Agnostic” Robert Green Ingersoll, Ardell delivers verbatim Ingersoll lectures to audiences and says, “His speeches still dazzle, inform, inspire and motivate. His passions, themes and causes we, too, embrace and seek yet: secular democracy, emancipation of the oppressed, justice for all, reason as the best guide, joy the highest virtue, happiness the greatest good, science the truest source and natural wonders the only worship.” (Freethought Today, 2013)

He and his wife Carol live in Gulfport, Fla., and Madison, Wis., where he volunteers for FFRF, judges student essays and contributes op-eds such as “Impositional religiosity added to DSM.” He has a daughter, Jeanne, and a son, Jon, from a previous marriage.

Freedom From Religion Foundation