The fountain of youth, the holy grail, the dream of being able to live perpetually in a youth-like state.
It reminds me of the Raiders of the Lost Arc with Harrison Ford. What an all time classic movie.
For me, I think if I had the fountain of youth in my backyard, I’d stick with the age of 28 – the age of male peak performance, but hey, the 30’s weren’t too bad either.
The reality of life is that there is a Fountain of Youth and We All Have Access To It
What Is It? Where Is It, How Much, and Give it to Me Now!
You’ve got it, the Fountain of Youth is simply Exercise and Nutrition, that’s it.
I know, I know, not what you wanted to hear, right?
But it’s the truth.
As a Occupational Therapist working predominantly in Rehabilitation Centers, I’ve seen 9o year old’s look like they’re in their 70’s. And 70 year old’s who look like they’re in their 90’s.
What’s the common difference in how people age?
Well, genetics play a huge role, also sun exposure over your lifetime will age people’s skin faster (especially the more fair your skin color is).
But the biggest factor to aging is…
- One’s level of activity and exercise
- One’s nutrition.
Drugs and Alcohol versus Healthy Living
Time and time again I’m amazed at meeting an elderly man or women who looks younger than their age, moves well, can functionally get up and down from the ground, climb stairs, and live a normal life without disabilities.
Every time I meet someone like this, I ask them what’s their secret.
Inevitably, they refer to clean living, staying active, eating healthy, and exercising on a regular basis.
Working in rehabilitation centers for over a decade I’ve met a few elderly women who are in their 90’s but look like they’re in the 70’s and I specifically ask them how they have been able to maintain such a youthful appearance.
What their Beauty Secret?
Unbelievable every one of these women mentioned washing their face with Dove soap (which is a very basic and clean soap without added chemicals, perfumes, etc.) and of course, they used lotion and avoided the sun on a daily basis over their lifetime.
On The Flip Side..
Compare this with some of the 40 and 50 year old’s that I have seen that have abused drugs and alcohol all their life.
They now have umpteen medical disorders, a back ache that never ends, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases up the wazoo.
Many have completely lost their quality of life and some have wasted, or should I say killed, thousands of neurons in their brain to the point that they now have a tough time focusing their attention or learning new information.
It’s a pretty sad picture, but you should know this…
ANYONE, AND I MEAN ANYONE, can improve, change, and live better at whatever stage in life you are at.
Believe me, I’ve seen it done.
Now let’s talk about the Fountain of Youth – Nutrition and Exercise.
Nutrition – Keep It Simple Smarty
I know there are thousands of diets out there, all claiming to be the next best thing in life. And sure, it’s fun to get some new delicious and healthy recipes to add to your weekly routine.
But when it really comes down to nutrition, for me personally, I like to keep it simple:
HEALTHY MEATS, A COUPLE SERVINGS OF FRUIT/DAY, AND AS MUCH VEGGIES AS I CAN GET
I side on the Paleo Diet with the idea of trying to eat Paleo 70% – 80% of the time. Then if I slip up and have a couple slices of Pizza during the week, I’m not doing too bad.
I’m not a nutritionist, but I’ve been blessed to have taken Advanced Cardiovascular Diseases and Diabetes Training Courses as a therapist that discuss the role of nutrition and physiology and how they impact our health and longevity.
The bottom line is.. any excess of salt or sugar in our system’s, on a regular basis, is going to lead to major medical health problems in the future, we’re talking Diabetes and Cardiovascular diseases – diseases that signal that the body is breaking down and dying – plain and simple.
So What About Exercise?
Exercise literally cleans out our system of toxins, increases our circulation which brings oxygen and nutrients into every cell of our body, and releases a stream of good hormones that make us feel better and actually rejuvenate our bodies.
Exercise decreases our resting heart rate, blood pressure, and improves how our brain functions in cognitive tests.
Who here reading this doesn’t exercise to decrease stress? I know my hands up.
Stress is the cause of diseases, exercise, and meditation and/or prayer, are the two greatest tools that we have to decrease stress. You can add sex in there for that matter as well.
I’ve been exercising, playing sports, and living a physically active life since I could walk. My parents always encouraged me to participate in sports and the influence of my upbringing was only strengthened over the years as a therapist.
I’m now mostly a Crossfitter because I so strongly believe in so many of the principles that Crossfit teaches.
And those principles, or at least how I have seen and experienced them as an athlete and a therapist are the following:
- Crossfit creates a sense of community with your fellow Crossfitters – they are supportive and Crossfit (at least with the gyms I have known) have a social aspect that is far different than many of your traditional gyms where the social environment is quite boring, uninviting, and routine.
This adds to a better sense of community and decreases our overall levels of Stress (which, as stated earlier, is a major factor in our health and well-being)
- Crossfit focuses on developing the body as a whole, with special attention to developing what’s called your posterior chain (meaning the muscles in the back of our bodies).
- This contrasts with many traditional gyms where emphasis is placed on developing the body parts individually versus developing the body as a whole, it’s more of a holistic approach to exercise so to speak.
In gyms you see people going from machine to machine working specific muscles or pumping their body parts individually, especially for guys who constantly work the chest, biceps, triceps, etc.
By developing the back (upper and lower) and legs, we are much less prone to injury, back pain, and we can complete functional tasks with improved body mechanics.
- Lastly, Crossfit will challenge you. There is a competitive component with Crossfit gyms, but you can control your level of competition and this will do a couple of positive things for you.
- It will push your physical capacity to a greater level than most people can push themselves individually or at a gym.
- By listening to your body, and not being overcome by the competitive factor of Crossfit, you won’t experience injuries that have been associated with overzealous Crossfitters.
I must say to those out there that have heard that Crossfit is too demanding, causes too many injuries, and is too intense that you just need to find a supportive gym, learn the proper lifting techniques, and try the best you can.
Don’t push yourself too far or too fast and others will respect your intention. If your Crossfit instructor doesn’t get it, or accept that, then find a cooler gym.
Remember, it’s exercise for your life and your happiness.
Not All Exercises Are Created Equal
Now regardless of whatever physical level you are currently at, exercise is extremely beneficial.
Did you know that Therapeutic Exercise is the most prescribed and utilized form of treatment in Physical and Occupational Therapy.
And there’s good reason for it. Our bodies were meant to move and be functional. So taking a walk, practicing Yoga, playing recreational sports, lifting weights, etc, it’s all good.
But not all exercise is created equal
What do I mean?
Well, depending on the level of intensity of your exercise determines the level of different types of hormones our bodies will produce.
Things like jogging, biking, swimming at a consistent level cause the heart rate to go up only to a certain level. We call these exercises Steady State Heart Rate Exercises.
And although they do burn calories, build endurance and strength of slow twitch muscle fibers, and slightly decrease Catecholamines (hormones associated with increased stress), they do very little to increase the production of Human Growth Hormone.
Human Growth Hormones (HGH) create so many positive effects in the body. For men and women, this means increased levels of Testosterone and Estrogen.
HGH, which is produced throughout our lives greatly decreases when we enter our 30’s and 40’s and only continues to decline as we age.
Exercises that gets the heart rate to fire up fast, then come down, and then back up again causes our bodies to increase the production of Human Growth Hormones.
So higher intensity exercise, Interval Training, Mountain Biking, Tennis, and Crossfit are all perfect examples of exercises for decreasing stress and increasing positive hormones that make our bodies look and feel younger.
Add in weight bearing exercises which cause our bones, ligaments, tendons, and articulations to increase in density and strength – AND YOU’VE GOT YOURSELF YOU’RE VERY OWN FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
Be Good To Yourself
Staying active through a variety of physical activities and exercises along with good quality nutrition is the best way that we can feel younger, stay healthy, and fight off many medical issues and disabilities that occur within our lifetime.
Adding practices like Yoga, Meditation, and managing your levels of stress are also imperative to healthy living.
All it takes is for you to understand these concepts, accept them into your life, and begin adding good exercise and nutrition to your daily routine, as if it was as mandatory as breathing air, eating food and drinking water in order to live.
As you increase your physical fitness and your diet improves, you’ll wonder how you ever lived any differently. You’ll have less stress in your life and you look and feel great.
Thanks for reading my viewpoints about exercise and nutrition and I hope you now realize that the Fountain of Youth lies within the palm of your very own hands.
So What Do You Think?
If you have any questions or have anything to add to this topic, please leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.
To your health,