The Fountain of Youth Does Exist!

Ponce de León was simply looking for it in the wrong place.

The Fountain of Youth: a spring of magical water that restores youth to anyone who drinks of it, or bathes in its waters!

Tales of the Fountain can be found in Greek writings as far back as the 5th century BC, but are most prominent in the 16th century and associated with the exploration of Juan Ponce de León, the first European explorer of Florida. Legend has it that he discovered the Fountain at what is today the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park in St. Augustine, Florida. (Curiously, it was never known as the Fountain of Youth until 1909 when “Diamond Lil” McConnell purchased the property, and opened a spa.)

The Fountain of Youth is not a tourist trap. It really does exist—it just won’t make us 18 again nor erase wrinkles or cure baldness. But for those of us in our 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, it can reset our internal clocks back 20 or more years. For those younger, it can delay for a good while some aspects of aging. (But not the wrinkles or loss of hair!)

Other huge changes the Fountain of Youth can bring about are, one, miraculous healing; and two, longevity. The Fountain can’t cure all illnesses (particularly those that are genetically spawned) or ensure immortality, but it can help us to reverse and/or avoid many life-threatening diseases and afford us a long, healthy life.

So, do you want directions to the Fountain of Youth?

Remember the Wizard of Oz? Towards the end of the movie, the Great and Powerful Oz—really “an old Kansas man” and a “premier balloonist par excellence to the Miracle Wonderland Carnival Company”—commits to taking Dorothy back to Kansas in his balloon. They’re about to take off when Toto leaps from Dorothy’s arms at the sight of a cat, and Dorothy gives chase—only to have the balloon leave without her. Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, appears and tells the despairing Dorothy she always had the power to go back to Kansas. Dorothy only needs to close her eyes, tap her heels together three times, and think to herself, “There’s no place like home!” Glinda points to Dorothy’s ruby red slippers and says, “That’s all it is!”

Your way to the Fountain of Youth is not much different than Dorothy’s way back to Kansas. No ruby slippers are needed; however, comfortable shoes are advised.

Change your shoes, close your eyes for a moment, click your heels together three times, and think to yourself, “There’s nothing like being fit!” Then, take a walk. Ride a bike. Dance. Do something fun that gets your body moving. You might even be inspired to exercise! And pair your activity with moderating the calorie intake. Just as Glinda told Dorothy, “That’s all it is!”

Dorothy possessed the power to go back home with the ruby slippers. Our power to turn back some of the ravages of time is simply our resolve and commitment to get fit and, if necessary, lose weight.

Don’t be disappointed that the Fountain is not a spa in which one luxuriates. Just as there is no pill we can take to instantly lose weight while we sit on the couch watching Netflix, concerted effort is required if we are to restore our youthful vigor. However, the benefits are worth the effort! THERE IS NO SINGLE ACTION WE CAN TAKE THAT WILL HAVE A BIGGER, MORE POSITIVE IMPACT ON OUR LIFE. For this reason, we list pursuing a healthy lifestyle at the top of Our Fourth Age Checklist.

Poor health has so many “costs”. The financial costs are obvious: prescriptions, co-pays, deductibles, lost wages, and extended medical care. The biggest cost, however, is a declining quality of life with debilitation and a shorter lifeexpectancy.

Exercise can radically reduce inflammation, thus eliminating 50% of the worst diseases we are otherwise prone to. Exercise can improve our mood and reduce both depression and stress. Another big benefit: exercise can make us smarter. Turns out, the brain thrives on exercise!

You look better. You’re more confident. You have energy. With so many positive benefits associated with a regular exercise program, why do so many people fail to include one in their daily lives?

We’re likely too busy. And being fat and unfit is really an easy thing to pursue. Exercise and diet are hard! True, but being over-weight and unfit is harder still. There is a direct correlation between increasing weight and the increase in instances of a variety of metabolic diseases.

Brad Evans M.D. is an Interventional Cardiologist at Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular and practices at Adventist Hospital in Portland, Oregon. You can find a presentation he made on fitness and body weight by browsing on the Internet to:https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=gRWuhf_Xdhk. He explains some interesting graphs and data that demonstrate how the increasing rate of obesity within the U.S. population correlates highly to increases in a variety of metabolic diseases which are less prevalent in fit, lower-weight people. In other words, being unfit and/or over-weight significantly increases your risk of life-altering and terminal diseases.

Dr. Evans in his YouTube presentation also recounts his own journey to fitness and weight loss, one that started with him walking 30 minutes every day during a lunch break, and then working his way up to longer and longer walks as his fitness improved. Even though he is a foodie, portion control also contributed to his weight loss.

Jeez! Exercise and portion control. Someone ought to write a book! Well, somebody did. Here are a couple suggestions for fun reading that are on topic: Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit and Sexy—until You’re 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge. There are separate editions for men and women. A companion piece is Younger Next Year: The Exercise Program.

Crowley’s and Lodge’s recommendation is 45 minutes of exercise, six days a week: four days aerobic and two days of weight training.

Ouch! Do I have to wear spandex and sweat? If you do, great! But, no. Dr. Evans is seen in his YouTube video often walking with a tie on!

The Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) publishes the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans which recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination each week. Walking is particularly endorsed! Neither gym membership nor special equipment is needed . Walking can be done anywhere. Check out some resources at the CDC’s website: https://www.cdc.gov/ physicalactivity/walking/index.htm

Don’t start an exercise program without first consulting your doctor. Your circumstances may require a special regimen, perhaps something considerably less than what the CDC recommends.  Consider securing the services of a Physical Therapist or a trainer, if only to get you going in the right direction.

Sure, it would be great to take a dip in some magical waters that really would reset our clocks. Let’s get real. Do the next best thing: start exercising and eating better. Perhaps Nike has said it best: Just Do It!

As with most things in life, it comes down to making a decision: Do you want to be physically fit and healthy, and live a long, productive, fulfilling life? If you do, change your shoes for something comfortable. Start to exercise. Throw away thechips.

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Dr. Evans has some good practical advice about a fitness program:

  • Keep it simple—the easier you make the journey on yourself, the easier it will to be keep it going long-term.
  • Find easy things to measure and look for attainable
  • Take small steps; measure; reassess; modify plan; and, take small
  • If you see someone who has achieved some success, learn from
  • There is no magic solution, but there is a program that will work for you.
  • Count

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Those who personally know the author of this blog are chuckling at my suggestion to exercise regularly and eat healthy. I suppose if I were a cobbler, my kids would have no shoes!

My good blood pressure and low cholesterol masks the health risks my weight poses to me. Like you, I am susceptible to genetic and environmental influences that can lay me low despite regular exercise and good eating habits. I enjoy life and do not want it to end prematurely nor have it become debilitating due to an avoidable medical condition.

Here is my commitment to practice what I preach. On January 1, I started exercising and counting calories. I will be updating OurFourthAge.com every few weeks with my progress towards fitness and weight loss by reporting how many days it has been since the start of my regimen and how many pounds I am up or down. At the homepage of OurFuurthAge.com, click on #2 A Healthy Lifestyle and look in the upper left corner for my log.

I’m holding my feet to the fire! And know this: if I can do it, you can do it.