Is the “Fountain of Youth” a Salty One?

There is no such thing as pure immortality. Legendary tales can be everlasting, yet the individuals in these stories will eventually die. This is how it works and it shouldn’t be a shock. However, living a full and healthy life both physically and mentally could be one avenue toward quality living for longer.

“Surfing keeps me wanting to be athletic on a regular basis. It’s fun; everything’s different and it keeps you interested. Its like exercise without the routine,” says Dean Lyon.

For Mr. Dean Lyon, staying in shape and staying young tastes salty. Dean is a 51-year old from Millersville, PA who started surfing at 19. When he is not surfing or on his usual, off-season stint in Hawaii, he is working with his partner Jeff Walden at Ocean Outfitters Surf Shop (O2). The two went in to business together running the surf shop, teaching surf lessons and have not looked back since.

Walden is 57-years young and exemplifies what it means to live that way. Jeff lives in Wildwood Crest, NJ (O2’s location) and surfed his first session there as a lad in 1971.

“Surfing has been a big part of living a healthy life but mostly on the side of exercise and being out in the elements. Somehow I think the saltwater has something to do with it too but I have no real proof of that,” admits Walden. “There is something about it that makes me feel good and takes the stress off.”

Everyone’s definition of a youth fountain may be different. While Dean and Jeff haven’t sipped from any magical punch bowls, you could say they’ve found a version of the mythical fountain.

Dean rationalizes that, “Surfing may be easier on your body, rather than pounding out reps or running on pavement. It doesn’t wear you down as much as standard gym stuff.”

While Dean and Jeff have no hard evidence to back up their claims, there is no disregarding the way these men look. The two are forever smiling, always fit and give off an aura that just glows.

Within the past ten years Jeff has switched up his surfing regimen.

“To keep the intensity I started following the one hour, go-hard sessions. I would do that as many days as possible and even twice a day if I could,” stated Walden.

“I would rarely go over an hour in each session. This worked really well for a busy schedule and was the perfect formula for keeping fit,” finished Jeff.

While Walden was only responding to his body’s needs, his routine holds up in academia as well.

James Konopack is a doctor and Health Studies professor at Monmouth University. After bringing Walden’s experience to Doctor Konopack he said that, “When a surfer paddles out, waits, and then engages in a burst of high-intensity activity, that’s similar in some respects to interval training, which has well-documented cardiovascular benefits.”

Surfing is also more of a sustainable workout because it is so fun. In Lyon’s experience, “You almost forget your last wave, you’re waiting til the next wave now. But I can’t say people wanna bench-press 20 more times—maybe, but it doesn’t feel the same.”

There is definitely a different dynamic when it comes to surfing versus standard weight lifting.

“The whole-body, low-impact nature of these movements combined with the obvious balance component make surfing an excellent form of physical activity,” continued Doctor Konopack.

There is no doubt that surfing can keep a person physically fit; however it does not simply stop after that. Just as with any sport, there is a large mental aspect to the way a surfer approaches the ocean.

“I believe learning to be more conscious about how our body movements affect the board on the wave helps to keep things fresh and challenging. In other words challenging ourselves cognitively within the sport helps keep us young too,” says Walden.

There are people who get stuck in the sport of surfing and devote themselves to one type of wave or one type of board. However, Jeff and Dean are huge proponents of surfing every board and every condition.

“Switching boards up gives you another way to get out into the surf. If you only ride a shortboard you’re trapped on small, dinky days. So, I think riding everything helps,” says Dean.

The diverse aspects in the sport of surfing also parallel with other forms of physical activity. Professor Konopack relates Jeff and Dean’s experience with surfing to how he trains his own body.

“I’ll run on different surfaces (single-track trails, packed dirt, boardwalk or road) with several different types of shoes and at different distances and speeds to strengthen my feet, reduce injury risk, and make me an all-around better runner,” says Konopack.

While the world may fall still, waiting for the fountain to be discovered, Jeff and Dean are paddling toward youth every time they step in the ocean. For these men, the surf is a temple for the mind, body and spirit.

Lyon says that, “When you’re paddling for a wave, especially if it’s a good size wave, you can’t think of anything else. Everything else is just gone from your head at least temporarily. It helps you appreciate nature more, it clears the junk outta your head, it makes you forget about small troubles and keeps you focused on the big picture.”

If living fun and living fast means living young, sign me up.

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