Throughout time people have been searching for ways to live longer, prevent disease and defy nature. There have been myths of a place called the fountain of youth for centuries; a tale of magical waters that, when ingested, make a person immortal. To date no such place has been found, but man’s quest for immortality and longevity has far from ceased.

Everywhere we look, TV commercials, bill boards, magazines and even the Internet are plastered with quick fixes for losing weight, erasing wrinkles and slowing the effects of aging. People get Botox, nipped, tucked and lipo — all in the search for looking younger. I’m going to let you in on a little secret about the fountain of youth … there is one way to prolong your life, prevent the deterioration of your body, fight disease and relieve stress: Exercise!

Many of you are thinking, “Hey, I exercise all the time! I walk my dog. I do yard work. Heck, I even take the stairs,” nodding your head with satisfaction. I don’t mean just doing the little everyday things that you should be doing anyway. Sure all of those things are keeping you healthy, but I’m talking about fitness. Resistance training puts good stress on your muscles and bones, making them stronger and more resilient. Exercises can help fix muscle imbalances that are causing pain and joint problems. Cardiovascular training makes your heart more efficient, and lowers blood pressure and the risk of heart disease. Stretch to loosen tight muscles that make your back and neck hurt. Exercise has even been proven to treat and prevent stress!

The benefits are not just superficial; new research comes forward every day that shows if you exercise at a moderate to high intensity at least three days a week, you will dramatically decrease your risk of almost every type of disease, depression and vastly improve your quality of life. It is never too late to start improving your way of life, and exercise is the number one way to have the most impact.

When starting out, it is important to equip yourself with the tools you need to be successful. This means setting some goals, obtaining access to equipment and, most importantly, talking with a fitness professional. In my years as a fitness professional, the number one mistake most people make is trying to get fit on their own. With the new year coming, there are going to be many opportunities to get a discounted membership, and deals on personal training and nutritional counseling. This is the best time of year to get started because the fitness industry is ready to provide everything it has for a deal.

The fountain of youth is not a magical quick fix; in fact, exercise should be a daily part of life that will take some hard work and perseverance. If you want to live longer and have a better quality of life, take a drink of the truth and get exercising!

“God gave us all amazing potential, but it is up to us to make that potential a reality.”

Bryce Bowman is a personal trainer at Miramont Lifestyle Fitness in Fort Collins. Contact him at bbowman@miramontlifestyle.com.