I've long noticed that many travelers seem younger than average in their appearance, attitudes, and energy levels. And I have a theory that just might explain it.
Perhaps travel actually functions -- physiologically -- as a kind of fountain of youth. We've evolved into our sedentary, climate-controlled, modern lives faster than our physical bodies can keep up. In other words, in 10 or 20 generations we've gone from the wilderness to the office park, but our cells are still geared toward the hunter-gatherer struggle for survival. As long as we are dynamic -- hunting in the summer and hibernating in the winter -- our cells regenerate. When we quash any need for that struggle, our cells don't regenerate so vigorously. That's when we start to physiologically run out of steam, and we age.
My annual routine of activities matches that old primordial hunter-gatherer cycle: actively struggle in the summer (travel, learn about new places, cope and thrive in the face of new challenges), then hibernate in the winter (dial back to a more sedentary, predictable office work and home life). Consequently, by sticking with this cycle, my cells still think I'm youthful and vital -- out there in the elements, fighting to survive and thrive. And they forget to age.
Sure, it may be scientifically laughable. But you have to admit, something makes us travelers a bit more frisky. (And, floating a theory like that sure is an innovative way to sell Rick Steves tours!)
What do you think? Have travel thrills kept your life unpredictable and filled with serendipity? Is your attitude convincing your cells that you're still in the prime of life?
P.S. Someday soon I'll share my theory on how decades of sleeping in strange beds and walking barefoot in grotty shower stalls builds a kind of super immunity.