Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Book Review: Younger Next Year

Younger Next Year: A Guide to Living Like 50 Until You're 80 and Beyond
By Chris Crowley and Harry S. Lodge, M.D.

I was skeptical when I first heard about this Younger Next Year. There are so many books about healthy lifestyles or dieting or exercise, I’m not sure the world needs more. I’ve also grown weary of every new age bit of hocus pocus that seems to show up on the best seller list and talk show circuit. The guides supposedly based on medical research are not any better. One day caffeine is bad, so we are all supposed to give up coffee and tea, and then the next day it is good. Alcohol used to be bad, now wine is good. As far as food types go, choose your poison: carbohydrates, fats, or protein. It was refreshing to read a book that distilled it all down to something simple, “Quit eating crap!” Then to top it off, the authors continue to tell it like it is by reminding us that we really do know what is good to eat and what is not. They also remind us that deep down inside our genes, we know we need to get moving. We just weren't made to sit on the couch in front of the TV all the time.

Younger Next Year is a great book. It is not just another diet or lifestyle book. It will give you something to think about. It was fun to read.

I heard about this book on a cross country skiing and camping trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. I’m fairly active, so wandering about on the lakes and in the woods of the North Woods is fun for me. One of the people on the trip mentioned the book, and it sounded interesting.

The basic premise is that our whole understanding of aging is bunk. We seem to have this idea that people begin some sort of downhill slide sometime before they reach 50. Then when they reach 50, their bodies really begin failing so that life is really a gradual and pathetic descent into painful decay. Upon reaching retirement people can look forward to a feeble existence living out their days in a nursing home. Look around. That’s just not true for everyone. It is not even true for most. Sadly it is true for too many. It does not have to be this way.

Chris Crowley and Harry Lodge got the idea for the book after Chris went to Dr. Lodge for a checkup after retiring. Like many people, Crowley needed to make a few adjustments to his lifestyle. Unlike many people, he really listened when the doc gave him the news. It turns out that many of the things that we think of as normal aging are actually the result of our behavior. The majority of illness, it seems is caused by our modern lifestyle. A few simple ideas can help us stop and even reverse that “normal” decline. In the book Chris describes his story in an entertaining fashion. Harry explains the science behind what Chris says. It is sometimes thoughtful and often witty. Neither of them pull their punches.

The book leaves the reader with a solid take away. The basic guidelines are all wrapped up in Harry’s Rules. There are seven of them. I’ll list them here, but you will get a lot more out of them if you get the book and read as Chris and Harry describe them. If you want a preview, then check out their website. The book has turned into quite a sensation. Chris and Harry now have a website, blogs, and even speaking engagements.

Harry’s Rules
  1. Exercise 6 days a week
  2. Do aerobic exercise 4 days a week
  3. Do strength training 2 days a week
  4. Spend less than you make
  5. Quit eating crap
  6. Care
  7. Connect and commit
Check out the book. No matter how old you are today, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, or more, you can be younger next year. By the way, the guy that told me about the book was retired. He said that trips like the winter camping trip we were on was part of how he stayed young.

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