Decay is optional |

Decay is optional

Last week, we discussed the basic premise of the New York Times bestseller, “Younger Next Year.” The core message of the book is that “normal aging isn’t normal,” and most of the things we associate with aging aren’t due to aging but to the process of decay.

At about age 40, the free ride of youth is over and your body’s biochemistry shifts from growth to decay. This decay signal is not powerful but it is continuous and gets a little stronger every year. In the absence of a signal to grow, it will take over and your body and brain begin to slowly decay.

So how do you override the decay signal? You do it by sending your body a signal to grow. The grow signal is daily exercise, emotional commitment to life and reasonable nutrition. But it all starts with exercise.

Exercise or physical activity, which as far as your body is concerned is the daily activity necessary to hunt and forage in order to survive, damages your body’s tissues.

Your body responds by releasing chemicals that cause mild inflammation and set the stage for cellular repair. The proteins that control inflammation are called cytokines. Although there are thousands of cytokines, the book simplifies the concept by grouping them into cytokine-6 (C-6) the master chemicals of inflammation/decay and cytokinne-10 (C-10) the master chemicals of repair/growth.

C-6 is produced in both the muscle cells and the bloodstream in response exercise, and C-10 is produced in response to C-6. This means that C-6 triggers the production of C-10, that decay triggers growth. This is your body’s clever way of coupling decay and growth.

Here’s how it works. Exercise triggers the release of C-6 (inflammation) in proportion to both the duration and intensity of the exercise. The more intense the exercise, the more C-6 is released which in turn triggers a greater release of C-10. That’s important because it is C-10 that you are after. It is C-10 that overrides the C-6 signal to decay and repairs and replaces tissues damaged by both exercise and to certain degree aging.

Here’s the rub. Your body continually produces a slow steady drip of C-6, the signal to decay, regardless of how active you are. The only way to produce C-10, the signal to grow, is by exercising. Without exercise your body does not receive the grow signal and the signal to decay takes over.

This why the authors, Chris Crowley and Harry Lodge, M.D. say that rule number one of Younger Next Year is to exercise – 5 to 6 days per week. You want to flood your body with torrents of C-10 as often as you can. It is how your body turns back the clock on decay. So what about rules two and three? Well hold onto your horses because we’re going to talk about those next week.


Mike Carville is a NASM/RKC Certified Personal Trainer and co-owner of South Yuba Club in Nevada City ( and Monster Gym in Grass Valley ( He has worked in the fitness and sports industry for 15 years and specializes in programming for new exercisers, weight loss/toning and athletic training. Mike is available for questions and speaking engagements via e-mail at:

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