Younger next year?
Special to The Union
Everyone says they want to be younger next year. Follow this plan and you will be younger next year. How much younger? It is possible to turn back your biological clock on aging 10, 15 even 20 years. This week I’d like to review the basic principles of the New York Times bestselling book, “Younger Next Year,” by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D. If you haven’t read the book then I strongly encourage you to do so.
I met Chris at an industry fitness conference a few years ago. We talked about his book and the success that so many people had who followed the program. I told him about our clubs and that I wanted to share the program with our members.
His suggestion was to make the program as accessible as possible. Not everyone would read the book or hire a personal trainer to take them through the program, I thought. So this January we will offer the Younger Next Year program free to our members, as well as information on how to start the program to our community.
The core message of the book is that “normal aging isn’t normal.” Most of the things we normally associate with aging aren’t due to aging but rather to our lifestyle. Chris and Harry say that 70 percent of the negative effects of aging and 50 percent of all serious disease is avoidable.
It has to do with the fact that we are designed to function with a certain amount of physical activity in our daily lives because we lived that way for millions of years. It is who we are or, more correctly, it is who we were.
The new science of aging has made some surprising discoveries. And it starts at the cellular level. Your body and brain are perfect for their natural purpose, none of which includes processed food, television or retirement. In fact, your body will misinterpret those signals because it is designed to decay in the absence of physical activity and too much food.
Let’s go way back in time and start with the signal to grow and to get younger. The physical work of hunting and foraging in the spring has always been the most powerful signal to grow, to get stronger. It’s your body’s response to chemical messengers sent by increased physical activity.
When active on a daily basis, your body reduces fat stores so you can “hunt and forage” more efficiently. Bones and muscles get stronger and joint health improves to handle the repetitive shock of increased travel. Your immune system also improves to quickly handle the repair of increased activity.
Even your brain changes in response to the physical message of increased activity. It develops the chemistry optimism, leading to increased curiosity, alertness, better decision making, the ability to work better in groups and the increased drive to reproduce. This is nature’s design specification for you in your ideal environment.
Now let’s look at what happens to you in winter. It’s bitter cold, blizzards bring rain and snow, food is difficult to find. You take cover and the famine of winter begins. Your body starts to slow down, to become apathetic, to deteriorate, to conserve fat stores, to remain sedentary – all done in an effort to conserve energy for the long cold months ahead.
As it turns out, a sedentary lifestyle is the master single of decay. Your body will misinterpret a sedentary lifestyle as a state of perceived famine, even in the presence of plenty of food, and will make deadly changes in response. It will shut down and survive by letting go of all but the most critical systems – letting your muscles, bones and brain decay.
Keep in mind that decay is not biological aging. You will age, and chances are you’ll live a long time. It is important to decide how you want to spend those last 20 years. Decay is the poor quality of life, chronic disease, expensive medication and long term side effects. Exercise is the master signal to grow. To override the signals to decay, you must be physically active almost every day.
Now I understand that all this may seem a little extreme. OK, maybe very extreme but it is how you are designed to live and there’s nothing you can do to change that. So please, read the book, follow the program and live like your 50 until your 80 and beyond.
And by the way, what if you are younger than 50? Chris’ and Harry’s advice remains the same; start being more active – today. Because, like it or not, it’s what you are designed to do.
Mike Carville is a NASM/RKC Certified Personal Trainer and co-owner of South Yuba Club in Nevada City (www.southyubaclub.com) and Monster Gym in Grass Valley (www.monstergyms.com). 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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