Younger Next Year - Really?

Weight Training II, Spring 2013 -- Nancy Haines

"Normal aging isn't normal." - Henry S. Lodge, M.D.

We do have to age. We don't have to waste away.

This is a book about the aging process. Both authors -- Chris Crowley and Dr. Henry (Harry) Lodge -- strongly believe that we can be younger next year by following seven rules. Harry provides scientific evidence that approximately 70% of premature death and aging is lifestyle-related. Chris is one of Harry's patients. Chris tells anecdotal stories to help make the rules more understandable. By following "Harry's Rules," we learn how we can age without decaying.

Harry's Rules

1. Exercise six days a week for the rest of your life.

We literally have a new body every seven years. Our cells are dying off and being replaced by new cells daily. Exercise sets hundreds of chemical processes in motion that strengthen, repair, and rebuild the cells that are breaking down. As long as we replace more cells than dye off, we can be younger next year.

2. Do serious aerobic exercise four days a week for the rest of your life.

Exercise creates inflammation which triggers the healing process - and a younger body next year. Our body needs this process daily, not just a few times a week. Harry and Chris recommend finding exercises that we enjoy doing so that we will continue to do it regularly.

3. Do serious strength training, with weights, two days a week for the rest of your life.

Strength training can halt or reverse the ravages of aging. The book gives several examples of elderly people who begin a strength training program and if they were in a wheel chair, we able to walk with a walker; if they were using a walker, they were able to walk with a cane. Strength training works on the brain/body connection. When we were younger and stumbled, our brain sent the signal quickly to adjust to avoid a fall. But, as we age, we don't respond as quickly. Strength training can help to make that signal connection again.

4. Spend less than you make.

Chris's advice is to figure out what you think your income will be in retirement - and then cut 25% off of that and learn to live on that now. With all the uncertainty about pensions and social security, this is good advice. After reading this, it sure made me look at my spending habits more closely.

5. Quit eating crap!

Harry tells us not to go on a diet, rather just quit eating the crap like refined carbohydrates and "white" foods - potatoes, white rice and pretty much anything made with refined flour. He says that all starches turn to sugar, and just the right amount of acid and insulin need to be excreted to process the sugars. Harry gives a brief explanation of the glycemic index and why the "white' foods are bad for us.

Even though this book was written in 2007, newly published research adds credibility to this rule.

6. Care.

Chris urges us to care about exercise and nutrition so that we have a decent body and a good attitude as we age. He says that caring means writing down three things daily --

  1. What I ate
  2. What I did for exercise
  3. What I did with my life

"If you're going to have a good life, a full life, a life that you and others care about, it must be the examined life."

7. Connect and commit.

Women usually have an easier time at making and keeping in contact with friends than men do. We are highly social creatures. Isolation is fatal. Studies cited by the authors show that older people who have at least one good friend have healthier cardiovascular systems than those who are isolated.

"Social connections are a more powerful factor in health and mortality than smoking, alcohol, exercise, nutrition or age." - Henry S. Lodge, M.D.

A New Year's Resolution

I decided that I need to read this book every New Year so that I don't forget the importance of Harry's Rules. I know that I feel healthier today than I did 30 years ago - when I didn't exercise or pay attention to what I ate. By following Harry's Rules, I plan to have many more years of good health and feeling younger each year.


Crowley, Chris, and Henry S. Lodge, M.D. Younger Next Year for Women: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy - Until You're 80 and Beyond. New York: Workman Publishing, 2007. Print.