I first read this book a few years ago and found it inspirational. Feeling low this autumn and struggling to enjoy running, never mind training, I decided it was time to read it again. Having neglected Sharkespeare’s advice, “Never a lender nor a borrower be“, and lent my copy to one of those individuals who never return books – you know who you are – I had to buy a new one. Fortune favoured me though as there is a new edition with updated advice and references.
I wasn’t the only person to be inspired by the writers, Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge, as the book became a New York Times Bestseller. Chris Crowley is a 70+ year old – living the advice given in the book in an energetic and athletic way, while Henry Lodge is a doctor and provides the science behind the advice.
Put simply, your body, all its organs, muscles and abilities are in a constant transition between decay and growth. Growth and decay are controlled by enzymes; the authors refer to them as C-6 and C-10. C-6, Cytokine-6, is the master chemical for inflammation and decay while C10, Cytokine-10, is the master chemical for growth and recovery.
None of us fancy the idea of decay too much
Death is one thing. We all know that we are going to die; but decay, getting old and incapacitated – that’s something else all together. Most of us hope for a sudden painless death at a ripe old age having lived healthily up to a day or two before passing on.
And yet, our society, our lifestyles, our sedantary behaviour, our eating habits and our technologies all conspire to the opposite – death delayed as much as possible after an inevitable period, usually many years, of illness, poor health and suffering.
Why do we live this way? Is it because there is no alternative?
Our lifestyle is just that, ours.
Remember Anothony deMello’s opinion about laziness – the greates impediment to growth – and, of course, to health and happiness.
Once we hit 50 years old the production of C-6 is steady and relentless, it just keeps dripping away into our system, weaking our joints, stripping out our bones, dissolving away our muscles and eating into our life and happiness.
Here is a paradox – you know how much i enjoy paradoxes – exercise boosts the production of C-6 – yes, thats right. Exercise boosts the production of the chemical which destroys our bodies. Seems strange but if you know a little bit about body building or getting fit, you will know that weightlifting, for example, damages muscles firstly but then they come back stronger.
What makes them come back stronger? What leads to growth? C-10 of course and here is where it is most beautiful. A good surge in the increase of C-6 leads to our systems become awash in C-10 as the production of the growth chemical kicks in to overdrive.
Should we be surprised that our bodies have this, that they have got it covered. Of course not, our bodies have been developing for millions of years – going far back beyond the first humans on earth. If our bodies couldn’t look after themselves then we simply wouldn’t exist. Our bodies have made the right choices, produced the right chemicals, solutions and abilities time and time again as we slowly evolved into the wondrous beings we are today.
But, of course, it has to be vigourous exercise – otherwise you just produce more C-6 – just accelerate the decay process. Chris and Henry tell us we need to sweat, that we need to exercise for about forty-five minutes six days a week. Four of these days should be aerobic exercise and two weight training. Either is good but both is what is needed if we are going to stay fit and healthy into our eighties and, if we keep it up and avoid accidents and bad luck, into our nineties.
How is that for a promise?
Eating is important too of course, eating the right foods and cutting down on the junk, on chip or french fries, on cookies and biscuits and on all over sweetened and over starch foods.
Don’t worry too much about the eating, the authors tell us, if we take the training seriously and enjoy getting fitter, stronger, healthier and ‘younger’ then eating properly will take case of itself.
Imagine – a diet that becomes automatic because we are educating our bodies to remember what is good for them and because we are learning to listen to them.
There is so much of use and value in this book that it is worth a second blog. For now lets just remind ourselves what the benefits of changing our lifestyles could be.
Henry tells us that 50 per cent of all illnesses and injuries in the last third of your life can be eliminated by changing your lifestyle as they recommend. 50% – half – of all illnesses and injuries we are otherwise scheduled to get between say 56 years of age and 84 years of age just won’t happen if we exercise as they recommend.
Why is everybody not doing this? Laziness is probably a major cause and besides our lifestyles reflect our society. We are talking about changing the way we live. Where would it end? People are afraid of major changes – they would rather keep doing what they have always done, what nearly everybody else does until, until its too late.
That’s not the only shocking statistic though. Henry also tells us that 70% of the decay that most people are experiencing as they get older – the weaknesses, the sore joints, the lousy balance, the general crap feeling of minor ill-health and discomfort – can be forestalled by exercise. All that stuff doesn’t have to happen to you – you can avoid them if you put in the effort.
70% of the effects of aging are optional – optional!
For most of us, decay has already set in. We are slightly, at least, overweight, fairly unfit, poor eaters and heading down a slippery slope. Here is more good news, if we change now, if we embrace the lifestyle set out in this book, Younger Next Year, then we can reverse this, we can improve, get rid of many of the symptons. The clue is in the title – we can actually, physically and mentally get ‘YOUNGER NEXT YEAR’
Enough of talking – time for action.
I’m off to the gym.
Live young my friends.