Oh, if maintaining youth could just be as simple as bathing in or drinking from the sweet waters of a fabled fountain. Such tales have swirled the world for millennia, appearing in the writings of Herodotus (5th century BCE), the Alexander romance (3rd century CE), the stories of Prester John (early Crusades, 11th/12th centuries) and then further up to the Age of Exploration where legend has it that Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon was searching for the Fountain of Youth when he arrived in what is now Florida in 1513.
Well, it turns out, maintaining youth is pretty simple. And that fountain? Pretty easy to find, as it springs forth from your very own body.
Okay, admittedly, we haven’t figured out how to avoid death yet. But what if there was a way to fully, vibrantly, enjoy the latter half of our lives? What if there was a way, as is stated on the back cover of Younger Next Year, by Chris Crowley and Henry (Harry) S. Lodge, M.D., “to avoid 70 percent of the normal problems of aging – weakness, sore joints and bad balance – and eliminate 50 percent of illness and injury”? Would you go for it? Who wouldn’t?
But, dang. You will have to get up – out of bed, or off the couch, or off the bar stool – and move your body. Hate exercise? Well, you’re not alone, and you’re in good company. It’s covered in Chapter Four: “The Best People Hate Exercise”.
Chris says: “Some of the people Harry and I like best hate exercise. People who live a life of the mind. Bookish folk . . . lunatic professionals . . . artists . . . teachers . . . gardeners. People like my sisters who love to eat and drink and talk. (I love to eat and drink and talk!) And who read in the privacy of their very own homes. They hate sports, hate exercise, hated school because of sports and exercise. And hate people like us who try to tell them how great it all is. They are never going to change.”
But, bookish people thrive on knowledge, so thrive on this: the human body was, in the beginning, designed to hunt, in packs, and there is an ancient part of our brain still expecting movement. Not moving? You’re telling your body – the house you live in – to decay and atrophy as quickly as possible.
“Exercise reverses the chemistry of decay,” says Harry.
Younger Next Year was written by two men who have tested theories about aging and observed overwhelmingly positive results. Chris, a retired lawyer with a great sense of humor, is in his seventies, yet has the functional capabilities of a healthy fifty-year-old because he listened to Harry, his doctor, when Harry said he could be on the “frontier” of change.
“What do I have to do?” asked Chris.
“Three things,” said Harry. “Exercise. Nutrition. And commitment.”
You see Harry, a general internist for ten years, had noticed a problem that he did not like one bit. “Many of the patients who had been with me from the beginning were coming into their late fifties, sixties and seventies, and things were happening. Many were sedentary, but even those who were moderately active were becoming increasingly overweight, out of shape and apathetic. And some were getting seriously sick . . . strokes, heart attacks, bad falls and bad injuries. A number had died, and the timing did not seem to make sense.”
So, when Harry met Chris (not Sally! Ha!), Chris became his aging guinea pig and the results are impressive. The “three things” Harry started with, expanded into seven things – Harry’s Rules, as follows:
- Exercise six days a week for the rest of your life.
- Do serious aerobic exercise four days a week for the rest of your life.
- Do serious strength training, with weights, two days a week for the rest of your life.
- Spend less than you make.
- Quit eating crap!
- Connect and commit.
Okay, I know the first three, and even Number 5, sound really hard, but as with anything you’ve ever gotten good at in your whole life, it starts with baby steps. I’ve been working out, seriously – as an instructor – for 13 years and I don’t always hit the six days a week and I do enjoy my “treats” from time to time. But I aspire to live by Harry’s Rules because they make sense. We live, we die, and there is a level of quality to be had in the middle. I want that.
Searching for the Fountain of Youth? I don’t care how old you are, or even if you read books, get thee to a book store, or hop on www.amazon.com, however it is you buy things these days, purchase this book – the men’s version is yellow, the women’s pink – devour it and begin – or continue – drinking and bathing from the sweet fountain within you.