“Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit…”: Recommended Reading

CrossFit CheshireYounger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy Until You’re 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley

I have just finished “Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy Until You’re 80 and Beyond” by Chris Crowley and would urge anyone who is middle aged or older to read this from cover to cover; in fact, anyone at any age will benefit from reading this.

While “Younger Next Year” is written for men, there is a woman’s edition, aptly titled “Younger Next Year for Women: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond” by Chris Crowley.

If there is any one book you will read in your lifetime, this would be it. It is life transforming, especially if you are not taking your exercise program and diet seriously.

The book alternates between the author, Chris Crowley, who speaks firsthand about his experiences and personal observations having to do with the aging process, exercise, nutrition, and attitude, and his physician, Dr. Henry Lodge, who explains in easy to understand terminology, how and why the recommendations about lifestyle are based upon scientific fact, research, and studies. There is no wiggle room here; they are quite clear about certain things and don’t equivocate. In a nutshell, their position — for those who want the last third of their life to be as enjoyable and satisfying as it can — is this: exercise (hard, strenuous exercise) six days a week, combining both strength and aerobic exercise. The book also addresses nutrition, food choices, why diets never work, along with the benefits of social interaction, positive relationships, income vs. spending, and other issues that contribute to health, happiness, and well being.

The book is so good, it is difficult to not quote entire chapters. For the sake of brevity, I tried to select some of the most salient points:

Dr. Lodge at one point tells Chirs Crowley during an office visit that there are three things that must be done in order to be as vigorous, athletic, and alert as you are at age fifty until you are eighty or older: “Exercise. Nutrition. And commitment…The biggest one – and the biggest change for most people – is exercise. It is the secret to great health. You should exercise hard almost every day of your life – say six days a week. And do strength training. Lift weights, two of those six days. Exercise is the great key to aging.”

The author goes on to explain that nature and biology has set up our bodies with an innate tendency toward decay, and while this trend is not powerful, it is continuous and gets a little stronger with every passing year. However, he points out our bodies can override these “default” signals through “daily exercise, emotional commitment, reasonable nutrition, and a real engagement with living. But it starts with exercise.”

Without ever endorsing – or even mentioning – CrossFit, the author basically describes the principles and philosophy of CrossFit training time and again…”Nature is not a treadmill at the gym. It’s an ever-changing physical environment, so it should come as no surprise that a variety of different exercises and intensities do more good than a single, unvarying routine.”

The author also recognizes the advantages of joining a class, explaining: “First, you’re more likely to go, because there’s a set time for class and that creates a certain discipline. Second, you’re far less likely to dog it once you get there… What you want eventually, it seems to me, is a solid exercise class habit, supported by a structured class, at a pleasant gym”.

The author also recognizes the value of a good trainer. “Learning to do weights is a little harder than it looks, and a surprising number of people you see in the gym are doing it wrong. Doing it wrong is both counterproductive and dangerous.” The author continues…”You want someone serious who will teach you to do it right and, in time, get you to do it hard. You want someone who can tell you about range of motion and the right pace for a given set of repetitions…A good trainer does that and a lot more.”

Finally, although the author is speaking of general good health and well being, he really is describing the benefits that are produced by committing to the CrossFit concept: “A life characterized by strong, aerobically fit muscles, a healthy heart, lean body, good bones, good immune system, high sex drive and an alert, inquisitive, optimistic mind geared toward working well in groups and building strong social networks.”