The introduction to Younger Next Year, a best-selling book that promises to reverse aging “through the power of exercise,” asks two unambiguous questions: “Why another exercise book and why this book specifically?”
Authors Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D., take the next 158 pages to respond. Why another exercise book?
Because the evidence mounts daily that the link between exercise and good health is unbreakable. Despite that, most of us would rather sit for an hour than walk for 10 minutes, spend four hours watching TV than 45 minutes working out at the gym, take a nap rather than jog a mile or two.
Why this book?
Because it is filled with research-based advice; because it is inspirational; because it is written with a twinkle in its eye; and because it might motivate its reader to get off the couch and run to the nearest gym — and to do that six days a week for 45 to 60 minutes a visit.
Younger Next Year made its first appearance a decade ago to raves from reviewers and book buyers alike. An instant best seller, it has sold a million copies over the years. The new release adds an illustrated exercise guide authored by Bill Fabrocini, whose training credentials are sterling: NBA MVP David Robinson and tennis star Martina Navratilova are among his successes.
Crowley, who did most of the writing of this sprightly guide, is a retired trial lawyer and a patient of Lodge, who runs a 20-doctor practice connected to Columbia University’s medical school, where he teaches.
Lodge chimes in with sidebars as appropriate, explaining the science that undergirds the theory — that the un-exercised body decays at a relentless pace. Crowley credits Lodge with his longevity — 80 — and his exercise-driven well-being.
The addition of Fabrocini to the mix adds a vital dimension to a book that was long on well-grounded advocacy and a bit short on how to achieve what was being advocated. The update offers a nicely illustrated compendium of warm-up exercises and a similarly rich outline of 25 strength-building exercises as well as a six-day aerobic and strength training regimen.
Crowley and Lodge make no apologies for what they ask their readers to do, namely to invest time, energy and discipline into seriously working out six days a week for about an hour. If you’re the sedentary type or overburdened by the crush of work, that sounds like a big commitment.
But, they say, consider the alternative.
After age 30 we lose about 10 percent of muscle mass every decade. The result, among other failures, is a greatly increased likelihood of death following a fall and a greater susceptibility to falls.
On average fit people increase their cognitive abilities by about 10 percent as opposed to the sedentary. Interestingly, sleep gives you the same 10 percent cognitive boost and you are more likely to get a good night’s sleep if you exercise regularly. That, says Crowley/Lodge, nets a 20 percent gain in brain power.
Regular exercise coupled with sensible eating habits substantially reduces obesity. Microscopically examine the cells of an obese 10-year-old. They will look exactly like those of a 40-year-old.
And so on.
The message is hammered home repeatedly — albeit gently and with wit — that the choice is yours: Clank like a rusting old machine and perhaps die early and in pain or invest a few hours a week building a sweat for a healthier, happier and, most likely, longer life.
Doug Clifton is the former executive editor of The Miami Herald and former editor of The Plain Dealer.