A friend and I were talking about exercise a few months ago. I told him exercise was a constant struggle for me. I tend to prioritize many things ahead of taking care of my body. At 42 years old, my lack of focus on health felt like it was starting to catch up with me.
He asked whether I had ever heard of the book Younger Next Year. I had not. He explained that a basic premise of the book was that you should view exercise as a job; since many men respond well to the responsibility of their job, part of the idea was to turn that focus onto personal health. The idea was intriguing.
Jim loaned me the book, and I read it over the next couple of weeks. The book encouraged at least 45 minutes of exercise a minimum of 6 days per week. Ouch. I was loafing along at 25 minutes or so 2-3 times per week (on a good week). That was going to be tough.
As I read the book, I discussed the principles in it with my wife and kids. We were all quite fascinated. The book is written by a retired attorney (Chris Crowley) and a practicing doctor (Harry Lodge) and combines humor, practical insight, and medical knowledge in an easy-to-read format.
With the encouragement of Jim, who had loaned me the book, and the support of my wife and kids, I began to work out much harder and longer more consistently. It took about 3 weeks to really get myself up to 45 minutes every day, but I made it a couple of months ago and have been there since. I’m also eating healthier as a result of some recommendations in the book. We’re trying to apply the lessons learned to our entire family, and the kids are surprisingly into it.
I have some quibbles with the book, of course. They base a lot of their conclusions on theories of evolutionary function. I am not an evolutionist, so I had to get past that. Despite my disagreement with that aspect of the book, the conclusions made great sense.
My wife is very happy I’m getting in better shape. I can outrun the kids again. I can lift more weight. I have more endurance. I’m still not in the kind of shape I should be in, but it’s improving. I haven’t lost much weight yet, which is a little disappointing, but it’s really not a weight-loss program. It’s a better health and condition program. I’m losing a little weight, and I think this is probably much better long-term than some sort of crash diet, anyway.
And while the immediate benefits are good, the book is really about the future health benefits as we age. Their big idea is that regular exercise (coupled with eating well and investing yourself in something you care about) can help you age FAR more gracefully and keep you physically well into your 80’s or 90’s. In other words, your health can (in many cases) get better as you age rather than worse.
Chris and Harry have a website, if you want to check it out. I think it’s worth your time.