Editor's note: Grant submitted this article several years ago for a "Take the Lake Corner" series of articles. I really like this book he reviews Younger Next Year and it's point of view and easy way of explaining the importance of a consistent exercise program. It "makes sense" and it "doable." As with any new exercise program, consult your physician before beginning.
By GRANT EGLEY, Take the Lake Steering committee
The phrase, “You have to age, but you don’t have to get old,” may not make sense to you, but it is the message of Younger Next Year, a New York Times best seller about health and fitness.
The authors, Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D., say that you can’t turn back time, but you can turn back your biological clock. The secret is to adopt a healthy lifestyle, which includes regular exercise early in life and continuing it for the rest of your life. Do that and you can feel like a 50-year-old when you are 80. The authors’ language is frank, but they want to impress you that your life is at stake.
They say that too many people are dying or becoming disabled at a much too early age. It is not about just living a long life; it is about being healthy and active while living a long life. Vigorous regular exercise, at least brisk walking, is the most important component of an active and healthy lifestyle. They also emphasize that you should not start an exercise program without first checking with a medical doctor.
“Some 70 percent of premature death and aging is lifestyle related. More than 50 percent of all illness and injuries in the last third of your life can be eliminated by changing your lifestyle in the way we suggest,” according to the authors. “Once you pass the age of 50, exercise is no longer optional. You have to exercise or get old. Life is an endurance event. Train for it.”
The book’s take-home message is that most people can be active and productive up to their 80s if they follow a few rules of a healthy lifestyle. Too many people simply do not prepare themselves for a long and healthy life.
This book is mainly for the age 20-50s crowd because they need to start now and prepare themselves for later years. Those over 50 can also benefit from reading the book, but it is difficult for them to break the harmful habit of many years of a sedentary lifestyle.
Lodge says that vigorous regular exercise is very important because it improves the efficiency of our circulatory system. Losing weight, improving endurance and increasing muscle strength are important benefits of exercise, but maintaining an efficient circulatory system is the main benefit. Each one of the billions of cells in our body needs to be supplied with oxygen and food, and to have carbon dioxide and waste products removed. Fine capillaries of the circulatory system provide this service. If the service fails, bad things happen. For example, when tiny coronary arteries servicing heart muscle cells are blocked, we have heart attacks. Lodge says, “Hearts don’t fail; coronary arteries do. They get blocked, they clot, and we die.” Exercise (also proper diet) helps prevent blockage of the circulatory system in general.
Exercise stimulates blood flow throughout our bodies. With regular aerobic exercise, our bodies build new networks of capillaries that service the cells. Lodge says that at rest, only 20 percent of our blood flows through the muscles, but with exercise that number rises to 80 percent in a trained athlete. We all are not trained athletes, but we should similarly benefit to some degree.
We started life with a body capable of being very active for many years. Science now says that in order to keep this capability, we must continue to be active throughout our lives. The sedentary lifestyles of too many of us lack the activity needed to maintain that capability. Regular exercise can fill the void created by the sedentary lifestyle. In other words, exercise can help make up for the lack of a healthy lifestyle.
The above is only a sample of the authors’ statements about the benefits of exercise and a healthy lifestyle. It is not a typical how-to-do-it book. Its main message is to start an active lifestyle early in life and continue it because “your life is at stake.” I urge you to take a look at this book.
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