Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Aging in Good Health
I once told my son who is a doctor that I wasn’t interested in getting old. My husband and I were deeply involved in caring for his parents who were both elderly and ill, and old age just didn’t look at all good to me. My son pointed out that his grandparents were ill and that being old and ill was much different than simply being old. After this discussion with my son, I decided that I would do everything I could possibly do to stay healthy. My goal is to be in good health until the end of my life – and then just pass away quickly. Only time will tell if I meet my goal, but I’ll die trying to reach it! I’ve been exercising seriously for about ten years ago as well as developing good eating habits for a long time previously, and I’m always looking for better ways to keep myself healthy. This is one reason why I was pleased to have my daughter-in-law loan her book from a recent book club discussion to me. The book is written by a man who is 71 years old but has a healthy forty-nine year old body and his much younger doctor who was tired of watching his patients’ health deteriorate as they aged. The authors are Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D. The book is entitled Younger Next Year for Women – Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy Until You’re 80 and Beyond. A quote from the back of the book says, “Smart women don’t grow older. They grow younger. A book of hope, Younger Next Year for Women shows you how to become functionally younger for the next five to ten years, and continue to live thereafter with newfound vitality. How to avoid 70 percent of the normal problems of aging and eliminate 50 percent of illness and injury. And how to live brilliantly for the three decades or more after menopause. The key is found in Harry’s Rules, a program of exercise, diet, and maintaining emotional connections that will be natural for you, as a woman, to implement. And the results will be amazing.” I found the book to be interesting reading, and I recommend it to every woman because it will help every woman. The book is full of fun stories and good information, all written in an entertaining style. The information can be boiled down to seven statements, which are called Harry’s Rules: “1. Exercise six days a week for the rest of your life. 2. Do serious aerobic exercise four days a week for the rest of your life. 3. Do serious strength training, with weights, two days a week for the rest of your life. 4. Spend less than you make. 5. Quit eating crap! 6. Care 7. Connect and commit” In the end of the book, Harry wrote: “This has been a deeply optimistic look at aging – and for good reason. First, you are likely to live for a long, long time. And second, you make a daily choice in how the rest of your life goes, and it can be great. The rules are straightforward: Exercise hard and you will grow younger. Care about other people and you will grow happier. Build a life that you think means something and you will grow richer. “… And the lessons are pretty simple when you get right down to it: exercise, care, and connect. …it’s a biological choice you make every day. Our bodies are still part of nature, …, and they still run like railroad trains, on tracks of steel laid down over aeons. The train keeps moving forward, but we control the switch. We can choose left or right, growth or decay. The choice we make by being sedentary or isolated is as powerful as the choice we make by exercising or connecting. Remember tonight, before you go to sleep, that you chose just a little bit of growth or decay today, and you get to choose all over again tomorrow…. “Exercise is absolutely the most important message of the book…. Most of our aging is just decay, and decay is optional; it’s under your control. Some of life’s changes are not under your control, but this one is. Taking charge of your life, physically and emotionally, is the best possible antidote to standard aging…. “Our advice is simple. Stay young until you die” (pp 348-355). Since reading this book, I increased my jogging time to forty-minutes a day for six days a week. I continued doing weight training three days each week. I’ll admit that most days I awake with a thought similar to this, “Oh no, today is a weight day” or “I just need to jog today.” The extra forty-five minutes doing weights really tires me, but it also is obviously helping my body to be younger. Since my husband was diagnosed with diabetes, I’ve been learning different ways to combine food groups – which is a healthier way to eat. I can’t tell yet if I’m actually losing weight or simply bouncing around, but I know that I feel better.