This post starts with a background story… In November a gentlemen from Washington D.C. was coming to Pittsburgh to visit his family over the Thanksgiving holiday. He was searching the internet for a place to play tennis while in town, found my website, and was intrigued so he setup a private lesson. I was also intrigued because my main work is with youth but I very much enjoy training motivated adults. Long story short, he loved his lesson and we talked for some time after. A couple of days later I get this book in the mail, Younger Next Year, with a thank you note saying it was the best lesson he has ever had!
So I read the book and am blown away at how these two authors, Chris Crowley & Henry Lodge, M.D., simplify some very complex subjects into a really fun and easy to read book. I thought it was so good I ordered 4 copies for Christmas presents!
So let me summarize the book and how you too can become Younger Next Year…
Modern medicine has done great things for us and it is relatively safe to say we are going to live for quite some time. The problem is the quality of life deteriorates as we get into the last third of our lives. Most people think this is just the way it is but the truth is that it does not have to be this way. Their is no reason someone in their 70’s or 80’s cannot experience the same quality of life as someone in their 50’s. Your body just does not have to deteriorate if you send it the right messages. This is the premise of the book and being a fitness expert I know how very true it is. I have read some hard core science books on this stuff but this book states it all so elegantly.
People must understand humans evolved over the course of 100’s of millions of years. We share much of the same parts that bacteria, reptiles and other mammals do. However, perhaps the most difficult thing to comprehend is we were hunters and gathers for millions of years and evolved to be that way. Exercise was a daily aspect of life necessary for survival. Farming, the grocery store, cars, and all the modern comforts we take for granted every day are brand new in terms of evolution. So our body was designed to hunt, gather, and eat food without refined sugars and carbohydrates.
In fact, our body’s are so smart when our ancient ancestors would go out and expend energy getting food it would send a cascade of messages for our body to grow and expend energy. When our ancient ancestors were sedentary it meant there was no food and our body would send a completely different cascade of messages to decay and conserve energy. Our entire body was built to function around listening to the messages sent by our daily activity levels. You can either tell your body to “grow” or “decay” every single day of your life. When I put it in that light I hope you are seeing how important daily movement and exercise is!
So here we are today, we live in a world with plenty of food and conveniences that discourage physical activity. However, we live in a body that evolved to be physically active for survival. Physical activity and food went hand-in-hand. Today we have the food but no physical activity. It is quite an interesting paradox. Now you understand the obesity crisis in a nutshell, our body speaks the language of physical activity not calories. When you are sedentary, regardless of how much food you eat, your body thinks it is starving because it never gets the cascade of messages from physical activity telling it to grow along with all that food. There was no such thing as exercise for our ancient ancestors, they only spent energy when they had to for survival.
So what does it all come down to. If you are sedentary you consistently send the message to your body to decay. If you are physically active you consistently send the message to your body to grow. Growth or decay messages are sent consistently over the course of a lifetime. Guess who will have the low quality of life when they are in their 70’s?
I highly recommend Younger Next Year as a must read for anyone who wants to take charge of their health in 2014! It is a game changer and has so much more information than I posted here on how to live a long and high quality life.
I am thankful for the gesture and gift of that kind man from D.C. If you are a science nerd you may want to check out Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky. This book goes deep into our stress response and what it meant for survival and what it means today when we are not being chased by a hungry lion trying to eat us.