Gordon Book Review Blog

Younger Next Year: Book Review

TennisIf you are a reasonably active 40 or 50-year-old person, then this is the book for you. But allow me to tell my personal story first.

For several years I coached my sons' soccer teams. When I was about 50, I leaned into a ball, kicking it about as hard as I could.  Just before meeting the ball, my femur came out of my pelvis.  The feeling of my body's architecture breaking apart was one I will never forget.  Recovery was slow.  A year or two later, I found myself truly paralyzed in pain for three days from sciatica resulting from a bulging disc in my lower back.  Recovery was much longer than the dislocated hip.  More recently, I realized that normal weekend work in the yard or a competitve tennis game resulted in sore joints for the next few days of the week.  I was getting old.

A friend of mine recommended this book Younger Next Year.  He told me the basic premise is that you can enjoy doing the activites of a healthy 50-year-old well into your 80s.  That really got my attention.  I have always stayed reasonably active, and the transition to the lifestyle proposed in this book is easier for reasonably active people, but the book is definitely a game changer for everyone.  

The book combines a well balanced combination of anecdotal evidence from an active 70-year-old along with science from an internal medicine MD.  The combination of motivation from a true believer and science from a professional makes for a compelling read.

Here's the short version of what they tell you.  It takes three things: vigorous exercise six days per week to break down and rebuild your body with better muscle; attend to good nutrition;  and make a commitment to those first two legs of the stool and then commit yourself to other activites that make you happy (social interaction).

We are an incredibly adaptive species. For 30 to 50 years, most of us get up in the morning and go to work for 6, 8, or 10 hours per day. Then, we return home so that we can do the exact same thing the next day.  Thus, anyone who works can get up and go to the gym for an hour for three or four days per week; especially if you are retired - you have no excuses! Aerobic training makes your body repair itself to 'better than before', strength training improves balance and joint health, and the combination eliminates 70% of the maladies that are associated with death before your life expectancy.

Here's my own testimonial: I started going to boot camp before work about two years ago.  In the past six months, I enjoyed all of the activities that I enjoyed years ago - a week of aggressive skiing in Colorado, enjoying two 7-hour powder days out of five days of hard skiing; a week on the Appalachian Trail with my son, at his pace, in the mountains of East Tennesse and Western North Carolina; I join him again for another hundred miles in Vermont shortly, and plan on climbing through the notorious Mahousic range in western Maine in July; I am currently building a new stone wall in front of my home; I surf, play lots of tennis, and do my own yardwork.  I also own a fast growing small business which demands time and lots of energy (which I have) to keep everything on track.  In short, I feel great and am able to do all the things that I could do in my 30s and 40s (including placing third in a 5K fun run at my college reunion with a time under twenty-one minutes... woo-hoo!).  And I expect to enjoy all these and new activities at least into my 80s.

Although this book is for men and by men, the message is clear to anyone in his/her 40s and 50s.  Make a real commitment to getting healthy, and your life will blossom.  You will be able to enjoy the 'declining years' without decline.  Get the book.  Read it twice.  You won't believe how great you'll feel, and how long you'll continue to enjoy life.


Geoff Gordon

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