'Younger Next Year for Woman' is more than a pronoun change and a pink cover from the original 'Younger Next Year'. That 'more' involves discussion of health issues more particularly related to women with a chapter on menopause.
The authors Chris Crowley, a retired lawyer, and Henry Lodge, an M.D., are the same with no addition of a female writer, but that doesn't deny that there is a slightly different orientation, although much of the text, as should be expected, is identical.
I am sure broadening the market for sales was a consideration, but I couldn't dismiss a legitimate need for a gender specific orientation. The female version is a full 50 pages longer, while my review is much shorter. Crowley states that this edition came out three years after the first.
The book is written in tag team style with Crowley providing the experience of his own transformation by exercise and Lodge providing the science behind it. As such Crowley's portion has involved more rewriting than Lodge's.
While the book is more than a decade old and there is new science, most of the science and prescriptions will still be valid.
Crowley writes about how people have come up to him and told him how much the book has changed their lives.
I work with an 80-plus year old who speaks with reverence of the effect of the original edition on his life.
While both books are primarily about exercise and the effect on the aging body, there is a large section on the importance of psychological and emotional maintenance as people age, particularly through interaction with others.
The title suggests that through exercise one can become functionally younger than they were before starting exercise.
It is not suggesting that you can ultimately cheat aging, but you can slow the decline until near the end of life. While living longer is a general part of the promise, living better and more independently seems the more committed part of the message.
Lodge, with specialties in internal medicine and gerontology, provides a comforting assurance on the scientific side. And his style is a compromise between what the layman generally gets and what science has detailed.
One of the most essential concepts is that the body is always in a state of decay and growth and the intensity of each varies according to lifestyle and activity. Inactivity allows a continual decay. Regular activity promotes a breaking down of cells, but also a stimulation for rebuilding them stronger in response.
The contention of this book is that 'aging' for both men and women is 70 per cent 'voluntary'. This is a subjective number and I have seen it as 50 per cent, but in any event quite a bit is within the control of the individual.
The argument of this book is that people should exercise hard almost every day of their life, including two or three days a week of weight training and it is even more important for women than men. Recent science suggests that a small amount of light exercise everyday shows the relatively greatest improvement in general health, but a more serious plan can improve the quality of life and expand what one is capable of.
While losing weight and ditching bad health habits can help, exercise is the best single action to take. “Dieting” is dumb and doesn't work” but weight will drift down with exercise and eliminating junk food.
Interestingly Dr. Lodge says his patients receive good “medical care, but not great health care”. “Modern medicine does not concern itself with lifestyle problems. Doctors don't treat them, medical schools don't teach them and insurers don't pay to solve them.” Modern medicine helps us live longer, but often “wretchedly”.
Lodge believes that more than half of the diseases in people over 50 could be eliminated with good healthcare and it is readily attainable. “Decay is optional, as is functional aging”.
He says that most women will live into their 80s or 90s whether in great shape or shuffling around with walkers. But “they could live better, happier and healthier than any generation before”.
The problem, that comes back to exercise, is that the human body evolved to be active regularly and when it is not, our systems become confused and the result is weight gain.
Decline in activity is interpreted by our bodies as inactivity due to starvation and the response is to slow metabolism and build fat reserves. But in our western society of plenty, starvation is not the reason for inactivity and we continue eating. Our biological mechanisms have not adapted to the new situation.
The books says that the six days a week of exercise is more of a “life saver and life enhancer” for women than men and even more important after 50. Even if one gets into hard exercise gradually a sharp change and commitment to it as a priority is important. And while using a gym is not essential from a physical point of view, it helps underline the commitment.
Lodge calls exercise the “master signaller” that sets in motion the rebuilding chemicals following the micro trauma precipitated by exercise.
The physician introduces two chemicals, cytokine-6 which leads to decay and cytokine-10 which rebuilds. Exercise releases a surge of C-6 leading to a compensating increase in C-10 to rebuild. However, he explains, without exercise causing a sudden increase in C-6 it is released slowly with no accompanying C-10, hence decay predominates.
Despite the presumed public image, says Lodge, more women die of heart disease than men and ten times as many women die of heart disease as breast cancer. And lack of exercise is a greater contributor to heart disease than either smoking or high cholesterol.
He also says that exercise reduces the risk of and survival from many cancers.
Exercise changes your blood chemistry and exercise and mood share the same chemistry.
Get the medical go ahead from your own physician before starting. Initially start with six days of slow aerobics to allow your body to adjust. When in condition, four days of aerobic and two days of weight training is optimal. Consistency, showing up every day, is the key. Treating it as your work in retirement is one angle. Find a level that suits you rather than striving for an intensity that is discouraging. Long and low intensity can serve well forever, says Crowley, but there are advantages to going to high intensity training.
Crowley suggests trying one of the 'healing sports' such as swimming, cross country skiing, cycling or rowing.
Lodge points out that fat is the first and most efficient fuel the body uses. However, it is only sufficient for low intensity steady exercise and glucose takes over as intensity increases.
And telling “every woman she should add weight training” two days a week for the rest of her life for both muscle and bone strength may provoke resistance. And that the weights should be heavy for the lifter, even more. More than three times is not advocated since the quick twitch muscles need 48 hours to recover. Slow twitch endurance muscles only need 24 hours. Aerobic is to lengthen your life and counter diseases, where weights are to make life more worthwhile.
Free weights train 'muscle memory'' including balance and co-ordination so are more comprehensive than machines. And over time weights can improve joint function, ameliorating the effects of arthritis. Lodge says, that while muscle growth is the obvious change, it is “the increase in co-ordination that changes your physical life”. Reversing age-related nerve decay is the key leading to both joint wearing and muscle loss and lazy inadequate contractions.
It creates and reinforces the intimate connection between brain and body, says Lodge. As such the biggest gains from strength training in the last 30 years, have not come in the strength, but the coordination sports. The messages to and from the brain via nerves is as important as the strength gains. All of this plays into reducing the likelihood that you will fall, a major concern with aging.
Bone density, a major concern with women that accelerates after menopause, can be slowed with strength training. Aerobics will help, but just walking doesn't do much in this area.
Only about 10 per cent of Americans over 65 claim to be doing any strength training. Women, Lodge says, can double their leg strength in a few months with training.
While their advocated exercise prescription is 30 minutes per day, with warm up and cool down 45 minutes to an hour might be seen as a strived for maximum. As one gets in better shape more adrenalin is secreted making exercise more fun.
Yoga has advantages over western exercises, but Lodge says this is not a place to start your fitness, but a place to go when you have developed some.
The book addresses the issue of dieting and losing weight with the clarion call that “95 per cent of diets fail” so setting weight loss as a goal is not a good idea. They call dieting the “false god” of the last 30 years. And exercise does not directly impact weight much, but increased fitness over time increases metabolic rate by as much as 50 per cent and burning of fat, but this is an added benefit, not a good rationale to build your exercising around. However, a gradual weight reduction would not be uncommon.
And a quote you may like: “There's no creature on earth haughtier than a nice warm doctor prescribing outdoor exercise for some fat, terrified old creature who wants nothing more than to sit and watch TV.”
Crowley says that some societies find obesity so at odds with their image of themselves that it doesn't happen.
There is not much free sugar in nature (honey and fruit) and our bodies have evolved under that regime, but there are huge amounts of sugar now added by processors which confuses our systems.
The way your body reads a high calories and sugar 'fast food' meal is that you have hit a bonanza and have to absorb and store every bit as fat for the future. You produce enough insulin to digest a large animal and have only had a fast food meal. Hence your blood sugar drops and you are hungry again. Adult diabetes is given a nudge forward along with its accompanying diseases of heart, stroke, cancer and arthritis.
Fat is an essential energy and is not bad, provided it is active and used for living, not stored, as is common in our society.
Lodge says that before menopause “women are far healthier than men” but then they catch up to men.
At the time of this writing, Lodge was not convinced of the benefits of hormone replacement. Some studies which purported to show that, he said, may have just been identifying people with healthier lifestyles. A similar underlying factor might be said of tests showing that moderate alcohol consumption was a health benefit.
Most of sleep trouble for women over 50, he says, relates to lack of exercise, stress, artificial light and noise, late night TV and natural age related shortening of the sleep cycle.
Many of the problems attributed to menopause, says Lodge, are in fact a dramatic increasing rate of decay of the body (not lack of estrogen) which can be combatted with exercise. Timing leads people to blame menopause. Mood swings, hot flashes and night sweats, can be reduced by aerobic and strength training.
As with the original book, this has discussion of the limbic system, which relates to mental health bred of connecting and committing to other people. Women do this better and more readily than men and are less likely to isolate in advancing years. There seems to be a correlation between longevity and size of one's social circle. And keeping meaning in life helps to combat diseases. Again it is likely related to body chemistry.
“Social connections are a more powerful factor in health and mortality than smoking, alcohol, exercise, nutrition or age,” says Lodge. However “interestingly staying physically active also increases your likelihood of staying socially connected.”
Isolation seems correlated to depression and women are twice as prone to this as men, says Lodge There is validity to a healthy mind in healthy body. Lodge points out there seems to be correlation with optimism and less Alzheimer's disease.
And a group you don't want to join is the 50 per cent of women over 65 who have to go into a nursing home at some time.
Connections between people were more constant with the extended families and village life of generations ago, he adds. He particularly cites this with current Costa Rica and Cuba and attributes their longevity to that in comparison with the U.S.
Your chemistry controls your moods and emotions and exercise influences chemistry, mostly positively.
While other factors are important, both author's see exercise as the key because it is so much within individual control and so immediately successful.