Energize Your 3rd Act: ‘Growing Younger’ with Exercise
I recently had a birthday and with a start, I recognized that I am getting closer to 70! Wow! It is quite a shock. At about the same time, I came across the books by Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge, Younger Next Year (there is one for men and one for women) in which they argue that with exercise six days a week , good nutrition, commitment and connection you can defy the aging process. Part of the reason I was so shocked when I accepted my age revelation, is that I don’t feel as old as the calendar tells me I am. And as these books suggest, I feel better today than I did 10 years ago.
Crowley and Lodge are adamant about exercise every day and provide extensive documentation about how and why it is so important to hold the aging process at bay. Other books, such as Chef MD’s Big Book of Culinary Medicine, support their arguments and explain in as much detail how nutrition can save your health. But most of us know how important these physical disciplines are…exercising and eating nutritionally. Yet we don’t always follow them.
I am not intending to hold myself up as a poster child, but I do want to share my experience and why I think these authors have something. My own parents died of heart disease in their early 60’s, when I was in my mid-20’s. As a result, I understood the impact of nutrition on heart disease and for many years I focused on maintaining a good diet. As the years have progressed, I have learned more as the science research has become available, about what is required for a healthy heart and a healthy body. But I wasn’t much into exercise…the early messages which discouraged girls from sports left their mark. In my late 40’s and early 50’s my body began to complain with one ailment or another mostly structural. I was also hearing about the benefits of exercise and reluctantly began to exercise, first to stretch and walk, then I added cycling and strength training. For the last 12 years, I have been seriously committed to the discipline of exercise at least 5- 6 days a week. Between this exercise regime and my diet, I feel younger and my health care practitioners offer the same observation when I have my exams and they review my blood pressure, my cholesterol or my blood test results.
Back to Crowley and Lodge… they also present a significant argument for the emotional and social dedication of connecting and committing to your partner/spouse, friends and family. They point out that the consequences of not making these connections result in higher rates of serious health problems and younger death. We need our communities and our connections for shear survival.
Our work in research and preparation for the 3rd Act offerings, led us to some of these same conclusions. We found other researchers who discovered that we are healthier and happier when we are engaged with life and those around us and when we share a purpose outside ourselves. In our 3rd Act work we advocate creating a life of purpose and passion…taking advantage of the opportunity we have in our mature generations of the extra 20, 30, or 40 years that earlier generation didn’t have.
How are you committed to creating a healthy inspiring life for yourself?
Great focus, Bev. Good to have this reminder of the importance of physically healthy habits: a prerequisite for everything else!
In 2008, I was 65 and too fat, at 5’4″ and 160. I fell twice that year, looked lumpy and matronly, and had kind of given up hope of trimming down from a size 16, albeit 16 Petite (that just means short, not tiny!) ! I was at church one day and a priest handed me Younger Next Year. I took it home and devoured it, laughing out loud at a lot of it. Wow! Now that’s my kind of exercise book. I ditto all that Bev Scott says about the book. There is a section in the book on falling, why it happens and what to do about it. SO helpful. I was inspired – all the factors come together at the right time to get me to the gym – I DID NOT WANT TO BE A STATISTIC of a falling older lady who breaks a hip and never walks again, or is permanently impaired. I have lost 20 lbs. in the past year, look and feel wonderful, exercise 7 (yes, 7) days a week with joy. I tell people I lost over 10% of my body weight – it sounds like more than 20 lbs. to me. Ah, vanity. I look forward to an old age with health. Chris Crowley, the retired lawyer voice in the book, describes a woman in her 80s who writes a cookbook which is not particularly wonderful, but he describes her as “supremely unconcerned” about the results of that effort, and is focused instead on giving from her wealth of energy and joy. I want to be “supremely unconcerned” about many things, and use her as my example.