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Younger Next Year

Part of vacation is the freedom to read whatever you want, and you know my interest in health and exercise. This past week I read Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge's book Younger Next Year, A Guide to Living Life Like 50 Until You're 80 and Beyond. It was a gift from a couple in my LifeGroup, and I look into those before recommended reading lists. Once I got started, I didn't want to stop.

The authors' premise is that if you slow down and/or stop, you decay. On the other hand, if you continue to move, exercise, and be active you will grow healthy--possibly healthier than you have ever been in your life--and, you can do this into your 80's.

There's nothing radically different in this book regarding exercise ("Exercise six days a week the rest of your life.") and diet ("Stop eating crap!"), but the novelty of their plan is the last two "Harry's Rules:" 6: Care. 7. Connect and commit. Chris notes that "finding the selflessness with you--getting that one right for you--may trump everything else. Caring at every level is one of the most important things you can do in the Next Third of your life." (242) He sounded something like Jesus' call for us to love others as ourselves.

"Harry," real name, Henry, the M.D., explains in evolutionary terms how we are "social and emotional creatures from start to finish." (245) He concludes, "Because of the limbic way we're made, we are not emotional islands. Simply put, we complete each other." (252, author's italics) We cannot make it alone. Be part of a group. Isolation in old age does as much to send us to the grave as to stop moving. Chris entitles a section of his chapter on this rule as "Cuddle or Perish." We need meaningful touch and connection in order to remain healthy.

What intrigues me about this New York Times Bestseller on health is that it emphasizes the need to care, connect and commit as the basis for their program of health. The ekklesia has been touting that message for centuries. (Or, have we?) While the book is purely secular in its approach, those two rules alone illustrate that we need each other and are designed to serve others by design--no matter our worldview. It's how we are made; not a religious suggestion tacked onto the end of your week.

Care. Connect. Commit. I could package those in a three-week message series from the words of Jesus. These two who "hesitate to talk about spiritual matters" (299) don't know how close they are to getting it right.

The book is light-hearted, filled with stories and hope, and ultimately informative. Don't let the evolution-based science deter you, it's good advice. I was encouraged to continue to exercise, eat well, serve, and stay connected in community with others. Wonder how I'll do in my eighties?