'Younger Next Year' author teaches not what to do, but howAuthor Chris Crowley said he’s not entirely surprised by the success of the book he co-wrote with his doctor, Henry S. “Harry” Lodge.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
Author Chris Crowley said he’s not entirely surprised by the success of the book he co-wrote with his doctor, Henry S. “Harry” Lodge.
“We sure knew that the problem was broad,” the retired lawyer said. “We didn’t know that the solutions would be as popular as they are. But we had hopes.”
Since their book “Younger Next Year” was published in 2004, it has sold more than a million copies, appeared in 20 languages and spawned a cottage industry — the latest book, “Thinner This Year,” came out in January.
“Younger Next Year,” aimed primarily at male baby boomers, offers the promise that people can delay and even reverse the aging process by following what the authors call Harry’s Seven Rules. Crowley, 78, will bring that message to Duluth in a free talk at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center on Thursday.
In an interview from New York, Crowley talked about exercising on the road, the importance of sticking to it and why government exercise guidelines don’t go far enough.
Q: How do you manage to follow Harry’s Rules in the midst of a heavy travel schedule?
A: I have a very heavy travel schedule sometimes, and I’m pretty good about it. On the exercise side, just bring stuff, obviously. Bring workout clothes. Almost every hotel has at least an adequate gym where you can get some exercise. They’re very apt to have an elliptical machine and stuff like that. Second, I’ve been concentrating lately on the warm-up in “Thinner This Year.” It’s a warm-up chapter by Bill Fabrocini (a trainer and physical therapist). And I’ve gotten religious about that because it’s so darn good for my aging joints.
So, I go to the local gym, I do one or two sessions of the warm-up, and I do some elliptical stuff. If they’ve got a real gym I do more.
Q: Some of your recommendations seem intense. Are there moderate steps people can take that have at least some of the benefits of “Next Year”?
A: Our basic advice is it makes a world of sense to get an exercise habit and make it a big deal, six days a week. What the exercise consists of, that you can fool around with. If you’re not in very good shape, you’re going to start off walking. Walk a couple of blocks a day. Build it up, so you can finally walk for 45 minutes or an hour, and then you can do more. If you’re in really rough shape, you can’t start out by jumping on a bicycle and going for 50 miles. That’s not going to happen. The idea is to do stuff that’s slightly demanding for you. Tailor it to yourself.
Q: When people talk to you about Harry’s Rules, what do they say they struggle with the most?
A: They always want to do less time, they want to do fewer days. And I say, “You know, think about this: The tide of aging runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is a miracle that you can overcome it so much with only six days of exercise for an hour a day. Don’t slack off on that. Do the full six.” Is it some help to do one or two or three or four or five? Of course it is. Six is the ideal.
Q: Dr. Harry wrote: “The simple fact is that we already know perfectly well what to do.” If that’s the case, why do people need to buy the book or listen to your talk?
A: The thing is, just because we know it doesn’t mean we do it. The thing that’s been the key to the success of the book … is it’s very compelling. It’s changed a lot of people’s lives. I think there’s two reasons for that. One: Harry’s science. Once you understand how your body works when you do or don’t exercise, it’s just so darn compelling. That’s motivating. Second: I think the tone, the camaraderie of it, it’s kind of fun — that’s persuasive. For whatever reason, it’s a very motivational book. People know they ought to exercise, but they don’t know why, I promise you. That’s news. It’s an eye-opener for almost everyone.
Q: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services doesn’t go as far as recommending six days of exercise a week. The government advocates at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity. Does that go far enough?
A: No. We think it takes more. We think they try to stretch their net as far as they can by having it easier. We try to be as straight as we can with people. People will make their own accommodations. They’ll make their own compromises. That’s not our job.
Q: Some of the things you write about — buying a heart monitor, taking a vacation to jump-start an exercise regimen — can start to add up. Can Harry’s Rules, particularly for exercise, be followed on the cheap?
A: Absolutely. … The whole regimen, the whole aerobic regimen and the whole strength-training regimen can be done with no equipment, no gym, no trainer, no nothing. You can do it for peanuts, you really can. You may have more fun hiring a trainer, getting a bike, doing what you can. But it’s not a money-intensive deal.
Q: What would you say to people in low-income neighborhoods who might not have access to a gym or to healthy foods? Can they still apply Harry’s Rules?
A: I think they can. Obviously, it gets harder. If you have to struggle to buy decent food, if junk food is the only thing that’s available, if junk food is super cheap, it’s a tough hill to climb. It just plain is. That’s a national problem. As for gyms in bum neighborhoods, there are wonderful Y’s in a lot of places, but if you don’t have one it makes it hard. You do stuff at home, but then if your home’s tiny, that’s a problem. I don’t know the answer to things like that.
Q: For people who come to your talk in Duluth, what can they expect to get out of it?
A: What people have said is that it’s a deeply motivating talk on a very important subject, and it’s funny. That’s not a bad combination. It’s fun, it’s funny; it may change your life. It certainly will give you new information.
If you go
What: Motivational talk by Chris Crowley, author of “Younger Next Year.”
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Symphony Hall, Duluth Entertainment Convention Center
The event includes a drawing for free autographed books and appearances by 99-year-old Jan Petersen, Mayor Don Ness, University of Minnesota Duluth
Chancellor Lynn Black and the 2013 Bulldog dance team.