By Carrie Luger Slayback
On vacation, my husband, Paul and I strolled down a San Louis Obispo street. A 50ish lady in a plaid shirt, caught up, and said, “You look great!” Days later, on the Huntington Beach boardwalk, returning home from a run, I received the same comment from a young woman who told me she was a P.E. teacher.
They both came from behind me and figured I was younger. Upon a closer look, they were taken aback. “She ain’t young,” they realized. The unspoken subtext of both of these lovely compliments, was “You look good, for your age.”
An art class pal dropped by to leave her painting for our Senior Center art show. She met Paul, and told me later, “I was surprised. He looks so young!”
WHAT’s responsible for these spontaneous remarks about youthful looks?
Two books, Younger Next Year for Men/for Women by Chris Crowley, an active senior, and his doctor, Henry S. Lodge M.D., give specific directions for maintaining “youth.”
You have only two choices as you age—growth or decay. In alternating chapters between Crawley, and Lodge, the authors simplify the body’s growth/decay rhythm into two enzymes:
—Cytokine 6, master chemical for decay and inflammation
—Cytokine 10, responsible for growth and recovery.
Adulthood tips you down the slide to the countdown of decay.
Challenge decay, the authors recommend, with vigorous exercise, six-days-a-week, 45-minutes—four days aerobic and two of weight training. During exertion, your body produces lots of the destructive enzyme, C-6.
Flood your body with the decay enzyme? Why?
Because the C-10 comes roaring in, repairing all the muscles you’ve shredded and the joints you’ve stressed, sweeping away inflammation in the process. Your replacement parts are “young!”
By sweating, exerting real effort, being breathless you’ve stressed your body, demanding it to respond with repair and growth.
Daily workouts make people “look younger,” because the muscle and sinew they continually renew is new. No 100% guarantees. Anyone can fall ill, but you help your chances for robust aging by daily aerobic movement. (Sweat!)
Did you know that death and rebuilding is a normal bodily process? Here are examples from the book:
-thigh muscle cells, replaced about every four months
-blood cells, replaced every three months
-platelets, replaced every ten days
-bones, every couple of years
-tastebuds, every single day!
“You don’t wait for a part to wear out…You destroy it at the end of it’s planned life and replace it with a new one…Biologists now believe that most cells in your body are designed to fall apart [so peopled can] adapt to new circumstances, and because older cells tend to get cancer.”
“The trick is to grow more cells than you throw out.” How? EXERCISE. “Turns out muscles control the chemistry of growth throughout the whole body.” A muscle contracts during use, sending nerve impulses, dictating, “Build body, build!”
You’re designed for moment-to-moment chemical balance between growth and decay, but what you want to do is overwhelm the atrophy signals. Instead, turn on “the machinery to build muscles, heart, capillaries, tendons, bones, joints, coordination, and so on.”
I literally run into my family doctor who shares my neighborhood running path as she walks her dog. “Wow!,” her friend, says, “How can you be out here running all the time?” I answered in one word, “Habituation.” My G.P. nods in agreement.
However, I like the way Crowley and Lodge put it, “Rely on structure more than motivation. Carve out time to exercise, make it a protected time, and guard it fiercely against intrusion.”
I get up and get out six days a week. Hate the alarm clock at 5:20, but have pushed through the abomination of early rising thousands of mornings. Somewhere in my sleepy consciousness is the memory of the early quiet of neighborhood streets, coolness of first breezes, sight of sunrise, and indescribable sensory reward of a body, well used.
Generally, I find peppy self-help books irritating, but Younger Next year for Men/ for Women are exceptions. Reading them helped me describe the “indescribable sensory reward” of my running/hiking habit. It’s called cell renewal.
Do Paul and I look “younger?” Old photos tell of striking differences over years. Looks change, but vitality is renewable. We have energy to spare. We work for it.
Invite your enzymes out for a brisk walk/run/bike ride. Turn them loose to work for you.