It’s not about 401ks, stock options and annuities.  It’s about being alive all of your life.

We’ve spent 10 thousand years trying to live long and grow old.  Now that we’re having some success at it, we don’t know what to make of it. Yes, we’re living longer, but too many of us aren’t enjoying the journey. Modern medicine takes credit for our longer lives, and is also now circumspect about perhaps doing the wrong job extremely well.    

Dr. Henry S. Lodge, who co-wrote the best seller, “Younger Next Year”, which I recommend you read, writes, “My patients had good medical care but not, I began to think, great health care.”

Dr. Lodge is a board certified internist on the faculty of Columbia Medical School who, along with other noted medical professionals, realizes modern medicine does not concern itself with lifestyle problems.  “Doctors don’t treat them, writes Lodge, “medical schools don’t teach them and insurers don’t pay to solve them. I began to think that this was indefensible.”

“One of the great risks of our age is living far longer than we can live well.”

We know that almost 75-percent of premature death and aging is lifestyle related and in his book subtitled, “Live Strong, Fit and Sexy Until You’re 80 and Beyond” Harry Lodge answers the question, “What do I have to do?”

Three things: exercise, nutrition and commitment. And the biggest one, he says, is exercise.  We’ve heard all this before but not in the context of the revolutionary new science of aging.  Essentially his message on nutrition is “don’t eat crap.” You know what’s bad for you but probably eat it anyway.  Commitment?  You have to be involved with other people.

But exercise keeps that miracle body of yours regenerating instead of decaying.

Without exercise we let go and allow the decay code to take hold and lead us through a painful experience of aging.

Lodge writes, “If we had the will to do it, we could eliminate more than half of all disease in men and women over 50.  Not delay it, eliminate it. Instead, we have made these problems invisible by making them part of the ‘normal’ landscape of aging.  Such ailments are not a normal part of growing old.  They are an outrage.”

Genes may be 20-percent of it.  But the rest is up to you. Just remember, most of lifestyle-related disease is preventable, exercise is your weapon and you can change your life.

The message I took from Dr. Lodge’s book was, “you do not have to get old the way you think”.

I had planned this column to be about exercise and the importance of it.  It’s become a book report - also important.  Read the book.  Join me on the walking trail.  You’ll thank me for it.

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