Turn back the clock

New book by former Pritikin Longevity Center director has my attention

When I was in my 30s I had a friend whose parents were actively involved in the Pritikin Longevity Center programs. They were a youngish-appearing couple who had a truly vigorous lifestyle. They played tennis regularly, walked several miles every morning (often while holding hands) and got down on the floor with their grandchildren at the slightest provocation.

"Grandma, crawl inside my fort with me."

"OK, here I come."

I recall the day my friend told me the ages of her vital and attractive parents. I thought were 50-something. They were actually in their 70s — their late 70s. I remember my astonishment. As I reflect back, I think those two beautifully aging people started me down this path of wanting to know all there was to know about aging well.

And that's probably why the book "Ten Years Younger," written by Dr. Steven Masley, former director of the Pritikin Longevity Center, got my attention. It also met my "rule of three." Three different people from completely separate areas of my life recommended this book to me. These people include a local physician, a fitness "personality" and one of our Oregon State University Extension volunteers, who has boundless "va-voom" (my term, not hers, though it made her smile when I said it).

The premise is this: We have all fallen victim to "an accelerated aging syndrome." Have you complained about achy joints lately? Or maybe you're perplexed by elevated-and-still-rising blood pressure? If you're like me your issue is "stamina." I often have less than I need to get through a busy day (In her later years, my mother used to constantly say, "if I can just get my energy back"¦").

Admittedly, I'm still reading this book. And I'm not sure I want to be "10 years younger" I am actually okay with my current age, but I definitely could use more energy; more va-voom. So I focused on the "get your energy back" sections (check out Chapter 10). I am at the subchapter titled "Strength Training: The Secret to Shaping Up." I will hit that hard and then move, thankfully, to "Sleep: The Ultimate Relaxation."

There are a lot of "age-busting" books, and I'm not suggesting this is the one with all the answers. I would never suggest you turn back the clock by simply reading any book — although I suppose it could happen if you got totally engaged in this book's 10-week plan.

Halfway through it — the book, not the plan — I continue to be impressed. There is an entire section that addresses "how old you really are," using self-assessments of aerobic fitness, strength, body fat, etc. My favorite pages announce "the sweet 16 vitality foods." Flaxseed, garlic and fresh herbs and spices make that list. There are two entire paragraphs promoting dark chocolate that end with the phrase "savor every bite."

I suppose you could think of it this way — there are about 10 weeks until summer hits and the grandchildren visit. Just in case they like to build forts and want you crawling around inside with them "¦ just in case.

Sharon Johnson is an associate professor in health and human sciences at Oregon State University and on the faculty of the OSU Extension. E-mail her at s.johnson@oregonstate.edu or call 776-7371, Ext. 210.

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