By BOB FOULKES

The promise is brazenly broadcast across the canary yellow book in bold black letters’ you can’t miss it on the bookstore shelf. How could I ignore such a promise, when legions of messianic friends push it on me?

Well buddies, it’s my turn to proselytize. Younger Next Year is the best self-help book I have ever read, and I hate self-help books. But this one makes sense. I can look and feel younger next year.

Here’s why.

First, Chris Crowley, the principal author, is one of us. He’s a man in his 70s who looked into his future and didn’t see much he liked. Co-author Henry (Harry) Lodge is a medical doctor with a firm grounding in the science of aging. He knows what needs to be done and has the extraordinary ability to make a simple, compelling and easy-to-understand case for their advice.

Crowley and Lodge cannot be ignored the way I can ignore the freak of nature who wants me to run a sub-three-hour marathon next month and has a host of complicated charts to show how I can do it. Most self-help books offer recipes for failure. I fail, I toss the book into the trash and then retire with a tub of ice cream to the couch in front of the TV.

Second, their suggestions are simple and practical but they are not easy. They offer seven practical rules that I can carry around in my head, that I can adopt without committing my life to their cause and sacrificing everything else I hold dear.

If we follow Harry’s Rules we can roll back the clock.

The first five of Harry’s rules relate to exercise and reflect the simple axiom: Use it or lose it.

  • Exercise six days a week for the rest of your life.
  • Do serious aerobic exercise four days a week for the rest of your life.
  • Do serious strength training, with weights, two days a week for the rest of your life.
  • Spend less than you make
  • Quit eating crap.

The book has two simple drawings that show the difference between following Harry’s rules and doing nothing; we go through a long period of decline and deterioration and then die or we remain fit and active and healthy right up to the end. We can choose.

Chris has an interesting point of view for those who are retiring or shifting their time and priorities for work/life balance: Make this your new job. My job now is to make sure I get in my hour of exercise, to make sure some of that exercise is weight training or serious aerobics. My job is to not eat crap. My job is not negotiable.

This isn’t just an exercise book. Crowley and Lodge have two vital additional pieces of advice.

  • Care
  • Connect and commit

Harry and Chris practise what they preach.

What are these about? These represent the sweet spot of the book; the real gold in the mine. Crowley and Lodge want us to remain healthy  for a purpose. We are social animals, we need interaction with other people to survive. We must do something meaningful with all those extra productive, healthy years. If we care and if we connect, we truly do become younger next year, doubling the positive impact of our physical workouts.

Caring, connecting and committing to life, to friends, to causes, to community. Passion, intellectual and emotional commitment, drive and finding meaning in life; all are essential for health. The fact that I care about my friends, make meaningful contributions to my community show that I matter, that I am needed. These give me reasons for getting out of bed every morning. These are as important to my health as fitness and nutrition.

Here’s the closer: Harry and Chris make a compelling case for fitness even more compelling, they guarantee that following their rules will lead to a more active and more personally satisfying sex life. if that doesn’t make the sale, I don’t know what I can do. So, buy the book, enjoy the read, take on your new job and care, connect and commit.

Bob Foulkes is a member of the WisdomFishing.com editorial board.