When Dr. Beverly Walters, chair of the Seaside Institute, recently introduced author Chris Crowley as the kick-off speaker for its “Aging in Place” program, a voice shot out from the audience. “You should call it Aging in Motion,” Crowley piped up, wasting no time to proselytize for his cause — vigorous exercise for longevity and better quality of life.
“Don’t do it because it’s good for you. Do it because you want to be yourself,” the New York Times best-selling author told the crowd at Seaside’s Assembly Hall.
Crowley’s direct, upbeat approach has turned the 80-year-young former attorney into a sought-after evangelist for the life-extending health benefits of exercise. Peppering his message with off-the-cuff humor, he emphasized the science behind aerobic exercise and strength training as an antidote to aging, saying, “If the science doesn’t motivate you, then just think of it as your job. The pay is amazing.”
Crowley’s books — “Younger Next Year, Younger Next Year for Women, Thinner This Year” and, released this month, “Younger Next Year: The Exercise Book” — all co-authored with internist Dr. Henry Lodge, have become a boomer’s bible to “living like 50 until you’re 80 and beyond.”
A key component in Crowley’s arsenal for waging the “Revolution in Aging” is connection and commitment — avoiding isolation and staying involved in community. He cited Seaside as “the ideal setting for living a healthy lifestyle” and applauded Seaside town founder Robert Davis for driving home his vision of a multi-generational, walkable community. Crowley admitted that before being invited to speak at the Seaside Institute, he had never heard of it.
“I’m stunned to discover Seaside,” he says. “The town itself promotes a better quality of life.”
After a three-day visit, including a book signing event at Sundog Books, a reception at the home of retired neurosurgeon Walters, and a bike tour on the 30-A bike path, Crowley blogged that Seaside “may be the most interesting and important small town in America, the center and inspiration for a real revolution in urban planning and living.” He described the town as “a vibrant and life-enhancing center for the revolt against the sterility of modern suburban models.” This “tract life” alienates suburban families from civic centers and cultural activities and forces them to spend much of their time in cars.
By contrast, he says new urbanism communities like Seaside cultivate a climate where “coffee in the morning or a drink at the end of the day are a chance to watch the floating opera of everyday life parading before you.” Crowley likens Seaside to Greenwich Village, Paris, New England villages and hill towns of Tuscany. “This place is cozy, intellectual, alive. And people flock to be here. Everyone from architect Robert A.M. Stern to the Prince of Wales rhapsodizes about it.” He praised the Seaside Institute’s efforts to further sharpen the town’s focus on fitness, health and aging well through its new Aging in Place program.
Upcoming program plans include speakers and workshops focusing on actively and gracefully aging in a multi-generational community. For information on 2016 Aging in Place events, check the Seaside Institute’s program schedule at seasideinstitute.org.
See Chris Crowley’s blog about Seaside at http://youngernextyear.com/redneck-rivieranot/.