Do You Want To Be Younger Next Year?

Today’s post will be a bit unique.  Play along, as I try a different approach to my writing, and present a “Nancy Drew Mystery” type of post.  The challenge: See if you can solve the mystery (don’t stress if you can’t, I’m also providing a “cheat sheet” in the Footnotes at the end of the post). If you solve the mystery and apply what you’ve learned,  you could, indeed be younger next year than you are today.

First, if you would like to be younger next year, I’ve got a question for you:

How Often Do You Get In The Zone?

Right now, you’re probably not sure what I mean, exactly, by that question.  Therein lies the mystery. I suspect you’re asking yourself something like the following as you try to figure out where I’m going with this:

By “In The Zone”, which one of the following does he mean????

1) Being so intense into something, that you’re “In The Zone” (if you think that’s the meaning of Zone, you’re wrong.  I’d call that being “In The Flow”).

2) Playing a Sport:  Perhaps a memory of High School sports, when you find yourself “In The Zone” and have a great game?  (Nope, not that one either.  You were just lucky back then.  Smiles.)

3) A Major Achievement: You crush an achievement you’ve been working toward, and think of that wonderful feeling of being “In The Zone” during the event due to your 6 month long training schedule?  (Nope, not there yet……)

Nope, Nope and Nope.  Today, a different kind of zone.

We’ll see how long it takes you to figure it out.  A chance to work your brain. If you want to cheat, jump to the footnotes (but please don’t, until you’ve read the story below).

For those of you who are newer readers;  my approach is to weave in posts about the”softer” sides of retirement along with my analytical posts on the “harder” sides ($$).  A successful retirement requires planning on both the “soft” and “hard” sides of retirement, and since I’m working on both in preparation for my retirement, they both have a place in my blog.

With that, here we go:

Tonight, I was “In The Zone”.

SUGGESTION:  Read the story below, and skip over the footnote references on your first scan.  If I’ve met my “Creative Writing” self-challenge, it should read a bit like a cryptic story, a mystery.  Then, come back and link the footnotes with the story when you get to the footnote section.  I’m trying a different approach, just work with me on this one, I’m having a bit of fun.  Test yourself, and see if you can figure out what the heck I’m talking about….(you’ll know as soon as you read the Footnotes).  Here’s the story:

The Mystery Begins

I exceeded The Zone tonight, actually, and find the entire situation puzzling.  (see FOOTNOTE 1 below, but NOT YET).

For years, I’ve been In The Zone with good results (2 ).  Now, it seems I exceed The Zone with much poorer results (3).

I was surprised to find myself Out Of The Zone tonight, at a level that used to put me In The Zone (4).

Getting In THIS Zone is important, and it’s what today’s article is all about (5).

We all need to find a way to Stay In The Zone

I’m working on something, and it’s very important to Stay In The Zone in order for it to be successful.  The “something” I’m working on is intriguing, and seems to defy the reality of time.  If I can be moderately successful at what I’m attempting (6), it can perhaps add wonderful years of activity to my life.

If You Stay In This Zone, You Could Be Younger Next Year. Share on X

The great part is, you can also add years of fun activity to your life.  The path I’m on is a path that’s available to all, if you dare to accept the challenge.  If you follow this advice, you could also be younger (at least physiologically) next year than you are today. (7)

So, I’m on a quest to find ways to Stay In The Zone.  I’ve found 5 so far, and the latest one involves walking my dogs at our cabin.   (8).  

If you want to be in this Zone, I’d encourage you to find as many ways to get there as possible.  It’ll make the challenge a bit more exciting, and help insure you have enough “arrows in your quiver” to accomplish the goal.

I Have 5 Ways To Get In The Zone (See Footnote 9) Share on X

I’m having a struggle, because staying In The Zone isn’t comfortable for me (10).  Regardless, I’m giving it a focused effort, and I feel great as a result.

So there you have it, The Mystery.  Have you figured it out yet?  If not, no worries, hit the footnotes below and it will all become crystal clear.

Give it a try, you may just be younger next year as a result! (11).

OK, Now For That Cheat Sheet

Have you figured out what I’m talking about yet?  If not, rest easy.  In a few short minutes, all of your questions will be answered.  The harder question is, are you willing to try it yourself?

This article uses footnotes to fill in “The Mystery” above.  Read through the footnotes, and the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place.  You’ll see firsthand how I’m attempting to Get In The Zone. I’m attempting a different writing style as a “creative writing experiment”, and hope that this approach causes you to rethink a piece of advice that you’ve heard countless times before.

With That Disclaimer,  The Footnotes:

The Must Read Footnotes:


I’m trying a unique approach today, and suggest you read these footnotes as clues to the real meaning of the story above.  Read the story first, then fill in the real meaning below.

The Footnotes:

(1) I Exceeded The Zone Tonight:  Ok, your first hint.  I was on a treadmill tonight, and was exceeding my targeted heart rate zone.  I was hitting a Heart Rate of 174 beats per minute (bpm) after only 10 mins at a moderate pace.  My Heart Rate never used to get that high at that low an effort, but that’s ok (Hey, we’re all getting older).  I simply threw in some “fast walking” breaks to slow my Heart Rate down a bit.  Seems a 4.2 MPH pace at a 3-6% grade held me pretty steady in my 150 – 155 bpm target.

(2) I’ve Been In The Zone For Years:  At Age 39, I finished a marathon in 3 hr 56 min, or a 9 min/mile pace over 26.2 miles.  Personally, I achieved my goal of a “Sub-4 Hour Marathon Before 40” (too bad that was 13 years before I’d started this blog, it would have made a nice “Series” on how I trained.  Ah well, a missed opportunity.)  My HR was consistently in the 160-170 range during the entire marathon.  My fitness HR has always been a bit higher than the “general guideline” charts of “220 minus your age”.  165 bpm was a sustainable HR for me at Age 40.  Now, at Age 53, I struggle to control my maximum target in a range of 155 -165 bpm.

(3) I Exceed The Zone With Poorer Results:  I used to be able to run a steady 7.2 MPH on the treadmill for 4 miles, with my Heart Rate <165 bpm..  Now, I can’t run 2 miles at a turtle-like 6.7 MPH without taking a walking break at the 10 min mark due to my Heart Rate running up to 175 bpm. What’s happening to me?  I’m getting older, and I’m not in the physical shape I used to be in.  That’s ok, I’m working the zone.

(4) Out Of The Zone: How could my HR be above max (175 bpm) when I was only running 6.5 MPH?  I used to run 7.2 MPH with a lower heart rate!!  Argh, this is really frustrating.  That’s ok, calm down.  Just focus on staying in the targeted zone.

(5) Getting In The Zone:  If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about spending time within your targeted heart rate zone, which I’ll define in Footnote 6.

(6) What I’m Attempting:  I’m starting a moderate program which requires you to shoot for 45 Minutes in your Targeted Heart Range for 6 days every week.  Below are the heart rate zones you should target (as a 53 year old, I’m targeting 136 – 153 bpm, which you’ll see in the right column):

(7) The Advice I’m following is from a fascinating book, Younger Next Year, written by a Dr. who specializes in longevity, and co-authored by a 73 year old “subject” who has applied these techniques.  The Doctor, Henry Lodge, swears that we can be as healthy at 73 as we are at 53, and the biggest single factor is to strive for 45 minutes, 6 days of week, in your targeted heart rate zone.  He bases this statement on  thousands of patients who have followed his advice.  “The Subject”, co-author Chris Crowley, is living proof of the technique.  Interesting stuff, and I figured it was worth a try.

(8)  Ways To Stay In The Zone:  Dr. Lodge encourages the reader to find various forms of moderate exercise, which makes it easier to hit the “6 days a week target”.  I recently found a GREAT trail at the cabin to walk the dogs.  At a brisk walk, it takes me exactly 45 minutes to do the 3+ mile out/back, and it ends with a KILLER hill that juices my heart up to 175 BPM.  Then, after Masochist Hill, a nice 5 minute “cool down” on a flat stretch back to the cabin.  It’s AWESOME, and I do it every day that I’m at the cabin.

(9) My 5 activities to achieve my targeted Heart Rate:  (1) Jogging on treadmill at Apartment, (2) Walking the dogs on that brutal 45 minute loop at the cabin (love that loop!), (3) Running on roads at Apartment & Cabin, sometimes including my racehorse dog on my cabin runs, (4) My X-Country ski machine, when I can’t get outside, and (4) Swimming (no surprise there, given that I won at Olympic Medal in swimming!

(10) The Zone Isn’t Comfortable For Me: It’s uncomfortable for me to “hold myself back” to my 136 – 153 bpm optimal Heart Rate Target.  Running at what used to be a normal pace pushes me to 175 bpm, and I feel like I’m “cheating” if I take a bunch of high speed walking breaks to get my heart back down to 150 bpm.  I want to be able to run 4 miles again, but I don’t think I’ll ever get there if I let the Heart Rate target guide my pace and walking breaks.  It a very difficult adjustment for me, an acknowledgement that I’m getting older.

(11) Younger Next Year: The title stems from Dr. Lodge’s conviction that if you do this routine for 1 year, your body will in fact perform as a younger body than when you started a year earlier.  Further, he claims you will maintain this level of fitness well into your 70’s if you maintain the routine.



Having the physical ability to enjoy life is important, especially in the early years of retirement.  Make the effort now to find a consistent way to get your Heart Rate up, and you’ll benefit for years to come.  It’s time to put the excuses away, and head outside for a brisk walk.

Ironically, I received the following text from a good friend who recently retired as I was concluding today’s post:

Take advice from someone who’s living a great retirement, and focus on getting yourself in shape.  Your retirement, and you life, will benefit from the effort.  And, if Dr. Lodge knows what he’s talking about, it’s possible you just might get younger in the process.


Do You Want To Be Younger Next Year?

Make A Commitment.

Then, Go For A Walk.



    1. Hey AmberTree! You are SOOO lucky to be able to ride your bike to the train station (a common commute in Europe, for which I’ll admit some envy!), and it absolutely counts as the perfect activity to get “In The Zone”! Low/moderate heart rate, and fits perfectly into your daily routine!

  1. I’m pretty sure we get in the zone every day on our walk! Mr. Groovy has 6 inches on me but I walk like a fast lunatic (aka a New Yorker) and make him keep up. For me, with regard to “next year” I’m a bit more concerned about muscle mass. Preserving it and building it are so important as we get older just to keep doing the daily things we need to do. That’s my next focus.

    Good for you for continuing to challenge yourself, Fritz!

    1. Visual images of you as a “fast lunatic” flashing through my mind….lol. Good for you for getting out there for a walk every day with Mr. G!! Muscle mass is also an important area of focus, and I’ve been throwing some weights in after a few of my aerobic workouts each week. (you know me, Mrs. G, always have to challenge myself!). Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Or one could always take an extended dip in very cold water to get his heart rate up :). Sorry Fritz, I’m afraid every post of yours in that context!

  3. They say your health is your wealth! No sense being rich and sick!

    I play basketball each Saturday and lift and run throughout the week. One thing that I worry about is my stress levels. Stress can be as detrimental as poor eating and little exercise. I enjoy the gym and can “get in the zone”! It makes the stress go away.

    Looking forward to more creative writing from you 🙂 I’d say you passed

    1. YAY, I passed! Always a “risk” trying a different style of writing that what “the readers” have grown accustomed to, happy to hear at least one reader approves of the creative writing exercise!!

      Good point about stress reduction, a real benefit of exercise, and one I failed to mention. Thanks for the nice addition with your comment!

    1. BIG ERN! I read your “rim to rim” post with great interest, looked awesome! Funny, I was thinking this morning after I published my post that “45 minutes” and “10,000 steps” are kind of the same concept. With all of the publicity over the 10,000 step goal over the past few years, I should have make the linkage in the article.

      Fortunately, you’ve done so with your comment! Good add!

    1. It’s all due to you recommending it, Ms. Montana! Thanks SOOO much for the recommendation, I was remiss in not giving you a shoutout in the post!! EVERYBODY!! HEY EVERYBODY!! Ms. Montana suggested the book!! She’s awesome. Really awesome! (And, she reads A TON!! She’s earned it, she’s on a one year sabbatical, read all about it on her awesome blog @


  4. Great read Fritz! I’m going to grab the book. Who doesn’t want to grow younger every year?

    Your fitness experience and routine are fascinating. Please keep the updates coming!

    1. I’m glad to hear that my sweat and pain bring fascination to some. You must be a sadist….

      Seriously, thanks for the encouragement. It’s not easy, but I really do strive to find ways to keep myself challenged. It’s good for me, and good fodder for this blog! Glad to hear you enjoy reading about it, I fear sometimes that I write too much about it, but your words are encouraging. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. So what did the book say about extend periods above the zone. You mentioned loving to run, but now it seems too much gets you above the target, but really how bad is that? Does being routinely above the zone cause too much stress on the body leading to more decay just as being way below the zone would?

    For me, there isn’t just anything like running. When I am unable to run, I miss it ferociously. And like you, it doesn’t take much to get my heart rate going when I am running. Naturally pace plays a huge part in it, and I can dial that down, but sometimes you just got to let the jets go. :O)

    1. It said you’ll kill yourself with a heart attack!

      Seriously, he does warn about overly stressing yourself, especially as you age. As a 25+ year runner, I have a pretty good gauge on my body, and do feel I can push the limits a bit beyond his “general” guidance. However, I also realize I don’t have to push myself that hard to achieve the “Get Younger” benefits, so I’m allowing myself the luxury of more moderate effort. As you say, I’m also working on slowing my pace so I can run longer without pushing the heart rate too far above the anaerobic stage.

  6. Great mystery story, Fritz! I was able to figure it out from your title without looking at the footnotes first.

    Good for you for taking on this challenge. Investing in our health is definitely one of the best investments that we can make. Looking forward to future updates!

    1. You’re a smart one, SRGO! Thanks for the encouragement, I just had a BRUTAL workout tonight, and thought of a “challenge” I may present to you, my faithful readers, for our journey together! Shhhh, don’t tell anyone. Our secret, ok? (No commitment that it will happen, and not sure of the timing, but I have the seed of an idea on my mind……)

  7. Fritz,

    the details on this post were amazing! I am definitely checking out “Younger Next Year.”

    I believe this post brings out a great reality that just being healthy and exercising for a few minutes day really helps. No crazy gimmicks, insane diets, or machines, just simple exercise and eating well. Simple.

    Enjoyed the read!

  8. You had me guessing until the end. I’ve become less active in the 12 years that I’ve been out of college, and I can tell a huge difference. Sitting for 10+ hours a day will do that to you. One of my goals for this year is to get to the gym 3 times a week minimum. I also joined a racquetball league (had a brutal match tonight that lasted over an hour), and walk my two dogs as much as possible. As they say now, sitting is the new smoking. I’m definitely going to check out Younger Next Year.

  9. Like many other readers, I’m torn between having yet another Facebook reason to sit (or stand!) at my desk, or not. I enjoy reading your articles about fitness. They are very motivating! I’m happy to say we were back at Taiko last night after 3 weeks break. 2 hours of playing. Yeah!

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