Longevity Through Exercise

Photo by: eloja

But first…Death By Exercise Revisited

A while back, I wrote an essay titled Avoiding Death By Exercise.  You can read it here.  The article was critical of the promises of long term health benefits derived from training for endurance sports like marathons.  The main points from the essay: (1) endurance sports are over-hyped from a marketing standpoint; (2) the time costs outweigh the benefits achieved from training for endurance events; (3) training for and participating in endurance events puts enormous strain and stress on your body…beyond the risk of injury, there is an increased risk of sudden cardiac death.


One issue not discussed in that essay was the impact of endurance training on longevity.  While perusing Anthony Colpo’s website, one of his posts referenced this article: Mortality and longevity of elite athletes.  This is not a definitive study and it doesn’t claim to be.  Rather, it is a meta-study and as the article points out, some of the research included for review is quite old (e.g. some of the athletes covered by the studies competed in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s).  However, the article does reinforce some key practical points and it also asks good follow-on questions.

Key Points

(1) Similar to leisure time physical activity, engaging in competitive sports and vigorous exercise training is generally beneficial to improving mortality and longevity.

(2) Elite endurance athletes (e.g. distance runners and cross country skiers) tend to survive longer than people in the general population.

Overall, endurance athletes appear to maximize longevity living significantly longer than the general population.  In particular, the observed deaths among endurance athletes were less than two thirds of the expected deaths estimated from the general population.  This should hearten those that focus on endurance sports.

(3) Elite mixed sport athletes (e.g. soccer, basketball, ice hockey, and short to moderate term events in track and field) are also likely to live longer than the general population.

(4) Elite power athletes may survive longer, similar to, or shorter than the general population depending on type of sport and substance use.

Follow-on Questions

(1) What role does the high volume of rigorous exercise engaged in by elite athletes play in increased longevity?

(2) Do the genetic factors that predispose one to becoming an elite athlete also tend to increase longevity?

(3) Does the negative impact of performance enhancing substances mask positive results with regards to elite power athletes?  (It would be interesting to compare the impact of performance enhancing substances across all three groups of elite athletes…you’d want to cross-reference with various substances…chronicle interaction effects between substances…total research nightmare)

(4) Can we get similar studies for elite women athletes?

Go Out and Play

Photo by: Ross Hong Kong

What does this mean for all of us non-elite athletes?  Bottom line – Physical activity increases longevity.  The authors cite a report that 40% of adults aged 18 years and older engage in no leisure time physical activity.  That’s nuts.  Come on people – Go out and play.  If you want to live a long and healthy life, get up and move.


TXP: JCDFitness

Hot Nights and Cool Shirts

Hot summer nights require a cool t-shirt.  JC Deen of JCDFitness took care of the shirt by sending me this ridiculously comfortable Tee.  The grey heather and light fabric are quite stylish and the whimsical devil horned cupcake on the back makes people smile, while making a point.

Let Them Eat Cake

In keeping with the theme of the night/t-shirt, I ordered a gin & tonic.  E and I split a Greek Salad and a Pizza Margherita.  The salad and pizza were tasty, but when I wanted to be a bit more devilish and order a waffle with ice cream for dessert, I was told there was no more ice cream.  August in Seoul and not enough ice cream…shame on you My Chelsea!

Look Great Naked

Yes, you can drink socially and eat waffles and ice cream and still look great naked.  To find out how, head over to JCDFitness and read Social Drinking on a Fat Loss Diet and How I Eliminated Binge Eating Completely or Eat to Live, Don’t Live to Eat.

Strong is Sexy

Strong is definitely sexy and it doesn’t have to mean big and bulky.  So ladies, please check out these posts by JC: The Muscle Building Guide for Women and I Don’t Want to Get Big and Bulky: Fitness Marketing and its Effect on Women, or JC’s most recent post – Attention Ladies: Here’s PROOF that Lifting Heavy Weights will NOT make you Big and Bulky.

Do Work Son

When JC’s not training clients, putting up great content, or designing killer Tees, he is building gorgeous web sites via his personal design studio ntunemedia.  With this much going on, JC’s no slacker and here he is doing what he does best WORK!


Thanks to JC for his support of S/E/E and the T-shirt Exchange Project.

Let’s swap shirts.  S/E/E’s TXP has featured people from all over the world.  It’s easy, it’s fun, and you get your very own limited edition 2011 Stretch Exercise Eat t-shirt!  To find out more click here.

Backward Thinking – Why We Must Always Invert

Photo by: thiagofloriano

Invert, always invert

Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi (December 10, 1804 – February 18, 1851), considered to be the most inspiring teacher of his time and one of the greatest mathematicians of his generation, said: Invert, always invert. Jacobi believed that the solution of many hard problems can be clarified by re-expressing them in inverse form.

Backward Thinking

A lot of success in life comes from knowing what you really want to avoid – like early death and a bad marriage.  -Charles Munger.

Backward thinking as described in Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger, 3rd Edition, is applying the power of inverting to help find the solution set to many of life’s hard problems.  Backward thinking is an easy to remember 3 step process:

(1) Invert.  Take a particular goal that you hope to achieve – now invert it to find your non-goal.  To do this ask: What don’t I want to achieve? For example, if your goal is to lose weight, then your non-goal is to get fat.

Once you have defined your non-goal, you are ready for step 2.

(2) Solve.  Step 2 is the analysis phase.  Here, we ask: What causes the non-goal?  In our example, the non-goal is getting fat.  Weight gain can be caused by: over-eating, lack of exercise, drinking too many calories, etc.  The object is to determine the primary factors that contribute to your non-goal.

(3) Re-invert.  Once you have your solution set, you re-invert by asking: How can I avoid that?  If the easiest way for you to achieve your non-goal is by overeating, then to improve your chances for losing weight, you need to focus on strategies that help you avoid overeating.

How can I f*ck this up?

If you have already achieved a particular goal, you can use the power of inverting to remind yourself what pitfalls to avoid, so that you can maintain success and make further gains.  For example, if you are in a great relationship, ask yourself, “Well this is great, what could I do to royally f*ck this up?”  Usually, it’s pretty obvious – probably the easiest top 10 list you’ll ever compose.  Avoid these things and you will improve your prospects for maintaining and growing the relationship.

your Top 10 Anti-Goals

For homework, consider your top ten anti-goals and the key factors for achieving them.  Then, for the rest of your life, do your best to avoid them. To get you started, I’ve inverted some popular goals:

To get ridiculously fat I need to…?

These 3 things will help me waste tons of time and get nothing accomplished…?

To ruin my most important personal relationships, all I need to do is…?

To avoid meeting new people and travelling to exotic places, I should…?

I really want to sabotage my mood.  To be supremely unhappy, I must…?

Get Smarter at the Game of Life

Achieving goals isn’t easy.  Apply backward thinking to clarify solutions.  Once you have a goal in mind, knowing what to avoid gives you half of the solution for achieving it and important guidance for where to focus your efforts.  Remember, always invert.

            Photo by: tim ellis

Another good rule…Life is far too important to be taken seriously.



Exploring Google+ this past week has been fantastic fun.  Google is back into social media in a big way, exploring the edge of what social media will become.  They are taking risks, not worried about looking foolish, and taking it all on with passion.

extended circles

Circles are a stand out feature within Google+, allowing you to organize your own ecosystem and explore and participate in a variety of sub-cultures.  But, your circles aren’t isolated and disconnected.  Rather, they overlap and touch at the edges.  Information travelling along extended circles can reach a very wide audience or you can dial into a micro-group.  It’s a little like exploring a city, while still being able to duck into a familiar coffee shop whenever you need a break.

Meanwhile, this non-linear approach should allow Google+ to be a vehicle for both business and pleasure.  Collaboration will literally be at your fingertips, with video hangouts, document sharing, and email all in one place.

Welcome to S/E/E

Most everyone from my inner circle is familiar with this project, but for anyone dropping by via extended circles, welcome to S/E/E and you can get the main idea here or get started with these posts:

Conquering Conditioning – How to Use the Pool to Improve Your Training

DIY Fitness Gear – Sandbag 101

Flipping Switches and Turning Dials

Going With Option 3 – DIY LÄRABARS

Lamaze for Snipers: How Tactical Breathing Can Improve Performance During A High Stress Event

Protein Packed Black Bean Brownies

Just like Mom used to make.  Well…not exactly, but updating the time-honored tradition of baking brownies offers us a brand spanking new opportunity to add more protein to our diet in a seriously yummy way.  With beans, eggs, and your favorite protein powder, this is a power packed recipe.  With today’s modern appliances, mixing up some brownie batter has never been easier.  Ready for easy delicious fun, then roll up your sleeves and let’s get baking.

The Recipe

1 can of black beans
1/2 cup butter
4 Tablespoons Cocoa
3 scoops of your favorite protein powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1 cup of dates

Rinse beans.

Add beans and other ingredients to the blender. Blend to the consistency of brownie batter.

Kitchen tip: To soften up the dates, so that they blend well.  Put then in a small saucepan.  Add just enough water to cover the dates. Bring water to a boil.  After +/- 1 minute of boiling, the skins will split and the dates will be soft. Drain the water.  The dates will now blend smoothly.

Additional Ingredients: After the batter is mixed, you can fold in lots of goodies.  Dark chocolate chips and shredded coconut are favorites. Or, you can add half a block of cream cheese to make marbled brownies.

Make a parchment paper sling for an 8″ x  8″ baking tin (or grease the tin with butter). Pour the batter into the tin.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes (or until a test toothpick comes out clean).


For perfectly cut brownies, after baking, put the tin in the freezer for two hours.  After chilling, lift the uncut brownies out using the parchment paper and place on a cutting board or cutting sheet. Then, use a pizza wheel to cut straight lines, without any crumbling.  If you notice brownie accumulating on the pizza cutter, rinse it off with hot water, then continue.


After a workout with a glass of milk is a good option.  Sometimes I put a dollop of peanut butter on top too.  They are easy to wrap and bring with you to work, the gym, or for after the game.


If you don’t scarf down all the brownies in one sitting, make sure you refrigerate them for proper storage.  Leaving them on the counter is not a good idea, as they can get moldy.  Word to the wise.

There you have it a new twist on an old favorite.  With quality and convenience, you can’t go wrong with this recipe.  Mom’s all smiles, as you honor the past by preserving this classic tradition…and, after one taste of these delicious protein packed black bean brownies, you’re gym buddies will stop teasing you about wearing an apron.


Going With Option 3 – DIY LÄRABARS

EAT: Weird and Wonderful Avocados

Protein Cookies That Don’t Suck

Two Balls and a Sock – It Ain’t Nothin’ But a Peanut

If you haven’t already been to Kelly Starrett’s MobilityWOD video blog, do your body a tremendous favor and check it out (Travis – Thanks again for turning me on to Kelly’s work).  Watch the vids and experiment with the mobility work that Kelly (K-Star) puts up nearly every day.  Here is an example:

Enter The Peanut

At the 1m 35s mark Kelly goes over some back work and for this, he uses a “peanut” to help.  Turns out this is a massage peanut, which I could order from Amazon, except there’s is all spiky and scary looking.  Also, it could take weeks to get to me here in Korea.

The Tools At Hand

If I still wanted to try this mobility work (I did), then I had to come up with my own solution.  Here’s what I had and here’s what I came up with:

1  Dress Sock + 2 Tennis Balls = DIY Peanut

Directions: Stuff tennis balls into dress sock.  Tie off dress sock with a knot.

Note: I tried using a zip tie first, but the sock slipped and loosened up.  So far, the knot is holding fast.  I’ve been hesitant about trimming the excess, because I may need it at some point to retie the knot.  But, if you want to make it look pretty, by all means trim away.

Peanut Enhancement

In this early episode, Kelly briefly mentions duct taping two lacrosse balls together to create a peanut.  I figure with a more durable athletic sock and two rubber coated practice baseballs (plenty of baseball stuff available in Korea, not so much lacrosse stuff), I can get something similar.

The Peanut In Action

Check it out – A short vid of me rolling with the peanut.



DIY Fitness Gear – Sandbag 101

DIY Gym Equipment

Recovering From Injuries

It’s Not About The Bike…You Don’t $ay

where is the outrage?

I’m no fan of Lance Armstrong…but, watching his chickens come home to roost this past week has been disheartening in its own way.  At the end of the day, I have to question why there is no outrage directed toward the organizations that most benefit from the duplicity in cycling and other sports regarding the use of performance enhancing drugs…the promoters and sponsors.

A tacit understanding

Once upon a time, I wrote a paper (Betrayal of Trust) on the regulation (or lack thereof)of performance enhancing drugs in horse racing.  My take then and now is that the promoters (and this includes sponsors) have the greatest interest in maintaining the façade of regulating the sport and keeping its participants clean, while allowing (read as tacitly encouraging) a culture of secret use and abuse of performance enhancing drugs.

It’s easy to focus on Lance as the beneficiary of this secret compact (sure, he has made his millions), but the organizations have much greater interests in play. The Tour was hugely promoted and public interest was kindled in the relatively untapped US market, when Lance went on his winning streak. If you look at who really benefited, Lance’s takings are a pittance compared to what the promoters received from the increased demand for their product -Le Tour- and the exposure that sponsors received for their products. Lance did what LeMonde and an outlier like Indurain (the Secretariat of cyclists) couldn’t. To an organization looking to promote the sport, how he did it is of secondary importance (if they care at all).

cracks in the façade

The reports that there was a cover up involving a positive test for Lance at the 2001 Tour de Suisse, has put a crack in the façade, showing the promoters as the co-conspirators they really are.  Such behavior is not without precedent.  Rumors have surrounded positive tests for Carl Lewis for years.  At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, nine positive drug tests were reported out by the lab, but never acted upon by the International Olympic Committee.  Prince Alexandre de Merode, chairman of the International Olympic Committee medical commission said the tests were never acted upon because all material related to the cases were taken from de Merode’s offices at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles and destroyed in a shredder.  Speculation is that Carl Lewis, the star whose athletic performances rekindled American interest in the Olympics, after the 1980 U.S. boycott of the Moscow games, was among the nine.

Meanwhile in 1988, at the US Olympic trials leading to the Seoul Olympics, Lewis tested positive for the banned stimulants found in cold medications: pseudoephedrine, ephedrine and phenylpropanolamine.  The US Olympic Committee cleared Lewis finding that his ingestion of the stimulants was inadvertent.  Remember 1988 was the year that Ben Johnson was disqualified and Lewis was subsequently awarded the gold medal in the 100m.  It’s Orwellian how name athletes have their reputations protected through the use of doublespeak by the promoting agencies or the athlete’s own public relations team, while others are vilified as tainting the sport.

The award for the most notorious example of allowing the use of performance enhancing substances to reinvigorate public interest goes to the baseball owners.  After the strike years, interest in America’s national pastime was waning.  So a blind eye was turned, as the number of home runs sky rocketed.

show me the money

Whether its seven consecutive Tour victories, nine gold medals, or 73 home runs, off the charts performance draws the interest of casual fans.  That interest translates into money for the promoters and the sponsors.  How many more bikes did Trek sell after Lance’s victories?  In college, I remember having to read about the Tour in the newspaper.  ESPN aired highlights at inconsistent hours of the day and night.  Live coverage sponsored by Subaru, the Discovery Channel, or Nike was unimaginable.  Then there was Lance and everything changed.

warning: don’t feed the delusion

After the 1998 Festina affair spiralled out of control and exposed Richard Virenque and the swirl of controversy surrounding Jan Ullrich, you had to be delusional to ignore the facts and reach the conclusion that Lance was riding clean and still beating these guys.  Yet, American fans willingly deluded themselves, all the while demanding to be entertained with super-human performances.  That’s the axe I have to grind with Lance Armstrong…he fed the delusion.  Now, the only way for him to maintain the lie is to attack the credibility of the team mates that helped him succeed.  Meanwhile, the promoters, sponsors (yes, Festina is a sponsor for the 2011 Tour), and even the riders will cluck about cleaning up the sport.  There really is no honor among thieves.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

In 1924 the journalist Albert Londres followed the Tour de France for the French newspaper, Le Petit Parisien. At Coutances he heard that the previous year’s winner, Henri Pélissier, his brother Francis and a third rider, Maurice Ville, had pulled out after a row with the organiser, Henri Desgrange. Henri Pélissier explained the problem – whether or not he had the right to take off a jersey – and went on to talk of drugs, reported in Londres’ race diary, in which he coined the phrase Les Forçats de la Route (The Convicts of the Road):

“You have no idea what the Tour de France is,” Henri said. “It’s a Calvary. Worse than that, because the road to the Cross has only 14 stations and ours has 15. We suffer from the start to the end. You want to know how we keep going? Here…” He pulled a phial from his bag. “That’s cocaine, for our eyes. This is chloroform, for our gums.”
“This,” Ville said, emptying his shoulder bag “is liniment to put warmth back into our knees.”
“And pills. Do you want to see pills? Have a look, here are the pills.” Each pulled out three boxes.
“The truth is,” Francis said, “that we keep going on dynamite.”

Henri spoke of being as white as shrouds once the dirt of the day had been washed off, then of their bodies being drained by diarrhoea, before continuing:

“At night, in our rooms, we can’t sleep. We twitch and dance and jig about as though we were doing St Vitus’s Dance…”
“There’s less flesh on our bodies than on a skeleton,” Francis said.

From Wikipedia: Doping at the Tour De France.

Finishing IS The Final Triumph

But, I’ll continue to follow the Tour.  No matter how they get there, completing the Tour is a crazy feat.  There is something mesmerizing about watching men risk their necks, endure excruciating pain, face physical and emotional exhaustion and still manage to ride onto the Champs-Élysées and past the Arc de Triomphe.