August 2022 Longevity News and Notes
Plus bonus experiment results!
National Senior Games. Here in the U.S. there is a yearly competition for folks over 50, kind of like a Summer Olympics with age groups. This quote is incredibly telling:
“It’s a motivator to stay fit and active, be independent, and have a great quality of life,” says Marc T. Riker, 53, the CEO of the National Senior Games Association. Participation has grown from 2,500 in 1987 to nearly 10,000 in 2015, reflecting the aging and affluent Baby Boomers’ interest in fitness and means to afford such travel. “It used to be that when you turned 50 or 60, it was time to go sit in your rocking chair on the porch,” says Riker. “Now the mind-set is, ‘I don’t want my years to fade away. I want to do something.’”
As a society we are not just aging but continuing our activity and lifestyles later in life.
Along with the Runner’s World article the New York Times has a great writeup as well with lots of advice … “keep moving, keep moving, keep moving”. These athletes provide inspiration for us to thrive longer as our lifespans increase.
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What we owe the future. Recently I’ve had this throughline in my thoughts, prompted by my “Honoring the Ancestors” research: what would my ancestors have wanted for me, and how can I pay that forward? It seems like everything I have read or listened to recently somehow informs this way of thinking. Recent podcast episodes from both Rich Roll and Tim Ferriss underscored the need to widen my thinking. Ferriss interviewed philosopher Will MacAskill talking about “longtermism”, altruism, and thinking about what we are living for. Roll interviewed the futurist Ari Wallach about leaving the world a better place for future generations.
Results from last month’s experiment. About a month ago - prompted by a general malaise of low productivity and unfocused, random work efforts - I jumped into my first Strong99 experiment titled “Pre-planning every day the night before”. The hypothesis was that implementing a pre-planning protocol every night before bedtime will yield more consistent creative work, exercise, and chore completion: less starting my days with a vague starting point, more knowing what was coming up next.
By the numbers.
Length of experiment: 30 days
Average planned tasks: 7.4
Average completed tasks: 4.6
Average completion percentage: 62%
Average focused desk work minutes: 115
Average workouts/week: 3.0
Average walks/week: 2.3
Average days/week non-fiction reading habit: 5.1
Non-fiction books finished: 2
Conclusions. Overall I’m calling this a success. I was able to go from ad hoc and random efforts to more consistent desk work and exercise, I restarted my non-fiction reading habit, and it was easy to implement the protocol nightly. I have adopted this as a lifelong habit ✅
It wasn’t all unicorns and roses … along the way I had several different failures. I was unable to restart my meditation habit. Most of the time I failed to do important planned tasks that I classed as “not fun chores” like cleaning, finances, and yardwork. Taking on this experiment reduced my morning walks with Minette. I allowed things like a poor night’s sleep or fun hobbies to get in the way. That said, just the nature of the experiment allowed me to notice those things more clearly.
Looking forward I want to keep tracking, and hone this pre-planning habit to work better. There are great ideas out there already from people that have done similar activities - see Zapier’s excellent overview here for a whole book on the subject and Benjamin Franklin’s approach to reflecting on the day, Cal Newport’s resource about replanning as the day progresses, and search for ‘productivity’ here to see Will MacAskill’s approach to nightly checkins. I personally use todoist for task management, and integrating that into my planning will improve this system as well.
“What good have I done today?”
— Benjamin Franklin