The Long Game 146: Grip Strength & Biological Age, A Surprising Effect of Remote Work, Lifehacks, Living Forever
🧠 The Politics of Depression, Alcohol, How to be Successful, Stigma, China in South America, Bulking, and Much More!
Hi there, it’s Mehdi Yacoubi, co-founder at Vital, and this is The Long Game Newsletter. To receive it in your inbox each week, subscribe here:
In this episode, we explore:
Grip strength & biological age
A surprising effect of remote work
How to be successful
We need to live forever
Let’s dive in!
🦾 Grip Strength & Biological Age
This was a good reminder of the link between grip strength and biological age.
Researchers at Michigan Medicine modeled the relationship between biological age and grip strength of 1,274 middle aged and older adults using three "age acceleration clocks" based on DNA methylation, a process that provides a molecular biomarker and estimator of the pace of aging. The clocks were originally modeled from various studies examining diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, physical disability, Alzheimer's disease, inflammation and early mortality.
Results reveal that both older men and women showed an association between lower grip strength and biological age acceleration across the DNA methylation clocks.
"We've known that muscular strength is a predictor of longevity, and that weakness is a powerful indicator of disease and mortality, but, for the first time, we have found strong evidence of a biological link between muscle weakness and actual acceleration in biological age," said Mark Peterson, Ph.D., M.S., lead author of the study and associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at University of Michigan.
"This suggests that if you maintain your muscle strength across the lifespan, you may be able to protect against many common age-related diseases. We know that smoking, for example, can be a powerful predictor of disease and mortality, but now we know that muscle weakness could be the new smoking."
The real strength of this study was in the eight to 10 years of observation, in which lower grip strength predicted faster biological aging measured up to a decade later, said Jessica Faul, Ph.D., M.P.H., a co-author of the study and research associate professor at the U-M Institute for Social Research.
I’ve been playing a bit with grip training over the last 12 months, if you want to start, this is a helpful video (and here’s a good second one.)
For the TL;DW, some tools & exercises:
Fat Gripz (these are the one grip tool I’ve been using and I love them)
Farmers walk (if you’re lucky to have those in your gym)
🏡👨👩👧👦 The Surprising Effects of Remote Work
This was a great article on the surprising effects of remote work. One of the main and most overlooked benefits of remote work is that it makes it easier for couples to become parents.
In the past half century, Americans have had fewer and fewer babies with almost every passing decade; in 2020, the U.S. reported the lowest official fertility rate on record. But last year, statisticians observed a surprising baby bump. Researchers weren’t entirely sure what had happened. Maybe this was random noise. Maybe, like so many pandemic effects, it was a weird one-off phenomenon.
A new paper puts forth a fascinating theory: Maybe remote work is making it easier for couples to become parents—and for parents to have more children.
The economist Adam Ozimek and the demographer Lyman Stone looked at survey data of 3,000 American women from the Demographic Intelligence Family Survey. They concluded that female remote workers were more likely to intend to have a baby than all-office workers, especially if they were richer, older, and more educated. What’s more, remote workers in the survey were more likely to marry in the next year than their nonremote counterparts.
Remote work might promote family formation in a few ways. Remote workers can move more easily, because they don’t have to live within commuting distance of their job. This flexibility might result in more marriages by ending the “two-body problem,” where romantic partners find employment in different cities and must choose between their career and their relationship. What’s more, remote work reduces commutes, and those weekly hours can be shifted to family time, making it easier to start or grow a family.
Fertility is an awkward topic for journalists, because starting a family is such a complicated and intimate decision. But fertility rates aren’t declining simply because more people are choosing not to have children—American women report having fewer kids than they want, as Stone has documented in previous research. If remote work is subtly restructuring the contours of life to enable more women to have the families they want, that’s great news.
Pair with: Early Remote Work Impacts on Family Formation and Unwanted Childlessness
🧠 Better Thinking
I liked this long list of lifehacks. There’s no doubt you’ll find a few that will trigger a personal reflection.
A selection of some that resonated with me:
let people tell you no. don’t make the decision for them.
if you’re ever confused about what to do, just do the right thing
expectation of progress towards a goal is key to motivation. we are not motivated if don’t know next step. we are not motivated if we don’t know what the goal is
if you don’t have consistent scheduled time for your top goals, you don’t have top goals
what are you being a coward about? be specific
working on the hardest problems requires incredible amount of courage. acknowledge & embrace fear.
seek ground truth and poke reality. don’t settle for proxies or for winning arguments.
never defer key beliefs. do everything possible to find ppl thinking from first principles rather than from what’s reasonable or what someone else believes
be suspicious if you haven’t felt awkward today
ppl good at thinking think that thinking is everything; people good at doing think that doing is everything. doers dismiss thinkers & thinkers are scared of doers.
you can decide to pay or not to pay attention to things
never give up
who do you want to be more like? write a list
every document must have a specific goal written at the top of it
feeling stupid now is better than feeling stupid in 10 years
if someone is successful but there are no specific problems they solved, it’s probably because they’re good at persuading people rather than solving problems.
⚡️ Startup Stuff
📈 How To Be Successful
It’s a good time to re-share this excellent & timeless piece by Sam Altman.
“You also want to be an exponential curve yourself—you should aim for your life to follow an ever-increasing up-and-to-the-right trajectory. It’s important to move towards a career that has a compounding effect—most careers progress fairly linearly.
You don't want to be in a career where people who have been doing it for two years can be as effective as people who have been doing it for twenty—your rate of learning should always be high. As your career progresses, each unit of work you do should generate more and more results. There are many ways to get this leverage, such as capital, technology, brand, network effects, and managing people.”
Have almost too much self-belief
“Self-belief is immensely powerful. The most successful people I know believe in themselves almost to the point of delusion.”
Learn to think independently
“Entrepreneurship is very difficult to teach because original thinking is very difficult to teach. School is not set up to teach this—in fact, it generally rewards the opposite. So you have to cultivate it on your own.”
Get good at “sales”
“Getting good at communication—particularly written communication—is an investment worth making. My best advice for communicating clearly is to first make sure your thinking is clear and then use plain, concise language.”
Make it easy to take risks
“Most people overestimate risk and underestimate reward. Taking risks is important because it’s impossible to be right all the time—you have to try many things and adapt quickly as you learn more.”
“Focus is a force multiplier on work.”
“You can get to about the 90th percentile in your field by working either smart or hard, which is still a great accomplishment. But getting to the 99th percentile requires both—you will be competing with other very talented people who will have great ideas and be willing to work a lot.”
“I believe that it’s easier to do a hard startup than an easy startup. People want to be part of something exciting and feel that their work matters.”
“A big secret is that you can bend the world to your will a surprising percentage of the time—most people don’t even try, and just accept that things are the way that they are.”
Be hard to compete with
“The best way to become difficult to compete with is to build up leverage.”
Build a network
“An effective way to build a network is to help people as much as you can. Doing this, over a long period of time, is what lead to most of my best career opportunities and three of my four best investments. I’m continually surprised how often something good happens to me because of something I did to help a founder ten years ago.”
You get rich by owning things
Be internally driven
“The most successful people I know are primarily internally driven; they do what they do to impress themselves and because they feel compelled to make something happen in the world.”
📚 What I Read
♾ We Need to Be Living Forever
Anti-aging tiktok trend, change: vice or virtue?, a healthy dose of tech optimism, and remembering what matters (immortality)
A decade ago, I did a lot of thinking about what we term today “technological utopianism.” We were talking about a lot of things back then: robotic automation; advanced genomics capable not only of curing all disease, but bringing back extinct species; augmented and simulated reality; an almost unlimited energy from nuclear fusion; filters of the kind we’re just now beginning to see on TikTok were considered the first step toward living whatever kind of parallel life we wanted in a virtual world; and the future of artificial intelligence was considered a way to greatly amplify our ability to think, and make all of these advances possible. If the singularity were real, this entire world could maybe even happen overnight. But for me, chief among the promises of technoutopia was our path to life everlasting — either by way of uploading our consciousness, or biological immortality.
No matter the many people working on anti-aging technology, and no matter the amazing progress we make, the entire subject is somehow always seen by serious people as fundamentally unserious. But my hope, now, is remembering the way we used to look and feel achieves exactly what the haters seem afraid of, and triggers a desire to dramatically expand our healthy years, because desire fuels demand.
Human potential necessarily diminishes as we choose responsibility for our families and communities with age, exchanging our time for progress. These are the decisions — the sacrifices — that define our lives, and so “getting old,” in this sense at least, is a good thing. But what if at the other end of responsibility were possibility again?
🏗 Western society is built on stigma
Shame can protect us from self-destruction.
My point being that stigma isn’t always bad. It can attach to particular conduct for good reason. Collective disapproval is a powerful tool for encouraging behaviour that’s in the collective interest. More recent campaigns to remove the stigma clinging to overtly destructive conduct are therefore questionable. That includes the crusade to embrace “fat pride”, which wages a two-pronged war on conventional assumptions about both aesthetics and health.
🍷 90 Days Off the Sauce
“Will our protagonist go back to drinking? Read on to find out!”
Sobriety seems to be having a moment. I don’t know if it has something to do with the turn of the calendar year, Andrew Huberman’s podcast episode about alcohol, or just a shift in the zeitgeist, but a lot of folks have decided to cut out booze, at least temporarily.
It turns out that people who quit drinking tend to be pretty vocal about it (clearly). Sobriety is starting to creep into that category that includes vegans and people who do CrossFit. You know the joke: How can you tell if someone is vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.
I’ve wondered why these particular groups are so loud. Maybe there’s an element of self-selection whereby annoying people gravitate toward veganism, CrossFit, or sobriety.
It’s possible that many people who don’t consume animal products, for their part, feel a sort of ideological responsibility. Once they arrive at the belief that eating meat is immoral, they feel the need to evangelize that belief. They become Meatless Missionaries.
When it comes to the CrossFitters, it could be that an endorphin-producing workout program that incorporates both competition and camaraderie is something that just really excites people. Going to the gym can become stale; CrossFit provides a possible remedy. Perhaps its devotees, all hopped up on endorphins and post-workout smoothies, feel physiologically inspired to tell the world.
The drinking thing is a bit different. Last Friday marked 90 days since I cut out alcohol, and I’ve come to understand why it is that people won’t shut up about this.
🛣 Psychological Paths of Least Resistance
When faced with a problem, rarely do people ask, “What is the best, perfect, answer to this question?”
The more efficient question is often, “What answer to this question can I obtain with the least amount of effort, sacrifice, and mental discomfort?”
The psychological path of least resistance.
Most of the time that’s fine. You use a little intuition and common sense and find a practical answer that doesn’t rack your brain or bog you down with details.
Other times the easy answers lead you down a nasty path of misunderstanding, ignorance, and blindness toward risk.
🍭 Brain Food
🧠 The politics of depression: Diverging trends in internalizing symptoms among US adolescents by political beliefs
A paper worth sharing:
Adolescent internalizing symptoms (e.g. depressive affect) have increased over the past decade in the US, particularly among girls. The reasons for these increases are unclear.
We hypothesize that increasing exposure to politicized events has contributed to these trends in adolescent internalizing symptoms, and that effects may be differential by political beliefs and sociodemographic characteristics.
We analyzed nationally-representative data from 2005 to 2018 Monitoring the Future annual cross-sectional samples of 12th-grade students (N = 86,138). We examined self-reported political beliefs, sex, and parental education as predictors of four internalizing symptom scales over time, including depressive affect.
From 2005 to 2018, 19.8% of students identified as liberal and 18.1% identified as conservative, with little change over time. Depressive affect (DA) scores increased for all adolescents after 2010, but increases were most pronounced for female liberal adolescents (b for interaction = 0.17, 95% CI: 0.01, 0.32), and scores were highest overall for female liberal adolescents with low parental education (Mean DA 2010: 2.02, SD 0.81/2018: 2.75, SD 0.92).
Findings were consistent across multiple internalizing symptoms outcomes. Trends in adolescent internalizing symptoms diverged by political beliefs, sex, and parental education over time, with female liberal adolescents experiencing the largest increases in depressive symptoms, especially in the context of demographic risk factors including parental education.
These findings indicate a growing mental health disparity between adolescents who identify with certain political beliefs. It is therefore possible that the ideological lenses through which adolescents view the political climate differentially affect their mental wellbeing.
Pair with: Why the Mental Health of Liberal Girls Sank First and Fastest
🎥 What I’m Watching
📈 Spring Bulk Day 54 - Chest and Shoulders
I just discovered Sam, and he’s such a great & motivating guy. If you’re looking for old school bodybuilding chill vibes, you’ll like it! On top of that, I like his message about the need to bulk up & pass 200lb to finally get to the advanced lifting stage and prevent staying stuck at the intermediate level forever for fear of losing some leanness.
Lastly, on the natty or not talk, Sam is obviously not natty and honest about it. I have no issue at all getting inspired by people who make different life decisions than me on that front.
🇨🇳 South America turning into China’s backyard
🔧 The Tool of the Week
🎵 JBL Xtreme 3
Always been a fan of those blutooth speakers. Highly recommend them to play some good tunes while enjoying a bbq, for example!
Also: Join us on Vital today!
🪐 Quote I’m Pondering
When you own and manage your distribution and logistics channel, you have a great competitive advantage over companies that rely on third-party suppliers.
It automatically shortens your lead times, but also you can constantly look for ways to improve your operation and try to make it more efficient.
You never have to rely on what's going on in somebody else's shop.
— Sam Walton
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Until next week,