Four Most Valuable [4MV] Weekly Tips For Living Longer Better | Newsletter

4MV #222 How to prevent memory lapses ✔ Five tips for your working memory

Published 3 months ago • 8 min read

⭑ Forgetting may just be a lack of attention ✔ Or something more serious
⭑ Too much compression can injure your Achilles ✔ How to stop doing it
⭑ Is it fair to classify sports by gender? ✔ Here's how much better men perform
⭑ Three easy exercises for runners, balance and stability ✔ They work

All strength to Ukraine 🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦


Boot camp.

If you've been tempted to join a 10-day boot camp to kick off your fitness routine, then be clear about your expectations.

A Norwegian study was just published on the effects of a "demanding military field exercise" on physical performance, body composition and muscle outcomes in men and women.

The results? No difference between men and women - both lost weight and 14 days after completion both remained physically weaker than before the exercise. Better to start slowly and build up.

If you have ever suffered from achilles tendon injuries from running or walking here is the possible cause and how to fix it - see item #2.

Struggle to remember some things? It's normal, in the main. Here's what's not normal - see item #1.


01 Not All Memory Lapses Are Problematic: How to Know

As we age, it's common to experience occasional memory lapses, leading us to worry about potential cognitive decline. However, not all memory lapses are indicative of a significant problem.

Understanding the nature of memory lapses and how to differentiate normal forgetfulness from potential issues is helpful because it puts the issue in perspective.

Occasional forgetfulness is a normal aspect of human cognition, especially as we age. Memory lapses can range from forgetting where you placed your keys to momentarily blanking on a familiar name. These lapses are natural and result from various factors such as stress, lack of sleep, multitasking, a busy lifestyle, or circumstantial distraction or attention issues.

Differentiating Normal Forgetfulness from Potential Issues

However, certain signs may indicate more significant memory issues:

  • Frequency and Severity: Occasional forgetfulness is expected, but consistent memory lapses that interfere with daily life or lead to safety concerns may warrant further attention.
  • Types of Memory Loss: Forgetting minor details or names occasionally is normal, but struggling to remember important events or repeatedly asking the same questions could be concerning.
  • Emotional Impact: Memory lapses that cause significant distress or anxiety may require evaluation.

If you notice these signs, talk about it with someone you trust.

What this means for you: We can proactively manage our cognitive well-being. Here are tips from Dr. Richard Restak, author of "The Complete Guide to Memory: The Science of Strengthening Your Mind" (see here in the New York Times).

  1. Engaging in mentally stimulating activities such as puzzles, reading, or learning new skills helps you maintain cognitive function and memory.
  2. Regular physical activity has been shown to impact cognitive function and overall brain health positively.
  3. Staying socially active and maintaining strong social connections can contribute to cognitive vitality.
  4. Incorporating memory exercises and techniques into daily routines, such as mnemonic devices and regular mental challenges, helps maintain cognitive agility.
  5. Focusing! Focus on the task at hand. Allowing yourself to be distracted impedes your ability to focus on the present moment and to remember.

⇒ The greatest impediment of memory is distraction!

By understanding the nature of memory lapses and being proactive in exercising your working memory, you'll ward off later memory issues.

Related: Forget Beetroot Juice, Eat More Vegetables For Nitrate Potency And Longer Life​


02 How To Avoid Achilles Injuries as a Runner

If you are a runner, this will interest you. (I ran 11.5 km this morning - in the rain.)

A recent study (August 2023) revealed potential ways to prevent Achilles Tendinopathy (AT) - a painful problem affecting the achilles tendon. (In the past, it was referred to as Achilles Tendonitis.)

It is when you can't run, jump, or even walk without wincing. Even resting isn't a surefire escape. Referred pain and secondary injuries are common, and it can take months to get better, so it is best avoided. Here's how.

When the calf muscles pull on our achilles tendon, our foot is directed downwards towards the ground. This mechanism serves as the main driving force behind our upward and forward momentum when we walk, run, and jump.

Tendons are well-suited for handling tensile loads pulled from both ends, similar to stretching a rubber band.

On the other hand, compressive load is when a tendon or bone is squished more than it is pulled. Bones handle compressive loads well, but tendons do not. While the achilles tendon possesses a remarkable capacity to withstand tension (pulling), it is susceptible to developing tendonitis due to compressive loading.

Also, applying a force slowly to a tendon is much easier for it to absorb than a sudden increase in load.

Runners exhibiting greater knee flexion had a lower occurrence of AT.

What does this mean for you? By adopting your running style, you can reduce the chance of AT.

If you are not bending your knees sufficiently, you are not activating the "foot downward" mechanism which occurs when you drive into a stride. And you are landing with flatter feet, creating a higher compressive load on your achilles tendon.

To manage and optimise your peak knee flexion during a run, here are some practical tips:

  1. Focus on maintaining a slight bend in your knee throughout the running motion. Avoid overextending your stride or locking out your knee during each stride.
  2. Regularly check your knee position and adjust if necessary to maintain proper alignment. Pay attention to the alignment of your knee with your foot and hip. Make sure your knee is tracking in line with your toes and not collapsing inward or outward.
  3. Incorporate exercises and drills that promote knee flexion during running, such as skipping, lunges with a deep knee bend, front squats and back squats. These help improve your knee flexibility and strength.
  4. Maintain good running form, including pushing forward rather than upwards and a very slight forward lean, which encourages proper knee flexion.

⇒ A separate study found that runners with higher back squat performance had reduced AT because of stronger glutes. How your glute muscles fire when you run is associated with less achilles tendon compression because they activate greater knee flexion.

This video gives a fabulous explanation and shows the correct form (perfect stride angle at 1:51).

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03 Biological Sex and Athletic Performance

A topical subject is whether gender or biological sex should be used as the classifier for sports.

Advocates for retaining biological sex point out that males who have gone through puberty maintain a strength advantage over biological women.

Two very recent reports shed new light on this.

Firstly, the American College of Sports Medicine published a "consensus statement" based on their research, which stated, "for athletic events and sports relying on endurance, muscle strength, speed, and power, males typically outperform females by 10%-30% depending on the event's requirements. These sex differences in performance emerge with the onset of puberty".

Secondly, a just-published study by the USAF compared men and women in the Special Warfare Candidate Course (SWCC) Candidate Fitness Test (CFT). Study participants were matched for body weight, height, and body mass index (BMI).

The results are fascinating:

  • Three-repetition maximum deadlift: Men's performance 124.5% of women's performance.
  • Pull up: Men's performance 188.9% of women's performance.
  • Maximum broad jump: Men's performance 117.3% of women's performance.
  • Right or Left agility test: Men's performance 92.5% of women's performance (faster).
  • 1500-meter SWIM: Men's performance -5.3% of women's performance (slower).
  • 3 mile 60 lb RUCK times: Men's performance -2.85% of women's performance (faster).
  • Endurance event results were not statistically different between groups.

⇒ The total CFT score significantly differed between sexes (women = 76.5, men = 94.0), meaning the men outperformed the women by 23% on average, but in some cases by 89%.

What this means for you: Society as a whole, including you and me and particularly sportswomen, have to decide in what way gender identity overrides biological birth sex as the main classifier for sports. It's complicated, or is it?

Related: Avoid Ankle Injuries And Gain Balance Better With These Four Everyday Simple Exercises​


04 Build Lower Body Strength and Flexibility - 3 Exercises

Our exercise of the week is... three simple at-home exercises for lower body strength, flexibility and stability.

Runners should do these regularly, and for everyone else, these three simple exercises have a myriad of benefits: butt kicks, high knees, and power drives.

For example:

  • Butt kicks help activate and strengthen the hamstring muscles, improving overall leg strength and stability and improving flexibility in our hip flexors.
  • Power drives engage your calves, achilles tendon, and hip flexors, which help improve leg muscle strength and tone.
  • The knee drive and foot flexion involved in power drives helps increase flexibility in the lower body, particularly in the hip flexors and calf muscles.
  • The rhythmic movement of butt kicks enhances coordination and balance, reducing the risk of falls. As do power drives and high knees.
  • Butt kicks target not only the hamstrings but also the glutes, calves, and hip flexors. Power drives engage the calves, achilles tendon, and hip flexors. High knees engage the muscles in your legs, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.

What this means for you: Do these daily or several times a week.

Butt kicks

Choose a straight and flat distance of about 20m and move like you are trying to kick yourself in the glute with your heel on each stride. Keep your upper body straight and rock your arms back and forth in rhythm. Do 3 repetitions of 20 kicks (10 each side). If you don't have space, do stationary kicks.

High knees

This drill focuses on a knee lift and activates the hip flexors. (Runners: this is the key to a powerful leg drive).

Choose a straight and flat distance of about 20m and move with a quick leg turnover, alternately thrusting knees upward in an exaggerated manner. I hold my elbows against my outer tummy with forearms parallel with the ground and have my knees touch my hands. Do 3 repetitions of 20 kicks each (10 each side).

Power drives

Start standing with feet hip distance apart, left leg slightly bent and right foot slightly behind you. Drive with both legs with enough power and momentum to thrust your right leg up while bringing your left elbow across and down to touch your right knee at the top of the drive. Then, swing your right leg down to the starting position.

Keep the foot flexed when you drive the knee up. You will have to twist the leg you are driving up slightly across your body to touch your elbow coming down from the opposite arm.

Continue driving up the right leg for 10 reps and then change to the left leg for 10 drives. Repeat 3 times.

These will quickly improve your balance and stability.

Related: ​Why I recommend Claire Kowalchik's "Running for Women"​

Thanks for reading!

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>> My Latest Blog Post: Energise Your Golden Years: Boosting Your Desire to Exercise with Gut-Healthy Foods

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Four Most Valuable [4MV] Weekly Tips For Living Longer Better | Newsletter

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