Lifespan: Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To by David A. Sinclair (Review and Notes)

If you are over 50 years old, this book is an excellent resource related to your health, general fitness and quality of life.

I have included some excerpts for the book as my notes and reference:

I believe that aging is a disease. I believe it is treatable. I believe we can treat it within our lifetimes. And in doing so, I believe, everything we know about human health will be fundamentally changed.

There are some simple tests to determine how biologically old you probably are. The number of push-ups you can do is a good indicator. If you are over 45 and can do more than 20, you are doing well. The other test of age is the sitting rising test. Sit on the floor, barefooted, with the legs crossed. Lean forward quickly and see if you can get up in one move. A young person can. A middle-age person typically needs to push off with one of their hands. An elderly person often needs to get onto one knee.

There’s also a difference between extending life and prolonging vitality. We’re capable of both, but simply keeping people alive – – decades after their lives have been defined by pain, disease, frailty, and immobility – – is no virtue.

Multiple “hallmarks” of aging:
Genomic instability caused by DNA damage
Attrition of the protective chromosomal endocaps, the telomeres
Alterations to the epigenome that controls which genes are turned on and off
Loss of healthy protein maintenance, known as proteostatis
Deregulated nutrient sensing caused by metallic changes
Mitochondrial dysfunction
Accumulation of senescent zombielike cells that inflame healthy cells
Exhaustion of stem cells
Altered intercellular communication and the production of inflammatory molecules

Youth—broken DNA genome instability— disruption of DNA packaging and gene regulation (the epigenome)— loss of cell identity —cellular senescence— disease— death

The older we get, the less it takes for an injury or illness to drive us to our deaths. We are pushing closer and closer to the precipice until it takes nothing more than a gentle went to send us over. This is the very definition of frailty.

When we stay healthy and vibrant, as long as we feel young physically and mentally, our age doesn’t matter. That’s true whether you are 32, 52, or 92. Most middle-aged and older adults in the United States report feeling 10 to 20 years younger than their age, because they feel healthy. And feeling younger than your age predicts lower mortality and better cognitive abilities later in life.

After 25 years of researching aging and having read thousands of scientific papers, if there is one piece of advice I can offer, one sure fire way to stay healthy longer, one thing you can do to maximize your lifespan right now, it’s this: eat less often.

The important thing is not just what we eat but the way we eat. Many of the centenarians have spent their lives eschewing a morning meal. They generally eat their first small meal of the day around noon, then share a larger meal with their families at twilight. In this way, they typically spend 16 hours or more of each day without eating.

According to one study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published in 2017, individuals who exercise more – – the equivalent of at least a half hour of jogging five days a week – –have telomeres that appear to be nearly a decade younger than those who live a more sedentary life.

One recent study found that those who ran 4-5 miles a week – – for most people, that’s an amount of exercise that can be done in less than 15 minutes per day – – reduce the chance of death from a heart attack by 45% and all cause mortality by 30%.

It’s high intensity interval training (HIIT) the sort that significantly raises your heart and respiration rates— that engages the greatest number of health promoting genes and more of them in older exercisers.

A study of more than 41,000 metformin users between the ages of 68 and 81 concluded that metformin reduced the likelihood of dementia, cardiovascular disease, cancer, frailty, and depression, and not by a small amount.

People taking metformin were living notably healthier lives – – independent, it seemed, of its affects on diabetes.

The beauty of metformin is that it impacts many diseases. Through the power of AMPK activation, it makes more NAD and turns on sirtuins and other defenses against aging as a whole -– engaging the survival circuit upstream of these conditions, ostensibly slowing the loss of epi-genetic information and keeping metabolism in check, so all organs stay younger and healthier.

Like most people, I don’t want unlimited years, just ones filled with less sickness and more love. And for most of those I know who are engaged in this work, the fight against aging is not about ending death; it’s about prolonging healthy life and giving more people the chance to meet death on far better terms – – indeed, on their own terms. Quickly and painlessly. When they are ready.

Either by refusing the treatments and therapies at all for a prolong healthy life or accepting those interventions and then deciding to leave whenever the time is right, no one who has returned what they have been given should have to stay on this planet if he or she does not wish to do so. And we need to begin the process of developing the cultural, ethical, and legal principles that will allow that to happen.

Book Recommendation: Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant

This is a very useful book especially given the current fractious times that we live in. My guess is just about all of us needs to spend some time “re-thinking.” As the author correctly points out, “We live in an increasingly divisive time. For some people a single mention of kneeling during the national anthem is enough to end a friendship. For others a single ballot at a voting booth is enough to end the marriage. Calcified ideologies are tearing American culture apart.”

Re-thinking is not only useful for politics and debate but for every aspect of your life, including financial management, marriage, children, career, social relationships etc.

Grant provides a number of interesting people, scenarios and examples where re-thinking took place with very positive results. Probably the best example was the black musician Daryl Davis who persuaded white supremacists to abandon not only their membership in the Ku Klux Klan but more importantly their racist outlooks.

This is an important book that all of us could benefit from.

I have included some of my notes from the book:

This book is an invitation to let go of knowledge and opinions that are no longer serving you well, and to anchor your sense of self in flexibility rather than consistency.

Part of the problem is cognitive laziness. Some psychologists point out that we are mental misers: we often prefer the ease of hanging onto old views over the difficulty of grappling with new ones.

Most of us take pride in our knowledge and expertise, and in staying true to our beliefs and opinions. That makes sense in a stable world, where we get rewarded for having conviction and our ideas. The problem is that we live in the rapidly changing world, where we need to spend as much time rethinking as we do thinking. ( e.g. Mike Lazardis BlackBerry CEO)

Research reveals that the higher you score on an IQ test, the more likely you are to fall for stereotypes, because you’re faster at recognizing patterns. And recent experiments suggest that the smarter you are, the more you might struggle to update your beliefs.

When we are in scientific mode, we refuse to let our ideas become ideologies. We don’t start with answers or solutions; we lead with questions and puzzles.

We should all be able to make a long list of areas where we are ignorant. Recognizing our shortcomings opens the door to doubt.

In a meta-analysis of 95 studies involving over 100,000 people, women typically underestimated their leadership skills, while men overestimated their skills.

David Dunning and Justin Kruger published a modest report on skill and confidence that would soon become famous. They found that many situations, those who can’t… Don’t know they can’t. It’s when we lack confidence that we are most likely to be brimming with overconfidence.

Patient mortality rates in hospitals seem to spike in July, when new residents take over. It’s not their lack of skill alone that proves hazardous; it’s there over estimation of that skill.

“Arrogance is ignorance plus conviction.” Tim Urban

Achieving excellence in school often requires mastering old ways of thinking. Building an influential career demands new way of thinking.

Valedictorians aren’t likely to be the future’s visionaries education researcher Karen Arnold explains. They typically settle into the system instead of shaking it up.

Good teachers introduce new thoughts, but great teachers introduce new ways of thinking. Ultimately education is more than the information we accumulate in our heads. It’s the habits we develop as we keep revising our drafts and the skills we build to keep learning.

Think like a scientist. When you start forming an opinion, resist the temptation to preach, prosecute or politick.
Define your identity in terms of values, not opinions.
Seek out information that goes against your views.
Embrace the joy of being wrong.
Build a challenge network, not just a support network.
Learn something new from each person you meet.
Ask “what evidence would change your mind?”
Make time to think again.

Dinks and Smashes II

Musings, thoughts and rants on the game of pickleball…

Ratings:pickleball = handicap:golf


While I appreciate the need for ratings in organizing tournaments and some meet-ups, I don’t take them as seriously as many recreational players do. In the course of one game, I can swing from play consistent for a 2.5 player to play suitable for a 4.0 player. I rate my game as “consistently inconsistent.”When I played pick-up basketball, I and other players did not have a court rating.


Huge fan of Ebony J. She won the singles competition at the recent Runnemede tournament that included men. Ebony has the potential and skills to be a pickleball player at a very high level. She’s just in high school and already is quite the athlete in track and basketball. She has incredible court coverage and a booming serve. A very pleasant and mature young woman too…


Maybe it’s the pickleball company I keep but I have only seen maybe five players use the drop serve since it was approved for play. I also understand that it has been rarely used by advanced or professional players in tournaments. The drop serve can be an effective remedy if one has the serving “yips” as it mirrors the groundstroke motion. I’m not sure its effectiveness as an offensive weapon and that may be the reason we don’t see it used in tournaments by players currently.


To get a fast start, practice your serves before you play! In most pickleball games, I see that players warm up by practicing their dinks or ground strokes but rarely their serves. Games then start out with service faults committed by players who did not calibrate their serves due to wind or lack of practice. 


There are no shortages of choices for pickleball paddles. There are 964 approved pickleball paddles on the USA Pickleball website; 42 new paddle models have been introduced since the start of 2021. I think if we took a survey of pickleball players, many have two or more paddles. The paddle market is growing, paddle costs are rising and more companies are producing them. As an aside, I am very happy with my Rogue 2 paddle from Players Pickleball that I have used for over a year.


The addition of new pickleball courts (River Road, Brush Hollow etc.) in South Jersey will relieve overcrowding and help service the demand for venues to play. That is a very good thing. On the other side, it may fragment what used to be a pickleball community that congregated en masse at Lions Den, Gloucester Township and Marlton Field House a few years ago.


Ben Johns is easily the best men’s pickleball player today. At last week’s U.S. Open Pickleball Championships, he won the Men’s Pro Singles, Men’s Pro Doubles (with Colin Johns) and Mixed Doubles Pro (with Simone Jardin). I saw the streamed Pro Singles championship where he played Tyson McGuffin. McGuffin played out of his mind the first game of the best of three and won. However Johns recovered and took the last two games and the championship. However Johns is not pickleball’s GOAT (greatest of all time) just like George Mikan wasn’t the GOAT in the early days of the NBA. It’s way too early in the sport for that designation, but Johns does close out matches like Michael Jordan closed out basketball games.


Being an “older player,” it’s hard to identify with 23 year old Ben Johns. I do enjoy watching Scott Moore who won the Men’s Senior Pro Doubles with Rick Witsken and the Mixed Senior Pro Doubles with Eva Welsher at the U.S.Open Pickleball Championships. Moore is 57 and his instructional videos on YouTube are excellent. Moore was also involved in a singles match against Simone Jardin that mimicked the Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match many decades ago. You can see a video of the match here. The result may surprise you!

“Grand Canyon 2014 Pickleball Tournament” by Michael & Sherry Martin is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Below is a guidance list from the USA Pickleball Rule Book for common scenarios that happen in many recreational pickleball games:

1. Make prompt calls  to stop play on balls that roll onto to your court to eliminate the ‘two chance option’. For example, a player cannot claim a hinder from a ball rolling on the court after they hit a ball ‘out’; they gave up their ability to call the hinder by choosing instead to hit the ball.

2. Call the entire score before the ball is served.

3. Signal “not ready” prior to the start of the score being called. One of the following signals must be used to indicate “not ready”: 1) raising the paddle above the head, 2) raising the non-paddle hand above the head, 3) completely turning their back to the net.

4. Except the serve, any ball in play that lands in the court or touches any court line is in.

5. The opponent gets the benefit of the doubt on line calls made. Any ball that cannot be called “out” will be considered “in.” A player cannot claim a replay because the ball was not seen or there is uncertainty.

6. A player/team may ask the opponent’s opinion to make the line call on the player’s end of the court. If requested and the opponent makes a clear “in” or “out” call, it must be accepted. If the opponents cannot make a clear “in” or “out” call, then the ball is ruled as being “in” on the receiving team. The moment the receiving player/team asks for the opponent’s opinion, they lose their right to make any subsequent “in” or “out” call for that rally.

7. All “out” calls must be made “promptly”; otherwise, the ball is presumed to still be in play. “Promptly” is defined as calling “out” prior to the ball being hit by the opponent or before the ball becomes dead.

8. While the ball is in the air, if a player yells “out,” “no,” “bounce it,” or any other words to communicate to their partner that the ball may be out, it shall be considered player communication only and not considered a line call.


I find myself awestruck not so much by the skills of advanced Pickleball players I see but by the progress of beginners and novices. Once such player is Celeste Kleaver who started out under the tutelage of Cookie Sey at Browning Road and who now performs as a competitive intermediate level player. When she started to play at Browning Road, she possessed the motivation and enthusiasm to get better. She was always asking how she could do things better. My concern was her footwork, balance and positioning. However partnered with her in a recent game, I saw Celeste digging out shots aimed at her feet and returning sharply angled shots at her opponents for winners. She does all this with a smile on her face and with a joy for the game that I could only envy.