U BoltI have come across several conflicting ideas about the relation of speed and longevity recently. In Eric Sloane, the idea is that the slowest animals live the longest, but several studies show that that the fastest runners live the longest. I wonder how this would be resolved in the real world of markets. Speed and distance, and lifespan would seem to be helpful concepts to untwine.

Dylan Distasio adds:

Typically, larger animals have longer natural lifespans. This is likely related to their lower base metabolic rates (a smaller mammal is going to have a faster metabolism to offset greater loss of body heat). The most obvious analogy would be market cap and the idea that larger companies are slower to shift course.

Another factor is how prodigious the species is at reproducing. High fecundity usually means a shorter lifespan. Is there an analogy to this in the markets? If we use our imaginations, perhaps. Maybe an area of the market with many competitive companies, and a low barrier for entry like the Internet space.

For those who are gluttons for punishment, there is scientific journal article on body size, metabolism and lifespan that may be worth untangling.

Scott Brooks recalls:

I saw a special on either Discovery Channel about heart rate. They did a comparison between many animals and the number of heart beats they had in a lifetime. The one that stick out in my mind was the difference between some kind of mouse and an elephant. The difference in life expectancy was quite substantial in terms of years, but the average number of total heart beats between birth and death was essentially equal.

This didn't hold up for all species, but there were some striking similarities between mammalian species and heart beats.

If this is true, then am I using up my "lifetime heartbeats" each time I work out?

I know that my family doesn't live particularly long, with most dying at or near average life expectancy. I also know that for my entire life, my resting heart rate has been in the upper 80s or low 90s. I've worked diligently to get it lower, but it doesn't come down. When I exercise, I get my heart rate up into the 160s or 170s — if I'm really working our hard, then I'll get it up into the 180s or 190s.

Am I using up my heartbeats?

Marion Dreyfus reassures:

When I worked for the giant ad agency J Walter Thompson, the physican onstaff, with whom I consulted about all of my copy, used to tell me: "I have grown old walking in the funeral corteges of those more fit than I."

Kim Zussman, on the other hand, enjoys frightening people:

Don't forget, the healthier your heart (and the longer you go without heart attack) — the more likely you are to die of cancer.

Low fat diet, exercise, contol of blood pressure/blood sugar, have much bigger effect in forestalling heart disease than cancer.





Speak your mind

8 Comments so far

  1. George Parkanyi on September 1, 2008 12:17 pm

    The Chinese call it “chi”, the Indians “prana” - essentially energy or life force. They place great emphasis on the flow of this life energy, and hence you have the acupuncture, reflexology et al.

    Many practitioners of meditation seem to be able to consciously control their heartbeats and metabolic rates, and certain western bio-feedback techniques can also accomplish this.

    The basic premise is that if you have a clear energy flow, you are much healthier. If this flow is disrupted, then problems arise. To me this makes a lot of sense. If important parts of the body aren’t getting what they need - including energy, it would stand to reason that you would soon develop health problems.

    Heart rate is one factor, but clearly there are many others. I believe that a study of the energy flows of the body would be far more revealing at this point in our collective knowledge than just the nuts-and-bolts mechanical and chemical processes (although I think genetics still holds a lot of promise).

    Fast runners get fast because they train, and many training regimes include a stong emphasis on mental preparation as well as the physical. Visualization, concentration, and even meditation techniques are now common in sports, so perhaps high-performance athletes are better integrating all the elements that come together for a healthy body. Genetics of course are the cards you are dealt at birth, and moves your odds one way or the other depending on what those cards are.

    My view is that the desired outcome of longevity requires a wholistic approach (understanding and acting on the inter-relatedness of many factors) for a successful outcome - as does a successful outcome in the markets.


  2. steve on September 1, 2008 3:00 pm

    I found this list on wikipedia.

    I am not sure how helpful such a list is but hey:

    To Dylans assertion, this list refutes his statement. The longest living species is a clam at over 400 years old. Some turtles and tortoises live well over 100 years. Sponges can lives hundreds and hundreds of years. One claim is 1500 years. Bowhead whales may live 200 years. fish such as koi and shark can live up to 100 years.

    With dogs slim dogs live longest, mixed breeds live longer than purebred and smaller dogs live longer than bigger dogs. Great Danes tend to have the shortest lifespan.

    I do recall with my undergraduate biology that there is some validity to reproductivity and gestation period that contributes to longetivity.

    With respect to Marions comment: We can always find premature deaths in athletes such as Steve Prefontaine, and Jim Fixx but I can also probably go up to W. Va in the appalachians and find somebody who smoked their whole life drank moonshine ate meat everyday never been to a doctor and lived to their 90’s.

    I am challenged to find value in these studies. I recall a statement from a Physics professor “There is nice to know and need to know.”

  3. Perry E. Metzger on September 2, 2008 7:53 am

    They do, however, have an effect on cancer, though it is true that it is not as large as the effect on [heart disease].

    The cheapest anti-cancer preventative is to stop smoking. After that, it turns out (surprisingly enough) that vitamin D deficiency is a significant player. If you're not smoking, getting enough vitamin D, and you're eating right and exercising, here isn't much more you can do, but on the other hand, you're also doing pretty well compared to most people.

  4. Craig Bowles on September 2, 2008 8:01 am

    In economics, the longest recessions are the ones that appear to hold up the best initially (masked by inflation). Investors probably take them as a growth slowdown and get caught when the real correction finally sets in. Seems the same with market movements. Sharp downturns usually end the quickest.

  5. vic niederhoffer on September 2, 2008 11:21 am

    Mr. Bowles makes an intriguing remark that has been tested in a Weston laboratory with confirmatory results. Vic

  6. Glendon Jones on September 3, 2008 12:56 pm

    The way to longevity is through calorie restriction, where daily calories are kept to subsistence levels of about 1100. The metabolism slows to adapt to the low input, and the supporting theory is that disease processes need fuel to thrive. So restricting that fuel slows or prevents diseases such as cancer from gaining traction.

  7. Anonymous on September 5, 2008 7:32 am

    George raises important points with respect to eastern vs western medicine. Western medicine has consistenty dismissed much of the eastern medical practices such as chiropracty, Osteophathy, acupuncture and herbology, instead replacing it with pills,chemicals to treat disorders. It used to be very common that surgeries were used as a first line of defense rather than a last resort.Glaring examples of this is the massive abuse of radical mastectomies to treat breast cancer. Radical Prostate surgery before the use of hormonal therapy and other measures. And lest we never forget the horrific tragedy of thalidomide to treat morning sickness.
    There are ample studies describing where American doctors largely overmedicate. Ritalin is over prescribed for hyperactive children. Many antibiotics are now useless because of over use and strains of new bacterias and viruses have mutated and evolved as a result.

    Even today access to eastern medicine is still largely unavailable in non metropolitan communities. In my town, it is difficult to find a competent acupunturist or herbalogist.

    I am sure many on this website are familiar with Dr. Julian Whitaker and his health and healing newsletter.
    Other resources to consider are Dr. Andrew Weils books on the complete guide to wellness and health
    I like Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld who can be seen on Fox News shows on Sunday.

    One comment I must make with respect to training is that you cannot teach speed you can enhance it through proper training. One book I would recommend is peak performance by Charles A. Garfield Ph.D. who studied the Mental training techniques of the worlds greatest athletes. He was a very accomplished weight lifter. After the fall of the Berlin wall, Dr. Garfield gained access to the Soviet Unions training methods and he shares much of it in this book. Although a bit dated at 20 years old, it still contains valuable insights into the previously hidden world of East Germany and the Soviet bloc country training methods.

  8. Matt Johnson on September 19, 2008 2:35 pm

    These are two different systems, one is fast (i.e 5 day MA system) and one is slow (i.e 120 day MA system) - to keep it simple.
    One is not more correct than the other - just like in nature. There are times when the fast system out performs (not including commissions and slippage), then there are times when the slow system out performs.
    They’re both right sometimes, the trick is knowing which to use - and at what time - OR use both at the same time and see your equity curve steepen and your DD’s decrease.


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