Potassium: Key Recovery Element

Potassium is a vital mineral and electrolyte that plays a crucial role in numerous bodily functions.

It is key to maintaining proper nerve function, muscle contraction, and heart function. Potassium also plays a significant role in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance within the body.

Here’s an expanded discussion on the importance of potassium, its functions, and implications of its imbalance:

Functions of Potassium

1. Nerve Function: Potassium ions are essential for the transmission of nerve signals throughout the nervous system. These signals are crucial for various activities, from simple reflexes to complex motor movements and brain functions.

2. Muscle Contraction: Potassium aids in muscle contraction, making it indispensable for normal muscle function, including the heartbeat. Proper levels of potassium ensure smooth and coordinated muscle movements.

3. Heart Function: It helps regulate the heartbeat. Adequate potassium levels ensure that the heart beats regularly and efficiently, pumping blood throughout the body.

4. Fluid Balance: As an electrolyte, potassium plays a significant role in maintaining the body’s fluid balance. It helps regulate the balance of fluids inside and outside of cells, which is vital for normal cellular function.

5. Electrolyte Balance: Alongside sodium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium, potassium contributes to the body’s overall electrolyte balance, crucial for sustaining life.

Implications of Potassium Imbalance

1. Hypokalemia (Low Potassium): Symptoms can include weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps, muscle aches, and irregular heart rhythms. Severe hypokalemia can be life-threatening, affecting the heart’s ability to function properly.

2. Hyperkalemia (High Potassium): This condition can lead to dangerous heart rhythms, including heart block and ventricular fibrillation. Symptoms might be mild and nonspecific but can include palpitations, muscle pain, muscle weakness, or numbness.

Managing Potassium Levels

– Diet: Consuming a balanced diet that includes potassium-rich foods such as bananas, oranges, potatoes, spinach, and beans can help maintain normal potassium levels.
– Supplements: In cases of deficiency or for certain health conditions, supplements or medications may be prescribed to adjust potassium levels.
– Monitoring: For individuals with kidney issues or those taking medications that affect potassium levels, regular monitoring of potassium levels is crucial to prevent imbalance.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for potassium varies based on age, sex, and life stage.

– Adolescents and Adults:
– Males and Females 9-13 years: 2,500 mg/day
– Males and Females 14-18 years: 3,000 mg/day for females and 3,400 mg/day for males
– Adults 19 years and older: 2,600 mg/day for females and 3,400 mg/day for males

These values are set to meet the needs of nearly all (97%-98%) healthy individuals in each group. It’s important to note that most people should be able to meet these requirements through a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, as potassium is widely available in many foods. Foods high in potassium include bananas, oranges, potatoes, spinach, and beans, among others.

In summary, potassium is an essential electrolyte that supports various critical bodily functions, from nerve transmission and muscle contraction to heart rhythm regulation and fluid balance. Maintaining optimal potassium levels is vital for health, and understanding the implications of potassium imbalance is crucial for effective management and prevention of associated health issues.

Source: Fluids and Electrolytes: A Thorough Guide covering Fluids, Electrolytes and Acid-Base Balance of the Human Body by Mastenbjörk M.D., M., and Meloni M.D., S.



Overcoming Mental Blocks in Exercise

Reframing Excuses as Obstacles

  • Challenge Perceptions: Stop viewing reasons for not exercising as “excuses”. This mindset may induce guilt or self-criticism.
  • Expert Insight: Katy Milkman, behavioral scientist, emphasizes the importance of treating these reasons as genuine obstacles.
  • Strategy Development: Instead of solely focusing on goals, devise specific plans and strategies to overcome these hurdles.

Conquering Common Exercise Barriers

  1. Limited Time
    • Expert Advice: Kate Baird suggests starting with short bursts of activity.
    • Practical Tips: Integrate movement into daily tasks, like walking during lunch or doing squats between meetings.
    • Goal: Aim for 150 minutes of aerobic activity and strength training weekly.
  2. Feeling Self-Conscious
    • Expert Advice: Kelly Roberts recommends finding comfort in exercise through various means.
    • Solutions: Exercise at home, seek supportive communities, or find more welcoming fitness spaces.
  3. Financial Concerns
    • Expert Insight: Grayson Wickham highlights the effectiveness of bodyweight exercises and free workout resources.
    • Activities: Incorporate planks, push-ups, and stretching into routines without financial burden.
  4. Weather Constraints
    • Expert Perspective: Dr. Edward Phillips suggests adapting to weather changes by varying exercise routines.
    • Opportunities: Use different seasons to explore new activities or focus on different aspects of fitness.
  5. Limited Space
    • Expert Opinion: Even a small space like that for a yoga mat is sufficient for a variety of exercises.
    • Alternatives: Use resistance bands, jump ropes, or consider outdoor spaces as potential workout areas.
  6. Physical Pain
    • Medical Advice: Consult experts for safe exercise methods if experiencing chronic pain.
    • Benefits: Physical activity can often help manage and reduce chronic pain symptoms.
  7. Persistent Fatigue
    • Adaptation Strategies: Identify personal energy peaks for exercise and start with short, mood-boosting activities.
    • Focus: Choose less intense forms of exercise and prioritize adequate sleep.
  8. Lack of Enjoyment
    • Finding Joy in Movement: Explore different forms of physical activity that bring personal joy.
    • Motivation Technique: Use “temptation bundling” by pairing exercise with enjoyable activities like listening to podcasts.

Conclusion: By identifying personal barriers and implementing expert-recommended strategies, individuals can effectively integrate exercise into their lifestyles, overcoming mental blocks and enhancing overall wellbeing.


Heat and humidity have a significant impact on elite athletes, particularly tennis players at tournaments like the Australian Open. Key points include:
1. **Heat as an Invisible Adversary**: Elite tennis players, despite their fitness, are highly susceptible to the challenges posed by heat, especially in tournaments like the Australian Open and US Open. These conditions test their endurance and physical limits.
2. **Impact on the Human Body**: Exposure to high temperatures and solar radiation increases skin temperature and core body temperature. This leads to increased heart rates and a feeling of intense heat, even without physical exertion.
3. **Body’s Response Mechanisms**: The human body attempts to regulate its temperature through increased blood flow and sweating. In high temperatures, blood flow to the skin can increase significantly to dissipate heat, and sweat evaporation becomes a critical cooling mechanism.
4. **Challenges of Humidity**: High humidity can severely reduce the body’s ability to cool itself through sweat evaporation, leading to increased risks of overheating and heatstroke.
5. **Effects on Athletic Performance**: Heat stress can lead to reductions in athletic performance, including decreased endurance, slower running speeds, reduced VO2 max (maximum oxygen consumption), and increased muscle fatigue.
6. **Dehydration and Performance**: Heat and sweating can lead to dehydration, which further impairs performance by reducing blood volume and oxygen delivery to muscles.
7. **Rising Temperatures at the Australian Open**: There is evidence that temperatures have been rising at the Australian Open over the years, leading to more days of extreme heat and challenging conditions for players.
8. **Heat Management Policies**: The Australian Open employs a heat management policy that includes monitoring environmental factors and potentially halting play under extreme conditions.
9. **Heat Acclimation Training**: Athletes increasingly use heat acclimation training to adapt their bodies to high temperatures, improving their cooling mechanisms and overall performance in hot conditions.
10. **Sweat Testing for Personalized Hydration**: Some players undergo sweat testing to determine individual sweat rates and compositions, allowing them to create personalized hydration strategies to combat the effects of intense sweating.
11. **Risk of Overheating During Competition**: Even though players might be aware of their body’s struggle in the heat, the competitive nature of the sport can push them beyond safe limits, necessitating official intervention through heat policies.
Source: SMH 21Jan24


How To Keep Your Brain Sharp As You Age

Maintaining mental sharpness as you age involves various factors:

1. **Exercise:** Regular physical activity, especially aerobic exercises, promotes blood flow to the brain, reducing cognitive decline. Engage in activities like brisk walking, strength training, or sports for optimal brain health.

The American College of Sports Medicine say adults over 18 should try to get moderate-intensity aerobic activity (think brisk walking or doubles tennis) for a minimum of 150 minutes each week or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (like soccer, basketball or singles tennis) for a minimum of 75 minutes a week. And then add in strength training (like lifting weights) twice a week.

2. **Cognitive Activity:** Stimulate your brain by reading, learning, and challenging yourself mentally. High cognitive activity later in life is linked to a significant reduction in dementia risk. Start these habits early for lasting benefits.

3. **Socialization:** Quality friendships and frequent social interactions contribute to better cognitive functioning. Combining exercise and mentally challenging activities with friends enhances overall brain health.

4. **Nutrition:** Adopt a Mediterranean-style diet rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, fish, and olive oil. Moderation is key for items like eggs, dairy, and poultry, while reducing red meat, refined grains, and sweets.

5. **Sleep:** Prioritize 7-8 hours of consistent, quality sleep each night. Avoid excessive caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, and maintain a regular sleep schedule. Sleep is crucial for clearing accumulated brain waste associated with Alzheimer’s risk.

6. **Holistic Approach:** A 2011 UCSF study suggests that avoiding diabetes, obesity, hypertension, smoking, depression, pursuing education, and engaging in exercise could prevent half of Alzheimer’s cases. Addressing mood changes is crucial, as mood can impact brain function and structure over time.

Remember, making small, consistent lifestyle changes—such as finding enjoyable forms of exercise, embracing cognitive challenges, fostering social connections, maintaining a balanced diet, prioritizing quality sleep, and considering holistic health—can collectively contribute to keeping your brain sharp as you age. And don’t forget to laugh—it’s a key ingredient in navigating the changes that come with aging.

Source: Voneta M. Dotson, neuropsychologist and professor of gerontology at Georgia State University. Her book is “Keep Your Wits About You: The Science of Brain Maintenance as You Age.”

The 7 Keys to Longevity

According to aging experts, while extreme measures like transfusing young blood may not significantly extend human lifespan, adopting simple behaviors can help people live healthier for longer, potentially reaching ages like 80, 90, or even 100 in good physical and mental condition. These practices include:

1. **Exercise Regularly:** Staying physically active is crucial, reducing the risk of premature death, maintaining heart health, and preventing chronic diseases. Even moderate exercise, like walking for 150 minutes per week, can be beneficial.

2. **Eat Healthily:** Experts recommend consuming more fruits and vegetables, reducing processed foods, and adopting dietary patterns like the Mediterranean diet, known for its heart and brain health benefits.

3. **Prioritize Sleep:** Quality sleep is essential for healthy aging, with a correlation between sleep duration and longevity. Seven to nine hours of sleep per night is generally recommended.

4. **Avoid Smoking and Excessive Drinking:** Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake are well-known practices for avoiding deadly diseases and promoting longevity.

5. **Manage Chronic Conditions:** Many adults have conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol, and pre-diabetes. Lifestyle changes, along with following doctor’s advice and medications, can help control and prevent these conditions.

6. **Nurture Relationships:** Psychological health is as important as physical health. Isolation and loneliness can have detrimental effects on health, so maintaining social connections is vital for both physical and mental well-being.

7. **Cultivate Positivity:** Positive thinking and optimism have been associated with a lower risk of heart disease and increased lifespan. Optimists tend to adopt healthier habits and have lower rates of chronic diseases.

While all these practices contribute to a longer, healthier life, prioritizing physical activity and maintaining a positive mindset are particularly highlighted as essential steps toward longevity. Ultimately, there’s no magic pill, but adopting these behaviors can lead to a longer and more fulfilling life.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/04/well/live/live-longer-health.html

What’s stopping us from exercising in older age?

Exercise in older age is high on the agenda, but the idea that with age comes bags of time and a desire to ‘get out there’ isn’t true for a lot of us.

How do you juggle exercise around caring for partners, grandchildren or staying in work?

What if you haven’t exercised for years? What can your body take, and how has it changed with age?

James Gallagher hears how octogenarian athlete ‘Irongran’ keeps going, he explores the mental and physical barriers that stop us exercising and he finds out what he might feel like in 40 years as he pulls on an ageing suit.

BBC Link

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NYT: How Walking Can Build Up the Brain

How Walking, Dancing, Tennis Can Build Up the Brain

Exercise can freshen and renovate the white matter in our brains, potentially improving our ability to think and remember as we age, according to a new study of walking, dancing (tennis) and brain health.

It shows that white matter, which connects and supports the cells in our brains, remodels itself when people become more physically active. In those who remain sedentary, on the other hand, white…

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ATP: You’re never too old to regain that lost muscle.

Starting sometime in our 30s (the data aren’t precise), we lose up to 8 percent of our muscle mass per decade, a decline called sarcopenia, along with up to 30 percent of our strength and power. This leaves us weaker, less mobile and — especially after we cross age 50 — more vulnerable to injury from falls and similar accidents.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Men and women can regain some of that lost muscle mass and, importantly, stay strong enough to enjoy youthful activities well into their winter years, experts say.

You’re never too old to regain that lost muscle. And you can do it at home. “Building and maintaining strength is one of the most important things you can do at any stage of life, and it’s extremely important after age 50,” a sports medicine physician said.


Source: Washington Post Wellness

Could a Keto Diet Be Bad for Athletes’ Bones?

Race walkers on a low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic diet showed early signs indicative of bone loss.

A low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic diet could alter bone health in athletes, according to a thought-provoking new study of elite race walkers and their skeletons. The study, one of the first to track athletes during several weeks of intense training, finds that those following a ketogenic diet developed early signs indicative of bone loss.

The study adds to the considerable existing evidence that how we eat can affect how exercise affects us. It also raises concerns about possible, long-term health impacts from popular diet plans, including a high-fat, ketogenic diet.

Anyone interested in health, wellness, weight loss, exercise, food or best seller lists is familiar, by now, with ketogenic diets. Known more familiarly as keto diets, they are extremely low-carbohydrate, high-fat regimens, with as much as 90 percent of daily calories coming from fats.

Ketogenic diets, if followed scrupulously, reshape how our bodies fuel themselves. Because carbohydrates can be rapidly metabolized, our bodies typically turn to them first for energy, whether the carbohydrates come from our diets or stored sources in our muscles and livers.

But if people follow a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet, they soon burn through their stored carbohydrates and their bodies start relying on fat for energy. The fat must be broken down first, however, and, as part of that process, the liver creates substances known as ketone bodies that can be converted into energy.

Ketogenic diets are popular now — as they have been off and on in the past — among people hoping to lose weight, control blood sugar or otherwise regulate their health. Some athletes also follow the diet, hoping that it will improve performance, since fat, as fuel, is ample, slow-burning and long-lasting.

By Gretchen Reynolds NYTimes

The Quiet Brain of the Athlete

The brains of fit, young athletes dial down extraneous noise and attend to important sounds better than those of other young people.


Top athletes’ brains are not as noisy as yours and mine, according to a fascinating new study of elite competitors and how they process sound. The study finds that the brains of fit, young athletes dial down extraneous noise and attend to important sounds better than those of other young people, suggesting that playing sports may change brains in ways that alter how well people sense and respond to the world around them.

For most of us with normal hearing, of course, listening to and processing sounds are such automatic mental activities that we take them for granted.

But “making sense of sound is actually one of the most complex jobs we ask of our brains,” says Nina Kraus, a professor and director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., who oversaw the new study.

Sound processing also can be a reflection of broader brain health, she says, since it involves so many interconnected areas of the brain that must coordinate to decide whether any given sound is familiar, what it means, if the body should respond and how a particular sound fits into the broader orchestration of other noises that constantly bombard us.

And they have found interesting variations in proficiency. The brains of trained musicians, for instance, tend to show greater spikes in processing activity when they hear the “da” than do the brains of other people, indicating that learning and practicing musicianship also hones and refines the portions of the brain that process sound.

Some of the athletes’ acoustic agility most likely developed during years of attending to crucial sounds despite clatter, Dr. Kraus says. “You have to be able to hear the coach yelling something or what a teammate is saying,” she says. “Brains change in response to that kind of repeated experience,” and the sound-processing components within the brain strengthen.

But many of the athletes played sports that, typically, are not noisy, she points out. Cross-country running and golf, for instance, most likely demand less sound filtering during most practices and competitions than a sport like football or basketball. But the university’s runners and golfers had brains just as quiet as those of linemen.

For them, “fitness and regular movement of the body also change the brain,” Dr. Kraus says. And sports that seem quiet can still demand a focus on subtle sounds and signals, like the whoosh of a breeze through branches alerting golfers and runners to wind speed or a creak in a joint that could warn of early injury.

Over all, the results suggest that being active, whether as part of a team or on your own, may alter how well brains respond to and understand sounds.

This kind of study cannot tell us definitively, though, whether being an athlete changed the young people’s brains or whether they succeeded as athletes because they were better at sound processing from the start. Dr. Kraus hopes that her continuing research with the university’s sports teams will help to answer that question, as well as whether older people can reshape their sound processing by becoming active.

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Stop Chronic Injuries

Tennis can be tough on your body!  Just ask Federer, Nadal and the typical club member at Manly Lawn.  It’s been cold, wet and windy in Sydney for Badge — the perfect recipe for injury!

At some point, particularly as we age, our injuries become chronic — and our recovery time between play becomes longer. The result: we play less and, even more, are less inclined to play!

For chronic injuries, the Guys from Trident may be able to help you like they did for me — and my bum shoulder. Their methodology — small, targeted interventions to keep you moving,  is similar to the Carrolls, the tennis trainers, who used to keep me on the courts in California.  US Nationals are typically five day events on brutal hard courts, so you needed all the help you could get to make it through to finals day — if you were good enough.

For the rest of us, here’s a link to a youtube seriesof dynamic warm-up and cool-down exercises that were created specifically for tennis players to stop injury or discomfort before it begins.  I have used a variation of Pete’s exercises for many years to continue to play competitively — here’s an example.

I can attest that these exercise, when done regularly, will help you feel more agile, relieve any joint or muscle tightness, and ensure that you are ready for most shots that comes your way — so you can play tennis for life!

Wishing you good health and tennis for life,