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A longevity expert shares the exercise she does to live longer and prevent her body from ‘aging fast’

Short-term stress isn’t always a bad thing. It prepares our mind and body for what we need to do in the moment. Chronic stress, however, is more extreme and consistent — and has toxic effects on your body.

As a longevity researcher, I’ve seen how toxic stress can wear out our cells prematurely and increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, dementia and depression.

To prevent my body from aging fast and reaching a chronic state, I use a technique called “stress fitness.”

Stress fitness: A dose of healthy stress
Stress fitness is a way of exercising the body with short bursts of stress. Studies show it can improve the health and regenerative life span of your cells, instead of slowly wearing them out.

Compare drinking coffee all day with enjoying a single shot of espresso. The former is not so great for you and probably leaves you feeling anxious and jittery; the latter comes with mood- and health-boosting benefits.

Stress is the same way. You don’t want to be stressed the entire day, but you do want to take short, intense “shots” of it that will initiate your body’s recovery process and train it to be more resilient to future stress.

How to practice stress fitness
I like to do my stress fitness exercises in the mornings a few times a week, or at least once a week. Here are two to pick from:

1. High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
Complete one round of high-intensity interval training, which takes roughly seven minutes. You can pick as many from the following list as you like, but keep it simple to start:

Push ups
Plank
Side plank
Jumping jacks
High knees
Rope jumping
Mountain climbers
Jump lunges
Jump squats
Burpees

Do each exercise for 30 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat until the seven minutes are up.

Find your edge of intensity with speed where you feel some discomfort or struggle. Welcome the discomfort and difficulty as part of the experience — don’t fight against them.

If you haven’t been active in a while, start with something accessible like slow to brisk walking.

2. Turn the dial to cold
Studies have found that taking a quick, cold shower can decrease inflammation, increase longevity and improve your metabolism.

At the end of a warm shower, turn the dial to cold. Can you stay under the stream for 15 to 30 seconds? A minute? Push yourself to your edge in the same way you would with exercise, then relax into it. This is key.

To build resilience, match the shock of the stress response with a relaxed mind as much as possible.

Bonus practice: Heat it up!
Cold exposure turns on positive stress, and so does heat exposure, in the right circumstances.

While more research is needed, some studies have found links between sauna bathing and lower risks of cardiovascular issues and inflammation.

Your heart rate increases during sauna use, as if you were doing moderate exercise. If you have access to a sauna at home or in your gym, try sitting in it for 30 minutes.

But be sure to check with your doctor first if you have serious health conditions.

Elissa Epel, PhD, is a health psychologist and longevity researcher. She is a professor at University of California, San Francisco and the Director of UCSF’s Aging, Metabolism and Emotion Center. In her latest book, “The Stress Prescription,” she distills decades of research into science-based techniques that can help your stress into your strength. Follow her on Twitter @Dr_Epel.

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Amid the AI hype, don’t forget about no-code

No-code startup Softr, which allows its customers to build apps from their existing data, announced Tuesday that it has added Google Sheets to its integration list.

Previously, Softr focused on Airtable databases. Its move to support data from Google’s spreadsheet product likely expands its potential customer pool. Even before that expansion, CEO Mariam Hakobyan told TechCrunch+ that her company grew its annual recurring revenue 3x from December 2021 to December 2022.

 

Softr’s quick revenue expansion is a good reminder that while the tech world seems completely consumed by all things AI, there’s quite a lot of work going on in other areas that are worth keeping an eye on.

That said, there is an interesting connection between AI and no-code worth writing down: Both are potentially great expanders of human capability. AI tooling could operate as a second brain of sorts for the digitally busy, and no-code services may allow nondevelopers to build the tools they need to complete their work. In both cases, the genres of new tech development have a shot at helping regular folks do a lot more, more quickly and often at a low cost.

Something else that modern AI tooling and no-code share is accessibility. Softr, for example, grew its base of signed-up users from 35,000 to 150,000 in 2022. That’s really quite a lot for a service that was, until recently, Airtable-specific. On the AI side, I don’t need to reiterate just how much market demand there is for modern LLM tooling.

Let’s dig into Softr’s progress since we last covered the company and chat about what we can learn about no-code progress as a method of building more accessible software.

Softr, no-code and empowering the regulars
Ask anyone who works at a company that builds software and isn’t part of the engineering or product orgs how long it will take them to get something built for their own needs. Without even making Jira ticket jokes, we all know what the answer will be. And to a degree, the standard situation makes sense: What nondeveloper employees need is often pretty basic software, and expensive engineers need to focus on the company’s core offering not internal tooling.

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Twitter’s legacy blue checkmark era is officially over

Twitter appears to have officially killed off its legacy blue checkmarks, one of the last remaining vestiges of the pre-Elon Musk owner era.

The legacy blue checks, which Twitter doled out to journalists, celebrities and other public officials for free to help curb impersonations and spam, were supposed to end April 1.

Musk took to Twitter on April 11 — days after the legacy checkmarks should have disappeared — to shift the end date to April 20 or 4/20. Yes, that’s the day when folks honor weed because Twitter is now owned by a middle schooler.

With the legacy checkmarks gone, Twitter will have verification marks only for paid users and businesses as well as government entities and officials. Now, if a user sees a blue checkmark and clicks on it, the label reads: “This account is verified because they are subscribed to Twitter Blue and verified their phone number.”

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Autotech Ventures’ new $230M mobility fund adds fintech, circular economy to its investment strategy

Autotech Ventures will use its newly closed $230 million fund to expand beyond its foundation of early-stage ground transportation startups and invest in what the firm believes are the next big opportunities in automotive and mobility.

Fintech, logistics, supply chain and the circular economy are at the top of the list.

The $230 million fund, its third since launching in 2017, will be used to invest in seed through Series C mobility-related startups, according to the company. A mixture of financial and corporate LPs, including Allison Transmission, American Axle, Iochpe-Maxion and Shell participated in the fund.

“We’re still a ground transportation-focused firm and we have a very similar strategy [with this fund],” Alexei Andreev, Autotech Ventures managing director told TechCrunch. “On a high-level, it’s same as Fund 1 and Fund 2. However, one of the fastest areas of growth is SaaS-enabled fintech. Auto commerce is inefficient and there are large pockets of profit to capture.”

The firm is particularly interested in transportation-related fintech ventures that are poised to grow during a recession.

“We made a prediction that sooner or later there will be a recession and we identified areas that benefit when the economy softens, Andreev said, noting that this latest fund invested in Yendo, a Dallas-based startup (formerly known as Otto) that lets customers borrow against their vehicles at the same interest rate as standard credit cards.

Autotech Ventures’ previous fintech investments include U.K.-based buy now, pay later startup Bumper and Carpay, a buy here, pay here loan servicing SaaS platform for car dealers.

Andreev said the firm is also investigating investment opportunities in the circular economy, a nascent industry focused on finding ways to reuse materials and products. Circular economy startups have garnered an increasing amount of attention and investment as automakers transition away from gas-powered vehicles and towards EVs.

Autotech Ventures is also cautiously wading into generative AI, although Andreev was quick to note that the company has not made any investments in that area.

Autotech has more than $500 million under management and has invested in more than 40 companies.

Some of the firm’s investments include computer vision startup DeepScale (which was acquired by Tesla), Lyft, used vehicle marketplace operator Frontier Car Group, Drover, Outdoorsy, Swvl, parking app SpotHero and Xnor.ai, which Apple acquired in January 2020. Five of those startups have gone public, including indie Semiconductor and Volta Charging.

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