Standing Desks Boost Productivity

May 27, 2016 10:03 am 1 comment

Yes, standing desks help us burimagesn more calories, and they also appear to improve our attention. Now comes a report from researchers at Texas A&M suggesting that standing desks also improve productivity. A Texas A&M news release reports that when researchers examined the productivity differences between two groups of call center employees over the course of six months they found that those with stand-capable workstations—those in which the worker could raise or lower the desk to stand or sit as they wished throughout the day—were about 46 percent more productive than those with traditional, seated desk configurations. Productivity was measured by how many successful calls workers completed per hour at work. The researchers also found that workers in the stand-capable desks sat for about 1.6 hours less per day than the seated desk workers.

Yes, Women Really Are Nicer Than Men

May 26, 2016 1:41 pm 1 comment

Yes, Virginia, women really are nicer than men are. How to we know? Beca160525161919_1_540x360use when researchers at Stony Brook University ran a computational analysis of the words used by more than 65,000 Facebook users in 10 million messages, they found that the language used by women is warmer and more agreeable than the language used by men–so much so that algorithms of language use predicted one’s gender on Facebook 90 percent of the time. Science Daily reports on the study, which found that women mentioned friends, family and social life more often, while men swore more, used angrier and argumentative language, and discussed objects more than people. On average, women used language that was characteristic of compassion and politeness while men were more hostile and impersonal.

The visual above shows the relationship between gender-linked language topics and characteristics of warmth and assertiveness. Blue-shaded points are topics most linked with men. Orange-shaded points are topics most linked with women.

Credit: Images courtesy of PLOS ONE

What Those Crackly Knee Sounds Really Mean

May 25, 2016 7:46 am 0 comments

originalWhat do those crackly noises made by your knees really mean? Researchers at Georgia Tech who have devised a way to record the sounds of healthy and unhealthy knees have this answer: it depends. First, they say, all knees make crackly sounds, even if you can’t hear them. Healthy knees produce a consistent pattern of sounds, while damaged knees are more erratic noisemakers. So far, the researchers aren’t diagnosing specific problems with sound, but they can use their tools to tell if a damaged knee is mending properly. A Georgia Tech news release reports that the researchers hope that their acoustic device could lead to inexpensive, wearable monitors, which could benefit athletes who have overburdened their knees, and elderly patients who have slipped and fallen. 

Coffee Keeps Arteries Clear

May 24, 2016 7:50 am 0 comments

First, the bad news. About 16 million Americans suffer from atherosclecoffee-blackrosis, meaning that their arteries are at least partially clogged by plaques. And now the good news: coffee appears to help keep arteries clear. The Tufts Health & Nutrition newsletter reports on a new Korean study that has found that people drinking three to five cups of coffee daily were 41 percent less likely to show signs of coronary artery calcium than non-coffee drinkers. The researchers looked at the coffee intake of 25,138 people, average age 41.3, with no symptoms of heart disease. Most were male, and they drank 1.8 cups of coffee a day on average. The researchers found that people who said they drank an average of three to five cups of coffee a day were least likely to have calcification of arteries. Risk fell with increasing consumption from less than one cup a day to one to three cups, to three to five cups—a “dose-response” pattern that lends credence to the findings. Here’s something interesting: people drinking more than five cups of coffee daily actually saw greater risk than moderate coffee drinkers, and no, researchers don’t know the reason for that. Yes, more research is needed.

How To Stay (Relatively) Safe From Ticks

May 23, 2016 8:09 am 0 comments

From Stephen Wikel, professor emeritus of medical sciences at Quinnipiac University’s Frank H. Netter M.D. School of Medicine, comes this advice, via HealthDay, about how to stay safe from ticks:DeerTick2

  • Protect your ankles. Wear long pants tucked into high socks when doing yard work. Wrap duct tape — sticky-side out — around where the pants and socks meet so that crawling ticks get stuck on the tape.
  • Dress properly. Use clothing, tents and other gear treated with repellent, such as permethrin. This repellent kills ticks, mosquitoes, chiggers and mites. These products are available online or at sporting goods stores.
  • Wear repellent. Apply topical insect repellent that contains less than 40 percent DEET. Children should use repellent that contains no more than 30 percent DEET, Wikel said.
  • Conduct tick checks. “Tick bites are painless, so if you are in an area with ticks, perform a thorough tick check and remove ticks immediately,” he advised.
  • Don’t forget pets.“The neurotransmitter blockers in anti-tick treatments and flea collars are very effective in keeping ticks from biting pets,” said Wikel. “When pets come indoors, check for crawling ticks to prevent them from getting off your pet and on to you.”
  • Create a tick-free zone. You can make your yard less attractive to rodent, deer and other tick-carriers. Keeping lawns trimmed and creating barriers between your yard and the woods with wood chips, mulch or gravel can eliminate tall grasses where ticks crawl. Remove wood piles and stones where mice, chipmunks and squirrels may hide. These little critters keep tick larva and nymphs circulating in nature.
  • Hike carefully. Stay in the center of hiking trails to avoid contact with vegetation.

Dinner By Candlelight May Keep You Thin

May 20, 2016 9:19 am 0 comments

It could be true: researchers at Northwestern Uimgresniversity have learned that insulin was unable to quickly bring glucose levels back to a normal level following a meal with bright light exposure in the evening. Yes, that does matter, because the body’s inability to adequately move glucose out of the bloodstream, can, over time, help put the pounds on. A Northwestern new release reports that previous research by Northwestern scientists showed that people who received the majority of their bright light in the morning weighed less than those who were exposed to most of their bright light after 12 p.m. Mouse studies also have shown that mice kept in constant light have altered glucose metabolism and gain weight compared to control mice. In this case, the researchers set out to examine the effects of three hours of morning or evening blue-enriched light exposure compared to dim light on hunger, metabolic function and physiological arousal. To do that, they subjected 19 healthy adults to three hours of blue-enriched light exposure starting either 0.5 hours after waking (morning group) or 10.5 hours after waking (evening group).  The morning group ate breakfast in the light; the evening group ate dinner in the light. Ready? The envelope please…the study showed that blue-enriched light exposure acutely altered metabolic function in both the morning and the evening compared to dim light. While morning and evening blue-enriched light exposure both resulted in higher insulin resistance, evening blue-enriched light led to higher peak glucose. The bottom line: the researchers are convinced that our bodies have a harder time compensating for the increase in glucose in the evening.

A Better Predictor of Mortality: Well-Being

May 19, 2016 7:53 am 0 comments

images-1Sure, athleticism is swell, but researchers at the University of Chicago have some new ideas about the best way to describe health and well-being. A University of Chicago news release reports that the new “comprehensive model” of health and aging considers factors such as psychological well-being, sensory function, mobility and health behaviors, all essential parts of an overall health profile that better predicts mortality. And yes, this is a sharp departure from the traditional biomedical model’s reliance on a checklist of infirmities centered on heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The study, a longitudinal survey of 3,000 people aged 57 to 85, is the first of its kind to collect this sort of information from a scientifically selected group of people, yielded comprehensive new data about the experience of aging in America. In addition to finding that age plays little or no role in determining differences in health, the research found that:

  • Cancer itself is not related to other conditions that undermine health.
  • Poor mental health, which afflicts one in eight older adults, undermines health in ways not previously recognized.
  • Obesity seems to pose little risk to older adults with excellent physical and mental health.
  • Sensory function and social participation play critical roles in sustaining or undermining health.
  • Breaking a bone after age 45 is a major marker for future health issues.
  • Older men and women have different patterns of health and well-being during aging.
  • Mobility is one of the best markers of well-being.

Read more from the University of Chicago.

America’s Fittest Cities, 2016

May 18, 2016 8:09 am 0 comments

imgresThe verdicts are in, and for the third year in a row the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has declared Washington D.C. the fittest city in the United States, based on a mix of personal health indicators (exercise, diet, healthful habits) and community environmental indicators (parks, bike commuters, farmers markets). Washington is followed by Minneapolis, Denver, Portland, Oregon and San Francisco. And the losers, those at the bottom of the 50-city list, are Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, and Louisville, Kentucky. See the complete list, and the reasons for the ACSM ratings, here.

Exercise May Reduce Risk Of 13 Cancers

May 17, 2016 7:52 am 0 comments

And now, thirteen ways of looking at exerimages-1cise: Researchers at the University of North Carolina’s school of public health are convinced that working out just a couple of times a week can cut the risk of 13 types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, colon, lung, as well as leukemia, myeloma and cancers of the esophagus, liver, kidney, stomach, endometrium, rectum, bladder, and head and neck. Yikes!  Science Daily reports on the research, which looked at 1.4 million people, and which found an association between exercise and cancer reduction, but not a cause and effect relationship. The researchers examined whether self-reported physical activity made a difference in risk of 26 cancers, and they found that exercise was associated with a reduced risk for half of the cancers considered. The range of reduced risk ran from 42 percent for esophageal cancer to 10 percent for breast cancer. For colon and lung cancer, risk was lowered 16 percent and 26 percent, respectively, and overall, a higher level of physical activity was associated with a 7 percent lower risk of total cancer.

Barefoot Running Is Good For Your Brain

May 16, 2016 10:11 am 0 comments

Barefoot runnimgresing, all the rage a few years ago, may boost more than cardio fitness. A new study by researchers at the University of North Florida suggests that it can also boost your memory. Men’s Fitness reports on the research, for which 72 participants between 18 and 44 were recruited to run either barefoot or with running shoes at a comfortable,  pace for roughly 16 minutes on a track. In order to simulate the way barefoot runners aim their feet to avoid sharp objects, the runners were also told to step on targets laid out on the track. After the exercise, barefoot runners saw about a 16 percent increase in working memory performance, measured as their ability to remember instructions, recall directions, and process information. Not so for runners wearing shoes, who saw no increase in working memory.

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