1 Listening to Loud Music
If you despair over the thumping soundtrack blasting from your teen’s room, you may be surprised to hear it could be doing him some good.
There’s scientific proof that the greater the music’s intensity the more pleasure it brings, according to research from the University of Manchester.
It’s all down to the vestibular system, which is responsible for balance but also carries vibration; when sound waves set it off, it sends a positive message to the brain. Study author Neil Todd believes it’s a hangover from a primitive acoustic sense connected to basic drives such as hunger and sex. But if the result is hearing loss, surely it’s not worth it?
Todd found that while sounds carried across a room had to be louder than 90 decibels (equivalent to a motorbike or lawnmower) to produce the vestibular response, sounds carried through mass – such as the floor or leaning against a speaker – need only be 30 decibels to achieve the same sensation.
2 Texting, Not Talking
In the Philippines alone, about 400 million text messages are sent in a day, which you may see as another nail in the coffin of human interaction.
But a survey by YouGov, an international internet-based market research firm, found that 43 percent of respondents felt mobile phones improved family communications.
A study by Professor Helen Haste of the Nestlé Social Research Programme in London confirmed that for young adults, texting was crucial in their interaction with parents.
Experts suggest it’s the discreet nature of texting that makes it so appealing to young people, allowing them to keep in touch while maintaining their own space.
Phone calls may be more immediate, but texting means explosive emotions can be edited out and the mis-interpretation of tones of voice, which often leads youngsters to avoid phone calls (parents may sound interrogative when they’re really just concerned), be-comes a thing of the past.
3 Pounding the Pavements
Running, particularly on roads, has been blamed for wear and tear on the knees, which can lead to osteoarthritis. But a new study shows that those who regularly run are actually less likely to develop the condition than those who don’t. It seems running can strengthen the cartilage around the knee, preventing degeneration.
Researchers at Monash University in Victoria, Australia, followed 300 adults aged between 50 and 79 over a decade and found that cartilage volume increased in those who exercised the most.
Regular running can also reduce pain: a study at California’s Stanford University found that older people engaging in regular exercise, including running, reported 25 percent less musculo-skeletal pain than sedentary people.
So does this mean that people with osteoarthritis should exercise? “Yes,” says Dr Adam Bajkowski, president of the Primary Care Rheumatology Society, UK. “The more you exercise your joints, the stronger they become.”
4 Being a Bit Overweight
If you worry that being even a few kilograms over your target weight is a death sentence, fret not. A US study of the mortality rates of 2.3 million people found that those with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 to 30 – technically “overweight” – were no more likely to die of cardiovascular disease and cancer than those with a “healthy” BMI of 18.5 to 25.
How come? It’s possible, says Katherine Flegal, senior research scientist and lead researcher of the study, that older people who are overweight have greater nutritional reserves that help carry them through bouts of ill health – this may influence the overall figures for all age groups.
But Dr Colin Waine, chair of the National Obesity Forum in the UK, also points out that where you put on weight can be more significant than your BMI: carrying weight round your middle is much worse than carrying it on your hips.
“Having a waist of over 37 inches for men and 33 inches for women, gives you a significantly greater risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes,” he says. “That danger rises even more steeply above 40 inches [for men and] 37 inches [for women].”
So if you are generally fit and active, then carrying a few extra pounds is not worth stressing over.
5 Full Fat Dairy
If you’ve trained yourself to touch nothing but low-fat or no-fat, you might want to relax.
A study at the University of Wales of 2375 men over 25 years showed that those who consumed the most full-fat dairy were 63 percent less likely to develop “metabolic syndrome,” a cluster of symptoms such as high blood pressure, blood lipids and glucose levels that can lead to diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
It is believed that medium-chain fatty acids, present in full-fat (but not low-fat) milk, yoghurt and cheese, boost insulin sensitivity in those with metabolic syndrome, making it easier for the body to control weight.
Many people assume that decaffeinated coffee and tea is somehow healthier – and there have been suggested links between caffeine and heart palpitations and pancreatic cancer. But there’s a growing list of ways that it might actually be good for you.
Several studies have flagged coffee as combating or delaying the development of Parkinson’s disease in men.
It’s most likely the caffeine that’s doing it, says Dr Kieran Breen, director of research for the Parkinson’s Disease Society in the UK; perhaps it stimulates nerve cells’ production of dopamine to counteract the disease’s symptoms, or it may actually be protecting the nerve cells.
Some studies have suggested that caffeine can help prevent gallstones, though there’s no consensus yet. A Japanese study found that middle-aged and older people drinking coffee daily had half the rate of common liver cancer.
Also, as a pick-me-up, caffeine doesn’t just affect your mood – there’s evidence it can enhance the performance of athletes.
By now you’ll have heard that red wine in moderation helps protect against heart disease, but the healing benefits don’t stop there.
If you’re more of a beer drinker, take heart: studies in both the Netherlands and the Czech Republic have found that the rich vitamin B6 content in beer can prevent the build-up of homocysteine, an amino acid, high levels of which have been linked to heart attacks. Beer also contains polyphenols – the same things that in wine are lauded for controlling LDL cholesterol.
What if you’re a spirit-drinker? Well, if you like a gin and tonic, you may want to know that the quinine in tonic water (and bitter lemon) can prevent night cramps.
In a small 2005 study, Dr Richard Coppin, a general practitioner in the UK, showed that quinine was more effective than calf-stretching exercises in preventing the condition. Of course, tonic water contains 83mg of quinine per litre – and doctors typically prescribe 200 to 300mg of quinine to be taken each night. But it’s possible that smaller doses might help too, says Dr Coppin.
8 Computer Games
They isolate children socially and distract them from learning, right? Think again. Researchers have found that kids who clock up regular console time can improve their hand–eye coordination, their grip on science, even their IQ.
A 2002 study of 700 children found that stimulation and adventure games such as Sim City and Roller Coaster Tycoon developed children’s strategic thinking and planning skills. And research by Peter Excell, head of computing and communications technology at Glyndwr University in Wales, suggests computer games are a great way to explain the basics of physics. (A weapon thrown in a game, for example, has to follow a certain trajectory, illustrating the laws of gravity.)
Bishop John Robinson Primary School in Thamesmead, London, actually started a pilot project in September last year using 16 Nintendo DS consoles running the Maths Training Game with a Year Five class – who were so engaged that other classes are now sharing the consoles and some students have asked their parents to buy the games to use at home.
9 Sugary Soft Drinks
Surely it’s great that soft drinks come in diet form? The same drink with virtually no calories. But a 2005 study from the University of Texas found that in a group of 622 participants studied over eight years, those who regularly drank diet soft drinks were far more likely to become overweight or obese than those drinking the same amount of non-diet drink.
Although artificial sweeteners may taste the same as sugar, “your body may not be fooled that it’s received the same calories – so it craves more”, says Jacqui Lowdon, a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association.
Diet soft drinks may also lull you into a false sense of security.
“Some people feel that if they drink one, they can have a Mars bar,” says Lowdon.
10 Being a Working Mum
Do you sometimes worry that the stress of caring for a family while holding down a job will drive you into the madhouse or an early grave?
In fact, a 2005 study found that women who combine a career with marriage and motherhood are less likely to have poor health than those who stay at home or have no children.
A study in the UK following British men and women born in 1946 throughout their lives, also found that 38 percent of long-term homemakers were obese by their fifties, compared with just 23 percent who had been working mothers.
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