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You don’t need a doctor to get more physically active – here are 10 simple steps you can take by yourself

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nerys-m-astbury-410114">Nerys M Astbury</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-oxford-1260">University of Oxford</a></em></p> <p>We all know physical activity has many <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-health-benefits/">health benefits</a>, including for mental health. It helps <a href="https://theconversation.com/exercise-can-reduce-stress-and-improve-sleep-particularly-for-women-with-breast-cancer-186144">manage stress</a>, ease joint or back pain, and boost energy levels.</p> <p>Exercise can also improve <a href="https://theconversation.com/exercise-and-the-brain-three-ways-physical-activity-changes-its-very-structure-150203">brain function</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/exercise-really-can-help-you-sleep-better-at-night-heres-why-that-may-be-192427">sleep</a>, and lift mood. In contrast, inactivity or spending too much time <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6308180/">sedentary</a> is a leading factor in developing a range of diseases.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240015128">World Health Organization</a> recommends we should do a weekly minimum of 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, such as walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity, such as swimming, jogging or an exercise class – as well as <a href="https://theconversation.com/strength-training-could-be-the-answer-to-one-of-the-worlds-worst-killers-228665">regular strength training</a>.</p> <p>However, many people <a href="https://www.who.int/teams/health-promotion/physical-activity/global-status-report-on-physical-activity-2022">fail to meet these guidelines</a>. So what to do about this <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/12/lack-exercise-inactivity-preventable-diseases/">health crisis</a>?</p> <p>There is already <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/376/bmj-2021-068465">evidence</a> that when GPs give patients guidance and continued support to increase physical activity, this encourages them to be more physically active – at least in the short term. However, we don’t yet know the best way for doctors to communicate with patients to help them sustain these increased activity levels so the current guidance and support on offer to patients isn’t as effective as it could be.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vCCD1xHKpZc?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>For example, my <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/386/bmj-2023-078713">latest research</a> examines the <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/340/bmj.c1900">“motivational interviewing” (MI)</a> method GPs currently use to encourage patients to change their lifestyle. MI is a patient-centred, non-confrontational communication style that helps patients address any problem behaviour by exploring their ambivalence towards changing it. MI has been shown to help patients with a host of health problems, including <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25577724/">addiction issues</a>, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23001832/">eating disorders</a>, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25726920/">smokers</a> and those with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33637368/">diabetes</a> to change their behaviour.</p> <p>However, I found that while MI programmes can help patients increase their total amount of physical activity – the benefits are only short term.</p> <h2>Ten simple ways to be more physically active</h2> <p>If you want more physical activity in your life, then, there are many self-directed things you can do to help yourself, without joining a programme or seeing your GP.</p> <p>Here are ten simple and effective ways to help you become – and stay – more physically active:</p> <p><strong>1) Don’t sit, stand</strong></p> <p>We <a href="https://theconversation.com/sitting-is-bad-for-your-health-and-exercise-doesnt-seem-to-offset-the-harmful-effects-225056">sit a lot</a>. In fact, it’s likely you’re sitting right now – and you needn’t be. Sitting for long periods has been <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2010.05.024">linked</a> with many adverse health outcomes, so try to stand more.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wUEl8KrMz14?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p><strong>2) Take the stairs</strong></p> <p>Being physically active needn’t mean expensive gym memberships. Try building physical activity into your daily routine. One easy way to do this is by swapping the lift or escalator for the stairs.</p> <p><strong>3) Make it fun</strong></p> <p>If you like doing something, you’re <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-you-shouldnt-let-guilt-motivate-you-to-exercise-220342">more likely</a> to continue doing it. Why not try an activity you liked doing as a child, or even something new? Who knows, you might enjoy it.</p> <p><strong>4) Phone a friend</strong></p> <p>Exercising <a href="https://theconversation.com/exercise-can-be-punishing-but-heres-how-to-stop-thinking-of-it-as-a-punishment-76167">with a friend</a> or loved one is a great way to stay motivated, and it can make physical activity more fun too.</p> <p><strong>5) Do less, more often</strong></p> <p><a href="https://pilotfeasibilitystudies.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40814-023-01272-8">“Snacktivity”</a> – a term for breaking up your activity into shorter <a href="https://theconversation.com/forget-the-gym-in-january-exercise-snacking-is-the-way-forward-69702">activity “snacks”</a> – can help you increase activity in convenient, manageable bursts while reaping the health benefits.</p> <p><strong>6) Track your progress</strong></p> <p>Activity trackers aren’t a fad. There is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S2589-7500(22)00111-X">evidence</a> that just using an activity tracker such as a pedometer to count steps or a smart watch that logs activity can help increase your activity levels, reduce body fat and increase muscle mass – and increase your overall physical fitness.</p> <p><strong>7) Get into a habit</strong></p> <p>We know it takes about ten weeks to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3505409/">form a habit</a>. Repetition is key – so stick with it and keep going. Once you’ve formed a physical activity habit, it will be <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/basics/habit-formation#:%7E:text=Building%20healthy%20habits%20can%20involve,listening%20to%20music%20while%20exercising">hard to shake it off</a>.).</p> <p><strong>8) Hold still</strong></p> <p>Try to incorporate <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isometric_exercise">isometric exercises</a> like the plank or wall squats into your routine. These exercises, which need no equipment, require you to tighten muscles and hold still – and have been shown to <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/57/20/1317">lower your blood pressure</a>.</p> <p><strong>9) Set a goal</strong></p> <p>Give yourself an achievable target to work towards – it will <a href="https://theconversation.com/three-tips-to-help-you-stay-motivated-to-keep-exercising-all-year-long-175868">motivate you</a> to reach your goal.</p> <p><strong>10) Reward yourself</strong></p> <p>And don’t forget to reward yourself when you meet that goal. You can also build in rewards to mark your progress along the way. After all, who doesn’t like to treat themselves when they’ve done well?<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/231991/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nerys-m-astbury-410114">Nerys M Astbury</a>, Associate professor, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-oxford-1260">University of Oxford</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/you-dont-need-a-doctor-to-get-more-physically-active-here-are-10-simple-steps-you-can-take-by-yourself-231991">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Poor sleep is really bad for your health. But we found exercise can offset some of these harms

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bo-huei-huang-1243280">Bo-Huei Huang</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emmanuel-stamatakis-161783">Emmanuel Stamatakis</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Despite the well-known links between poor sleep and poorer health, getting enough good quality sleep has become a luxury in modern society.</p> <p>Many of us struggle to improve our sleep, while amid the COVID pandemic and recurring lock-downs, <a href="https://theconversation.com/were-sleeping-more-in-lockdown-but-the-quality-is-worse-155797">our sleep has deteriorated</a>.</p> <p>But <a href="https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2021-104046">our new study</a>, published today in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, bears some encouraging news.</p> <p>We found doing enough physical activity (including exercise such as running or going to the gym) may counter some of the adverse health effects of unhealthy sleep patterns.</p> <p>Let us explain.</p> <h2>Does poor sleep really harm our health?</h2> <p>Unhealthy sleep patterns include:</p> <ul> <li> <p>not sleeping for long enough (less than seven hours per night for adults)</p> </li> <li> <p>sleeping for too long (more than nine hours per night for adults)</p> </li> <li> <p>snoring</p> </li> <li> <p>insomnia</p> </li> <li> <p>being a night owl, also known as “late chronotype”. This is people who naturally feel most awake and motivated in the evening, and are sluggish in the morning.</p> </li> </ul> <p>They are <a href="https://doi.org/10/ggjqrt">all associated</a> with poorer health.</p> <p>Recent research shows poor sleep may:</p> <ul> <li> <p>cause <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41577-019-0190-z">inflammation</a></p> </li> <li> <p>impair the metabolism of glucose (also known as blood sugar) and reduce the number of calories burned, thereby increasing the risk of <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-sleep-is-so-important-for-losing-weight-145058">obesity</a></p> </li> <li> <p>increase the risk of <a href="https://doi.org/10/gg6x87">heart disease</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10/ggnw5h">premature death</a>.</p> </li> </ul> <p>However, very few studies have examined how sleep and physical activity interact and impact our health.</p> <p>We set out to answer the question: if I have poor sleep but I do quite a lot of physical activity, can that offset some of the harms of my poor sleep in the long-term? Or would this not make any difference?</p> <h2>What did we do?</h2> <p>We analysed the information provided by 380,055 middle-aged adults in the UK Biobank study, recruited between 2006 and 2010. Participants reported their level of physical activity and five aspects of their sleep.</p> <p>We grouped people based on their sleep behaviour into healthy, intermediate or poor.</p> <p>We categorised people’s level of physical activity based on <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/24/1451">the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines</a>. People who met the upper bounds of the guidelines did 300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week, or 150 minutes of vigorous exercise, or a combination of both. Those who met the lower bound did 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, or a combination.</p> <p>Moderate intensity physical activity usually makes you slightly out of breath if sustained for a few minutes and includes brisk walking or cycling at a leisurely pace.</p> <p>Vigorous exercise usually makes you breath hard and can include running, swimming, and playing sports like tennis, netball, soccer or footy.</p> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/408096/original/file-20210624-15-1qfe1ay.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/408096/original/file-20210624-15-1qfe1ay.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=409&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/408096/original/file-20210624-15-1qfe1ay.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=409&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/408096/original/file-20210624-15-1qfe1ay.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=409&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/408096/original/file-20210624-15-1qfe1ay.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=515&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/408096/original/file-20210624-15-1qfe1ay.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=515&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/408096/original/file-20210624-15-1qfe1ay.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=515&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /><figcaption><span class="caption">Doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, can offset some of the health harms of poor sleep.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/336656/9789240015128-eng.pdf?sequence=1&amp;isAllowed=y">World Health Organization, CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO</a></span></figcaption></figure> <h2>What did we find?</h2> <p>We followed up with the participants after 11 years. By May 2020, 15,503 participants had died, of which 4,095 died from heart disease and 9,064 died from cancer.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2021-104046">We found</a> that, compared to healthy sleepers, people with poor sleep had a 23% higher risk of premature death, a 39% higher risk of dying from heart disease, and a 13% higher risk of dying from cancer.</p> <p>We then compared the data of people who slept well with those who slept poorly, and how much they exercised. We found people who had the highest risk of dying from heart disease and cancer were those who had poor sleep and didn’t meet the WHO physical activity guidelines. On the other hand, those who had poor sleep but did enough physical activity to meet the WHO guidelines didn’t have as high a risk of dying from heart disease or cancer, compared to those who slept poorly and didn’t meet the physical activity guidelines.</p> <p>For example, let’s look at the risk of dying from cancer. Those who had poor sleep and did no physical activity had a 45% higher risk of dying from cancer compared to those who had healthy sleep and exercised a lot. But among those who met the physical activity guidelines, despite poor sleep, they didn’t really have a higher risk of dying from cancer any more.</p> <p>We found physical activity levels which met at least the bottom threshold of the WHO guidelines could reduce or eliminate some of the health harms of poor sleep. So people who did at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week were to some extent protected against the detrimental health effects of poor sleep.</p> <p>Those who had both poor sleep and did no moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity had the highest risks of premature death.</p> <p>Our study wasn’t designed to find out how and why physical activity may counteract some of the bad physiological impacts of poor sleep. But other research provides theories. For example, adequate physical activity may <a href="https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000001179">reduce inflammation, help maintain a healthy glucose metabolism</a>, and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcad.2018.07.014">increase the number of calories burned</a>.</p> <p>It’s important to note our study was what’s called an “observational study”. It shows an association between adequate physical activity and reduced harms from poor sleep, but we must be careful in interpreting causation. It can’t conclusively say adequate physical activity <em>causes</em> the reduction of harms from poor sleep, though there’s strong evidence for an association in the right direction.</p> <p>Our study offers a hopeful message, that even if you haven’t been able to improve your sleep, you can still offset some of the health harms by doing enough exercise. <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S009174352030339X">Our previous research</a> has also shown physical activity may help improve poor sleep patterns, which are a serious health problem across the world.</p> <p>In addition to combating some of the negative outcomes of poor sleep, physical activity can also provide many other health benefits and extend our lives. For example, a 2019 study found people who met WHO’s physical activity target above <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-019-1339-0">lived three years longer on average</a> than those who didn’t.</p> <p>During lockdowns, access to parks, gyms, and swimming pools might be limited in many places. But there are still many ways to <a href="https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19/publications-and-technical-guidance/noncommunicable-diseases/stay-physically-active-during-self-quarantine">to stay fit and active at home during the coronavirus</a>.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/163270/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bo-huei-huang-1243280">Bo-Huei Huang</a>, PhD candidate, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emmanuel-stamatakis-161783">Emmanuel Stamatakis</a>, Professor of Physical Activity, Lifestyle, and Population Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/poor-sleep-is-really-bad-for-your-health-but-we-found-exercise-can-offset-some-of-these-harms-163270">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Long COVID puzzle pieces are falling into place – the picture is unsettling

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ziyad-al-aly-513663">Ziyad Al-Aly</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/washington-university-in-st-louis-732">Washington University in St. Louis</a></em></p> <p>Since 2020, the condition known as long COVID-19 has become a <a href="https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-providers/civil-rights-covid19/guidance-long-covid-disability/index.html">widespread disability</a> affecting the health and quality of life of millions of people across the globe and costing economies billions of dollars in <a href="https://www.oecd.org/en/publications/the-impacts-of-long-covid-across-oecd-countries_8bd08383-en.html">reduced productivity of employees and an overall drop in the work force</a>.</p> <p>The intense scientific effort that long COVID sparked has resulted in <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=%22long+covid%22+or+%22pasc%22+or+%22post-acute+sequelae+of+covid-19%22+or+%22postacute+sequelae+of+covid-19%22+or+%22post-acute+sequelae+of+SARS-CoV-2%22+or+%22postacute+sequelae+of+SARS-CoV-2%22+or+%22post+covid+condition%22+or+%22post+covid+conditions%22+or+%E2%80%9Cchronic+covid-19%E2%80%9D+or+%E2%80%9Cpost+covid-19+condition%E2%80%9D+or+%E2%80%9Cpost+covid-19+conditions%E2%80%9D+or+%E2%80%9Cpost-covid+condition%E2%80%9D+or+%E2%80%9Cpost-covid+conditions%E2%80%9D+or+%E2%80%9Clong+covid-19%E2%80%9D+or+%28%22long-term%22+and+%22COVID-19%22%29+or+%28%22longterm%22+and+%22COVID-19%22%29+or+%28%22long-term%22+and+%22SARS-CoV-2%22%29+or+%28%22longterm%22+and+%22SARS-CoV-2%22%29+or+%E2%80%9Cpostcovid+condition%E2%80%9D+or+%E2%80%9Cpostcovid+conditions%E2%80%9D+&amp;sort=date">more than 24,000 scientific publications</a>, making it the most researched health condition in any four years of recorded human history.</p> <p><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects/index.html">Long COVID</a> is a term that describes the <a href="https://www.yalemedicine.org/conditions/long-covid-post-covid-conditions-pcc">constellation of long-term health effects</a> caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These range from persistent respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath, to debilitating fatigue or brain fog that limits people’s ability to work, and conditions such as heart failure and diabetes, which are known to last a lifetime.</p> <p>I am a physician scientist, and I have been deeply immersed in studying long COVID since the early days of the pandemic. I have testified before the U.S. Senate as an <a href="https://www.help.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/baf4e4e7-b423-6bef-7cb4-1b272df66eb8/Al-Aly%20Testimony.pdf">expert witness on long COVID</a>, have <a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&amp;user=DtuRVcUAAAAJ">published extensively on it</a> and was named as one of <a href="https://time.com/6966812/ziyad-al-aly/">Time’s 100 most influential people in health in 2024</a> for my research in this area.</p> <p>Over the first half of 2024, a <a href="https://www.nationalacademies.org/our-work/long-term-health-effects-stemming-from-covid-19-and-implications-for-the-social-security-administration#sl-three-columns-afa91458-20e0-42ab-9bd6-55e3c8262ecc">flurry of reports</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa2403211">scientific papers</a> on long COVID added clarity to this complex condition. These include, in particular, insights into how COVID-19 can still wreak havoc in many organs years after the initial viral infection, as well as emerging evidence on viral persistence and immune dysfunction that last for months or years after initial infection.</p> <h2>How long COVID affects the body</h2> <p>A new study that my colleagues and I published in the New England Journal of Medicine on July 17, 2024, shows that the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa2403211">risk of long COVID declined</a> over the course of the pandemic. In 2020, when the ancestral strain of SARS-CoV-2 was dominant and vaccines were not available, about 10.4% of adults who got COVID-19 developed long COVID. By early 2022, when the omicron family of variants predominated, that rate declined to 7.7% among unvaccinated adults and 3.5% of vaccinated adults. In other words, unvaccinated people were more than twice as likely to develop long COVID.</p> <p>While researchers like me do not yet have concrete numbers for the current rate in mid-2024 due to the time it takes for long COVID cases to be reflected in the data, the flow of new patients into long COVID clinics has been on par with 2022.</p> <p>We found that the decline was the result of two key drivers: availability of vaccines and changes in the characteristics of the virus – which made the virus less prone to cause severe acute infections and may have reduced its ability to persist in the human body long enough to cause chronic disease.</p> <p>Despite the decline in risk of developing long COVID, even a 3.5% risk is substantial. New and repeat COVID-19 infections translate into millions of new long COVID cases that add to an already staggering number of people suffering from this condition.</p> <p>Estimates for the first year of the pandemic suggests that at <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41579-023-00896-0">least 65 million people</a> globally have had long COVID. Along with a group of other leading scientists, my team will soon publish updated estimates of the global burden of long COVID and its impact on the global economy through 2023.</p> <p>In addition, a major new report by the National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine details all the <a href="https://nap.nationalacademies.org/catalog/27756/long-term-health-effects-of-covid-19-disability-and-function">health effects that constitute long COVID</a>. The report was commissioned by the Social Security Administration to understand the implications of long COVID on its disability benefits.</p> <p>It concludes that long COVID is a complex chronic condition that can result in more than 200 health effects across multiple body systems. These include new onset or worsening:</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-022-01689-3">heart disease</a></li> <li><a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-022-02001-z">neurologic problems</a> such as <a href="https://theconversation.com/mounting-research-shows-that-covid-19-leaves-its-mark-on-the-brain-including-with-significant-drops-in-iq-scores-224216">cognitive impairment</a>, strokes and <a href="https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/6004-dysautonomia">dysautonomia</a>. This is a category of disorders that affect the body’s <a href="https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/23273-autonomic-nervous-system">autonomic nervous system</a> – nerves that regulate most of the body’s vital mechanisms such as blood pressure, heart rate and temperature.</li> <li><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/me-cfs/hcp/clinical-care/treating-the-most-disruptive-symptoms-first-and-preventing-worsening-of-symptoms.html">post-exertional malaise</a>, a state of severe exhaustion that may happen after even minor activity — often leaving the patient unable to function for hours, days or weeks</li> <li><a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-36223-7">gastrointestinal disorders</a></li> <li><a href="https://doi.org/10.1681/ASN.2021060734">kidney disease</a></li> <li>metabolic disorders such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-8587(22)00044-4">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-8587(22)00355-2">hyperlipidemia</a>, or a rise in bad cholesterol</li> <li><a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41590-023-01724-6">immune dysfunction</a></li> </ul> <p>Long COVID can affect people across the lifespan from children to older adults and across race and ethnicity and baseline health status. Importantly, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/science.adl0867">more than 90% of people with long COVID</a> had mild COVID-19 infections.</p> <p>The National Academies report also concluded that long COVID can result in the inability to return to work or school; poor quality of life; diminished ability to perform activities of daily living; and decreased physical and cognitive function for months or years after the initial infection.</p> <p>The report points out that many health effects of long COVID, such as post-exertional malaise and chronic fatigue, cognitive impairment and autonomic dysfunction, are not currently captured in the <a href="https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/AdultListings.htm">Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments</a>, yet may significantly affect an individual’s ability to participate in work or school.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/9kJ5GWb2wzw?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Many people experience long COVID symptoms for years following initial infection.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>A long road ahead</h2> <p>What’s more, health problems resulting from COVID-19 can last years after the initial infection.</p> <p>A large study published in early 2024 showed that even people who had a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-024-02987-8">mild SARS-CoV-2 infection still experienced new health problems</a> related to COVID-19 in the third year after the initial infection.</p> <p>Such findings parallel other research showing that the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(24)00171-3">virus persists</a> in various organ systems for months or years after COVID-19 infection. And research is showing that immune responses to the infection are <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.adk3295">still evident two to three years</a> after a mild infection. Together, these studies may explain why a SARS-CoV-2 infection years ago could still cause new health problems long after the initial infection.</p> <p>Important progress is also being made in understanding the pathways by which long COVID wreaks havoc on the body. Two preliminary studies <a href="https://doi.org/10.1101/2024.06.18.24309100">from the U.S.</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1101/2024.05.30.596590">the Netherlands</a> show that when researchers transfer auto-antibodies – antibodies generated by a person’s immune system that are directed at their own tissues and organs – from people with long COVID into healthy mice, the animals start to experience long COVID-like symptoms such as muscle weakness and poor balance.</p> <p>These studies suggest that an abnormal immune response thought to be responsible for the generation of these auto-antibodies may underlie long COVID and that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/science.zbzipqn">removing these auto-antibodies</a> may hold promise as potential treatments.</p> <h2>An ongoing threat</h2> <p>Despite overwhelming evidence of the wide-ranging risks of COVID-19, a great deal of messaging suggests that it is no longer a threat to the public. Although there is no empirical evidence to back this up, this misinformation has permeated the public narrative.</p> <p>The data, however, tells a different story.</p> <p><a href="https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#datatracker-home">COVID-19 infections</a> continue to <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm">outnumber flu cases</a> and lead to <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/resp-net/dashboard/index.html">more hospitalization</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2024.7395">death</a> than the flu. COVID-19 also leads to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(23)00684-9">more serious long-term health problems</a>. Trivializing COVID-19 as an inconsequential cold or <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2024/02/covid-anniversary-flu-isolation-cdc/677588/">equating it with the flu</a> does not align with reality.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/233759/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ziyad-al-aly-513663">Ziyad Al-Aly</a>, Chief of Research and Development, VA St. Louis Health Care System. Clinical Epidemiologist, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/washington-university-in-st-louis-732">Washington University in St. Louis</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/long-covid-puzzle-pieces-are-falling-into-place-the-picture-is-unsettling-233759">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Want to sleep longer? Adding mini-bursts of exercise to your evening routine can help

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jennifer-gale-1548741">Jennifer Gale</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-otago-1304">University of Otago</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/meredith-peddie-1548807">Meredith Peddie</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-otago-1304">University of Otago</a></em></p> <p>Exercising before bed has <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352721815000157">long been discouraged</a> as the body doesn’t have time to wind down before the lights go out.</p> <p>But <a href="https://bmjopensem.bmj.com/content/10/3/e001774">new research</a> has found breaking up a quiet, sedentary evening of watching television with short bursts of resistance exercise can lead to longer periods of sleep.</p> <p>Adults spend almost one third of the 24-hour day sleeping. But the quality and length of sleep can affect long-term health. Sleeping too little or waking often in the night is associated with an <a href="https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article-lookup/doi/10.5665/sleep.1382">increased risk of heart disease</a> and <a href="https://diabetesjournals.org/care/article/33/2/414/27149/Quantity-and-Quality-of-Sleep-and-Incidence-of">diabetes</a>.</p> <p>Physical activity during the day can help improve sleep. However, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352721815000157">current recommendations</a> discourage intense exercise before going to bed as it can increase a person’s heart rate and core temperature, which can ultimately disrupt sleep.</p> <h2>Nighttime habits</h2> <p>For many, the longest period of uninterrupted sitting happens at home in the evening. People also usually consume their largest meal during this time (or snack throughout the evening).</p> <p>Insulin (the hormone that helps to remove sugar from the blood stream) tends to be at a lower level in the evening than in the morning.</p> <p>Together these factors promote elevated blood sugar levels, which over the long term can be bad for a person’s health.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/fulltext/2023/08000/breaking_up_evening_sitting_with_resistance.14.aspx">previous research</a> found interrupting evening sitting every 30 minutes with three minutes of resistance exercise reduces the amount of sugar in the bloodstream after eating a meal.</p> <p>But because sleep guidelines currently discourage exercising in the hours before going to sleep, we wanted to know if frequently performing these short bursts of light activity in the evening would affect sleep.</p> <h2>Activity breaks for better sleep</h2> <p>In our latest research, we asked 30 adults to complete two sessions based in a laboratory.</p> <p>During one session the adults sat continuously for a four-hour period while watching streaming services. During the other session, they interrupted sitting by performing three minutes of body-weight resistance exercises (squats, calf raises and hip extensions) every 30 minutes.</p> <p>After these sessions, participants went home to their normal life routines. Their sleep that evening was measured using a wrist monitor.</p> <p>Our research found the quality of sleep (measured by how many times they woke in the night and the length of these awakenings) was the same after the two sessions. But the night after the participants did the exercise “activity breaks” they slept for almost 30 minutes longer.</p> <p>Identifying the biological reasons for the extended sleep in our study requires further research.</p> <p>But regardless of the reason, if activity breaks can extend sleep duration, then getting up and moving at regular intervals in the evening is likely to have clear health benefits.</p> <h2>Time to revisit guidelines</h2> <p>These results add to <a href="https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1087079221001209">earlier work</a> suggesting current sleep guidelines, which discourage evening exercise before bed, may need to be reviewed.</p> <p>As the activity breaks were performed in a highly controlled laboratory environment, future research should explore how activity breaks performed in real life affect peoples sleep.</p> <p>We selected simple, body-weight exercises to use in this study as they don’t require people to interrupt the show they may be watching, and don’t require a large space or equipment.</p> <p>If people wanted to incorporate activity breaks in their own evening routines, they could probably get the same benefit from other types of exercise. For example, marching on the spot, walking up and down stairs, or even dancing in the living room.</p> <p>The key is to frequently interrupt evening sitting time, with a little bit of whole-body movement at regular intervals.</p> <p>In the long run, performing activity breaks may improve health by improving sleep and post-meal blood sugar levels. The most important thing is to get up frequently and move the body, in a way the works best for a person’s individual household.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/234896/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jennifer-gale-1548741">Jennifer Gale</a>, PhD candidate, Department of Human Nutrition, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-otago-1304">University of Otago</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/meredith-peddie-1548807">Meredith Peddie</a>, Senior Lecturer, Department of Human Nutrition, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-otago-1304">University of Otago</a></em></p> <p><em>Image </em><em>credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/want-to-sleep-longer-adding-mini-bursts-of-exercise-to-your-evening-routine-can-help-new-study-234896">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Aussie Olympian amputates finger to compete at Paris Games

<p>Matthew Dawson has amputated part of his ring finger in order to compete in the Olympics. </p> <p>The 30-year-old is set to represent the Australian men's hockey team - the Kookaburras- at this year's Paris Olympics.</p> <p>His Olympic participation was cast into doubt after he broke his finger, but in an extreme show of dedication, he opted to amputate it instead of getting a cast. </p> <p>“I made an informed decision with the plastic surgeon at the time not only for the opportunity to play in Paris but for life after as well,” Dawson told <em>7NEWS</em>.</p> <p>“The best option was for me to take the top of my finger off. It’s a bit of a change at the moment and an exciting challenge, I guess.”</p> <p>He reportedly didn't have much time to make the decision, but reassured that he was well informed before making the big move. </p> <p>“I had made the decision and then I called my wife, and she said, ‘I don’t want you to make a rash decision’, but I had all the information I needed to make the decision not for Paris but for life after,” he said.</p> <p>“Hopefully, I can not take too long to get back to form.”</p> <p>He added: “There are plenty of other issues and other people going on with other stuff in their lives that are bigger than losing a finger, so I’m very fortunate that it’s just a little bit of my finger.” </p> <p>Kookaburras Coach Colin Batch praised Dawson for making the big decision. </p> <p>“Dawson is back in training now. He’s certainly set the bar high for anyone getting a broken finger in the future, but full marks to Matt; he’s made that decision and obviously really committed to playing in Paris,” he said.</p> <p>The coach also told <em>7NEWS</em> that the decision was made entirely by Dawson, and that a coach can't decide for a player. </p> <p>“I’m not sure I would have done it, but he’s done it, so great,” he said.</p> <p>The Aussie hockey team will compete against Argentina on July 27 in their first match for the Paris Olympics.</p> <p><em>Images: Nine</em></p>

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Joe Biden has COVID. Here’s what someone over 80 can expect

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hassan-vally-202904">Hassan Vally</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p>If US politics leading up to the 2024 presidential election was a Hollywood thriller, it would be a movie full of plot twists and surprises. The latest twist is President Joe Biden has <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2024/07/17/politics/joe-biden-tests-positive-covid-19/index.html">COVID</a> and is isolating at home.</p> <p><a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2024/07/17/statement-from-press-secretary-karine-jean-pierre-3/">Biden’s doctor says</a> his symptoms are mild and include a runny nose, cough and generally feeling unwell. His temperature, oxygen levels and respiratory rate are said to be normal.</p> <p>Biden, who has <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/articles/cv2gj8314nqo">been diagnosed</a> with COVID twice before, <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2024/07/17/statement-from-press-secretary-karine-jean-pierre-3/">has received</a> his COVID vaccine and booster shots, and has taken the first dose of the antiviral drug Paxlovid.</p> <p>No doubt, Biden will be receiving the best of medical care. Yet, as much <a href="https://theconversation.com/is-joe-biden-experiencing-cognitive-decline-heres-why-we-shouldnt-speculate-234487">recent media coverage</a> reminds us, he is 81 years old.</p> <p>So let’s look at what it means for an 81-year-old man to have COVID in 2024. Of course, Biden is not just any man, but we’ll come to that later.</p> <h2>Luckily, it’s not 2020</h2> <p>If we were back in 2020, a COVID diagnosis at this age would have been a big deal.</p> <p>This was a time before COVID vaccines, before specific COVID treatments and before we knew as much about COVID as we do today. Back then, being over 80 and being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID) represented a significant threat to your health.</p> <p>It was very clear early in the pandemic that your chances of getting severe disease and dying <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-are-older-people-more-at-risk-of-coronavirus-133770">increased with age</a>. The early data suggested that if you were over 80 and infected, you had about a 15% likelihood of dying from the illness.</p> <p>Also, if you did develop severe disease, we didn’t have a lot in the toolkit to deal with your infection.</p> <p>Remember, former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson <a href="https://theconversation.com/scott-morrison-has-covid-its-a-big-deal-but-not-how-you-think-178298">ended up in the ICU</a> with his COVID infection in <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/17/boris-johnson-and-coronavirus-inside-story-illness">April 2020</a>, despite being 55 at the time. That’s a much younger age than Biden is now.</p> <p>Former US President Donald Trump also had what was understood to be a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/11/trump-coronavirus-ventilator-covid-illness">very severe case</a> of COVID in October 2020. He was 74 at the time.</p> <h2>How things have changed</h2> <p>So let’s wind the clock forward to 2024. A lot has happened in four years.</p> <p>COVID is still a disease that needs to be <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/ncird/whats-new/changing-threat-covid-19.html">taken seriously</a>. And for some people with other health conditions (for instance, people with heart disease or diabetes) it poses more of a threat. And of course we know more about the well-publicised <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-have-covid-how-likely-am-i-to-get-long-covid-218808">longer term effects</a> of COVID.</p> <p>But the threat COVID poses to an individual is far less now than it has ever been.</p> <h2>More of us have some immunity</h2> <p>First, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/dec/03/who-estimates-90-of-world-have-some-resistance-to-covid">most people</a> have some immunity to COVID now, whether this has come from vaccination or prior infection, and for many both.</p> <p>The fact that your immune system has had some exposure to the virus is transformative in how you respond to infection. Yes, there’s the ongoing problem of waning immunity over time and the virus mutating meaning you need to have regular booster vaccines. But as your immune system has “seen” the virus before it allows it to respond more effectively. This means the threat posed by infection has fallen drastically.</p> <p>We know Biden has received his booster shots. Boosters have been shown to offer <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-are-the-new-covid-booster-vaccines-can-i-get-one-do-they-work-are-they-safe-217804">substantial protection</a> against severe illness and death and are particularly important for older age groups.</p> <h2>Now we have antivirals</h2> <p>Second, we also have antiviral medicines, such as Paxlovid, which is effective in reducing the likelihood of severe illness from COVID if taken soon after developing symptoms.</p> <p>In <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2118542">one study</a>, if taken soon after infection, Paxlovid reduced the likelihood of severe illness or death by 89%. So it is <a href="https://www.covid19treatmentguidelines.nih.gov/therapies/antivirals-including-antibody-products/ritonavir-boosted-nirmatrelvir--paxlovid-/">highly recommended</a> for those at higher risk of severe illness. As we know, Biden is taking Paxlovid.</p> <p>Paxlovid has also been associated with rebound symptoms. This is when a person looks to have recovered from infection only to have symptoms reappear. Biden experienced this <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-do-some-people-who-take-paxlovid-for-covid-get-rebound-symptoms-or-test-positive-again-like-president-biden-188002">in 2022</a>.</p> <p>The good news is that even if this occurs in most instances the symptoms associated with the recurrence tend to be mild.</p> <h2>Biden would have the best care</h2> <p>The other factor of course is that Biden would have access to some of the world’s best medical care.</p> <p>If his symptoms were to become more severe or any complications were to develop, you can be assured he would get the best treatment.</p> <p>So is Biden’s diagnosis news? Well of course, given all the speculation about his health. But in terms of COVID being a major threat to Biden’s health, there are no indications it should be.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/234999/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hassan-vally-202904"><em>Hassan Vally</em></a><em>, Associate Professor, Epidemiology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Bonnie Cash/Pool via CNP/Shutterstock Editorial </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/joe-biden-has-covid-heres-what-someone-over-80-can-expect-234999">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Doctor shares her holy grail tips for overcoming eye sensitivity

<p>As the chill of winter sets in, many people find that their eyes become more sensitive and prone to dryness. This can be particularly challenging for those who already suffer from dry eye syndrome. </p> <p>Dr. Jacqueline Beltz is a leading Australian Ophthalmologist and the founder of <a href="https://www.okkiyo.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">OKKIYO</a>, a beauty brand that makes PRIORITEYES mascara for people with sensitive eyes.</p> <p>Dr Beltz has shared her insights into dry eye syndrome and how winter can exacerbate symptoms, also sharing her top tips for managing eye sensitivity during the colder months.</p> <p><strong>Understanding Dry Eye Syndrome</strong></p> <p>The surface of the eye is covered by a delicate layer of tears, essential for comfort, vision, protection, and nutrition. The tear film comprises two main layers: an outer lipid (oily) layer and an inner aqueous (watery) layer. The lipid layer, produced by oil glands in the eyelids, prevents tears from evaporating too quickly, while the aqueous layer, consisting of water, electrolytes, and proteins, spreads tears evenly across the eye and helps them adhere to the surface.</p> <p>When the balance of tear production, evaporation, absorption, and drainage is disrupted, it can lead to dry eye syndrome. Symptoms may include redness, irritation, a gritty sensation, tired eyes, itching, excessive watering, and fluctuating vision. In severe cases, dry eye can be painful and significantly impact daily life.</p> <p><strong>How common is dry eye syndrome?</strong></p> <p>Dry eye syndrome is a widespread issue, particularly among older adults. According to the Blue Mountains Eye Study, 57% of adults over the age of 50 experience some degree of dry eye. This condition is notably more prevalent in women, with higher rates observed compared to their male counterparts. The increased prevalence in women is often attributed to hormonal changes, particularly during and after menopause. </p> <p>A more recent study, Optometry Australia’s 2022 Vision index found that over 85% of Australians are estimated to have experienced dry eyes at some point in their lives.  Of those affected, 55% say they only developed the condition following the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.  They reported that almost 1 in 5 (18%) of people experience dry eye symptoms frequently.  </p> <p>These statistics highlight the importance of understanding and managing dry eye, especially as we age.</p> <p><strong>DEWS II Study and Treatment Approaches</strong></p> <p>The DEWS II (Dry Eye Workshop II) study provides a comprehensive framework for understanding and treating dry eye syndrome. According to the study, dry eye is a multifactorial disease characterised by a loss of homeostasis (or balance) in the tear film, accompanied by eye symptoms. Factors such as tear film instability, hyperosmolarity (increased saltiness), inflammation, and neurosensory (altered feelings or sensations) abnormalities play significant roles.</p> <p>There are two primary types of dry eye: aqueous deficient and evaporative. Most individuals have a combination of both. Aqueous deficient dry eye occurs when there is insufficient production of the watery layer of tears, often due to aging, hormonal changes, or certain medications. Evaporative dry eye is typically caused by environmental factors or conditions affecting the lipid layer, such as meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD).</p> <p><strong>Winter's Impact on Dry Eyes</strong></p> <p>Winter poses unique challenges for dry eye sufferers. Cold, dry air, indoor heating, and wind can all exacerbate symptoms. Here's how to combat these winter-specific issues:</p> <p><em><strong>1. Humidify Your Environment</strong></em></p> <p>Indoor heating reduces humidity levels, leading to increased tear evaporation. Consider using a humidifier to maintain moisture in the air, especially in bedrooms and living spaces. This helps keep your eyes hydrated.</p> <p><em><strong>2. Protect Your Eyes Outdoors</strong></em></p> <p>Cold winds can strip away the tear film. When outside, wear wraparound sunglasses to shield your eyes from the elements. This not only protects your eyes from the wind but also from UV rays, which can be strong even in winter.</p> <p><em><strong>3. Stay Hydrated</strong></em></p> <p>Dehydration can worsen dry eye symptoms. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to maintain overall hydration, which supports healthy tear production.</p> <p><em><strong>4. Optimise Your Diet</strong></em></p> <p>Certain foods can promote eye health. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish like salmon and flaxseeds, have anti-inflammatory properties that can help manage dry eye symptoms. Incorporate these into your diet for added benefits.</p> <p><em><strong>5. Use a Warm Compress</strong></em></p> <p>A warm compress can help improve the function of the meibomian glands, which produce the oily layer of the tear film. This is particularly helpful for those with meibomian gland dysfunction, or MGD. Gently apply a warm, damp cloth to your closed eyelids for 10-15 minutes, followed by a gentle massage of the eyelids to encourage oil secretion. It is important to avoid rubbing or compressing the eyeballs.</p> <p><em><strong>6. Use Over-the-Counter Lubricant Eye Drops</strong></em></p> <p>Artificial tears can provide temporary relief by supplementing the natural tear film. Choose preservative-free options to avoid further irritation, and use them frequently.</p> <p><em><strong>7.  Remember to have regular eye checks</strong></em></p> <p>In Australia, Optometrists provide our primary eye health check ups. Dr Beltz recommends adults over the age of 40 see their optometrist once a year, but if you’re struggling with symptoms of dry eye in winter, an extra check up might help and your optometrist will be able to help you to come up with an individualised treatment plan.</p> <p><em><strong>8. Invest in Quality Eye Products</strong></em></p> <p>For those who wear makeup, using products designed for sensitive eyes is crucial. <a href="https://www.okkiyo.com/products/protect-and-preserve-mascara" target="_blank" rel="noopener">PRIORITEYES</a> mascara by OKKIYO has been specifically formulated to be gentle on sensitive eyes, avoiding common irritants while providing excellent performance.</p> <p><strong>Managing Dry Eye in Winter: A Recap</strong></p> <p>Winter can be tough on our eyes, but with the right strategies, you can manage dry eye symptoms effectively. Maintain a humid environment, protect your eyes from cold winds, stay hydrated, and incorporate eye-healthy foods into your diet. Regularly use warm compresses and opt for gentle, high-quality eye products like PRIORITEYES mascara.  </p> <p>Dry eye syndrome may be a common condition, but it doesn't have to dominate your life, especially during the harsh winter months. With these tips, you can keep your eyes comfortable and healthy all season long. For personalised advice and treatment, always consult with your eye care professional.</p> <p>Stay warm, stay hydrated and take care of your eyes this winter!</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

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Want the health benefits of strength training but not keen on the gym? Try ‘exercise snacking’

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/justin-keogh-129041">Justin Keogh</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jackson-fyfe-134774">Jackson Fyfe</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p>The science is clear: <a href="https://cdnsciencepub.com/doi/full/10.1139/apnm-2020-0245">resistance training</a> is crucial to ageing well. Lifting weights (or doing bodyweight exercises like lunges, squats or push-ups) can help you live independently for longer, make your bones stronger, reduce your risk of diseases such as diabetes, and may even improve your <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28919335/">sleep and mental health</a>.</p> <p>But not everyone loves the gym. Perhaps you feel you’re not a “gym person” and never will be, or you’re too old to start. Being a gym-goer can be expensive and time-consuming, and some people report feeling <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/StartingStrength/comments/j3hq32/unwelcome_feeling_at_the_gym/">unwelcome</a> or <a href="https://www.quora.com/I-feel-awkward-and-I-want-to-start-a-gym-but-could-not-What-should-I-do">awkward</a> at the gym.</p> <p>The good news is you don’t need the gym, or lots of free time, to get the health benefits resistance training can offer.</p> <p>You can try “exercise snacking” instead.</p> <h2>What is exercise snacking?</h2> <p>Exercise snacking involves doing multiple shorter bouts (as little as 20 seconds) of exercise throughout the day – often with minimal or no equipment. It’s OK to have <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-021-01605-8">several hours of rest</a> between.</p> <p>You could do simple bodyweight exercises such as:</p> <ul> <li> <p>chair sit-to-stand (squats)</p> </li> <li> <p>lunges</p> </li> <li> <p>box step-ups</p> </li> <li> <p>calf raises</p> </li> <li> <p>push-ups.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Exercise snacking like this can help improve muscle mass, strength and physical function.</p> <p>It’s OK to hold onto a nearby object for balance, if you need. And doing these exercises regularly will also improve your balance. That, in turn, reduces your risk of falls and fractures.</p> <h2>OK I have done all those, now what?</h2> <p>Great! You can also try using resistance bands or dumbbells to do the previously mentioned five exercises as well as some of the following exercises:</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href="https://youtu.be/IP4wM2JpDdQ?si=1B1GyV_FY5rcArW8&amp;t=6">seated rows</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://youtu.be/G6GIffCaJCQ?si=RxXZtzMqQ0DGxF3k&amp;t=48">chest</a> and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUnnz5i4Mnw&amp;t=5s">shoulder presses</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://youtu.be/z0omicIkYu4?si=8WffT3ij12SNTqEs">bicep curls</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wXVnxBgLHo">knee extensions</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtTcXXgeRYo">leg curls</a>.</p> </li> </ul> <p>When using resistance bands, make sure you hold them tightly and that they’re securely attached to an immovable object.</p> <p>Exercise snacking works well when you pair it with an activity you do often throughout the day. Perhaps you could:</p> <ul> <li> <p>do a few extra squats every time you get up from a bed or chair</p> </li> <li> <p>do some lunges during a TV ad break</p> </li> <li> <p>chuck in a few half squats while you’re waiting for your kettle to boil</p> </li> <li> <p>do a couple of elevated push-ups (where you support your body with your hands on a chair or a bench while doing the push-up) before tucking into lunch</p> </li> <li> <p>sneak in a couple of calf raises while you’re brushing your teeth.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>What does the evidence say about exercise snacking?</h2> <p>One <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31687210/">study</a> had older adults without a history of resistance training do exercise snacks at home twice per day for four weeks.</p> <p>Each session involved five simple bodyweight exercises (chair sit-to-stand, seated knee extension, standing knee bends, marching on the spot, and standing calf raises). The participants did each exercise continuously for one minute, with a one-minute break between exercises.</p> <p>These short and simple exercise sessions, which lasted just nine minutes, were enough to improve a person’s ability to stand up from a chair by 31% after four weeks (compared to a control group who didn’t exercise). Leg power and thigh muscle size improved, too.</p> <p>Research involving one of us (Jackson Fyfe) has also <a href="https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-022-03207-z">shown</a> older adults found “exercise snacking” feasible and enjoyable when done at home either once, twice, or three times per day for four weeks.</p> <p>Exercise snacking may be a more sustainable approach to improve muscle health in those who don’t want to – or can’t – lift heavier weights in a gym.</p> <h2>A little can yield a lot</h2> <p>We know from other research that the more you exercise, the more likely it is you will <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167268119302586">keep exercising in future</a>.</p> <p>Very brief resistance training, albeit with heavier weights, may be more <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29975122/">enjoyable</a> than traditional approaches where people aim to do many, many sets.</p> <p>We also know brief-and-frequent exercise sessions can break up <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26378942/">periods</a> of sedentary behaviour (which usually means sitting too much). Too much sitting increases your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, whereas exercise snacking can help keep your <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36921112/">blood sugar levels steady</a>.</p> <p>Of course, longer-term studies are needed. But the evidence we do have suggests exercise snacking really helps.</p> <h2>Why does any of this matter?</h2> <p>As you age, you lose strength and mass in the muscles you use to walk, or stand up. Everyday tasks can become a struggle.</p> <p>All this <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36907247/">contributes</a> to disability, hospitalisation, chronic disease, and reliance on community and residential aged care support.</p> <p>By preserving your muscle mass and strength, you can:</p> <ul> <li> <p>reduce joint pain</p> </li> <li> <p>get on with activities you enjoy</p> </li> <li> <p>live independently in your own home</p> </li> <li> <p>delay or even eliminate the need for expensive health care or residential aged care.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>What if I walk a lot – is that enough?</h2> <p>Walking may maintain some level of lower body muscle mass, but it won’t preserve your <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38190393/">upper body muscles</a>.</p> <p>If you find it difficult to get out of a chair, or can only walk short distances without getting out of breath, resistance training is the best way to regain some of the independence and function you’ve lost.</p> <p>It’s even more important for women, as muscle mass and strength are typically lower in older women than men. And if you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, which is more common in older women than men, resistance exercise snacking at home can improve your balance, strength, and bone mineral density. All of this reduces the risk of falls and fractures.</p> <p>You don’t need <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37171517/">heavy weights</a> or fancy equipment to benefit from resistance training.</p> <p>So, will you start exercise snacking today?<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/232374/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/justin-keogh-129041">Justin Keogh</a>, Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jackson-fyfe-134774">Jackson Fyfe</a>, Senior Lecturer, Strength and Conditioning Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/want-the-health-benefits-of-strength-training-but-not-keen-on-the-gym-try-exercise-snacking-232374">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Are you up to date with your COVID, flu and other shots? It might depend on who your GP is

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-breadon-1348098">Peter Breadon</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anika-stobart-1014358">Anika Stobart</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a></em></p> <p>Too many older Australians are <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/A-fair-shot-How-to-close-the-vaccination-gap-Grattan-Institute-Report.pdf">missing out</a> on recommended vaccinations for COVID, flu, shingles and pneumococcal that can protect them from serious illness, hospitalisation and even death.</p> <p>A new <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/">Grattan Institute report</a> shows vaccination rates vary widely from GP to GP, highlighting an important place to look for opportunities to boost vaccination.</p> <p>Many people get vaccinated at pharmacies, and those vaccinations are counted in our analysis. But we looked at GPs because they have a unique role overseeing someone’s health care, and an important role promoting vaccination.</p> <p>We found that for some GPs, nine in ten of their older patients were vaccinated for flu. For others, the rate was only four in ten. The differences for shingles and COVID were even bigger. For pneumococcal disease, there was a 13-fold difference in GPs’ patient vaccination rates.</p> <p>While some variation is inevitable, these differences are large, and they result in too many people missing out on recommended vaccines.</p> <h2>Some GPs treat more complex patients</h2> <p>A lot of these differences reflect the fact that GPs see different types of patients.</p> <p>Our research shows older people who aren’t proficient in English are up to 15% less likely to be vaccinated, even after other factors are taken into account. And the problem seems to be getting worse.</p> <p>COVID vaccination rates for people 75 years and older fell to just 36% in May 2024. But rates were even lower – a mere 11% – for people who don’t speak English proficiently, and 15% for those who speak a language other than English at home.</p> <p>Given these results, it’s no surprise that GPs with fewer patients who are vaccinated also have more patients who struggle with English. For GPs with the lowest vaccination rates, one-quarter of their patients aren’t proficient in English. For GPs with the highest vaccination rates, it is only 1%.</p> <p>GPs with fewer vaccinated patients also saw more people who live in rural areas, are poorer, didn’t go to university, and don’t have regular access to a GP, all of which reduce the likelihood of getting vaccinated.</p> <p>Many of these barriers to vaccination are difficult for GPs to overcome. They point to structural problems in our health system, and indeed our society, that go well beyond vaccination.</p> <p>But GPs are also a key part of the puzzle. A <a href="https://www.ijidonline.com/article/S1201-9712(14)01379-4/fulltext">strong</a> <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21645515.2020.1780848">recommendation</a> from a GP can make a big difference to whether a patient gets vaccinated. <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/primary-health-care/general-practice-allied-health-primary-care">Nearly all</a> older Australians visit a GP every year. And some GPs have room for improvement.</p> <h2>But GPs seeing similar patients can have very different vaccination rates</h2> <p>We compared GPs whose patients had a similar likelihood of being vaccinated, based on a range of factors including their health, wealth and cultural background.</p> <p>Among the GPs whose patients were least likely to get a flu vaccination, some saw less than 40% of their patients vaccinated, while for others in that group, the rate was over 70%.</p> <p>Among GPs with patients who face few barriers to vaccination, the share of their patients who were vaccinated also varied widely.</p> <p>Even within neighbourhoods, GP patient vaccination rates vary a lot. For example, in Bankstown in Sydney, there was a seven-fold difference in COVID vaccination rates and an 18-fold difference for pneumococcal vaccination.</p> <p>Not everything about clinics and patients can be measured in data, and there will be good reasons for some of these differences.</p> <p>But the results do suggest that some GPs are beating the odds to overcome patient barriers to getting vaccinated, while other GPs could be doing more. That should trigger focused efforts to raise vaccination rates where they are low.</p> <h2>So what should governments do?</h2> <p>A comprehensive national reform agenda is <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/A-fair-shot-How-to-close-the-vaccination-gap-Grattan-Institute-Report.pdf">needed to increase adult vaccination</a>. That includes clearer guidance, national advertising campaigns, SMS reminders, and tailored local programs that reach out to communities with very low levels of vaccination.</p> <p>But based on the big differences in GPs’ patient vaccination rates, Australia also needs a three-pronged plan to help GPs lift older Australians’ vaccination rates.</p> <p>First, the way general practice is funded needs to be overhauled, providing more money for the GPs whose patients face higher barriers to vaccination. Today, clinics with patients who are poorer, sicker and who struggle with English tend to get less funding. They should get more, so they can spend more time with patients to explain and promote vaccination.</p> <p>Second, GPs need to be given data, so that they can easily see how their vaccination rates compare to GPs with similar patients.</p> <p>And third, Primary Health Networks – which are responsible for improving primary care in their area – should give clinics with low vaccination rates the help they need. That might include running vaccination sessions, sharing information about best practices that work in similar clinics with higher vaccination rates, or offering translation support.</p> <p>And because pharmacies also play an important role in promoting and providing vaccines, governments should give them data too, showing how their rates compare to other pharmacies in their area, and support to boost vaccination uptake.</p> <p>These measures would go a long way to better protect some of the most vulnerable in our society. Governments have better data than ever before on who is missing out on vaccinations – and other types of health care.</p> <p>They shouldn’t miss the opportunity to target support so that no matter where you live, what your background is, or which GP or pharmacy you go to, you will have the best chance of being protected against disease.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/234175/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-breadon-1348098"><em>Peter Breadon</em></a><em>, Program Director, Health and Aged Care, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anika-stobart-1014358">Anika Stobart</a>, Senior Associate, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/are-you-up-to-date-with-your-covid-flu-and-other-shots-it-might-depend-on-who-your-gp-is-234175">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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3 signs your diet is causing too much muscle loss – and what to do about it

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-fuller-219993">Nick Fuller</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>When trying to lose weight, it’s natural to want to see quick results. So when the number on the scales drops rapidly, it seems like we’re on the right track.</p> <p>But as with many things related to weight loss, there’s a flip side: rapid weight loss can result in a significant loss of muscle mass, as well as fat.</p> <p>So how you can tell if you’re losing too much muscle and what can you do to prevent it?</p> <h2>Why does muscle mass matter?</h2> <p>Muscle is an important factor in determining our metabolic rate: how much energy we burn at rest. This is determined by how much muscle and fat we have. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, meaning it burns more calories.</p> <p>When we diet to lose weight, we create a calorie deficit, where our bodies don’t get enough energy from the food we eat to meet our energy needs. Our bodies start breaking down our fat and muscle tissue for fuel.</p> <p>A decrease in calorie-burning muscle mass slows our metabolism. This quickly slows the rate at which we lose weight and impacts our ability to maintain our weight long term.</p> <h2>How to tell you’re losing too much muscle</h2> <p>Unfortunately, measuring changes in muscle mass is not easy.</p> <p>The most accurate tool is an enhanced form of X-ray called a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan. The scan is primarily used in medicine and research to capture data on weight, body fat, muscle mass and bone density.</p> <p>But while DEXA is becoming more readily available at weight-loss clinics and gyms, it’s not cheap.</p> <p>There are also many “smart” scales available for at home use that promise to provide an accurate reading of muscle mass percentage.</p> <p>However, the accuracy of these scales is questionable. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8122302/">Researchers found</a> the scales tested massively over- or under-estimated fat and muscle mass.</p> <p>Fortunately, there are three free but scientifically backed signs you may be losing too much muscle mass when you’re dieting.</p> <h2>1. You’re losing much more weight than expected each week</h2> <p>Losing a lot of weight rapidly is one of the early signs that your diet is too extreme and you’re losing too much muscle.</p> <p>Rapid weight loss (of more than 1 kilogram per week) results in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5702468/">greater muscle mass loss</a> than slow weight loss.</p> <p>Slow weight loss better preserves muscle mass and often has the added benefit of <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666312000153">greater fat mass loss</a>.</p> <p>One study compared people in the obese weight category who followed either a very low-calorie diet (500 calories per day) for five weeks or a low-calorie diet (1,250 calories per day) for 12 weeks. While both groups lost similar amounts of weight, participants following the very low-calorie diet (500 calories per day) for five weeks lost <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26813524/">significantly more muscle mass</a>.</p> <h2>2. You’re feeling tired and things feel more difficult</h2> <p>It sounds obvious, but feeling tired, sluggish and finding it hard to complete physical activities, such as working out or doing jobs around the house, is another strong signal you’re losing muscle.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3648712/">Research</a> shows a decrease in muscle mass may negatively impact your body’s physical performance.</p> <h2>3. You’re feeling moody</h2> <p>Mood swings and feeling anxious, stressed or depressed may also be signs you’re losing muscle mass.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26228522/">Research</a> on muscle loss due to ageing suggests low levels of muscle mass can negatively impact mental health and mood. This seems to stem from the relationship between low muscle mass and proteins called neurotrophins, which help regulate mood and feelings of wellbeing.</p> <h2>So how you can do to maintain muscle during weight loss?</h2> <p>Fortunately, there are also three actions you can take to maintain muscle mass when you’re following a calorie-restricted diet to lose weight.</p> <h2>1. Incorporate strength training into your exercise plan</h2> <p>While a broad exercise program is important to support overall weight loss, strength-building exercises are a surefire way to help prevent the loss of muscle mass. A <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29596307/">meta-analysis of studies</a> of older people with obesity found resistance training was able to prevent almost 100% of muscle loss from calorie restriction.</p> <p>Relying on diet alone to lose weight will reduce muscle along with body fat, slowing your metabolism. So it’s essential to make sure you’ve incorporated sufficient and appropriate exercise into your weight-loss plan to hold onto your muscle mass stores.</p> <p>But you don’t need to hit the gym. Exercises using body weight – such as push-ups, pull-ups, planks and air squats – are just as effective as lifting weights and using strength-building equipment.</p> <p>Encouragingly, moderate-volume resistance training (three sets of ten repetitions for eight exercises) <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/sms.14237">can be as effective</a> as high-volume training (five sets of ten repetitions for eight exercises) for maintaining muscle when you’re following a calorie-restricted diet.</p> <h2>2. Eat more protein</h2> <p>Foods high in protein play an essential role in building and maintaining muscle mass, but <a href="https://europepmc.org/article/MED/19927027">research</a> also shows these foods help prevent muscle loss when you’re following a calorie-restricted diet.</p> <p>But this doesn’t mean <em>just</em> eating foods with protein. Meals need to be balanced and include a source of protein, wholegrain carb and healthy fat to meet our dietary needs. For example, eggs on wholegrain toast with avocado.</p> <h2>3. Slow your weight loss plan down</h2> <p>When we change our diet to lose weight, we take our body out of its comfort zone and trigger its survival response. It then counteracts weight loss, triggering <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25896063/">several physiological responses</a> to defend our body weight and “survive” starvation.</p> <p>Our body’s survival mechanisms want us to regain lost weight to ensure we survive the next period of famine (dieting). <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5764193/">Research</a> shows that more than half of the weight lost by participants is regained within two years, and more than 80% of lost weight is regained within five years.</p> <p>However, a slow and steady, stepped approach to weight loss, prevents our bodies <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38193357/">from activating defence mechanisms</a> to defend our weight when we try to lose weight.</p> <p>Ultimately, losing weight long-term comes down to making gradual changes to your lifestyle to ensure you form habits that last a lifetime.</p> <hr /> <p><em>At the Boden Group, Charles Perkins Centre, we are studying the science of obesity and running clinical trials for weight loss. You can <a href="https://redcap.sydney.edu.au/surveys/?s=RKTXPPPHKY">register here</a> to express your interest.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/223865/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-fuller-219993"><em>Nick Fuller</em></a><em>, Charles Perkins Centre Research Program Leader, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/3-signs-your-diet-is-causing-too-much-muscle-loss-and-what-to-do-about-it-223865">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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What’s the difference between ‘man flu’ and flu? Hint: men may not be exaggerating

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/thea-van-de-mortel-1134101">Thea van de Mortel</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a></em></p> <p>The term “man flu” takes a <a href="https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/man-flu">humorous poke</a> at men with minor respiratory infections, such as colds, who supposedly exaggerate their symptoms.</p> <p>According to the stereotype, a man lies on the sofa with a box of tissues. Meanwhile his female partner, also with a snotty nose, carries on working from home, doing the chores and looking after him.</p> <p>But is man flu real? Is there a valid biological reason behind men’s symptoms or are men just malingering? And how does man flu differ from flu?</p> <h2>What are the similarities?</h2> <p>Man flu could refer to a number of respiratory infections – a cold, flu, even a mild case of COVID. So it’s difficult to compare man flu with flu.</p> <p>But for simplicity, let’s say man flu is actually a cold. If that’s the case, man flu and flu have some similar features.</p> <p>Both are caused by viruses (but different ones). Both are improved with rest, fluids, and if needed painkillers, throat lozenges or decongestants to <a href="https://activities.nps.org.au/nps-order-form/Resources/NPS-Cold-and-Flu-Brochure-May-2014.pdf">manage symptoms</a>.</p> <p>Both <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/coldflu.htm">can share</a> similar symptoms. Typically, more severe symptoms such as fever, body aches, violent shivering and headaches are more common in flu (but sometimes occur in colds). Meanwhile sore throats, runny noses, congestion and sneezing are more common in colds. A cough is common in both.</p> <h2>What are the differences?</h2> <p><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/keyfacts.htm">Flu</a> is a more serious and sometimes fatal respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. Colds are caused by various viruses such as <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3553670/">rhinoviruses</a>, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/adenovirus/about/?CDC_AAref_Val=https://www.cdc.gov/adenovirus/symptoms.html">adenoviruses</a>, and common cold <a href="https://journals.lww.com/pidj/citation/2022/03000/proving_etiologic_relationships_to_disease_.18.aspx">coronaviruses</a>, and are rarely serious.<br />Colds tend to <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/coldflu.htm">start gradually</a> while flu tends to start abruptly.</p> <p>Flu can be <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/diagnosis/overview-testing-methods.htm">detected</a> with laboratory or at-home tests. Man flu is not an official diagnosis.</p> <p>Severe flu symptoms may be prevented with <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/vaccineeffect.htm">a vaccine</a>, while cold symptoms cannot.</p> <p>Serious flu infections may also be <a href="https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/racf-antiviral-treatments-and-prophylaxis.aspx">prevented or treated</a> with antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu. There are no antivirals for colds.</p> <h2>OK, but is man flu real?</h2> <p>Again, let’s assume man flu is a cold. Do men really have worse colds than women? The picture is complicated.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022399922003324?via%3Dihub">One study</a>, with the title “Man flu is not a thing”, did in fact show there <em>were</em> differences in men’s and women’s symptoms.</p> <p>This study looked at symptoms of acute rhinosinusitis. That’s inflammation of the nasal passages and sinuses, which would explain a runny or stuffy nose, a sinus headache or face pain.</p> <p>When researchers assessed participants at the start of the study, men and women had similar symptoms. But by days five and eight of the study, women had fewer or less-severe symptoms. In other words, women had recovered faster.</p> <p>But when participants rated their own symptoms, we saw a somewhat different picture. Women rated their symptoms worse than how the researchers rated them at the start, but said they recovered more quickly.</p> <p>All this suggests men were not exaggerating their symptoms and did indeed recover more slowly. It also suggests women feel their symptoms more strongly at the start.</p> <h2>Why is this happening?</h2> <p>It’s not straightforward to tease out what’s going on biologically.</p> <p>There are <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nri.2016.90">differences</a> in immune responses between men and women that provide a plausible reason for worse symptoms in men.</p> <p>For instance, women generally produce antibodies more efficiently, so they <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nri.2016.90">respond more effectively</a> to vaccination. Other aspects of women’s immune system also appear to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2735332/">work more strongly</a>.</p> <p>So why do women tend to have <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nri.2016.90">stronger immune responses</a> overall? That’s probably partly because women have two X chromosomes while men have one. X chromosomes carry important <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nri.2016.90#Tab3">immune function genes</a>. This gives women the benefit of immune-related genes from two different chromosomes.</p> <p>Oestrogen (the female sex hormone) also seems to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nri.2016.90">strengthen</a> the immune response, and as levels vary throughout the lifespan, so does <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciimmunol.aan2946">the strength</a> of women’s immune systems.</p> <p>Men are certainly more likely to die from some infectious diseases, such as <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/life-expectancy-deaths/deaths-in-australia/contents/covid-10-deaths">COVID</a>. But the picture is less clear with other infections such as the flu, where the incidence and mortality between men and women <a href="https://iris.who.int/bitstream/handle/10665/44401/9789241500111_eng.pdf?sequence=1&amp;isAllowed=y">varies widely</a> between countries and particular flu subtypes and outbreaks.</p> <p>Infection rates and outcomes in men and women can also depend on the way a virus is <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/immunology/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2021.712688/full">transmitted</a>, the person’s age, and social and behavioural factors.</p> <p>For instance, women seem to be more likely to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8077589/#R20">practice protective behaviours</a> such as washing their hands, wearing masks or avoiding crowded indoor spaces. Women are also <a href="https://bmcprimcare.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12875-016-0440-0">more likely</a> to seek medical care when ill.</p> <h2>So men aren’t faking it?</h2> <p>Some evidence suggests men are not over-reporting symptoms, and may take longer to clear an infection. So they may experience man flu more harshly than women with a cold.</p> <p>So cut the men in your life some slack. If they are sick, gender stereotyping is unhelpful, and may discourage men from seeking medical advice.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/231161/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/thea-van-de-mortel-1134101">Thea van de Mortel</a>, Professor, Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/whats-the-difference-between-man-flu-and-flu-hint-men-may-not-be-exaggerating-231161">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Mummified body of missing climber found after 22 years

<p>Twenty-two years ago, William Stampfl and two of his friends went missing when an avalanche buried them as they made their way up one of the highest peaks in the Andes mountains in Peru. </p> <p>William's family had little hope of finding him alive, or even retrieving his corpse from thick layers of snow, but in June his daughter got an unexpected call. </p> <p>A stranger said he had come across the climber's frozen, but mostly intact body as he made his own way up the Huascaran peak. </p> <p>"It's been a shock" Jennifer Stampfl said. </p> <p>The 53-year-old added: "When you get that phone call that he's been found your heart just sinks. You don't know how exactly to feel at first."</p> <p>A group of policemen and mountain guides retrieved his body on Tuesday, putting it on a stretcher and slowly taking it down the icy mountain. </p> <p>His body was found at an altitude of 5200m, around a nine-hour hike from one of the camps where climbers stop when they are climbing the summit. </p> <p>William's body and clothing were preserved by the ice and freezing temperatures, with the driver's licence in his hip pouch used to identify him. </p> <p>Lenin Alvardo, one of the police officers who participated in the recovery operation, added that the hip pouch also contained a pair of sunglasses, a camera, a voice recorder and two decomposing $20 bills.</p> <p>William still had a gold wedding ring on his left hand.</p> <p>"I've never seen anything like that," Alvarado said.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="es"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/%C3%81ncash?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Áncash</a>🚨| ¡Rescatan cadáver en glaciar!<br />Agentes del Departamento de Alta Montaña, tras una intensa búsqueda ubicaron el cuerpo momificado y deshidratado de una persona NN en el nevado de <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Huascar%C3%A1n?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Huascarán</a>. Sus restos fueron internados a la morgue de <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Yungay?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Yungay</a> para su identificación. <a href="https://t.co/WJGklwUwbp">pic.twitter.com/WJGklwUwbp</a></p> <p>— Policía Nacional del Perú (@PoliciaPeru) <a href="https://twitter.com/PoliciaPeru/status/1809394543512416721?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 6, 2024</a></p></blockquote> <p>The climber who found his body then called William's relatives, who then got in touch with local mountain guides. </p> <p>His daughter said that the family plans to move the body to a funeral home in Lima, where it can be cremated. </p> <p>"For 22 years, we just kind of put in our mind: 'This is the way it is. Dad's part of the mountain, and he's never coming home,'" she said.</p> <p>William was trying to climb Peru's highest peak with his friends Matthew Richardson and Steve Erskine in 2002. </p> <p>Erskine's body was found shortly after the avalanche, but Richardson's corpse is still missing.</p> <p>William's daughter said that a plaque in memory of the three friends was placed at the summit of Mount Baldy in Southern California, where the trio trained for their expeditions. </p> <p>She hopes to return to the site with her father's remains. </p> <p><em>Image: Peruvian National Police/ X </em></p>

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Courtney Cox's hilarious 60th celebration

<p>Courtney Cox, who celebrated her milestone 60th birthday last month, gave fans an inside look into her wellness routine - which even she thinks is a bit much. </p> <p>The <em>Friends </em>star took to Instagram to share a video clip of her exercise routine, which included seated arm rows, squats, pull-ups, chest presses, crunches and cardio. </p> <p>“I just had a birthday,” she said in the video while in the gym.</p> <p>“Don’t love the number, but look, we have no choice,” she wrote.</p> <p>“You just gotta do the best you can,” she said in the video. </p> <p>While getting in daily exercise is a pretty common thing to do to stay fit, it was what she did towards the end of the video that captured fans' attention. </p> <p>The actress swapped her black workout set for a tiny bikini before braving the cold inside what looked like an industrial-sized freezer. </p> <p>Taking things a tad further, she also wore a sheet face mask and a red-light therapy baseball hat inside the chamber, poking fun at her own routine and all the different wellness fads trending online. </p> <p>“What, it’s cryotherapy?” she jokingly said while crawling out of the freezer, which appeared to be in her garage.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C9InuVssEq_/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C9InuVssEq_/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Courteney Cox (@courteneycoxofficial)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Fans praised the actress for her fitness. </p> <p>"You are always so gorgeous and funny" one wrote. </p> <p>"You’re killing it!! Wow🔥 happy birthday forget the number and keep living your best life," another added. </p> <p>"Can someone please show the Kardashians this video so they‘ll know how to train," a fourth quipped. </p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

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Walking or running: for the same distance, which consumes more energy?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/clement-lemineur-1529211">Clément Lemineur</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universite-cote-dazur-2917">Université Côte d’Azur</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/clement-naveilhan-1495411">Clément Naveilhan</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universite-cote-dazur-2917">Université Côte d’Azur</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/francois-dernoncourt-1495410">François Dernoncourt</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universite-cote-dazur-2917">Université Côte d’Azur</a></em></p> <p>It’s Monday morning, the alarm goes off and it’s already 7:30 a.m. – and you’re 30 minutes late. Normally you need 45 minutes to walk the 3 kilometres to work, but this morning you’ll be running for 20 minutes. Yes, but by lunchtime you’re feeling more tired and you have the impression that you’ve expended more energy than usual on the trip. Yet you’ve covered the same distance as on the other days. How can this be?</p> <p>The calorie expenditure associated with any activity is called the “metabolic cost”, and corresponds to the energy consumed by our organs to cover a given distance. This metabolic cost can be determined by analysing the oxygen our bodies consume and the carbon dioxide they produce, we can estimate the amount of energy expended, and thus the metabolic cost. It was using this method that <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/692303/">researchers had already answered our question back in the 1970s</a>.</p> <p>Perhaps not surprisingly, running consumes more energy than walking for the same distance covered. But why?</p> <h2>Energy lost when running</h2> <p>Imagine you’re watching someone running. Now look closely at the vertical movement (up and down) of their pelvis and head. As you can see from the diagram below, when we run, the distance that our body moves up and down is greater than when we walk. To produce this vertical movement, the muscles of the lower limbs have to generate more force, and that consumes more energy, yet doesn’t bring us any closer to our destination. So when running, part of the energy expended is used to move our bodies <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16029949/">upward rather than forward</a>. The energy needed to cover those 3 km is therefore higher for running than for walking.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/602769/original/file-20240625-18-xilv63.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/602769/original/file-20240625-18-xilv63.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/602769/original/file-20240625-18-xilv63.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=287&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/602769/original/file-20240625-18-xilv63.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=287&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/602769/original/file-20240625-18-xilv63.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=287&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/602769/original/file-20240625-18-xilv63.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=361&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/602769/original/file-20240625-18-xilv63.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=361&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/602769/original/file-20240625-18-xilv63.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=361&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Illustration of the oscillations of running and walking" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Running involves much greater vertical oscillation of the centre of mass than walking. This is the main reason why running consumes more energy than walking for the same distance covered.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">François Dernoncourt</span>, <span class="license">Fourni par l'auteur</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>This difference between walking and running is not confined to what happens during the activity itself. In fact, each physical exercise causes a delayed expenditure of energy, which is added to the expenditure during the activity.</p> <p>Taking this into account, it’s once again running that uses more energy than walking. Immediately after running your 3 km, the increased energy consumption (compared with resting) lasts for several minutes, mainly because of the increase in body temperature and the replenishment of energy reserves. This additional expenditure after running is <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22446673/">more than twice that observed after walking</a>, due to the difference in intensity between the two exercises.</p> <h2>It all depends on speed</h2> <p>Running therefore involves a higher calorie expenditure than walking for the same distance covered. But this is on condition that the walking speed considered is “normal” (around 5 km/h). So, if we walk very slowly, it will take us so long to cover the 3 km that the calorie expenditure will be greater in the end. This is because the body expends a certain amount of energy per unit of time no matter what, regardless of the activity performed (known as the “basal metabolic rate”).</p> <p>The same applies if the walking speed is very fast (<a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29925582/">more than 8 km/h</a>): running is more energy-efficient. Here, the coordination required to walk at such a speed means that we need to activate our muscles more, without being able to take advantage of the elasticity of our tendons, as is the case with running.</p> <p>Moreover, we have a very precise intuitive perception of the energy efficiency of a particular style of movement. If we’re on a treadmill whose speed gradually increases, the point at which we spontaneously switch from walking to running coincides with the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096663622100120X">moment when it would become more energy-consuming to walk than to run</a>.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/604700/original/file-20240703-17-4dlrj.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/604700/original/file-20240703-17-4dlrj.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/604700/original/file-20240703-17-4dlrj.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=395&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/604700/original/file-20240703-17-4dlrj.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=395&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/604700/original/file-20240703-17-4dlrj.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=395&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/604700/original/file-20240703-17-4dlrj.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=497&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/604700/original/file-20240703-17-4dlrj.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=497&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/604700/original/file-20240703-17-4dlrj.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=497&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Modelling of metabolic cost (kilocalories expended per kilogram per kilometre covered) as a function of speed (kilometres per hour) for walking and running. The curves cross at a certain speed (purple line; around 8 km/h): this means that above this speed, walking becomes more energy-intensive than running. It’s at around this threshold speed that people spontaneously switch from walking to running.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">François Dernoncourt, Adapted from Summerside et al</span>, <span class="license">Fourni par l'auteur</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>In conclusion, because of greater oscillation of the centre of mass and increased energy expenditure after exercise, running to work is more energy-intensive than covering the same distance by walking. But remember, whether you choose to walk or run to work, the most important thing is that you’re already saving energy!<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/233943/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/clement-lemineur-1529211">Clément Lemineur</a>, Doctorant en Sciences du Mouvement Humain, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universite-cote-dazur-2917">Université Côte d’Azur</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/clement-naveilhan-1495411">Clément Naveilhan</a>, Doctorant en Sciences du Mouvement Humain, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universite-cote-dazur-2917">Université Côte d’Azur</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/francois-dernoncourt-1495410">François Dernoncourt</a>, Doctorant en Sciences du Mouvement Humain, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universite-cote-dazur-2917">Université Côte d’Azur</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/walking-or-running-for-the-same-distance-which-consumes-more-energy-233943">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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‘I keep away from people’ – combined vision and hearing loss is isolating more and more older Australians

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/moira-dunsmore-295190">Moira Dunsmore</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/annmaree-watharow-1540942">Annmaree Watharow</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-kecman-429210">Emily Kecman</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Our <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ageing-and-health">ageing population</a> brings a growing crisis: people over 65 are at greater risk of dual sensory impairment (also known as “deafblindness” or combined vision and hearing loss).</p> <p>Some 66% of people over 60 have hearing loss and 33% of older Australians have low vision. Estimates suggest more than a quarter of Australians over 80 are <a href="https://www.senseswa.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/a-clear-view---senses-australia.pdf">living with dual sensory impairment</a>.</p> <p>Combined vision and hearing loss <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0264619613490519">describes</a> any degree of sight and hearing loss, so neither sense can compensate for the other. Dual sensory impairment can occur at any point in life but is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annepidem.2012.02.004">increasingly common</a> as people get older.</p> <p>The experience can make older people feel isolated and unable to participate in important conversations, including about their health.</p> <h2>Causes and conditions</h2> <p>Conditions related to hearing and vision impairment often <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-we-lose-our-hearing-and-vision-as-we-age-67930">increase as we age</a> – but many of these changes are subtle.</p> <p>Hearing loss can start <a href="https://www.who.int/teams/noncommunicable-diseases/sensory-functions-disability-and-rehabilitation/highlighting-priorities-for-ear-and-hearing-care">as early as our 50s</a> and often accompany other age-related visual changes, such as <a href="https://www.mdfoundation.com.au/">age-related macular degeneration</a>.</p> <p>Other age-related conditions are frequently prioritised by patients, doctors or carers, such as <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/health-conditions-disability-deaths/chronic-disease/overview">diabetes or heart disease</a>. Vision and hearing changes can be easy to overlook or accept as a normal aspect of ageing. As an older person we interviewed for our <a href="https://hdl.handle.net/2123/29262">research</a> told us</p> <blockquote> <p>I don’t see too good or hear too well. It’s just part of old age.</p> </blockquote> <h2>An invisible disability</h2> <p>Dual sensory impairment has a significant and negative impact in all aspects of a person’s life. It reduces access to information, mobility and orientation, impacts <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/09638280210129162">social activities and communication</a>, making it difficult for older adults to manage.</p> <p>It is underdiagnosed, underrecognised and sometimes misattributed (for example, to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbz043">cognitive impairment or decline</a>). However, there is also growing evidence of links between <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/dad2.12054">dementia and dual sensory loss</a>. If left untreated or without appropriate support, dual sensory impairment diminishes the capacity of older people to live independently, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/dad2.12054">feel happy and be safe</a>.</p> <p>A dearth of specific resources to educate and support older Australians with their dual sensory impairment means when older people do raise the issue, their GP or health professional may not understand its significance or where to refer them. One older person told us:</p> <blockquote> <p>There’s another thing too about the GP, the sort of mentality ‘well what do you expect? You’re 95.’ Hearing and vision loss in old age is not seen as a disability, it’s seen as something else.</p> </blockquote> <h2>Isolated yet more dependent on others</h2> <p>Global trends show a worrying conundrum. Older people with dual sensory impairment become <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/dad2.12054">more socially isolated</a>, which impacts their mental health and wellbeing. At the same time they can become increasingly dependent on other people to help them navigate and manage day-to-day activities with limited sight and hearing.</p> <p>One aspect of this is how effectively they can <a href="https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.25522">comprehend and communicate in a health-care setting</a>. Recent research shows <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/healthcare12080852">doctors and nurses in hospitals</a> aren’t making themselves understood to most of their patients with dual sensory impairment. Good communication in the health context is about more than just “knowing what is going on”, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2227-9032/12/8/852">researchers note</a>. It facilitates:</p> <ul> <li>shorter hospital stays</li> <li>fewer re-admissions</li> <li>reduced emergency room visits</li> <li>better treatment adherence and medical follow up</li> <li>less unnecessary diagnostic testing</li> <li>improved health-care outcomes.</li> </ul> <h2>‘Too hard’</h2> <p>Globally, there is a better understanding of how important it is to <a href="https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240030749">maintain active social lives</a> as people age. But this is difficult for older adults with dual sensory loss. One person told us</p> <blockquote> <p>I don’t particularly want to mix with people. Too hard, because they can’t understand. I can no longer now walk into that room, see nothing, find my seat and not recognise [or hear] people.</p> </blockquote> <p>Again, these experiences increase reliance on family. But caring in this context is tough and largely <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2020.572201">hidden</a>. Family members describe being the “eyes and ears” for their loved one. It’s a 24/7 role which can bring <a href="https://doi.org/10.1159/000507856">frustration, social isolation and depression</a> for carers too. One spouse told us:</p> <blockquote> <p>He doesn’t talk anymore much, because he doesn’t know whether [people are] talking to him, unless they use his name, he’s unaware they’re speaking to him, so he might ignore people and so on. And in the end, I noticed people weren’t even bothering him to talk, so now I refuse to go. Because I don’t think it’s fair.</p> </blockquote> <p>So, what can we do?</p> <p>Dual sensory impairment is a growing problem with potentially devastating impacts.</p> <p>It should be considered a unique and distinct disability in all relevant protections and policies. This includes the right to dedicated diagnosis and support, accessibility provisions and specialised skill development for health and social professionals and carers.</p> <p>We need to develop resources to help people with dual sensory impairment and their families and carers understand the condition, what it means and how everyone can be supported. This could include communication adaptation, such as social haptics (communicating using touch) and specialised support for older adults to <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09649069.2019.1627088">navigate health care</a>.</p> <p>Increasing awareness and understanding of dual sensory impairment will also help those impacted with everyday engagement with the world around them – rather than the isolation many feel now.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/232142/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/moira-dunsmore-295190">Moira Dunsmore</a>, Senior Lecturer, Sydney Nursing School, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/annmaree-watharow-1540942">Annmaree Watharow</a>, Lived Experience Research Fellow, Centre for Disability Research and Policy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-kecman-429210">Emily Kecman</a>, Postdoctoral research fellow, Department of Linguistics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-keep-away-from-people-combined-vision-and-hearing-loss-is-isolating-more-and-more-older-australians-232142">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Take my (bad) breath away – causes of halitosis and how to check whether you have it

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dan-baumgardt-1451396">Dan Baumgardt</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-bristol-1211">University of Bristol</a></em></p> <p>In Greek mythology, the many-headed beast <a href="https://mythopedia.com/topics/hydra">Hydra</a> had such severe <a href="https://patient.info/oral-dental-care/bad-breath-halitosis">halitosis</a> that the stench of its breath was deadly to anyone who smelled it. Thankfully, our morning breath might not be that pungent – although eating <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/get-rid-of-garlic-onion-breath">onions or garlic</a> can put some people in competition with the Hydra.</p> <p>Halitosis has many causes (aside from poor oral hygiene) and can indicate problems with the gut, the sinuses and even the bloodstream. In fact, breath samples can even be tested to make formal diagnoses of health conditions.</p> <p>One condition that can affect the smell of breath is <a href="https://www.diabetes.org.uk/">diabetes mellitus</a>. This is a metabolic disorder where sugar (glucose) is unable to access the body’s cells where it is needed to provide energy, and so rises in the bloodstream.</p> <p>In some instances, such as insufficient insulin dosing, or infection, the body’s response is to break down fats into compounds called ketones to act as a rapid form of fuel. This serious condition is called <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/diabetic-ketoacidosis/">diabetic ketoacidosis</a>.</p> <p>Ketones have a distinctive scent. <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/acetone-properties-and-incident-management/acetone-general-information">Acetone</a>, which is also an ingredient in some nail varnish removers, is one of these ketones and has the smell of pear drops. When ketones build up in the bloodstream they easily <a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/0967-3334/32/8/N01/pdf">diffuse into the breath</a>, giving it a <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319683">fruity odour</a>.</p> <p>It’s not just diabetes that can trigger ketone production. <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36033148/">Some diets</a> are based on generating ketones from the breakdown of fats to promote weight loss. These methods, such as the <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/atkins-diet-101">Atkins diet</a>, force the body to convert fat into energy by restricting carbohydrates.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5U8IDO1fHlU?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Other diets based on the same principles include the <a href="https://patient.info/healthy-living/weight-loss-weight-reduction/52-diet">5:2</a> intermittent fasting diet. On this diet, followers restrict food intake on two days of the week to significantly reduce calorie consumption – and make the body produce ketones.</p> <p>These diets may help weight loss, but the side-effects can be grim. One of the most notorious side-effects is foul breath, although there are also anecdotal reports of <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2019/03/03/is-keto-crotch-really-a-side-effect-of-the-keto-diet/">“keto crotch”</a> where some followers of keto diets complain of strong genital odour.</p> <h2>Bacteria and breath</h2> <p>Another cause of bad breath is an <a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1752-7155/4/1/017003/pdf">overgrowth of bacteria</a> that produce foul smells. There are plenty of nooks and crannies in the mouth for bacteria to hide, grow and fester, especially the hard-to-clean areas – in between the teeth, and in and around the gums and tongue – or out-of-reach places, such as right at the back of the mouth and the throat.</p> <p>The throat acts as a passage for food, fluids and air. Some patients can develop a condition called <a href="https://www.entuk.org/patients/conditions/49/pharyngeal_pouch_surgery_new">pharyngeal pouch</a>. This is where a pocket forms at the back of the pharynx (the medical name for the throat) in which food and fluids can accumulate, ferment and give breath a pungent odour.</p> <p>Bacteria can also trigger infections in the mouth, like tonsillitis and tooth abscesses where tissues become inflamed, or develop purulence (production of pus). Pus is a collection of different dead cells, including bacteria, and it too can give off a putrid smell.</p> <p>Also, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25234037/">sinusitis</a> – which is an infection of the air-filled cavities in the skull – can drip foul-smelling infected secretions into the throat, causing bad breath.</p> <h2>Breath tests</h2> <p>Doctors can test breath for bacteria to diagnose some health conditions. For example, <em><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28891138/">Helicobacter pylori</a></em>, bacteria that can irritate the gut and lead to the development of potentially dangerous ulcers, turns the compound urea into carbon dioxide. To test for <em>H pylori</em>, a <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stomach-ulcer/diagnosis/">diagnostic breath test</a> is performed before and after dosing a patient with urea. If the patient exhales increased levels of carbon dioxide after being dosed with urea, then the test is positive.</p> <p>Breath can also be tested for an overgrowth of bacteria in the <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/sibo">small intestine</a> (Sibo), which can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain and bloating. Sibo produces gases like hydrogen and methane that can also be detected with a breath test.</p> <p>If you’re worried about pongy breath and don’t have any medical issues, then you can <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/how-to-smell-your-own-breath">test your own breath</a>. The age-old method is to lick the back of your wrist, let it dry and then have a sniff. You can also do the same with a tongue scraper, dental floss or a sample of breath exhaled into a cupped hand.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ak5UEM8FK2s?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Often, we can become used to the smell of our own breath. We might only notice when it becomes really bad, or when there are other symptoms, like a foul taste in the mouth. Or when someone plucks up the courage to finally tell you that you have a case of the breath pongs.</p> <p>Suppose someone has broken the news – what do you do now? <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bad-breath/">Simple measures can work well</a>, including regular fluid intake – <a href="https://www.dentalhealth.org/bad-breath">dry mouth</a> can lead to bad breath so make sure you’re drinking enough water – and good oral hygiene. This involves brushing the teeth, tongue and flossing between your teeth to eliminate any bacterial hot spots, as well as regular checkups at the dentist.</p> <p>Mouthwash can be an effective temporary solution but there’s evidence that a <a href="https://theconversation.com/eating-leafy-greens-could-be-better-for-oral-health-than-using-mouthwash-221181#:%7E:text=But%20research%20has%20indicated%20that,alternative%20for%20treating%20oral%20disease.">diet rich in leafy greens</a> might be even better at countering bad breath.</p> <p>Smoking is another potential underlying <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-get-rid-of-cigarette-breath#1-brush-teeth">cause of halitosis</a>. So if you want sweeter breath, pack in the cigarettes – yet another good reason to give up.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/231858/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dan-baumgardt-1451396">Dan Baumgardt</a>, Senior Lecturer, School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-bristol-1211">University of Bristol</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/take-my-bad-breath-away-causes-of-halitosis-and-how-to-check-whether-you-have-it-231858">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Will watching the Olympic Games make you eat more?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/birau-mia-1238429">Birau Mia</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/em-lyon-business-school-2363">EM Lyon Business School</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/carolina-o-c-werle-1434243">Carolina O.C. Werle</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grenoble-ecole-de-management-gem-2181">Grenoble École de Management (GEM)</a></em></p> <p>Ever wondered why you reach for a snack after hitting the gym? <a href="https://joe.bioscientifica.com/downloadpdf/view/journals/joe/193/2/1930251.pdf">Research shows</a> that physical exercise often leads to increased food consumption, whether it is treating yourself for a job well done or replenishing the energy you have burned. With countless sports events airing and our screens constantly filled with sports’ competitions, a new question arises: Can watching sports on a screen also influence how much we eat?</p> <p>The answer is yes. <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0950329317300915">Our research</a> co-authored with <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/jannine-lasaleta-94504987">Jannine Lasaleta</a> reveals that watching sports’ videos can increase candy consumption. But there is more to the story: the difficulty of the sports you are watching plays a crucial role in these effects.</p> <h2>From screens to junk food</h2> <p>We first invited 112 students to the <a href="https://www.grenoble-em.com/campus-gem-labs-grenoble">Grenoble Ecole de Management experimental lab</a> to watch a video and test some candies. Half of the students watched a video with men and women <a href="https://fr.adforum.com/creative-work/ad/player/51706/train-barefoot/nike">playing sports</a>, while the other half watched one <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyqR5yI6boo">without any physical activity</a>. We then gave each student a 70g cup of candy and asked them to judge its quality for three minutes. The students who saw the sports’ video ate more candy than those who saw the one without physical activity.</p> <p>Our initial test thus revealed that watching sports’ videos can boost candy consumption, but here’s the twist: male students indulged in far more candy than female students, so maybe the results were triggered by males’ consumption. Plus, we were still unsure if the type of sport watched affects the candy intake.</p> <p>To learn more, we invited just the female students to watch videos portraying either easy (light running) or difficult-to-perform sports (athletics long jump, gymnastics, baseball, rugby or rock climbing). After, the students were invited to test the same candies as before. Students who watched the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SMXKGE_u-Y">easy sports video</a> (showing a woman and a man running through different landscapes) ate much more candy (30.1 grams) than those who watched the <a href="https://fr.adforum.com/creative-work/ad/player/51706/train-barefoot/nike">difficult sports video</a> (18 grams).</p> <p>We can thus conclude that the ease or difficulty of the exercise shown significantly impacts candy consumption – watching easy-to-perform sports leads to considerably higher candy intake than watching difficult ones.</p> <h2>Why is this happening?</h2> <p>To explain our findings, we looked at research on <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jcr/article-abstract/32/3/370/1867208">goal motivation</a>. When people feel they are not meeting a goal, they push harder; but once they see progress, they tend to slack off. For example, after a workout, those aiming to stay fit might feel they have made good progress and then ease up on their efforts. This can lead to a drop in motivation to pursue related goals, like healthy eating. <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2006-09808-003">Research</a> shows that achieving smaller goals (like exercising) can make people feel they have earned a break, which can result in indulging more in food. So completing a workout might make you more likely to reward yourself with extra food than if you had not finished your session. And why are women more susceptible to the phenomenon of eating more candy after watching an easy-to-perform sports video? Simply because it has been long <a href="https://phys.org/news/2005-04-women-weight-men.html">shown</a> that women are more concerned with their weight than men and therefore their dieting goals are more salient.</p> <p>Our research suggests that merely watching sports can lead to a sense of vicarious fulfilment of fitness goals. When people can picture themselves doing the activity they are watching, they feel as though they have already exercised, which can lead to more-indulgent food choices. If they perceive the exercise shown as easy rather than difficult, they can more easily imagine themselves doing it, leading to greater feelings of progress toward their fitness goals. This perceived achievement can make them feel they have earned the right to indulge and influence their search for a reward, often resulting in increased food intake.</p> <h2>So what?</h2> <p>This knowledge can be used by policymakers or marketers who aim to encourage healthful lifestyles. When promoting healthy activities by picturing physical activity that seems too easy, people may feel a greater sense of achievement that could backfire and lead to increased consumption. We suggest showing an easy exercise (like walking or jogging) followed by a tougher one (like sprinting or marathon running) as an alternative solution. This approach can motivate people to start with basic exercises while reminding that there is still a long way to go to reach their fitness goals. This strategy could offer an alternative to promote physical activity without giving a false sense of accomplishment.</p> <p>So what is the takeaway for us? Be mindful of how watching sports can affect our eating habits. If you are aiming to stay on track with your diet, watch more challenging sports – it might just help you resist that extra chocolate bar. Moreover, when setting dieting goals, remind yourself that real progress comes from consistent effort, not just imagining yourself doing a workout. Engage in activities that genuinely challenge you, and pair them with mindful eating habits. This way, you can avoid the trap of feeling the fitness goal to be prematurely accomplished and then overindulging.</p> <p>In conclusion, should you watch the Olympic games if you want to keep up with your diet? Of course, but it might be better to choose the physical activities you find the most difficult to perform – and watch them without moderation.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/231199/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/birau-mia-1238429">Birau Mia</a>, Associate Professor of Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/em-lyon-business-school-2363">EM Lyon Business School</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/carolina-o-c-werle-1434243">Carolina O.C. Werle</a>, Professor of marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grenoble-ecole-de-management-gem-2181">Grenoble École de Management (GEM)</a></em></p> <p><em>Image </em><em>credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/will-watching-the-olympic-games-make-you-eat-more-231199">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Breast cancer screening in Australia may change. Here’s what we know so far

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brooke-nickel-200747">Brooke Nickel</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katy-bell-134554">Katy Bell</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>The way women are screened for breast cancer in Australia may <a href="https://www.cancer.org.au/about-us/policy-and-advocacy/early-detection/breast-cancer/rosa/key-findings">change</a>.</p> <p>There’s international debate on the <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/385/bmj.q1353">age</a> women should be invited for screening. But an even larger change being considered worldwide is whether to screen women at <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41416-021-01550-3">high and low risk</a> of breast cancer differently.</p> <p>But what such a “risk-based” approach to screening might look like in Australia is not yet clear.</p> <p>Here’s why researchers and public health officials are floating a change to breast cancer screening in Australia, and what any changes might mean.</p> <h2>Why breast cancer screening may need to change</h2> <p>Mass screening (known as population-based screening) for breast cancer was introduced in Australia and many other developed countries in the 1980s and 90s.</p> <p>This was based on <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26756588/">robust research</a> that found early detection and treatment of cancers before there were symptoms prevented some women from dying from breast cancer.</p> <p>These programs offer regular breast cancer screening to women within a specific age group. For example, <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer-screening/national-cancer-screening-programs-participation/contents/breastscreen-australia">in Australia</a>, women aged 40-74 years can have free mammograms (x-rays of the breasts) every two years. The BreastScreen program sends invitations for screening to those aged 50-74.</p> <p>However, evidence has been mounting that mammography screening could be inadvertently causing <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(12)61611-0/abstract">harm</a> for some women.</p> <p>For some, screening causes a false alarm that may cause anxiety, and unnecessary tests and procedures. Even though these tests rule out cancer, these women may remain anxious and perceive something is wrong <a href="https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/13/4/e072188">for many years</a>.</p> <p>A more insidious harm is <a href="https://theconversation.com/five-warning-signs-of-overdiagnosis-110895">overdiagnosis</a>, where screening detects a non-growing or slow-growing lesion that looks like “cancer” under the microscope, but would not have progressed or caused harm if it had been left alone. This means some women are having unnecessary surgery, radiotherapy and hormone therapy that will not benefit them, but may harm.</p> <p>Although trials have shown screening reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer, questions are being raised about how much it <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/352/bmj.h6080.abstract">saves lives overall</a>. That is, it’s uncertain how much the reduced risk of dying from breast cancer translates into improvements in a woman’s overall survival.</p> <h2>How about better targeting women?</h2> <p>One idea is to target screening to those most likely to benefit. Under such a “<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41416-021-01550-3">risk-based</a>” approach, a women’s personal risk of breast cancer is estimated. This may be based on her age and many other factors that may include breast density, family history of breast cancer, body-mass index, genetics, age she started and stopped her periods, and the number of children she’s had.</p> <p>Women who are at higher risk would be recommended to start screening at a younger age and to screen more frequently or to use different, more sensitive, imaging tests. Women at lower risk would be recommended to start later and to screen less often.</p> <p>The idea of this more “precise” approach to screening is to direct efforts and resources towards the smaller number of women most likely to benefit from screening via the early detection of cancer.</p> <p>At the same time, this approach would reduce the risk of harm from false positives (detection of an anomaly but no cancer is present) and overdiagnosis (detection of a non-growing or slow-growing cancer) for the larger number of women who are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6230256/">unlikely to benefit</a>.</p> <p>On face value this sounds like a good idea, and could be a favourable change for breast cancer screening.</p> <h2>But there’s much we don’t know</h2> <p>However, it’s uncertain how this would play out in practice. For one thing, someone’s future risk of a cancer diagnosis includes the risk of detecting both <a href="https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/m17-2792">overdiagnosed cancers</a> as well as potentially lethal ones. This is proving to be a problem in risk-based screening for <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41698-022-00266-8">prostate cancer</a>, another cancer prone to overdiagnosis.</p> <p>Ideally, we’d want to predict someone’s risk of <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/landig/article/PIIS2589-7500(23)00113-9/fulltext">potentially lethal cancers</a> as these are the ones we want to catch early.</p> <p>It is also still uncertain how many women found to be at <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31701797/">low risk</a> will accept a recommendation for <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23092125/">less screening</a>.</p> <p>These uncertainties mean we need robust evidence the benefits outweigh the harms for Australian women before we make changes to the breast cancer screening program.</p> <p>There are several international <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41416-021-01550-3">randomised controlled trials</a> (the gold standard for research) under way to evaluate the effectiveness of risk-based screening compared to current practice. So it may be prudent to wait for their findings before making changes to policy or practice.</p> <p>Even if such trials did give us robust evidence, there are still a number of issues to address before implementing a risk-based approach.</p> <p>One key issue is having enough staff to run the program, including people with the skills and time to discuss with women any concerns they have about their calculated risk.</p> <h2>How about breast density?</h2> <p>Women with dense breasts are at <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960977622001618#:%7E:text=Mammographic%20density%20is%20a%20well,increased%20risk%20of%20breast%20cancer.">higher risk of breast cancer</a>. So notifying women about their breast density has been proposed as a “first step” on the pathway to risk-based screening. However, this ignores the many other factors that determine a woman’s risk of breast cancer.</p> <p>Legislation in the <a href="https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emitting-products/mammography-quality-standards-act-and-program">United States</a> and changes in some <a href="https://australianbreastcancer.org.au/news-stories/latest-news/breast-density-reporting-at-all-sa-clinics/">Australian states</a> mean some women are already being notified about their breast density. The idea is to enhance their knowledge about their breast cancer risk so they can make informed decisions about future screening.</p> <p>But this has happened before we know what the best options are for such women. An <a href="https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2023/219/9/psychosocial-outcomes-and-health-service-use-after-notifying-women-participating">ongoing Australian trial</a> is investigating the effects that breast density notification has on individual women and the health system.</p> <h2>What next?</h2> <p>Robust evidence and careful planning are needed before risk-based screening or other changes are made to Australia’s breast cancer screening program.</p> <p>Where changes are made, there needs to be early evaluation of both the <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/350/bmj.h1566.abstract">benefits and harms</a>. Programs also need <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/374/bmj.n2049.long">independent, regular re-evaluation</a> in the longer term.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/231917/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brooke-nickel-200747">Brooke Nickel</a>, NHMRC Emerging Leader Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katy-bell-134554">Katy Bell</a>, Professor in Clinical Epidemiology, Sydney School of Public Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/breast-cancer-screening-in-australia-may-change-heres-what-we-know-so-far-231917">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Is an electric bike right for you? Here’s what to consider before you buy

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/muhammad-rizwan-azhar-1472288">Muhammad Rizwan Azhar</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/waqas-uzair-1486684">Waqas Uzair</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/oct/08/its-also-just-fun-why-a-growing-number-of-australia-families-are-ditching-cars-for-e-bikes">More Australians than ever</a> are riding electric bikes – a fact you may have noticed on the streets of our cities and towns.</p> <p>Electric bikes, or e-bikes, are typically equipped with an electric motor and a battery, providing power to help you pedal. Some allow you to boost and lower the amount of pedalling assistance you get.</p> <p>Globally, the transport sector produces <a href="https://www.un.org/sites/un2.un.org/files/media_gstc/FACT_SHEET_Climate_Change.pdf">about one-quarter</a> of greenhouse gas emissions. Finding cleaner ways to get around is vital to combating the climate crisis. E-bikes also offer solutions to the problems of traffic congestion, fuel costs and sedentary lifestyles.</p> <p>But is an electric bike right for you? Below, we discuss the pros and cons, to help you decide.</p> <h2>The pros</h2> <p><strong>– Reduce carbon emissions</strong></p> <p>In developed countries, transport can be one of the largest proportions of an individual’s carbon footprint. But you can <a href="https://sustainability.anu.edu.au/options-for-owning-an-e-bike">reduce your travel emissions</a> by 75% if you replace car use with an e-bike for short trips such as the work commute.</p> <p><a href="https://www.creds.ac.uk/publications/e-bike-carbon-savings-how-much-and-where/">Research has found</a> e-bikes, if used to replace cars, could cut carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions by up to 50% in England – or about 30 million tonnes a year. Other analysis showed the potential was <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0967070X21003401">greatest</a> in rural areas.</p> <p><strong>– Connect with your community</strong></p> <p>The “car-rification” of our cities changed community dynamics. Retail became concentrated in <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0264837716312479">out-of-town shopping centres</a>, leading to a decline in smaller town centres. This provided fewer opportunities to meet our neighbours and has contributed to high rates of <a href="https://www.vox.com/features/23191527/urban-planning-friendship-houston-cars-loneliness">loneliness and social isolation</a>.</p> <p>Similar to <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308794595_From_Pedal_to_People_The_Social_Effects_of_Biking">regular cycling</a>, riding e-bikes helps create community bonds. It makes us more likely to engage with our surroundings and interact with people around us. You can even join an <a href="https://www.meetup.com/topics/electric-bicycles/au/">e-bike group</a> or community ride.</p> <p><strong>– Save money</strong></p> <p>E-bikes offer substantial long-term financial benefits to owners.</p> <p>In Australia, an e-bike costs from about A$1,000 to more than $5,000. An annual e-bike service will set you back <a href="https://www.choice.com.au/transport/bikes/electric/articles/how-to-maintain-your-electric-bike#:%7E:text=How%20much%20does%20an%20e,%24300%2C%20depending%20on%20what's%20included.">between $100 and $300</a>. And retailers <a href="https://crooze.com.au/blogs/news/the-costs-of-owning-an-ebike#:%7E:text=This%20means%20it%20costs%20roughly,electricity%20charges%20per%2030kms%20ridden.">currently</a> <a href="https://www.glowwormbicycles.com.au/blogs/electric-bikes/how-much-should-i-spend-on-an-e-bike">put the cost</a> of a full battery charge at 10–15 cents, translating to roughly $20 per year for an average commuter.</p> <p>Cars, of course, cost far more to run. For example, Victorian motoring body RACV <a href="https://www.racv.com.au/about-racv/newsroom/victorias-cheapest-cars-2023.html">last year found</a> the state’s cheapest car to own and operate was the MG3 Core light Hatch, with monthly costs of $734.84. Even taking into account charging costs and maintenance, you can see how quickly an e-bike would pay for itself.</p> <p><strong>– Get active</strong></p> <p>E-bikes are clearly better for your health than riding in a car.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9790588/">2019 study investigated</a> e‐bike commuting for inactive, overweight people living in regional Australia. It found e-bike users increased their physical activity by an average 90 minutes a week.</p> <p>A <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/sms.14155">literature review in 2022</a> found e-biking was a moderately intense physical activity on measures such as energy expenditure, heart rate and oxygen consumption. The benefits were lower than conventional cycling, but generally greater than walking.</p> <p>Women, in particular, have reported benefits from e-bike use. A <a href="https://activetravelstudies.org/article/id/991/">New Zealand study</a> showed e-bikes provided less fit women with “more empowering physical activity experiences” and increased their cycling confidence.</p> <h2>The cons</h2> <p><strong>– Safety challenges</strong></p> <p>Like any form of mobility, e-bikes must be used safely. Concerns around e-bikes include <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-09-13/fat-bike-boom-in-sydney-sparks-safety-fears/102823330">speeding</a>, <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/concerns-grow-over-safety-of-e-bikes-amid-reports-of-accidents-192619077845">accidents</a> and people riding <a href="https://www.nbnnews.com.au/2024/03/20/e-bike-safety-concerns-spark-in-lennox-head/">without helmets</a>.</p> <p>In May this year, Sydney’s Northern Beaches Council <a href="https://www.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/e-bike-and-e-scooter-safety">launched a public awareness</a> campaign on e-bike safety. <a href="https://www.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/council/news/media-releases/northern-beaches-council-leads-pack-e-bike-safety-campaign">The advice includes</a>:</p> <ul> <li>slow to walking pace when others are on the path</li> <li>ring your bell to signal your approach</li> <li>be ready for sudden changes.</li> </ul> <p>Government regulation on e-bikes is also important for public safety. For example <a href="https://fit-ebike.com/en-en/about-us/blog/s-pedelecs/">in Germany</a>, high-speed e-bikes are classed as mopeds and cannot be ridden on bike paths.</p> <p>Separately, e-bikes usually contain lithium-ion batteries which can explode and start fires – particularly in e-bikes bought from overseas retailers that don’t meet Australian standards. Before buying, <a href="https://www.fire.nsw.gov.au/page.php?id=9406">check advice from fire authorities</a>.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/U58Pv7-7fnE?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p><strong>– Lack of cycling and charging infrastructure</strong></p> <p>Well-designed <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214140519301033">cycling infrastructure</a> encourages e-bike use. In Australia, governments are <a href="https://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-06/Cycling_Infrastructure_Background_Paper_16Mar09_WEB.pdf">slowly accepting</a> the need for infrastructure such as dedicated bike lanes and <a href="https://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/get-nsw-active/emicro-smart-micro-mobility-infrastructure">charging stations</a>, but <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-do-so-few-people-cycle-for-transport-in-australia-6-ideas-on-how-to-reap-all-the-benefits-of-bikes-229811">more money</a> is needed.</p> <p>In the Netherlands, a surge in e-bike sales has <a href="https://www.government.nl/topics/bicycles">driven</a> investments in cycling paths, improvements in bicycle parking at train stations, and other efforts to promote cycling and e-bike use.</p> <p><strong>– Higher upfront cost than a regular bike</strong></p> <p>The cost of buying an e-bike can be a barrier for some. For example, <a href="https://activetravelstudies.org/article/id/991/">NZ-based research</a> found the purchase cost meant the benefits were less likely to be available to lower-income women.</p> <p>So how can the cost barrier be overcome? In Australia, some companies offer e-bike rentals, via a weekly <a href="https://lug-carrie.com">subscription service</a>. And overseas, <a href="https://www.pbsc.com/blog/2021/09/pbsc-e-bike-sharing-schemes-in-15-cities-around-the-world">share schemes</a> mean people can access e-bikes without having to buy one.</p> <p>In 2023, <a href="https://www.service.tas.gov.au/services/government-help-and-support/concessions-and-discounts/apply-for-an-electric-vehicle-or-e-mobility-rebate">Tasmania became the first Australian state</a> to offer a subsidy for e-bike purchases, and the uptake was rapid. However, the scheme has now closed.</p> <p><strong>– Environmental impacts</strong></p> <p>Almost everything we buy has an environmental impact, and electric bikes are no exception. However, they are obviously a better alternative to conventional cars – and also have less impact than electric vehicles.</p> <p>Over the total lifecycle of the product, including manufacturing, an e-bike emits <a href="https://ecf.com/resources/cycling-facts-and-figures/environmental">about 10%</a> of the CO₂ emissions associated with producing an electric car, according to the European Cyclists Federation. And e-bikes <a href="https://electrek.co/2023/05/04/you-cant-trust-electric-bike-companies-battery-range/">consume</a> about <a href="https://ebikes.ca/learn/solar.html#:%7E:text=6%20wh%2Fkm%20would%20be,heavy%20loads%20and%20riding%20fast.">15 watt-hours per kilometre</a>, compared to electric cars which <a href="https://www.drive.com.au/caradvice/what-is-a-good-energy-consumption-figure-for-electric-vehicles/">consume around</a> 150 to 200 watt-hours per kilometre.</p> <p>E-bike battery systems also typically require fewer raw materials and simpler design than an electric vehicle, which <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0892687524000293">simplifies</a> the battery recycling process.</p> <h2>Cleaner, cheaper, better</h2> <p>Electric cars are crucial for replacing traditional vehicles on longer routes and for family travel. However, e-bikes offer a more affordable and lower-impact solution for commuting and short-distance travel – and if you buy a cargo e-bike, you can even take your family.</p> <p>Mass adoption of e-bikes in Australia requires better cycling infrastructure, new government regulation and price incentives. But in the meantime, thousands of Australians are already enjoying the benefits of e-bikes. Perhaps you could too?</p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/muhammad-rizwan-azhar-1472288">Muhammad Rizwan Azhar</a>, Lecturer of Chemical Engineering, Sustainable Energy and Resources, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/waqas-uzair-1486684">Waqas Uzair</a>, Research Associate, Advanced Battery Systems and Safety, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/is-an-electric-bike-right-for-you-heres-what-to-consider-before-you-buy-230024">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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