Scientific

Walking Wars

Who Takes More Steps Per Day?

Who would you guess walks more? Americans or Australians? Americans or Swiss people? Men or women? Single people or married people? Good news for your idle curiosity and/or your deep interest in comparative fitness competitiveness—researchers at the University of Tennessee have gathered the data and crunched the numbers, and the big step contest loser is....America! All the rankings, which are actually pretty interesting, after the jump.

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Scientific

What's The Best Way To Get Rid Of Pesticides?

You may recall the alarming list of the dirty dozen, as in the twelve most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables. Celery has never seemed so scary. Obviously the best way to avoid eating pesticides is to buy fruits and vegetables that weren't sprayed with them in the first place. But short of that, what's a consumer to do? Douse your potatoes with a fancy fruit and vegetable wash? Soak your blueberries in soap? Hold your horses, reports the New York Times. In fact, recent studies show that simply rinsing your fruits and vegetables in tap water is as effective as soaping them up or washing them with rinses. The water temperature doesn't matter. Friction does. Tap water and friction—so lovely, so FREE.

Poet Laureate

McSmack Milkshakes

This probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but it turns out that the milkshake bringing all the boys to the yard keeps those boys coming back for more, and more, until their appetites are only appeased when the streets flow with the chocolate blood of a thousand leaky Frosties... Which is to say, junk food is addictive. Like drugs.

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Scientific

This Study Should Convince Your Boss to Sponsor Your Kickball Team, No Prob

  • Step 1: Print this study
  • Step 2: Show it to your boss. 
  • Step 3: Immediately follow with request for company kickball team sponsorship.
  • Step 4: Move right along to kickball team jersey design. 

Here's the gist — the healthier you are outside work, the more productive you are on the job. The researchers surveyed over 10,500 workers at 49 different companies between 2005 and 2009 and found that more than 10% of sick leave and productivity loss were due to health-related lifestyle factors outside the workplace. Their conclusion: primary health interventions (like kickball team sponsorship!) contribute to maintaining a productive workforce. 

Scientific

The Tennis Grunting Advantage

Grunting in tennis. Players may do it just because, wow, they're hitting that ball really hard and that kind of exertion naturally elicits a vocal accompaniment. But a new study shows there may be a little more to it — Grunting might give loud tennis players a distinct advantage over their quieter peers. In the study, participants watched video of tennis and had to hit a button as quickly as possible to indicate which direction each shot went. When there was an "extraneous sound" with the video (aka a grunt), they were much slower and much less accurate in their responses. Granted, these weren't professional tennis players with steely concentration. These were just college students. But still, grunting, howling, shrieking, whatever...it definitely messes with your opponent.  

Space Gyms

The First Space Hotel: Will The Gym Suck?

Last time we chatted about space, it was to discuss the fact that while Boeing and others are building tourist space buses, if you want on the bus, you've got to be very fit. (And rich, but I like to imagine that's secondary). Today, we bring you another bit of space and fitness news. A Russian company has announced plans for the first space hotel. The hotel will reportedly have facilities for "scientific research, media projects and entertainment." No mention of the gym?! As we all know, bad hotel gyms can really dampen your enthusiasm for travel. To the Russian space hotel builders: I may never visit your hotel, but for the sake of my dreams, please build a pimpin' gym. Colbert-related equipment optional. 

Scientific

Depression and Weight: Being Heavy Gets You Down

If you're obese, your odds of being depressed are significantly higher than if you're normal weight, according to a recent survey. The Gallup-Healthways survey, which consisted of 250,000 interviews between January and September of this year, found that 23.2% of obese Americans report having been diagnosed with depression, versus 14.3% of people of normal weight. That's a pretty remarkable jump. Interestingly, only 14.9% of people who are overweight report having been diagnosed with depression, barely more than the percent for normal weight individuals. Obesity is also bad news for negative feelings of stress, worry, anger, and sadness, with obese individuals reporting higher percentages of those feelings across the board. The only people reporting higher rates of stress, worry, anger, and sadness than obese people? Underweight people. So basically, we all know our weight affects how we feel, but at either end of the spectrum, it really really affects how we feel. 

Scientific

Vitamin C To Boost Your Mood

Interesting new study: In a double-blind clinical trial, patients admitted to a Montreal hospital received either vitamin C or vitamin D supplements for seven to ten days. The moods of the patients who got the vitamin C shot way up, while the moods of the patients who got the vitamin D showed no such improvement. What does this mean for you? Well, maybe not a lot — "About one in five acute-care patients in our hospital have vitamin C levels so low as to be compatible with scurvy," said one of the doctors who worked on the study. And you probably don't have vitamin C levels that low. But that said, if you're in a funk, you might as well try a little orange juice. At the very least, it'll be tasty!

Scientific

Even If You Regain Weight, Resistance Training Keeps You Healthy

Here's a sad fact: Most people who lose weight regain at least a portion of that weight. Here's a happy fact: New research shows that even if you put back on a few pounds, if you do resistance training, you can maintain almost all the positive health effects of weight loss. Among the positive effect witnessed among people who regained weight but nonetheless kept up a resistance training regime: Maintenance of all the improvements acquired through weight loss in cardiorespiratory fitness, body fat percentage, systolic blood pressure and other factors. Plus significantly increased strength and lean body mass. If you regain weight, sadly, you have the problem of fat around your organs. There's no way around that. But this is definitely a silver lining — the very color of those shiny weights on the racks at the gym!

Scientific

If You're Counting Calories, Food Order Matters

Americans are notoriously bad at accurately estimating the calories in their food (last we checked, only 12% of the population was even in the calorie estimation ballpark). Well, turns out we get even worse when there's more than one food to consider. If you ask people to guess how many calories are in a cheeseburger, they say 570. If you show them a salad first and then ask, they revise to say 787. The "virtuous" salad makes people view the "sinful" burger differently. But here's the trouble, show people a burger, and then show them cheesecake, and you get the opposite effect. With no "virtuous" food in the picture, people estimate a lower total calorie content for the burger/cheesecake combo than they do for the salad/burger combo. Lesson for you: If you're counting, you might want to start with a salad reality check.