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Health scan

A snapshot of the current thinking in medicine, fitness and lifestyle trends that impact your life

health and fitness Updated: Dec 08, 2012 22:39 IST

Extra sleep helps you withstand pain
Getting more sleep at night improves daytime alertness and reduces pain sensitivity in healthy adults, reports the journal Sleep. A study of mildly sleep-deprived volunteers who spent four nights getting either their normal amount of sleep or extending their sleep time to 10 hours each night were able to keep their finger on a heat source 25% longer. This increase is greater than what was found in a previous study when participants took 60 milligrams of the painkiller codeine before undergoing the same pain sensitivity test.

Fitter kids get better grades
For better grades and higher test scores, kids need to hit the gym as much as their books. A study, published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, has found that physically fit children do better in the classroom. It's the first research to show a link between children's fitness and academic performance.
The findings have significance for countries such as India, where schools routinely cut physical education and recess to focus on core subjects. Instead of improving grades, this actually undermines their success on the standardised tests.

Polycystic ovary raises blood clots
Women who have a hormone disorder called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and who take the birth control pill have twice the risk of blood clots than do other women on the Pill. For some, the risk could be high enough for doctors to recommend they should not use the Pill, which is the recommendation for women over 35 who smoke.
About 3-5% of women have PCOS that causes a hormone imbalance, which can lead to irregular periods, extra hair growth and higher risks for being overweight and developing hypertension and diabetes. They are often treated with oral contraceptives, many of which have labels warning about blood clots.

Healthy eating lowers risk of second heart attack
That healthy food in preventing heart disease and type-2 diabetes is well established, but a new study suggests that chowing down on wholesome foods improves health outcomes even for people who already have heart disease. People who had diets high in fibre and low in saturated fats had a 30% lower risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke, found a study of 30,000 people over the age of 55 with heart disease or diabetes in 40. Healthy food provided additional benefits for people who are taking medication - blood thinners and cholesterol-lowering drugs - to treat their ailments.
Researchers recommend a diet rich in high-fibre whole grains instead of white flour
products, lots of plant-based foods, more vegetable proteins, like beans, nuts seed and chickpeas, less red meat, less alcohol and less refined sugars.

Gossip makes workplaces efficient
Office gossip is usually frowned upon as a waste of time, but a new study suggests it should be encouraged because it helps isolate shirkers, making for a more efficient work-place. The study also shows that up to nine in 10 everyday conversations are gossip. But according to the research, carried out by a team of Dutch psychologists, it is not necessarily malicious. Gossip is used to warn co-workers about colleagues that are not pulling their weight. And even the risk of gossip can help to pressure underperformers to contribute.
Gossip is often seen as exclusively self-serving behaviour aimed at manipulating others and influencing them in some malicious way, but people most often use it to gather and validate information, to enjoy themselves with others, and to protect their group, report Dutch researchers in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.