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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Health scan

Hindustan Times   October 13, 2012
First Published: 22:15 IST(13/10/2012) | Last Updated: 22:17 IST(13/10/2012)

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

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Women use emoticons more than men

Women are twice as likely as men to use emoticons in text messages to express themselves emotionally, but men use a larger variety of these symbols to express themselves, said report researchers in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

Emoticons are graphic symbols that use punctuation marks and letters to represent facial expressions to convey a person’s mood, help provide context to a person’s textual communication and clarify a message that could otherwise possibly be misconstrued.

Smartphone data aggregating 124,000 text messages over six months showed that while all study participants used emoticons, they did so rarely, with only 4% of all their sent text messages containing one or more emoticons. Seventy-four different emoticons were used, but the top three emoticons - happy, sad and very happy - made up 70% of the total emoticons sent. The study also confirms previous research that women are more emotionally expressive in non-verbal communication.

Traffic pollution lowers lung function

Exposure to air pollution from traffic during infancy lowers lung function in kids, particularly among those who were sensitised to common inhalant or food allergens and among kids with asthma.

“Earlier studies have shown that children are highly susceptible to the adverse effects of air pollution and suggest that exposure early in life may be particularly harmful,” said Göran Pershagen, professor at the Karolinska Institutet of Environmental Medicine in Stockholm. “In our prospective birth cohort study in a large population of Swedish children, exposure to traffic-related air pollution during infancy was associated with decreases in lung function at age eight, with stronger effects indicated in children with asthma and particularly those sensitised to allergens.”

Family, not health, gets South Asians exercising

South Asians are more likely to exercise if it is part of a group and has a social element, found a study of Indians, Bangladeshis and Pakistani men and women in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland.

South Asians living in the UK have a five-fold increased risk of diabetes and a two-fold increased risk of heart disease by comparison with the general population, but they are less likely to exercise comparatively.

“Most Asians want exercise to have an element of socialising, of having fun with family or friends. If we are to encourage them to exercise their way to better health, then we must take account of the social context of their lives, which often revolve around the home and the family,” said lead-author Dr Ruth Jepson, co-director of the Centre for Public Health and Population Health, University of Stirling.

Exercise slows heart’s ageing in diabetics

Regular exercise slows down premature aging of the cardiovascular system of people with diabetes, bringing it closer to that of people without the disease, shows new research.

Fitness gradually decreases with age, such that a healthy adult loses about 10% of fitness with each decade of life after age 40 or 50. However, fitness levels are about 20% worse in people with type 2 diabetes than in non-diabetic adults.

Short, intense exercise burns more calories

Exercisers can burn up to 200 extra calories in as little as 2.5 minutes of concentrated exercise a day as long as they intersperse longer periods of easy recovery — known as sprint interval training. The finding could make exercise more manageable for would-be fitness buffs by cramming intense efforts into as little as 25 minutes. These exercises a couple of times a week can help keep away a pound or two each year.


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