Feeling Stiff? Squat!

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Hang loose my friends, it’ll help you live longer. Staying limber can help you not only feel young but live more life. A simple way to figure out if you should go to yoga (or stretch more) is to trying squatting. Go ahead and try it now. Don’t worry if you’re not good at it as many of us are pretty bad squatters.

Let’s all try to be better squatters in life.

“You really don’t understand human bodies until you realize how important these postures are,” Beach, who is based in Wellington, New Zealand, tells me. “Here in New Zealand, it’s cold and wet and muddy. Without modern trousers, I wouldn’t want to put my backside in the cold wet mud, so [in absence of a chair] I would spend a lot of time squatting. The same thing with going to the toilet. The whole way your physiology is built is around these postures.”

A healthy musculoskeletal system doesn’t just make us feel lithe and juicy, it also has implications for our wider health. A 2014 study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that test subjects who showed difficulty getting up off the floor without support of hands, or an elbow, or leg (what’s called the “sitting-rising test”) resulted in a three-year-shorter life expectancy than subjects who got up with ease.

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European Cities Announce Bans on Fossil Fuel Vehicles

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It’s no shock that cars are bad for health, what is shocking is that we continue to build cities to support automobiles. This is changing in some European cities and hopefully the idea will spread. Quite a few large cities in Europe are outright banning cars that use consume fossil fuels in the coming years (so residents with cars have a chance to get rid of their car). As the linked article says, ‘It’s not a human right to pollute the air for others’, we need massive change in how we treat polluters in cities.

Paris will ban all petrol- and diesel-fuelled cars by 2030, a decade ahead of France’s 2040 target. Copenhagen plans to ban diesel cars from 2019, while Oxford has proposed banning all non-electric vehicles from its centre from 2020. This would make central Oxford the world’s first zero-emissions zone, officials believe.

Sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans, including hybrids, will be banned in the UK from 2040.

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Thanks to Delaney!

A Heavy Blanket Helps People with Anxiety and Insomnia

A good nights sleep can make a world of difference to one’s health, getting that sleep can be hard though. A simple solution can help those who need more slumber: a heavy blanket. Sleeping under a weighted blanket kind of acts like a hug for your whole body – and everybody likes a good hug. This is a nice and simple way to help people who have trouble sleeping from insomnia, anxiety, or even PTSD.

A weighted blanket molds to your body like a warm hug. The pressure also helps relax the nervous system. It’s a totally safe and effective non-drug therapy for sleep and relaxation naturally. Psychiatric, trauma, geriatric, and pediatric hospital units use weighted blankets to calm a patient’s anxiety and promote deep, restful sleep. In a similar way to swaddling comforting an infant, the weight and pressure on an adult provides comfort and relief.

When pressure is gently applied to the body, it encourages serotonin production, which lifts your mood. When serotonin naturally converts to melatonin, your body takes the cue to rest.

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A Little Bit of Exercise Goes a Long Way

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You don’t have to go to a gym to live a healthy lifestyle, you can work out while you vacuum. Recent research has concluded that even a mild amount of effort can improve one’s health and add years to one’s life. All you need as a minimum is 2.5 hours a week of being active. Being active can include chores around your house, going for a walk, or anything that gets your blood pumping from exertion. Obviously, gyms and working out more than 2.5 hours a week can greatly improve your health more than just vacuuming.

“I would dispel the notion of having to put out money to be active,” said Dr. Scott Lear, the study lead author and a professor at Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Health Sciences in Canada, in an email. “Our findings indicate that nonrecreational activity — work, housework, active transportation — is just as beneficial in reducing the risk for premature death and heart disease.”

So, yes, even vacuuming your house or walking on your lunch hour for a solid 30 minutes can help avert an early death and chronic disease.

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Parkinson’s Research Using Massive Data Collected from 23andMe

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23andMe hopes to find a cure for Parkinson’s through data mining. Parkinson’s is a degenerative neurological disorder that affects millions of people, and a cure is hard to find. The company collects gene samples from people who want to know their genetic lineage, which it then stores and uses for research. Along with submitting their gene users answer questions that allow researches to look into things that were previously too expensive. To properly do the the research 23andMe teamed up with Genentech for the analysis of data.

Which is why Genentech’s next step is to sequence the full genomes of 3,000 of 23andMe’s Parkinson’s patients. These volunteers have answered questions about their family history, how quickly their disease is progressing, what treatments they’ve tried and how well they’ve worked. By drilling down into all 3 billion base pairs, the pharma firm hopes to get past the most common traits of Parkinson’s—the ones that each exert a small effect to sum up to the heritability of the disease. Instead, they’re looking for those rare variants, which destroy more biological machinery than average, leaving a trail of rubble that’s easier to track.“ They’re the extreme breaks in the system,” says Rob Graham, a senior scientist in Genentech’s human genetics group, and coauthor on the Nature Genetics paper.

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