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Looking To Boost Your Health? Spend More Time With Friends | The Optimist Daily




Friends playing american football on beach

One of the more startling findings in relationship science is that both romantic love and platonic friendship, though very different relationships, typically begin the same way — with a spark.

But what comes next? According to relationship specialists, we frequently prioritize our romantic partners over our friends. An increasing amount of evidence, however, suggests that friendships are as crucial to our health as, say, a balanced diet and plenty of sleep.

“We’ve always had this hierarchy of love,” said Marisa G. Franco, a University of Maryland professor and author of “Platonic: How The Science of Attachment Can Help You Make — and Keep — Friends.” “We are constantly fed the message that the romantic relationship is the only one that matters.”

It turns out that platonic love outperforms passionate love in several respects. People who have good friendships have better mental health and, according to studies, better physical health. Large social networks, according to researchers, reduce our risk of premature death more than exercise or diet alone.

A six-year study of 736 middle-aged Swedish males discovered that having a life partner had no effect on the likelihood of having a heart attack or dying from coronary heart disease — but having friends did. According to a 10-year Australian study, older adults with many friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with few friends. It is worth noting that having a social network of children and relatives has no effect on survival rates.

Franco said the neighborhood needs to feel whole. “Being around different people brings out different sides of our own identity.”

Why are friends good for our health?

There are numerous views regarding the relationship between friendship and improved health. Part of the effect could be attributed to the fact that healthy people find it easier to establish acquaintances. A strong social network may indicate that a person has better access to medical treatment. Furthermore, someone with more friends may just have a stronger support network to arrange a ride to the doctor’s office.

However, there is a psychological consequence of friendship that most certainly plays a role. Friends assist us in dealing with stress. Many respondents were terrified by the notion of climbing a steep hill in one research at the University of Virginia. However, researchers discovered that when people were standing close to a friend, they judged the slope as less difficult than when they were alone.

According to brain imaging research, friendship impacts brain systems related to reward, stress, and negative emotions, explaining why social interaction enhances mental health and well-being.

Friendship appears to influence our immunological response. 276 healthy individuals were given nose drops carrying a cold virus in one exceptional study. Individuals with a wide social network were less likely to acquire cold symptoms.

According to Franco, the word “platonic love” was coined to express Plato’s vision of love “so powerful it transcended the physical.”

How to make new friends and keep the old
Take the initiative

When meeting people, trust your instincts. We’re great at spotting new friends (remember that spark). And, assume people like you. Franco stated we underestimate how well people view us.

“People like you more than you think,” Franco added. “I know it’s scary to reach out but it’s likely to end more positively than your brain is assuming.”

Start with a text

Begin by going through your phone and sending a text message to an old friend with whom you’ve been meaning to reconnect.

Show your gratitude

If a potential buddy asks you out for coffee or pizza, Franco suggests telling them how grateful you are that they reached out and how much you appreciate their effort.

A University of Utah study invited 70 college freshmen to keep a list of encounters with new acquaintances, such as going to a movie or calling to say hi. After three months, affectionate pairs were more likely to become close friendships.

“When we don’t express affection, we are at risk of losing the friendship itself,” Franco said.

Invite friends to things you’ve already planned

If it’s difficult to find time for friends, Franco suggests thinking about the things you already have in your schedule and inviting a friend. You may ask someone to join you the next time you work out at the gym, for example.

Join a book club, take a class or play a sport

Friendship may result from frequent contact with like-minded people. A University of Maryland study indicated that police academy students who sat together became close friends. Researchers call it “propinquity,” or closeness. Franco said it proves “friendship isn’t magical.”

The post Looking to boost your health? Spend more time with friends first appeared on The Optimist Daily: Making Solutions the News.


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An Easy Hack To Counteract The Harmful Health Effects Of Sitting All Day | The Optimist Daily





Full length shot of casually dressed young man working on laptop in modern open plan office sitting on orange circular sofa

Humans are not designed to spend the entire day seated. Nonetheless, billions of us do it at least five days per week, as Western work patterns dictate.

The health consequences of remaining on our bums all day are significant. According to studies, those who sit for extended durations are more likely to develop chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Even daily bursts of exercise are not necessarily a cure for lengthy periods of desk work, despite their value.

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) acknowledges that there is insufficient data to establish a daily restriction on the amount of time people should spend sitting. 

Fortunately, academics at Columbia University in the United States are attempting to fill this gap in the research. They intended to find out how to limit the hazards of sitting all day without having to do anything extreme like quit your work.

The resulting study, led by Keith Diaz, associate professor of behavioral medicine, was admittedly modest in size. Only 11 adults participated. Still, it offers a launching pad for further research.

What’s the bare minimum that we have to walk to offset health effects? 

Over the course of five days, each participant was asked to sit in a lab for eight hours, mimicking a regular workday. On one of those days, participants sat all day, only getting up to use the restroom. Diaz and his crew tested a variety of various walking tactics on the others to break up the sitting.

“Our goal was to find the least amount of walking one could do to offset the harmful health effects of sitting,” Diaz wrote for The Conversation in a blog post. “In particular, we measured changes in blood sugar levels and blood pressure, two important risk factors for heart disease.”

According to their results, the only method that effectively reduced blood sugar levels was a five-minute light walk every half-hour, which reduced the blood sugar surge after eating by over 60 percent when compared to sitting down.

During the study, researchers also used a questionnaire to ask participants to score their mental health.

“We found that compared with sitting all day, a five-minute light walk every half-hour reduced feelings of fatigue, put participants in a better mood, and helped them feel more energized,” he wrote. “We also found that even walks just once every hour were enough to boost mood and reduce feelings of fatigue.”

Short and frequent or long and infrequent?

More research is needed, but the results agree with advice from the UK government’s Health and Safety Executive, which suggests “short breaks often, rather than longer ones less often”. It recommends five to ten minutes every hour.

Diaz and his colleagues are currently studying additional ways for mitigating the health risks of extended sitting, particularly for people who can’t just get out of their seats, such as cab drivers.

“Finding alternative strategies that yield comparable results can provide the public with several different options, and ultimately allow people to pick the strategy that works best for them and their lifestyle,” said Diaz.

Source study: Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise— Breaking up prolonged sitting to improve cardio metabolic risk: Dose-response analysis of a randomized cross-over trial

The post An easy hack to counteract the harmful health effects of sitting all day first appeared on The Optimist Daily: Making Solutions the News.

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Avatar’s Motion AI Tech Helps Researchers Detect Rare Diseases | The Optimist Daily





Avatar is a 2009 epic science fiction action film being played on tablet

Researchers are using motion capture artificial intelligence technology that brings characters to life in films like Avatar to track the onset of diseases that affect movement, according to a recent BBC article.

The new system uses artificial intelligence to analyze body movements and diagnose disorders twice as quickly as the best doctors.

Dr. Valeria Ricotti, a member of the team working on the new breakthrough, told BBC News that she was “completely blown away by the results”.

“The impact on diagnosis and developing new drugs for a wide range of diseases could be absolutely massive.”

A 10-year-old system with proven results

The technology, which has been in development for ten years, was already evaluated in two different studies on individuals with Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) and Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).

Professor Aldo Faisal of Imperial College London, one of the experts who came up with the idea, said it has numerous advantages over traditional techniques of diagnosis.

“Our new approach detects subtle movements that humans can’t pick up on,” he explained. “It has the capability to transform clinical trials as well as improve diagnosis and monitoring for patients.”

It also offers the ability to expedite and reduce the cost of medication studies.

“We will be able to trial more drugs with less patients at a lower cost,” remarked Professor Paola Giunti, Head of University College London’s Ataxia Centre.

”This is going to attract the pharmaceutical industry to invest in rare diseases,” added Professor Richard Festenstein from the Medical Research Council’s London Institute of Medical Sciences who aided in developing the new tech.

“The main beneficiary from our research is going to be patients because the technology is going to be able to come up with new treatments much more quickly.’’

The system’s key advantage is its advanced, quick prognostic skills.

A team at Imperial College tested it on FA patients and discovered that it could forecast disease progression over a twelve-month period in less than half the time it would ordinarily take an industry expert.

Another team at Great Ormond Street Hospital tested it on 21 boys with DMD and discovered that it could anticipate how their movement will be affected six months later far more accurately than a doctor.

Early detection: critical for disease surveillance

At the moment, there is no cure for either FA or DMD, and early detection is critical for disease monitoring. FA affects one out of every 50,000 adults, but DMD affects 20,000 children worldwide each year.

By enabling early detection, the new technology can give new hope to patients suffering from debilitating hereditary disorders with no widely available treatments. The earlier a diagnosis is made, the better the prospects patients have of effectively controlling their diseases.

James Cameron directed, wrote, co-produced, and co-edited the 2009 science fiction picture Avatar.

A sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, was released in 2022.

The post Avatar’s motion AI tech helps researchers detect rare diseases first appeared on The Optimist Daily: Making Solutions the News.

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