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Bitwalking Dollars – get paid for walking!
In japan a digital currency ( like bitcoin) has been launched that pays you to walk. Literally. A phone app counts and checks users’ steps and then rewards them with around 1BW$ (Bitwalking dollar) for each 10,000 steps – this is the recommended daily average to maintain basic health and fitness levels. Users of the app can then spend or trade what they earn, or even redeem their bit walking dollars for cash.
Murata, a Japanese technology firm is to release a wristband, like the jawbone or fitbit that will count steps instead of a smartphone. Several manufacturers and banks in the UK are poised to partner with the scheme, initially at one of the UK’s biggest music festivals next year.
How will it work?
Bit walking hopes to take advantage of the current trend for fitness trackers by offering an extra incentive to get those steps in. The global scheme will partner with sports brands, health insurance companies, environmental groups and of course advertisers – this last group would be offered insights into the lifestyles of the participants to help target their advertising, thus raising revenue for the scheme. Employees would be invited to take part in a “step scheme” that encourages them to get fitter and take less sick leave, while employers would convert their bit walking revenue to be paid in addition to their wage. An average weekly earning in the western world would be around 15BW$ a month.
It is hoped that the real benefits may be to poorer nations, where people walk much further in their daily lives. In Malawi, where the average wage is just $1.50 a day, a teacher who has to walk 6 miles to work and back (this is a real example) could earn 26 Bitwalking dollars a month, roughly doubling his or her wage. This could then be invested into more education, investment in a business idea or helping an elderly relative. Thus advertising revenues gathered in the western world can be earned by people walking in poorer countries.
“It’s a currency that can be earned by anyone regardless of who they are and where they live,” says Franky Imbesi, one of the co-founders.
“For some it will be a free cup of coffee a week perhaps offered by local businesses to encourage people to explore their local shops. For others it could be a game changer, transforming their lives by enabling them to earn and trade in the same way with the rest of the world”.
“And all while encouraging us to protect the planet and stay healthy.”
Women who are older but have strong legs will do better when it comes to ageing of the brain, shows a study of more than 300 twins.
Researchers at King’s College in London showed that leg strength is a good marker of whether a person is getting enough exercise. In turn these levels of exercise have a strong link to brain health.
The study, published in the journal Gerontology, suggests that exercise releases chemicals into the brain that help to boost cognitive power in the elderly. Scientists tracked the health of over 15o pairs of twins aged between 43 and 73 (at the beginning of the study). Leg power was measured at the start of the study using a specially adapted gym machine. Brain power was then assessed using computer-based tasks that tested both memory and mental processing skills.
10 years later at the end of the study, the brain tests were repeated. The twin with greater leg power (and thus an assumption of greater overall fitness) had better cognitive power than the weaker sibling, even with other lifestyle factors that might usually increase chances of dementia.
Alzheimer’s Society director of research Dr Doug Brown said the study added to the growing evidence that physical activity could help look after the brain as well as the body.
“However, we still don’t fully understand how this relationship works and how we can maximise the benefit,” he said.
Lead researcher Dr Claire Steves said: “When it came to cognitive ageing, leg strength was the strongest factor that had an impact in our study.
Not only was the 80s the best decade for music, white jackets with the sleeves rolled up and large, very stiff hair dos, but it was even harder to be overweight back then.
For reasons that remain unclear, it has become more difficult to stay slim. A study by the York University in Toronto has found that people today can eat and exercise the same as their 80s counterparts, but still be significantly fatter.
The study, led by Jennifer Kuk, shows that weight management is much more complex than energy in versus energy out, with many other factors playing a part.
Sleep, stress, working patterns, types of medications, exposure to man made pollution and a change in the make up of gut bacteria all play a part.
The study was based on the analysis of diet and exercise on 36,400 US adults, combined with the physical activity of 14,400 subjects. When the numbers were crunched the team found that a given person in 2006 consuming the same amount of calories, made up of the same ratio of carbohydrate, fat and protein, and exercising the same amount as a person of the same age in 1988 typically had a BMI 2.3 points higher.
Body builders and personal trainers have long known that it’s not just about energy in vs energy out. Many other factors play a part. To get a six-pack, for example, requires not just the correct amount of energy (including the right ratio of macro-nutrients) but also requires a lowering of stress, both exercise induced and lifestyle induced. It requires sleep. Lots of it. It requires hormonal balance. It also requires minimal interference from modern drugs and medications.
So it follows that even to stay fit and trim, these factors need to be managed correctly too.
Exercise is the best (in fact the only) way to get fit, is a proven preventative step against heart disease and stroke (Britain’s top 2 causes of death- ONS) and also makes you feel amazing. It can also help with weight loss, but there are a few things that you will need to be aware of for lasting success.
1 – Eating is king. When it comes to weight loss, although exercising for weight loss can help, the key factor is eating. This doesn’t just mean quantity either, but what you are eating, when you are eating it and what you are doing around the times that you eat. As any well qualified and experienced fitness professional will tell you, if you’re after a 6 pack, proper and accurate nutrition is 90% of the equation. Thus, go ahead and start your exercise regime, but at the same time start to make some changes to your eating. Remember to go for small changes at first; too much of a change will make it hard to sustain and may even make you fatter in the long run!
2 – Eat breakfast. This the most important meal of the day for those embarking on a weight loss quest. Skipping breakfast will lead to very low blood sugar levels, so that when you do finally eat, more insulin will be released so more of the energy taken in will be stored as fat. Mentally, skipping breakfast can also make healthy choices difficult later on in the day; in 2009 a study at Imperial college in London showed that those who skipped breakfast and were then presented with images of high calorie, sugary foods had much greater cravings than those who had eaten first thing.
3 – Don’t eat immediately before exercise. A study at the University of Birmingham showed that those who had eaten just before exercise did not burn as much fat during the session as those who ate a few hours before.
4 – But get the timing right. The key to exercising for weight loss is to increase the metabolic rate and keep insulin levels low. Exercise presents windows of opportunity when you can eat starchy carbohydrate and immediately metabolise it before insulin has to be released. This window of opportunity sits 2 hours either side of exercise. Just like a racing car, you need fuel when going fast. This fuel is used immediately to produce energy. But of you put fuel in when the car is going slowly, it just goes into the fuel tank as it’s not needed. For us, the fuel tank is made up of fat cells!
5 – Don’t over compensate. Many people start exercising for weight loss, but after every session they feel that they have earned a reward. Food. Indeed, as they have exercised, then their brain thinks that they can eat anything with no consequence. It’s important to be realistic when it comes to exercise calories. Give yourself only a few extra calories per exercise session.
6 – Don’t starve yourself and then exercise. Not only could this damage you, but as the demands on the body become too much the stress will lead to emergency fat storage and the breaking down of lean muscle for fuel. This is particularly damaging as we are relying on this lean muscle mass to keep our metabolic rate high!
7 – Strength train twice a week – minimum. As above, loss of muscle is disastrous for weight loss, particularly in the long term. A couple of focused strength training sessions a week will keep and build lean muscle mass; this will maintain and build the metabolic rate.
Although exercise has been proven to increase the immune system’s ability to fight infection, sleep is a key factor too, a new report says. People who sleep for less than 6 hours a night are four times as likely to catch a cold than those who manage 7 hours a night. Sleep was found to be more important in fighting off cold and viruses than smoking, stress, education or income, which are all know to impact general health.
“It didn’t matter how old people were, their stress levels, their race, education or income. It didn’t matter if they were a smoker. With all those things taken into account, statistically sleep still carried the day” said Dr Aric Prather, lead author of the study and professor of psychiatry at the University of California.
“Not getting [enough} sleep fundamentally affects your health”.
According to the sleep council more than 1/3 of people in the UK get less than 6 hours a night.
For the study, Dr Prather and the team monitored 164 volunteers for 2 months looking at their sleep patterns and other lifestyle factors. They were than administered a cold virus and monitored daily over a week. Those who slept for less than 6 hours a night were 4.2 times more likely to catch the cold than those who managed 7 hours or more.
These findings were in addition to a recent study by the University of Surrey that showed those who sleep less than 6 hours a night have changes to 700 different genes.
Both studies concluded that sleep was a fundamental pillar of good health.
Exercise has been proven to help sleep too, so if you are struggling to get enough done on your own you might want to consider enlisting the help of a well qualified personal trainer from Diets Don’t Work.
If you would like your children to eat their greens you really need to start early, says a study released last week by University College London. It shows how to make babies like vegetables – if they are fed them in the first 15 days of weaning. For the study, researchers asked mums to introduce their babies to a variety of vegetables (five a day) over the course of 15 days during weaning. Then, after a two week Hiatus with no vegetables, they were then fed an unfamiliar vegetable, artichoke puree. The artichoke puree was also fed to an opposing control group who’s babies had been weaned on baby rice.
When the scientists measured how much of the puree the babies had eaten, and asked the mums how keen their little ones were on the puree, on a scale of 1-9, they found that the veggie babies had eaten twice as much as those who had previously been on the baby rice. The mums of the vegetable group also said that their babies had “quite liked it”, with an average score of 6.7/9. Those in the other control group only scored their babies 4.3. So as soon as weaning starts, start the veg – this is how to make babies like vegetables
Many people will also agree that what you are given at a young age influences what foods you like when you grow up. So start them early, be patient, and you will reap the rewards!
Good news chocolate lovers. A new study by scientists at the University of Aberdeen shows that eating up to two chocolate bars a day could lower the risk of both heart disease and strokes. Cardiovascular disease was found to be 11% lower in chocolate eaters and the risk of associated death was reduced by a whopping 25%.
The study, whose results have just been published in the medical journal Heart, followed 25,000 people in Norfolk over a period of 12 years. During the study period, 14% of those studied suffered an episode of fatal or non-fatal heart disease or stroke. Those eating chocolate however were the least likely to suffer from either of the two diseases. Higher chocolate intake was also found to correlate to lower levels of inflammation, lower blood pressure and lower body mass index.
The researchers did comment that the results were”somewhat surprising”, especially as the good results were not just associated with those eating dark chocolate, but were a,so found in candidates who ate milk chocolate too, despite its high sugar content.
In years past the sight of a man in the gym or running while wearing tights would have raised eyebrows. Yet today compression clothing is very popular, in all sports and across the sexes. These tight fitting tights, socks, shorts or shirts squeeze the muscles and claim to improve performance.The Skins website, for example, says of the tights pictured (£100):
“Dynamic gradient compression is scientifically proven to accelerate blood flow to deliver more oxygen to your active muscles and remove painful lactic acid-giving you a secret edge over the competition, whatever your sport.”
But does compression clothing work? A recent study and several reviews of research raise questions as to how compression clothing works (if at all), and if it does, does it work in the way that the manufacturer claims…or is it just all in your head?
The theory seems fairly logical. The clothing (supposedly) compresses the muscles, increasing blood circulation and oxygen delivery to the muscles, improving performance in sport. There are also claims that the clothing helps proprioception (the brain’s awareness of your body movements). Better proprioception should make movement and balance better, in turn reducing the number of muscles needed for any given movement. This leads to less fatigue and improved performance.
Finally, the physical act of squeezing the muscles is claimed to improve recovery through better processing of waste lactic acid.
However the actual evidence for these claims is largely anecdotal.
In the most recent test, published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, Dr Stickford from Indiana University tested 16 competitive distance runners on a treadmill, running increasing speed intervals. Gait, O2 intake and other variables were measured. The test was performed with running tights on, and then repeated without them. Dr Stickford found no difference in running efficiency or bio-mechanics with or without the tights. Another 2013 study showed that the tights/compresion clothing do not aid circulation. Although circulation was increased after exercise, this was a result of the actual exercise, not the compression clothing.
However, a review of some 30 studies into compression gear determined that it “may assist athletic performance and recovery in given situations”. These instances were found to be in explosive sports like sprinting and basketball. The review also found that athletes doing strength training reported feeling less sore after workouts with compression gear on than without.
However, both studies concluded that the effects of compression clothing probably owed something the mind. Co-authour of one of the the reviews, Billy Sperlich, professor of exercise science at the University of Wurzburg in Germany said
“We can’t blind people in exercise studies about whether they are wearing compression garments or not”.
So the expectation of improved results are likely to actually improve results. Mr Sperlich said that “since beliefs are strong performance enhancers, I would recommend compression clothing to persons who believe in the performance-enhancing effect,”.
So the good news is that if you think that they work, then they most likely will…a bit. The other good news is that no study has has found compression clothing to hinder performance. Dr Stickford said that if you do decide to have a go squeezing into something tight for the sake of improvement, “there’s not much to lose apart from $40 or so”.
Another study released this month shows the powers of exercise for the elderly. Just 1/2 an hour of physical activity on six days a week is likely to add 5 years to the life of elderly men, according to a new study.
The research, published in the British Journal of Sports medicine, found that elderly men who did three hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity spread over the week have a 40% lower risk of fatality than those who did not exercise. The study also found that increasing physical activity was nearly s beneficial as stopping smoking.
The team, from the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences based their study on thousands of men who were born between 1923 and 1932 who were then given health checks in the 1970s when they were all in their forties. The health checks cover height, weight, blood pressure, lifestyle habits like smoking and the amount of exercise that they did. In 2000 those still alive were invited back for another round of health checks, and of these, nearly 6,000 were monitored for the next 12 years – until they reached their late seventies and eighties.
Light vs heavier exercise
Those who did little exercise over the course of the week saw little change in mortality rates – they did less than 1 hour of light physical activity. However, even just an hour of vigorous exercise done over the week showed a reduction in the risk of dying from 23% to 37%.
The more time the subjects did strenuous exercise (getting properly out of breath) the lower the risk of death seemed to be, from 36% to 49% for those doing 6 hours a week. Even the study was “observational”in its basis – only those healthier subjects that were still alive in the first place were studied – the researchers say that the differences in mortality rates for those who were active vs those who did little activity was very striking.
This also correlates with the latest research into exercise, showing that short but vigorous activity (or high intensity interval training) has far greater benefits over longer, endurance based exercise.
So if you have a father, mother, friend or relative who is in their 60s or over, encourage them to get moving and to start some interval training. It’s never too late! The ultimate solution might be some 50+ fitness with a DDW personal trainer.
Cycling is a great way not just to get fit but also is one of the greenest modes of transport. Although you may not be able to cycle all the way to work you may be able to do part of the journey on bicycle if you get a folding bike. These can fit easily into the boot of your car and can be assembled in seconds. Folding bikes also have the huge advantage of being allowed on most public transport in the UK, including trains and most busses. They are also much easier to take away with you on holidays and some of them are good on all terrain, not just city streets.
Cycling to work (or at least part of the way) is also a super time effective way of getting exercise that you may not have time to fit in. It can keep you healthy and prevent heart disease and cancer.
So here are the best folding bikes 2015; they are not cheap but they hold their value well and of course you could think about a good second-hand model too.
Brompton M1E – ideal for commuting, the M1E weighs in at just 10kg and has the well known easy folding mechanism. A lack of gears is why it’s so light, but it still cycles easily and is very quick on level surfaces. (£770 www.evanscycles.com)
Montague Paratrooper – Most folding bikes have small wheels and are best suited to city terrain, but the Paratrooper is a proper folding mountain bike complete with 24 gears. It also has disk brakes on the front rear wheel for braking in the wet. (£720 www.halfords.com)
Pacific Cycles IF move – Pretty light at just 11kg and winner os several design awards, the IF move can be folded in just 2 seconds. You can also get it to go super small by unscrewing the handlebars. It’s a bit pricey though. (£2200 www.fudgesccylesonline.com)
Dahon Visc P18 – a cross between a conventional folding bike and a mountain bike, the P18 can cover both city streets and also rougher terrain. It’s made by well respected US brand Dahon and also looks cool. (£720 halfords.com)
Dublin Explorer – a great bike for those who are looking to spend less (bikes tend to get stolen eventually away!) the Explorer has 6 gears for negotiating hills, folds in just 60 seconds and weighs in at a respectable 13kg (£109 www.bicycles4u.com)