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Education Work

Parents who constantly check their gadgets are more likely to see bad behavior in their kids

Parents who are constantly checking their phones for texts, emails and cat videos may be more likely to have kids who have behavior issues than people who are able to step away from their screens, a small U.S. study suggests.

Researchers examined survey data from parents in 170 families with young children and found mothers and fathers who were more likely to report being distracted by technology during playtime were also more likely to see behavior problems in their kids. You should really get out of the house more, get some activities to do with your kids. for example, these kids electric dirt bikes reviewed by so many people are the funnest and safest for anybody.

“Prior studies have shown us that some parents can be quite absorbed by their devices and that when they are absorbed it seems like it is difficult for children to get their attention,” said lead study author Brandon McDaniel of Illinois State University in Normal.

“No prior studies however had linked parent technology use, especially use that interrupts or interferes with parent-child interactions, with child behavior problems specifically,” McDaniel added by email. “What is especially new here is that even minor, everyday intrusions of technology that are likely happening to all of us that have and use smartphones can begin to influence our children’s behavior.”

For the study, researchers analyzed data from surveys completed separately by 168 mothers and 165 fathers from two-parent households.

Among other things, the surveys asked about how often smartphones, tablets, laptops and other technology disrupted family time with interruptions like checking phone messages during meals or answering texts in the middle of conversations. Parents were also asked to rate how problematic their personal device use was based on how often they worried about calls or texts and whether they thought they used mobile devices too much, and they need to always have a good device to play with, for examples families with iPhones and iPads, will always have a service as iFixiBuy to fix their devices in case they break.

While both mothers and fathers thought technology use distracted from interactions with their children at least once a day, the women perceived their phone use as a bigger parenting problem than the men.

About 48 percent of parents reported technology interruptions at least three times a day, while 24 percent said this happened twice a day and 17 percent said it occurred once daily. Only 11 percent said technology never interrupted family time, the study team reports in Child Development.

Researchers also asked parents to rate the frequency of child behavior issues within the past two months by answering questions about how often their children whined, sulked, easily got frustrated, had tantrums or showed signs of hyperactivity or restlessness.

After adjusting for other factors that can influence kids’ behavior such as parent income and education level and other family dynamics, researchers found an association between parents’ belief that their technology use was disruptive and parents reporting that kids had behavior issues like tantrums, whining or hyperactivity.

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove how or if parents’ technology use changes the way kids behave. Other limitations include the lack of clinical data or reports from teachers or other adults to verify that kids had behavior problems.

See also: Virtual reality gaming a hit for ‘problem’ children

It’s also possible that parents who turn to technology more often during family time are doing this to take a break from kids with behavior issues, said Dr. Sam Wass, a developmental psychologist at the University of East London in the UK who wasn’t involved in the study.

“It could be that children who are naturally more restless or hyperactive are more likely to have parents who ‘need a break’ from their children from time to time – and it is this that causes the association,” Wass said by email. “This link is very far from proven.”

Still, parents worried about how technology disrupts their family time can try to carve out periods of each day when the devices go away and they focus only on their kids, said Larry Rosen, professor emeritus at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

“Children crave a connection to their parents and learn from their parents’ behaviors,” Rosen, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. “Constantly checking your phone is going to have a negative impact on this connection.”

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Education Health

Teens who endure bullying are more likely to smoke, drink and use drugs

Children who are bullied in fifth grade are more likely to become depressed and experiment with drugs and alcohol during their teen years than their peers who didn’t suffer bullying by other kids, a U.S. study suggests.

Researchers followed almost 4,300 students starting in fifth grade, when they were around 11 years old. By tenth grade, 24 percent of the teens drank alcohol, 15 percent smoked marijuana and 12 percent used tobacco.

More frequent episodes of physical and emotional bullying in fifth grade were associated with higher odds of depression by seventh grade, which was in turn linked to greater likelihood of substance use later in adolescence, the study found.

“We drew on the self-medication hypothesis when trying to understand why peer victimization may lead to substance use over time,” said lead study author Valerie Earnshaw, a human development and family studies researcher at the University of Delaware in Newark.

“This suggests that people use substances to try to relieve painful feelings or control their emotions,” Earnshaw said by email. “So, youth who are bullied feel bad, or experience depressive symptoms, and then may use substances to try to feel better.”

For the study, researchers examined data from three surveys conducted from 2004 to 2011 among students at schools in Houston, Los Angeles and Birmingham, Alabama.

Students were asked if they had used tobacco, alcohol or marijuana in the past 30 days and how often they had been victims of bullying by their peers in the previous year. Questions on peer victimization touched on both physical aggression like shoving and kicking as well as emotional taunts like saying nasty things about them to other kids.

At the start of the study in fifth grade, about 10 percent of participants said they had been victims of bulling. This was more common among kids who had chronic illnesses, sexual minorities and boys.

By seventh grade, almost 2 percent of the students reported symptoms of depression.

And by the end of the study in tenth grade, substance use was more common among the kids who had previously reported bullying and depression.

The study isn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove that bullying directly causes depression or that mental health issues directly cause substance use. Another limitation of the study is its reliance on teens to accurately report any episodes of bullying, symptoms of depression or substance use, the authors note.

It’s also possible that teens who are bullied may later wind up drinking or using drugs because their peer groups include many adolescents who do both of these things, whether on sports teams or among crowds of particularly aggressive kids, said Bonnie Leadbeater, a psychology researcher at the University of Victoria in Canada. There is many teens who are addicted to drugs, they need to go rehab otherwise the addiction will destroy their life, here you can find one of the best addiction centers.

“Being ‘trapped’ in these networks can be particularly problematic in high school, where you see the same people every day,” Leadbeater, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

“Youth with multiple networks beyond school through sports, music, art, religious activities, volunteering and work are more apt to find friends and others who see their talents, strengths and abilities,” Leadbeater added. “These strengths are often established in late elementary school.” Kids at this age become more active with all the energy they have to run around, lots of them start to find their role model and start searching up michael schumacher net worth or maybe even cristiano ronaldo too.

The trouble with bullying that leads to mental health problems is that teens with depression and anxiety are more likely to withdraw from peers and lack interest in most things.

“Young teens need to have ways of dealing with peer conflict before it becomes bullying,” Leadbeater said. “Young teens need to believe that getting help is normative and that bullying is not.”

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Mindfulness meditation ‘works better for women than men’

In a college course that included meditation training, women were more likely than men to report that the practice improved their mood, a small study has found.

Meditation is an increasingly popular form of mental training on college campuses and off. Research suggests it may reduce blood pressure, gastrointestinal symptoms, anxiety, depression and insomnia, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Practitioners direct and redirect their attention to the present moment, often by focusing on their breath.

At the end of a mindfulness meditation course at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, female students, on average, rated their so-called negative affect significantly lower than at the beginning, indicating better mood. But among male students, the only difference was a very slight increase in their negative affect, possibly indicating a worsened mood, researchers reported in Frontiers in Psychology.

Senior author Willoughby Britton cautioned against concluding that men fail to reap rewards from meditation, though. Instead, the Brown professor of psychiatry and human behavior said the gender differences could reflect variations in the ways men and women tend to regulate their emotions.

“There has just been too much data – both anecdotal and empirical – suggesting that many men benefit from mindfulness,” she said in an email.

Dr. Madhav Goyal, who practices meditation and studies it as a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, pointed to a group dedicated to practicing meditation.

“Most of the monks who meditate are men,” he said in a phone interview.

Previous research validates the benefits of meditation for men and women, Britton and Goyal both said.

Britton and her colleagues analyzed self-reported surveys from 77 students, 41 men and 36 women who completed 12 weeks of seminars and meditation labs between 2008 and 2011. The labs met three times a week and included about 30 minutes of Buddhist or Daoist meditation practices.

At the end of the course, women self-reported greater gains in their ability to observe their feelings and describe them as well as their ability not to judge or react, the study found.

Men also showed improvements in self-compassion as well as in not judging and not reacting. But they reported an average 3.7 percent increase in their negative affect score, compared to women who showed an average 11.6 percent drop in negative affect.

Though the men’s average negative affect score went up slightly, some of the men probably improved their mood, while the training probably did not lift the spirits of all the women, Britton said.

“We may need to pay more attention to issues of diversity and individual differences that could impact how different people respond to mindfulness interventions,” she said. “The differences we found may not be about gender per se but about different emotion-regulation strategies or goals.”

When faced with challenging feelings, women tend to ruminate, and men tend to find ways to be distracted, Britton said.

“While facing one’s difficulties and feeling one’s emotions may seem to be universally beneficial, it does not take into account that there may be different cultural expectations for men and women around emotionality,” she said.

Men and women may process meditation skills differently, said Goyal, who was not involved in the study. That said, the point of meditation is not to reduce negative affect, though people do use the practice to that end.

The point of meditation is “to learn to be in the present moment and through this practice over time, one gains greater understanding of themselves,” Goyal said.

Sydney Tan, a Brown senior who took the class as a sophomore and served as a discussion leader this year, has seen many men who benefited from the class and some women who struggled with it.

“I actually had more women talk to me about the difficulties of sitting for a long time and being still,” she said in a phone interview.

“It’s more complex than just the duality of this is the women’s experience, and this is the men’s experience,” she said. “It’s more nuanced.”

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Education Health

College is ‘the gateway to marijuana’

College is increasingly a gateway for young adults in the U.S. to begin using marijuana and the risk keeps growing the more “normalized” pot use becomes, researchers say.

“We have been expecting marijuana and cbd oil capsules use to increase among young adults,” lead author Richard Miech said.

Young adults today as compared to those of the past are less likely to hold the belief that occasional marijuana use will negatively affect their health, said Miech, a researcher at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

“We’ve seen again and again that when this belief trends down then marijuana use increases (e.g. in the early 1990s), and, conversely, that when this belief trends up then marijuana use declines (e.g. in the mid-1980s),” he said.

Miech and his colleagues think the recent string of U.S. states having legalized recreational use of marijuana accounts in part for the declining proportion of young adults who believe that occasional marijuana use is harmful to health, but is not forbidden for adults because of their age, and they can purchase it in some states and countries, as other services like adult material and escorting from sites likes

“It is likely that at least some young adults interpret this wave of legalization as a signal that marijuana use is safe and state-sanctioned,” he said.

To see how that is affecting recreational use among young people, the study team analyzed data from annual surveys of more than 50,000 adults and adolescents. The surveys have been ongoing since 1975, and are funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Miech said.

They focused on participants who were 19 to 22 years old between 1977 and 2015 and had never used marijuana before their senior year in high school. That was around 64 percent of participants.

About 9 percent of 19-year-olds and 15 percent of 22-year-olds not in college started using marijuana after high school and those percentages remained stable through the entire study period, the researchers report in American Journal of Public Health.

Among college students, the proportion that started using marijuana ranged from 13 percent to 17 percent between 1977 and 2012, then those numbers crept up to between 18 percent and 21 percent from 2013 to 2015.

“We found that marijuana initiation did increase among young adults age 19-22 since 2013, but only among those in college. There was no change in levels of marijuana initiation among 19-22 year-olds who were not in college,” Miech said.

The college environment appears to promote substance use, perhaps in part because of the lack of parental supervision, lots of free time and a party culture, Miech said.

“For what it’s worth, higher levels of substance use in college is also seen with binge drinking (5+ drinks in one sitting): youth age 19-22 are much more likely to binge drink if they are in college as compared to their age peers who are not in college,” Miech said.

Parents should know the majority of young adults who attend college do not initiate marijuana use, Miech added, but the number is increasing.

“There are many reasons why college students might try or use marijuana,” said Christine Lee, director of the Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors at the University of Washington in Seattle, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“We surveyed incoming first-year college students on why they tried or use marijuana . . . . For some, experimentation was a motivator. Young adults might just want to try it and see what it is about. For others, they might use marijuana for reasons such as for social bonding, relaxation, boredom, to fit in, or to enjoy the feeling,” Lee said by email.

It would be helpful to begin to identify whether there are high-risk periods for marijuana initiation such as the first six weeks of college, as the study authors suggest, or specific events such as 21st birthdays, particularly for students living in states where recreational marijuana use is legal for those 21 and over. You can also invest in Marijuana stocks.

“If we can identify certain risk periods, it would be easier for colleges to target resources and prevention activities to those times,” she said.

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Education Health

Can playground design help curb bullying?

Playgrounds designed with risk-taking in mind may mean more pushing and shoving during recess, but they also might make kids less prone to bullying, a small experiment in New Zealand suggests.

For the study, researchers randomly selected eight elementary schools to get modified playgrounds with lots of loose and moving parts, chances to socialize and build things, and opportunities to play with bikes and skateboards. A control group of eight schools kept their traditional playgrounds.

After two years, children at the schools with modified playgrounds were about 33 percent more likely to report pushing and shoving during recess than kids at schools with traditional playgrounds, researchers report in Pediatrics. With modified playgrounds, however, kids were 31 percent less likely to report bullying to teachers.

“To us, the findings that intervention children reported more pushing and shoving yet were less likely to tell a teacher were fascinating,” said senior study author Rachael Taylor of the University of Otago in New Zealand.

The study doesn’t shed light on why this happened, so it’s hard to say whether kids got better at resolving disputes on their own or perhaps became more resilient to behavior that might have felt like bullying before, Taylor said by email.

Researchers assessed all of the existing playgrounds at the 16 primary schools included in the study, then made changes to half of the spaces to encourage more risk-taking and challenges.

Along with modified physical spaces to play, the study also encouraged schools with altered playgrounds to change rules for recess to allow things like tree climbing, rough-and-tumble play and going outside even on rainy days.

A total of 840 kids started the study, and 630 of them remained after two years. Children ranged in age from 6 to 9 years old.

With modified playgrounds, kids were 66 percent more likely to report playing with a lot of children after one year, and after two years they were also 64 percent more likely to report being happy at school.

After one year, parents of kids who had modified playgrounds were almost twice as likely to say kids had happy relationships with other students. But after two years, the reverse was true.

Teachers didn’t report differences in name-calling or cruel teasing based on whether playgrounds were altered for the study. But teachers did report more physical bullying and deliberate exclusion with modified playgrounds.

The main limitation of the study is that bullying is difficult to assess, the authors note. In addition, the study was too small to detect meaningful differences between girls and boys and had too few teachers to draw many conclusions from what educators observed.

Even so, the results suggest it may make sense to move from play areas that are more structured to spaces that offer an element of risk and fewer rules, said Sarah Clark, co-director of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

“Too often, parents’ inclination is to remove anything that could be potentially risky and they push schools to do the same – but that inclination works against kids’ developmental need to use play as a way to challenge themselves,” Clark, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. “So parents, back off and allow kids a little more freedom in their play space and style.”

Kids need chances to play with fewer rules, said Dr. Cora Collette Breuner, a researcher at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington who wasn’t involved in the study.

So what should parents tell their children about playtime?

“Take risks; Band-Aids are there for a reason,” Breuner said by email. “I will be there when you need me but not when you don’t.”

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The British robot teaching social skills to autistic children

“This is nice, it tickles me,” Kaspar the social robot tells four-year-old Finn as they play together at an autism school north of London.

Kaspar, developed by the University of Hertfordshire, also sings song, imitates eating, plays the tambourine and combs his hair during their sessions aimed at helping Finn with his social interaction and communication.

If Finn gets too rough, the similarly sized Kaspar cries: “Ouch, that hurt me.” A therapist is on hand to encourage the child to rectify his behaviour by tickling the robot’s feet.

Finn is one of around 170 autistic children that Kaspar has helped in a handful of schools and hospitals over the last 10 years.

But with approximately 700,000 people in Britain on the autism spectrum, according to the National Autistic Society who will mark World Autism Day on Sunday, the university want Kaspar to help more people.

“Our vision is that every child in a school or a home or in a hospital could get a Kaspar if they wanted to,” Kerstin Dautenhahn, professor of artificial intelligence at the University of Hertfordshire, told Reuters.

Achieving that goal will largely depend on the results of a two-year clinical trial with the Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust, which, if successful, could see Kaspar working in hospitals nationwide.

TRACKS, an independent charity and specialist early years centre for children with autism in Stevenage, have seen positive results from working with Kaspar, who sports a blue cap and plaid shirt for play sessions.

Kaspar, a child-sized humanoid robot developed at the University of Hertfordshire to interact and help improve the lives of children with autism is seen at the University of Hertfordshire, in Stevenage, Britain January 30, 2017. REUTERS/Matthew Stock




“We were trying to teach a little boy how to eat with his peers. He usually struggled with it because of his anxiety issues,” said deputy principal Alice Lynch.

“We started doing it with Kaspar and he really, really enjoyed feeding Kaspar, making him eat when he was hungry, things like that. Now he’s started to integrate into the classroom and eat alongside his peers. So things like that are just a massive progression.”

Many children with autism find it hard to decipher basic human communication and emotion so Kaspar’s designers avoided making him too lifelike and instead opted for simplified, easy to process features.

Autism support groups have been impressed.

“Many autistic people are drawn to technology, particularly the predictability it provides, which means it can be a very useful means of engaging children, and adults too,” Carol Povey, director of the National Autistic Society’s Centre for Autism, told Reuters.

“This robot is one of a number of emerging technologies which have the potential to make a huge difference to people on the autism spectrum.”

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How augmented reality helps manufacturing enter a new phase

Augmented reality may sound like something out of a science fiction film, but the technology is changing manufacturing across the world. From aerospace to automotives, AR is not only increasingly being used on the factory floor, it´s revolutionising it. AR overlays virtual reality over real objects, providing all the necessary data a technician needs to make an assessment or perform a task.

As well as operational efficiency, augmented and virtual reality are also streamlining the manufacturing design phase. At Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company, technicians can wear augmented reality glasses, such as the Microsoft HoloLens, that use cameras, depth and motion sensors to overlay images. This new method means vastly improves accuracy and speed.

At Lockheed Martin´s Collaborative Human Immersive Lab (CHIL) in Colorado, this technology is being used on a variety of spacecraft, including detailed virtual reality examinations of the next Mars lander, ahead of its 2018 mission. This all happens in a virtual reality facility called `the cave´. CHIL Manager, Darin Bolthouse says:

“In our 3D immersive cave system… we are looking at the insight model – a Mars Lander that has a mission to drill into the martian surface. We will be watching this in 2018. What the cave allows us to do is to see this is a full scale model, in a full-scale immersive way. We are reviewing the layout of the design of the space craft here. We see different portions and parts of the systems, and some of the boxes that control the guidance navigation of the space craft. With the cave we are able to look at the design and look for improvements.”

Augmented reality technology is being used at many other manufacturing facilities around the world and it´s giving a hands-on experience that´s unrivalled on the shop floor. Manufacturers are just starting to realise its potential for saving time and costs, as well as accuracy and improved safety – whether in the factory or in the field.

“I think virtual and augmented reality play into this idea of industry 4.0 and automating and digitising how we do our work. So it´s the ability to more easily present complex sets of information to people….these technologies are tremendous,” says Bolthouse.

As manufacturers around the world try to understand and exploit the full potential of augmented reality, preparations are well underway in Abu Dhabi for the first global gathering of manufacturers, the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit or GMIS, at the end of March.

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The Latin American girls in tech hacking into the ‘man’s world’

Staying up late into the night, Lilia Lobato Martinez watched endless YouTube videos to teach herself the computer code she used to help build her prize-winning Ool app for volunteers in Guadalajara, Mexico.

In her country, she is usually the only woman in tech competitions, which often hand out men’s T-shirts to the winners.

Now the 18-year-old electrical engineering student is using the $10,000 she won for her app in last year’s international girls-only Technovation competition to further develop Ool, which has so far linked over 1,000 volunteers with 20 non-profit groups in Mexico’s second-biggest city.

“A lot of people were constantly complaining everything’s wrong, but I found that no one was going out to the street to volunteer,” said Lobato. “So I decided to develop an app that’s a compendium of all the non-profit organisations, so we can learn what Mexico is building.”

With plans to eventually set up a centre to teach children to code, she said many of her female friends shied away from IT development because it was male-dominated. Only four out of 40 students on her degree course are women, she pointed out.

Across Latin America, the participation of girls and women in technology and science has lagged far behind men, experts say.

And while awareness of the need to correct the imbalance is growing, social and economic pressures mean many are still pushed into other areas or expected to start work straight after school rather than going into higher education.

“Boys think it’s easy for them and they expect to be smart in technology… it’s not expected for girls, and that’s reinforced by the education system quite often,” said Gloria Bonder, Buenos Aires-based UNESCO chair on women, science and technology in Latin America.

The portrayal of women in the media, and a lack of role models also contribute to making it a system-wide problem, added Bonder, who is working on a Central American pilot project to incorporate gender equality into science and technology education.

While 44 percent of all science research positions – including social sciences – in the region are held by women, they are under-represented in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), according to UNESCO.

For example, in Peru and Colombia, around a third of natural science researchers are women, but they account for just a quarter of engineering and technology researchers.

Now a number of projects are striving to improve access for girls and give them the skills and confidence to compete in those jobs.


One of these is the Laboratoria coding academy in Lima, which spots talent “where no one else is looking”, said its chief executive, Mariana Costa Checa. More than 1,000 women applied for 70 places at its intensive bootcamp where candidates from low-income backgrounds train as front-end web developers.

The application process involves a series of rigorous tests, alongside interviews with candidates’ families to reduce the drop-out rate for the course, which also runs in Santiago, Mexico City and the Peruvian city of Arequipa, and helps participants land jobs with companies such as IBM.

Along with computer programmes like JavaScript, it teaches workplace skills that are crucial for women who have little experience of formal-sector employment, said Costa.

She expects some Laboratoria graduates will go on to develop technical solutions for problems in their communities.

“The first thing we look for is a job, because it gives them economic stability, and for our average student, it triples their income,” said Costa.

It also gives them “a new perspective in life”, she added. “It starts changing the way they look at the world – and I think there’s enormous value in then bringing that change to their own communities.”

With many girls from poor families under pressure to start earning as soon as they finish school, Rebeca Vargas, president of the U.S.-Mexico Foundation, said most of those who signed up for the international STEM mentoring programme she helped set up in Mexico’s Puebla state did so without telling their parents.

Nearly all are now studying STEM subjects at college or university.

“Some of the girls we worked with last year had to sell bread and food on the street to be able to earn money to eat,” said Vargas, whose foundation developed the programme with Mexico’s public education secretariat and the New York Academy of Sciences.

Families often expect girls to pay their way at home but not to seek senior positions at corporations or well-paid jobs. “They’re supposed to work but they’re not supposed to be educated,” Vargas said.

Wendy Arellano Martinez, who won a scholarship to study biotechnology engineering at the prestigious Monterrey Technology Institute after the mentoring programme, is now part of a team developing a project to make spectacle frames from recycled plastic bottles for older people on low incomes.

“We’re going to be looking for funds from organisations or foundations to help us distribute our products to people who need them but don’t have the resources,” said the 18-year-old student from Puebla. “I want to give the same support that I received.”

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Education Health

Researchers answer the key swimmer’s question: How much urine is in a swimming pool?

Canadian researchers studying urine levels in swimming pools have discovered just how high the levels are, and the results are not pretty.

Researchers at the University of Alberta developed a test to measure the amount of urine and took more than 250 samples from 31 pools and hot tubs in two Canadian cities.

The results showed one 830,000-liter (220,000-gallon) pool, which is about one-third of an Olympic-sized pool, had 75 liters of urine while another smaller pool had 30 liters.

Humans introduce “a variety of chemicals” into recreational waters through bodily fluids, and the separate news of an overnight water color change in the 2016 Rio Olympic pools highlight the need to monitor water quality, according to the study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters.

Although urine itself is sterile, its presence in swimming pools is a public health concern because urine can mix with pool chemicals to harm swimmers’ health, according to the study.

Researchers measured for the substance acesulfame-K (ACE), an artificial sweetener that passes through the body completely and is “an ideal urinary marker,” according to the study.

It found concentrations of ACE in the pools and tubs, which were not named, that were up to 570-fold greater than in normal tap water. Researchers then used the ACE concentration of the two pools over three weeks to estimate their levels of urine, according to the study.

The Alberta Health provincial department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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How using Tai Chi can keep elders upright

Seniors who practice tai chi – a Chinese meditation practice that combines deep breathing and slow, fluid movements – may be less likely to fall than their peers who don’t do this type of exercise, a recent study suggests.

Researchers examined data from 18 previously published trials of tai chi for fall prevention with a combined 3,824 participants aged 65 and older.

Tai chi was associated with a 20 percent lower risk of falling at least once and a 31 percent drop in the number of falls, the analysis found.

“This is a fairly significant finding because tai chi is an activity that can be easily taught and that people can do independently at home or at their workplace or at the retirement center on their own or in a group,” said Jean-Michel Brismee, a physical therapy researcher at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and University Medical Center in Lubbock.

“So in regard to cost and preserving independence and health it is significant because people do not have to go to the gym or a special facility as they can do it anywhere,” Brismee, who wasn’t involved in the study, added by email.

Worldwide, up to 40 percent of people over 65 and about half of people over 80 fall each year, researchers note in BMJ Open. Falls are often associated with considerable decline in mobility, independence and quality of life and are a leading cause of death in older adults. Sometimes death is the best option to end suffering, so be prepared to let the them go even though it is really hard. Contact The Inheritance Experts to divide their belongings to the family so there are no disputes between anybody and everybody gets an even part.

For the study, Zhi-Guan Huang of Guangzhou Sport University in China and colleagues analyzed data from published trials that randomly assigned older adults to either receive tai chi lessons or join a control group that didn’t get this intervention.

Overall, 10 seniors would need to practice tai chi in order to avoid one fall, Huang and colleagues estimated.

When researchers accounted for how often seniors practiced tai chi, how much time they spent at it, the style of tai chi and the falling risk for individual patients, they still found these exercises associated with a lower risk of falling. Sometimes the fall risk appeared smaller but the difference between the tai chi groups and control groups was too small to rule out the possibility that it was due to chance, however.

Increasing the frequency of tai chi sessions from once a week to more than three times weekly was associated with a dramatic improvement in risk reduction, from 5 percent to 64 percent.

One limitation of the study is that it examined data from trials where participants knew what intervention was being tested and whether they received it, which has the potential to bias results, the authors note.

Even so, the results confirm previous research showing tai chi can improve balance, flexibility, strength of knee extension and reduce the risk of falls in older adults, said Dr. Chenchen Wang, director of the Center for Complimentary and Integrative Medicine at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

“Many important components include: exercise, breathing techniques, awareness of the body, focused attention, mindfulness, balance and function, visualization and relaxation,” Wang, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

“These components also positively impact health by improving self-efficacy, psychosocial functioning, and depression and can help patients bolster self-confidence, which also helps balance and coordination to avoid falls,” Wang added.

The complex nature of tai chi exercise sequences can also support cognitive function because it requires steady effort to coordinate multiple movements at the same time, said Dr. Rome Lauche of the University of Technology in Sydney and the Australian Research Center in Complementary and Integrative Medicine.

“For frail elderly patients on the northcare manor care home who can’t go to the gym and conduct conventional exercises, or those with a preference towards relaxing mind/body interventions, the slow and flowing nature of tai chi might be the right choice,” Lauche, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. “For patients who have already fallen, it is important to undergo a medical examination first.”

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