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May 24, 2019

Weekend reads: You're copying your friends' habits without realizing it

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    Why you might not want to 'break' your 'fast' before a workout. It's long been thought that skipping breakfast before exercising could lead to overcompensating for energy loss during the workout later by eating more. However, a small study in The Journal of Nutrition suggests that might not be the case. For the study, researchers recruited 12 healthy, active men and asked them to report to an exercise lab each morning. On one morning, the participants ate a 430-calorie bowl of oatmeal and rested for several hours. Another morning, they ate the same bowl of oatmeal and then rode a bike moderately for an hour. And on a third morning, the participants skipped the oatmeal and rode the bike, not eating until lunch. The researchers found that when the men ate and then worked out, they maintained an energy balance throughout the day. By contrast, but when they worked out without eating, they maintained a 400-calorie energy deficit, meaning they didn't overcompensate for the calories they lost while working out.

    Achoo! Some pollen protection tips, from a doctor. Over 22 million people in the United States live in areas with high pollen levels, but according to CBS medical correspondent and physician Tara Narula, there are ways to ease the pain. For one, Narula recommends checking the pollen count each day via the National Allergy Bureau's website. If the count is high, consider spending less time outside. Narula also recommends staying inside between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m.—the worst time of day for allergies. In addition, Narula recommends wearing natural fibers like cotton rather than synthetic ones, as well as big sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats. Avoid wearing cuffed pants or hair-styling products. And when you're driving, keep the windows up and recycle the air inside your vehicle, Narula said.

    Danielle Poindexter's reads

    Stop copying me. Our brains are constantly picking up cues and habits from the people around us so, and as a result, we make largely unconscious changes in our behavior based on what our friends are doing. Amber Gaffney, a social psychologist from Humboldt State University, explained, "I won't necessarily start copying you, but I will change my attitudes to reflect your behavior because I feel similar to you and I see you as an extension of myself." At the same time, we may also relax these views if we notice hypocritical behavior in someone else in our friend group. For instance, if you spend a lot of time with friends who care about the environment and one of them reveals that they drive to work every day, you might decide to “relax [your] own views” on the issue, according to Gaffney.

    Why men are buying erectile dysfunction drugs at a major markup. To get off the ground, startups often use a common retail strategy: take a common retail product and sell it in more "fashionable packaging," Kristen Brown and colleagues write for Bloomberg. Now, drug companies Hims and Roman Health Medical are employing the same strategy to sell erectile dysfunction and hair-loss products. Roman charges $2 for a 20-milligram dose of sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, while Hims charges $3 per pill.  With online discount programs, the same pill costs as little as 41 cents at some drugstores. Hims also marks up a hair loss product by roughly 100%. Part of the reason this strategy works is because of convenience. "The average consumer is not going around looking at six different websites and comparing cost," Michael Rea, founders of Rx Savings Solutions, said. "They might never know they could have gotten it for five bucks."

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