April 6, 2018

Weekend reads: Put down that Gatorade and eat a banana instead

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    Music lessons hit the right note for academic performance, study suggests. Having a child take structured music lessons could lead to improved cognitive skills and academic performance, according to a study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience. For the study, researchers observed 147 Dutch children across multiple schools for two and a half years. The researchers found that the children who had participated in music lessons showed significantly better cognitive skills and academic performance than those who didn't take music lessons. The researchers also found that children involved in visual arts saw improved visual and short-term memory compared to those who received no lessons. Artur Jaschke of from VU University of Amsterdam, who was the lead author on the study, said he hopes the study "will support political developments to reintegrate music and arts education into schools around the world."

    If you're an athlete, you might want to reach for a banana rather than a Gatorade. When it comes to athletic recovery, bananas are in the same league as sports drinks, according to a study published in PLOS One. For the study, researchers asked 20 cyclists, both male and female, to complete 47-mile bike rides on multiple occasions at the campus performance lab at Appalachian State University. For one ride, cyclists were allowed to drink only water. On the others, the cyclists drank water and were given either eight ounces of a sports drink or roughly half a banana every 30 minutes. The researchers found that the bananas provided as good, if not better, anti-inflammatory benefits as the sports drinks. In fact, the researcher said that bananas performed comparably to ibuprofen when it came to preventing and healing inflammation. The bananas come with a drawback, though: Eating them resulted in "quite a bit of bloating," according to David Nieman, lead author on the study and the director of the human performance lab at Appalachian State.

    Rachel Schulze's reads

    A diet of nothing but office leftovers. Surprise office leftovers can hit the spot—but could a person live off them? Tauhid Chappell, formerly a social media producer at the Washington Post, gave it a shot and recently wrote about his experience. Chappell's assessment: "Even though ... I was able to function" during the week, "I've promised never to put myself through such a test again." Read on to see if it he made it through the challenge without cheating.

    When it comes to exercise, 'the little things' add up, research says. Even brief exercise breaks are beneficial to your health, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Researchers found that people who had about one hour of physical activity throughout the course of the day cut their mortality risk by half. But it didn't have to be continuous exercise: The benefits were seen even when people exercised in bouts five minutes or longer, and also when they walked sporadically in short bursts. William Kraus, a professor at Duke University who conducted the study with researchers from the National Cancer Institute, said "The little things that people do every day," taking the stairs or walking from the parking lot to the office, "can and do add up and affect the risk for disease and death."

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