September 14, 2018

Why your next workout routine should be a nice, relaxing trip to the sauna (according to science)

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    When it comes to your next vacation, less might be more. If you're trying to boost your mental well-being, you might be better off taking multiple three-day weekends instead of one longer vacation, according to experts. Jonathan Alpert, a psychotherapist, explained that taking a longer vacation, such as a weeklong break, is similar to trying to use the weekend as a way "catch up" on the sleep you missed during the week—and just like that sleep binge isn't as good for you as a regular eight hours of sleep per day, the mental benefit of that longer vacation is short-lived. In comparison, taking multiple short trips throughout the year gives you more chances to get in that vacation frame of mind, Alpert said. Moreover, those shorter vacations use less of your paid time off, likely costs less money, and reduces the amount of work you have to come back to.

    Your next workout routine, according to science: A nice, relaxing trip to the sauna. Saunas are undeniably relaxing, but a recent paper in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found they might be as good for you as routine exercise. Researchers did a systematic review of all studies on sauna bathing through February of 2018 and found that sauna exposure raised heart rates and increased blood flow to the skin, similar to moderate exercise. They also found that people who visited a sauna four-to-seven times a week had 60% lower rates of heart disease and stroke than those who visited a sauna just once a week.

    Danielle Poindexter's reads

    Barn owls help researchers determine why people with ADHD are easily distracted. To investigate what's happening in the brains of people with ADHD, a research team at Johns Hopkins University is turning to some unexpected experts in paying attention: Barn owls. According to the researchers, barn owls are ideal for this type of research because they are highly focused and have to turn their heads to look at something—which makes it easy to tell when they are distracted. The researchers measured activity in the owls' midbrains, and identified a group of neurons that control the birds' ability to suppress distractions like images and sounds that aren't important to survival. The researchers are now exploring if mice and people have the same type of neurons—and if they do, according to the researchers, new treatments that target the midbrain could improve concentration for people with ADHD, schizophrenia, autism, and Parkinson's disease.

    The oldest known human drawing was just discovered—and it's 73,000 years old. A team of archaeologists on Wednesday said they found a 73,000 year-old drawing in a South African cave, Nicholas St. Fleur reports for the New York Times. The drawing, which consists of nine red "hash marks" on a stone flake, might be the oldest known drawing by Homo sapiens. Although the researchers have yet to determine the purpose of the drawing, the discovery could provide insight into the earliest human use of symbols. "We knew a lot of things Homo sapiens could do, but we didn't know they could do drawings back then," said Christopher Henshilwood, an archaeologist from the University of Bergen.

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