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November 22, 2019

Weekend reads: Meet 'Emma,' a snapshot of how office life will disfigure your body

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    WHO: Kids aren't exercising enough. More than 80% of children ages 11 to 17 worldwide aren't meeting the World Health Organization's (WHO) recommendations of at least one hour of physical activity per day, according to a study from WHO published in The Lancet. The researchers also found that in all but four countries examined, girls were less active than their male counterparts, with 85% of girls not getting enough exercised compared with 78% of boys. In addition, according to the study, the United States had one of the most significant disparities between boys and girls, with more than 80% of girls in the country getting insufficient exercised compared with 64% of boys.

    Yet another reason to get a good night's sleep. Not enough sleep could increase your risk of developing osteoporosis, according to a study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. For the study, researchers compared 1,080 menopausal women who slept less than five hours a night with 4,025 menopausal women who slept at least seven hours. They found that, after adjusting for other factors, women who slept less than five hours showed significantly lower bone mineral density on bone scans and a higher risk of developing osteoporosis in the hip, spine, and total body. However, while the study authors said their research controlled for several factors—including age, physical activity, and symptoms of menopause—it was an observational study, and therefore did not prove a causal link between short sleep and osteoporosis, just that the two are linked.

    Danielle Poindexter's reads

    Should you consider a 'sleep divorce'? When she was married to her now ex-husband, Mallika Rao said the bedroom "acted as…an architectural manifestation of a peculiar sort of pressure: to convert into a single unit, with shared needs and desires," she writes for The Atlantic. But sharing a bedroom with someone can actually create tension in a marriage, especially as differences in sleep schedules and habits interfere with a good night's sleep. As she looked into the matter more deeply, Rao realized that many people favored the idea of couples sleeping separately in a so-called "sleep divorce"—Michelle Perrot's "The Bedroom" argued in favor of the practice, and studies on the practice is increasingly common as researchers investigate whether two individuals can truly make "harmonious bedfellows." But not everyone sees the value in sleeping alone; the author Stephanie Coontz shared the backlash she received when she discussed her and her husband's sleep divorce on the "Today Show" in 2006, and Rao's own therapist dismissed sleep divorce as "wishful propaganda" that "supports disconnection." Ultimately, Rao concludes that each couple has to decide what works best for them.

    What office workers will look like in 20 years, according to research. In the hopes of spurring change in how office environments are currently designed, researchers in the United Kingdom have created a life-sized office worker doll, called Emma, who is modeled after what the researchers determined office workers could look like in 20 years if their working lives don't change. Emma has swollen legs, varicose veins, blood-shot eyes, and a hunched back. Emma also suffers from stress-related eczema and is overweight. "Unless we make radical changes to our working lives, such as moving more, addressing our posture at our desks, taking regular walking breaks, or considering improving our workstation setup, our offices are going to make us very sick," said William Higham, a researcher involved in the study.

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