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Good news for cyclists: You might live longer. 1 No ratings yet.

A recent study published in The BMJ finds that cycling or walking to work reduces the risk of death from all causes, when compared with non-active commuting. The biggest effect was seen in cyclists, so it might be time to get your bike back out of the garage.

It will come as no surprise that being more physically active has health benefits when compared with a more sedentary lifestyle.

It therefore follows that using a more active method of transport to get to work might also have health benefits. However, the exact size of the positive effect has been a subject of much debate.

Earlier research has faced criticisms. For instance, some studies failed to differentiate between walking and cycling to work, while others failed to properly adjust for confounding variables.

To help put this question to bed, a group of scientists from the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom set out to gather more detail in a large-scale study.

Specifically, they looked at the association between active commuting and cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, and all-cause mortality.

Delving into data from the UK Biobank (a database of biological information from more than 500,000 U.K. adults), they used details from 264,377 participants, with an average age of 53.

Information about their daily commutes was collated – walking, cycling, non-active methods (such as driving or public transport), and mixed transport (for example, cycling to catch a train). These individuals were then followed-up for an average of 5 years. Hospital admissions and deaths were recorded.

The benefits of pedal power.

Once the analysis had been adjusted for influential factors – including smoking, sex, age, occupation, and diet – they found that walking to work was associated with a reduction in risk of CVD and mortality. Cycling faired even better, having the lowest risk of these outcomes as well as producing a lower risk of cancer and all-cause mortality.

For individuals who combined different transport methods to get to work – therefore using a combination of active and non-active transport – there were also significant benefits, but only if cycling was one of the types of transport involved. Also, the CVD benefits for walking commuters was only significant if they covered more than 6 miles per week (roughly 2 hours of walking at a pace of 3 miles per hour).

It is important to note that this is just an observational study, so cause and effect can not be distinguished. The authors also note that there are other limitations that could have introduced some bias to the data. One of these is the fact that although the UK Biobank is a representative sample for characteristics including age and ethnicity, it may not be representative for other factors, such as obesity and comorbidity.


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“Smartphone-integrated baby monitors may do more harm than good.” 2 5/5 (1)

In our increasingly technological world, more and more of us choose to monitor our heart rate, blood pressure, and sleep patterns. We may even be more vigilant of our babies’ well-being, as smartphone-integrated physiological baby monitors take over the market and promise to offer parents some much-needed peace of mind. But could it be that baby monitors actually do more harm than good? A new report investigates.

A new article, published in the journal JAMA, investigates the pros and cons of using a smartphone-integrated physiological baby monitor.

In the article, pediatrician and safety expert Dr. Christopher P. Bonafide, of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and his colleagues comment on the health benefits of the new class of infant physiological monitors that have become widely available over the past two years.

These monitors come in the form of apps that are connected to sensors built into the babies’ clothes and diapers, which can measure the baby’s heart rate, respiration, and blood oxygen saturation.

The apps can generate alarms for tachycardia, sleep apnea (a condition in which the infant’s breathing stops during sleep), a slow heart rate (also known as bradycardia), and oxygen desaturation, which is a reduction of oxygen levels in the blood below 80 percent.

As Dr. Bonafide and colleagues point out, these apps have been marketed “aggressively” at parents of newly born infants, leading to an unprecedented expansion of the consumer-use baby monitor market.
Evaluating the benefits of baby monitors

So what are the real benefits of these medical gadgets? Dr. Bonafide – together with CHOP neonatologist Dr. Elizabeth E. Foglia and David T. Jamison, executive director of Health Devices at ECRI Institute, a nonprofit that assesses medical devices – evaluated five baby monitor models across three parameters: their advertised role, medical indications, and existing state regulations.

The five models are Baby Vida, MonBaby, Owlet, Snuza Pico, and Sproutling, with prices ranging from $150 to $300.

These consumer baby monitors, the authors note, do not straightforwardly say that their products treat or even diagnose disease. However, they promise to alert parents when something is wrong with their child’s cardiorespiratory health.

Regarding something as serious as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), Owlet manufacturers, for instance, insist that their product can notify parents if something goes wrong, despite acknowledging that SIDS is an “unknown issue” which they “cannot yet claim to help prevent.”

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