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The Science of Exercise: Read our seven best long reads on the evidence.



Harriet Noble for Studio PI

Being physically active is one of the best things we can do to keep our bodies and minds working well and not getting sick. But whether you love exercise or not, sifting through the deluge of research, fads, and conflicting advice can be overwhelming.

Last Essential Guide for the New Scientist provides you with all the evidence-based answers to your exercise questions. To celebrate its release, we’re making seven of our most popular in-depth articles exploring the science of fitness free to read through March 27th.

Whether you’re looking for marathon training tips or wondering how many steps you really need to take each day, unlock free access to these premium articles by clicking and signing up as a user for free.

How many steps per day do you really need?

Ten thousand steps a day has become a widely accepted goal of daily physical activity. But did you know that this number was not based on scientific data, but was a marketing tool when the first commercial pedometer went on sale in Japan? In this article, we turn to the Hadza people of Tanzania, who lead a hunter-gatherer lifestyle and have exceptionally good cardiovascular health, to find out what we should really be aiming for. Spoiler: it’s not 10,000.

How flexible do you really need to be?

Many people tend to touch their toes or sit on the splits, and we tend to think that flexibility will help deal with things like pain and posture. In truth, stretching can be helpful, but probably not for the reason you think.

Why More Exercise Won’t Help You Burn More Calories

For many of us, exercise is an integral part of our efforts to maintain a healthy weight. It has long been believed that the calories we burn must exceed the calories we consume in food if we want to lose weight. But in recent years, the work of Herman Ponzer of Duke University in North Carolina and his colleagues has opened up a startling new understanding of metabolism.

Their work shows that people who are very active burn about the same number of calories as those who sit at a desk all day. What is happening and what does it mean for our health and our waistline?

Is running or walking better for you?

It’s no secret that exercise is good for our health, but when it comes to the type of exercise, amount, and frequency, things get tricky. Take the issue of running: we know that it makes the heart beat faster and benefits the body and brain, but for some people, the very thought of running causes discomfort and fear. In this article, we’re asking if it’s really necessary to pound on sidewalks, or if a leisurely stroll can do the trick. Whichever camp you belong to, there should be good news.

Why strength training is the best thing you can do for your health

Now that you’ve decided whether to run or walk, pause to read this article before you lace up your running shoes. When it comes to fitness, building muscle strength has long taken a back seat to aerobic exercise, perhaps because many people think that lifting weights is about building big biceps. But strength training has some very unexpected effects on our health, including improving cardiovascular health, extending your life by years, and protecting you from some serious killers. Skip at your own risk. The good news is that you don’t need to upgrade your hardware to get the boost.

How not to hit a wall during a marathon

When it comes to exercise recommendations, there are some things where science is on your side. One of them is hitting a wall during a race, also known as “fucking” – that feeling when your legs turn to jelly and you think you just can’t keep going. We know it’s the result of energy depletion, but now science can help explain why it only happens to some people and offer helpful tips on how to prevent it from happening to you. If you’re training for a long run, this is a must read.

How the way you move can change the way you think and feel

Finally, let’s see what exercise can do not for the body, but for the brain. The potential repercussions here are far-reaching, but science journalist and author Caroline Williams literally wrote a book about the powerful mental effects of activity. In this article, based on her book Moveyou will find that whether you want more creativity, increased resilience, or higher self-esteem, the evidence shows that there are ways to move the body that can help.

Essential New Scientist Guide #16: Exercises

For a detailed exercise guide, what they do to us, how many exercises you need, and how to make more exercises easier, check out the latest news. Essential Guide for the New Scientistavailable in print and New scientist application.



Sleep like a pro with these 6 expert tips



Editor’s note: Dana Santas aka “mobile manufactureris a certified strength and conditioning specialist and professional sports coach and author of Practical Solutions for Back Pain Relief.


How you sleep every night plays a vital role in your daily life. So it’s no surprise that professional sports teams use the expertise of sleep doctors to ensure their elite athletes get the quality sleep they need to perform at the highest level.

As a mobility coach working in Major League Baseball, I can attest that during spring training, when each day starts early, players and coaches alike fear losing an hour of sleep when we “jump ahead” to daylight saving time.

It is difficult not only for professional baseball players. A 2022 study found that more than 30% of adults report an hour of sleep deprivation—when you get less sleep than your body needs—while nearly 1 in 10 adults are two hours or more short of sleep.

Adults need at least seven hours of a good night’s sleep US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sleep deprivation and irregular sleep patterns are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, dementia, obesity, and mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.

I asked two of my favorite MLB sleep experts to share some of the same advice they give professional baseball players so everyone can learn to sleep like a pro.

It is important to get the recommended seven plus hours of sleep each night.

According to the doctor, regular adherence to the schedule of sleep and wake-up times helps. Cherie D. Mah, sleep medicine physician specializing in elite athlete sleep and performance. “Our body loves regularity and will anticipate sleep with a regular sleep schedule,” Mach said. “As a reminder, set your daily alarm on your phone to go off 30 minutes before you want to start your calming routine.”

Pay attention to what your body and brain are telling you about your sleep schedule. Chris Winter, neuroscientist and host of the Sleep Unplugged podcast. “If you go to bed at 9pm but it always takes you two hours to fall asleep, why not try going to bed later?”

If you want to sleep better, you need an environment that promotes sleep. “Make your room look like a cave,” Mach said, “you want it to be really dark, quiet and cool, and also comfortable.”

She recommends getting a comfortable bed, using blackout curtains or eye masks, wearing earplugs, and setting the room temperature to between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit (about 16 to 19 degrees Celsius).

Do you judge how well you slept by how quickly you fell asleep?

The amount of time it takes you to fall asleep, called sleep latency rate, is an inaccurate measure of sleep quality, Winter says. How long it takes to fall asleep varies from person to person. Most sleep experts, including Winter, agree that the average sleep delay is between 5 and 20 minutes.

“Someone who sleeps ‘before their head touches the pillow’ is not a sleep champion, just as a person who can eat their entire lunch in three minutes is a highly nutritious eater,” Winter said. “Often this can be a wake-up call rather than a sign of good sleep.”

According to Mah, many people jump straight into bed at breakneck speed, which leads to sleep problems. She suggests that her clients develop a 20-30 minute calming routine to help them transition to sleep. Activities can include light yoga, breathing exercises and reading, “just not on a tablet or phone that emits disturbing blue light frequencies,” she said.

Shortly before bedtime, activities such as light yoga can help calm the racing mind.

Both Mach and Winter report that getting people to refrain from using technology an hour before bed is the biggest challenge for their clients. “It’s hard to convince people to change behaviors that don’t cause immediate pain,” Winter added.

Despite the popularity of nightcap cocktails, Mach and Winter agree that alcohol interferes with sleep. They suggest avoiding it entirely, or at least not enjoying it a few hours before bedtime. They also recommend limiting your caffeine intake at the end of the day. “The half-life of caffeine is about six hours, so it’s best to cut it out in the late afternoon and early evening,” Mach added.

Along with all the other health benefits of regular exercise, research shows a strong link to better sleep, something Winter often points out to his clients. “If you’re complaining about your sleep and lack of exercise, you must have a good reason not to,” he said. “From a research standpoint, this is far more effective at deepening and improving sleep quality than any fancy gadget in existence today…and it’s free!”

There is one caveat: because some research has shown that the benefits of exercise are reduced and may even worsen the quality of sleep if done late at night, avoid vigorous exercise at least an hour before bedtime.

sleep deficit it is the difference between the amount of sleep needed and the amount of sleep actually received, accumulating over time if not compensated.

Many clients come to Mah without knowing the concept of sleep debt and the need to pay it off. What’s more, she said they’re surprised to find that “it often takes more than one night or one weekend to pay off accumulated sleep debt significantly.”

If you develop a sleep deficit, try going to bed an hour earlier or sleeping an hour later for several days—or as long as it takes for you to feel adequately rested.

By catching up on sleep, you can increase your daily alertness and help prevent inflammation.

Getting enough sleep is not only good for increasing daily alertness – 2020 study found that adults who got enough sleep were less likely to exhibit increased levels of inflammation that contributes to chronic disease.

At the same time, it’s important not to worry about sleep, Winter says. Focusing too much on things like “falling asleep faster” or the notion that people “can’t sleep” creates a sense of dread that he considers “highly problematic.”

“It is physiologically impossible not to sleep at all, so nature has covered you,” he said. “Control the variables that you can control, such as schedule, environment, etc., and put it out of your mind.”

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It’s Time to Dedicate Yourself to Raising Children – Chicago Tribune



Dear Amy! I have a very difficult and tense relationship with my mother, and I don’t know what to do about it.

Now I am 19 years old.

My mother is a drug addict and alcoholic, and because of this, she missed most of my early childhood.

When I was about eight, she finally sobered up, but she still had a lot of psychological problems, most likely from years of substance abuse, and she never matured.

She thought only of herself. She hurt me over and over again. She put her motherhood on hold and wasn’t there for me.

I finally had enough when she missed my high school graduation last year. She then lied to me about why she missed it (turns out she was at home the whole time).

I tried to tell her how much it hurt me. In response, she cried, did theatrics, felt sorry for herself, and, in fact, told me that she was giving up on our relationship because she was “failing all the time.”

I begged her to try to change for me, but it seems she would rather wallow in her own grief and cry about how much I hate her.

I don’t hate her; I would like her to try her best so that we can spend the rest of our lives together.

I didn’t see her for almost a year and didn’t speak to her for several months. I’m completely lost and I have no idea how to deal with this.

– Lost, confused and sad daughter

Dear daughter, you are the child of an addict, and you have taken on the heavy burden that your mother’s addiction placed on you.

And, like many children of drug-addicted and narcissistic parents, you would love to force your parent to change so that you can have the healthy parent-child relationship you so desire.

Unfortunately, your mother is unwilling or unable to change for you.

You can, however, change, and that change must be in the direction of securing your own future health and happiness, as well as accepting the lousy card you have played and its limitations.

Your mother’s erratic and frustrating behavior has taught you to take responsibility for the outcome, but you need to find ways to fold that heavy backpack you’ve been carrying.

Every human being craves love and permanence, and you will find it, but most likely not in your mother.

Now is the time for you to make a commitment to educate yourself (and I feel you will be very good at it).

Trusting and emotionally healthy relationships with others will also help you heal.

I suggest you join a “friends and family” support group such as Al-anon or Adult Children of Alcoholics (adult, and read “Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Selfish Parents” by clinical psychologist Lindsey Gibson (2015), New Harbinger.

Dear Amy! My daughter is engaged to her college boyfriend. Now they live together.

Even though my daughter’s income is well below his, he insists that she pay 50 percent of her expenses. She starts falling behind and goes into debt to keep up.

I would like to know your thoughts.

– Concerned parent

Dear Worried! I’m wondering why your daughter’s fiancé has the right to decide and dictate his family finances?

If they are counting on a marriage in which they will be true partners, then these important issues should be discussed and decided mutually, and not dictated by one partner.

If she manages her money responsibly, but cannot afford to live on these terms, then something needs to change. Ultimately, being in debt is very expensive.

My big point is that this is a red flag. The pressure of duty will add to the pressure of a partner who (at least from this point of view) sounds bossy.

Dear Amy! Like other readers, I was appalled by your response to “Anonymous,” a reader who complained about “free-range” children at family events.

These parents are not only lazy, they are careless. I can’t believe you stood up for them!

– Disorder

Dear Upset! After warning about the dangers and dangers of children running “free range” in other people’s homes, I stood up for these parents.

Anonymous did not mention that these kids were rude or disturbing others – only that they were allowed to run on their own.

(You can write to Amy Dickinson at or send an email to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter. @askingamy or facebook.)

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Weight loss: are injections the answer to the fight against obesity?



The attraction is clear – but should we turn to appetite suppressant injections?

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