Walking v. Hiking

In 2018 a survey found walking to be the most popular form of fitness with about 111 million Americans saying it was part of their fitness routine. About half as many Americans, 57.8 million, hit the trails to hike in 2020.

Both are pandemic safe and good, basic exercise. How different are hiking and walking though? Is one or the other a better workout?

Walking is typically considered to be an urban or suburban activity done on pavement, a gym track or treadmill. Hiking is always done outdoors on natural terrain, additionally changes in elevation making hiking a different activity than walking.

Both hiking and walking are fairly low-impact cardio that are good for managing cholesterol and blood pressure. Walking and hiking are all both widely recognized as heart healthy activities for all ages and even people with heart conditions. While hiking typically results in more calories burnt in less time most experts don’t consider one to be better than the other.

Both can also improve lung and heart performance, and both will assist in losing weight.

If you are having a hard time deciding which activity to participate in here are a few things to consider. As stated, hiking typically burns more calories in a shorter amount of time. Walking is a cheaper option as it doesn’t require any special gear like trail shoes or hiking boots. It may also require a gas expenditure to go hiking depending on where you live. Walking is also considered to be slightly safer was it is usually done on flat, man-made surfaces while hiking has higher instances of stumbles, falls and things like injured ankles. Being in nature on a hike may have a greater impact on mental wellness, however.




Multitasking Media May Be Harmful to Children, New Study Finds

Studies researching the effects of electronic media on both adults and children have yielded mixed results. Despite this children still face a world of screens all vying for their attention.

Two Swiss universities teamed up to study 118 Swiss children from 8 to 12 years in age. They asked them to complete a survey that included questions that examined both their use of electronic media as well as their attention spans, sleep, grades and mental health. Similar surveys were also distributed to their teachers and parents but these focused more on the subject’s perceptions of how electronic media influenced the children.

This study was different in that this study set controls for different kinds of media consumption. While other studies that did not employ such controls found a negative outcome when looking at total time spent on media in relation to mental health, the new study found total time spent on media did not contribute to mental health issues but simultaneous interaction with multiple types of media induced more stress, as well as emotional and behavioral issues.

The study noted that when compared with total media time multitasking was linked with ADHD type behaviors as observed by their teachers when controlling for total time, age and gender.


Who Benefits From Pets and Owners Sleeping in the Same Room?

Who benefits from pets and their owners sleeping in the same bed or in the same room? Humans? Animals? Everybody? Nobody? Research in previous decades has demonstrated the importance of sleep so how does snoozing with your best animal friend affect both parties’ sleep?

For animals, those that sleep with their owners tend to have a stronger bond with the owner and a higher level of trust. Sleeping near another animal or human demonstrates a high level of trust from a dog or cat.

Dogs and cats who sleep with their owners experience higher levels of dopamine and oxytocin, the same “feel good” chemicals active in our own brains.

Unfortunately, when we ask if it is good for the owner’s some signs point to no.

Animals can easily disrupt their owner’s sleep. Animal’s sleep cycles are different. Their getting up, moving around, stepping on you, or noises they might make can lead to the fragmentation of the human sleep cycle. Even if they aren’t outright waking up their owners, the owner’s quality of sleep often suffers. These constant disruptions will pull the owner out of that deep sleep we all need even if the owner isn’t aware of it.

However, owners with anxiety or depression may receive some benefit to relieving the symptoms of those mental illnesses by sleeping with a trusted and loved pet.

A handful of studies using sleep monitors on pets and owners suggest that it might all depend on the particular human and animal. If neither party is disrupting the other’s sleep at worst there would be a neutral outcome.


Popcorn: The Ultimate Snack?

Popcorn. This simple snack may not be on some people’s radar these days when we are swimming in a sea of ultra-processed snack foods in almost any flavor one can imagine. However, popcorn is probably one of the best snack foods one can consume.

It can be made in minutes and with basic kitchen equipment. One can easily control the amount of added salt and fat, as well as flavor it with almost anything you can think of (Everything Bagel seasoning is a great one to try).

Have the urge to snack for dinner? Popcorn is a top contender for the healthiest snack to eat this way. So, go for it. No need to wait for a special occasion or movie night.

Homemade popcorn is an unprocessed whole grain. The core of starch stored inside the fiber based husk is what makes it pop. It is high in fiber at almost 4 grams per in a 4 cup serving. It also has a high amount of polyphenols that aid digestion and help lower blood sugar.

Popcorn is a filling snack due in part simply to the volume it takes up in the stomach. This is a boon that keeps popcorn eaters from over doing it while snacking. You’ll feel fuller after eating popcorn than chips or other processed/fried snacks.



Liking Black Coffee May Mean You Have a Genetic Variant, According to Research

New research has found that there is a genetic basis for preferring black coffee and that liking black coffee probably means you like the bitter flavor of dark chocolate as well.

If this is true for you, this genetic trait may be to your advantage health-wise. Research has shown that drinking 3-5 cups of black coffee daily can help reduce the risk of various diseases like Type 2 Diabetes, some cancers, heart disease and Parkinson’s.

However, drinking the coffee black could be part of the key as adding calories through sugar and fat in cream or milk could negate the positive effects of plain, black coffee.

In previous research the same team discovered that how much coffee drink per day is based on genetic variation where in some people metabolize caffeine faster than others, meaning that the stimulant effect of the caffeine wears off faster.

This might explain why some people drink more coffee than others. They further broke preferences down into precise types of coffee drinkers—those who prefer bitter, black coffee tended to have the genetic variant that metabolized caffeine faster. It was the same with people who preferred their tea without cream and sugar and those who prefer bitter, dark chocolate to milk chocolate.

However, researchers don’t think it is an actual taste preference but rather a mental association people with the genetic variant have between bitter flavors and the boost they crave from caffeine.