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How to create life’s big moments | Chip and Dan Heath

Oct 2nd, 2017 by

Chip and Dan Heath say don’t wait for life’s defining events to come along – make them happen now. Here’s how

We all have defining moments in our lives – meaningful experiences that stand out in our memory. Many of them owe a great deal to chance: a lucky encounter with someone who becomes the love of your life. A new teacher who spots a talent you didn’t know you had. A sudden loss that upends the certainties of your life. A realisation that you don’t want to spend one more day in your job. These moments seem to be the product of fate or luck. We can’t control them.

But is that true? Not necessarily. Defining moments shape our lives, but we don’t have to wait for them to happen. We can be the authors of them. What if a teacher could design a lesson that students were still reflecting on years later? What if you had a better sense of how to create lasting memories for your children?

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‘It’s intoxicating – I became obsessed’: has fitness gone too far?

Oct 2nd, 2017 by

With seven-day gym classes and unregulated instructors on Instagram, is our appetite for exercise getting dangerous?

Lisa Andrews was looking for a quick fitness fix. The 34-year-old had “a bit of weight to lose” a year after having her first baby and, being both time-poor and on a budget, she decided to do it with the help of an online 12-week training programme she’d seen advertised on Facebook. “There were hundreds of transformations on there,” Lisa tells me. “I was so excited to start. The programme had several different levels so you could begin at whatever level you thought worked for you. Stupidly, I picked intermediate. It was really challenging, with daily sets of high-intensity exercises, and I would frequently feel exhausted and totally out of breath by the end of it – but I was on a high. As I got fitter, I began to really love the training. I looked forward to it, talked about it all the time, got friends to sign up. I became quite evangelical. Sometimes I’d even do two sessions a day. I’d skip other activities to work out – because if I had to miss a session, I’d feel depressed and worried it would derail my progress.”

But when “niggling pains” in her feet and ankles developed into something more severe, Lisa was unable to go to work. An X-ray confirmed that she had stress fractures in two places in her foot. Bound up in a big boot-like aircast, she struggled to walk for weeks and was told to avoid any weight-bearing training for months, until the bones have fully healed. “I had become obsessed,” she says now. “I was completely into it and the ‘community’ of people online doing the same thing. I’d be on Instagram all the time, looking at other people’s transformations. I do feel silly. I should know better – but it is psychologically intoxicating.”

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Fit in my 40s: ‘After 10 minutes in a hypoxic chamber, I felt sluggish’

Oct 2nd, 2017 by

Elite athletes train at altitude to improve their performance at sea level. Can non-elite athletes replicate that by using a special chamber?

Hypoxic training is a fancy-gym fad, along classic fad principles. Elite athletes, the thinking goes, train at altitude to improve their performance at sea level; ergo, if a non-elite athlete were to exercise in a hypoxic chamber (a sealed room in which the oxygen level has been decreased), then that person’s workout would improve.

In normal life, I would have gone to a Virgin Active, or Third Space in central London, done some cross-training in a hypoxic area, and reported back that it was incredibly hard. But just on a whim, I thought I’d check how it worked, which is how I fetched up in the hypoxic chamber of UCL’s Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health, with the intensive care consultant Dr Dan Martin.

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Experience: I swim to work

Oct 2nd, 2017 by

Sometimes I hear commuters yelling at each other up on the riverbank while I’m having fun watching ducklings and squirrels

It started two years ago. I run a summer arts festival in Munich called the Kulturstrand, at the Ludwigsbrücke, a bridge that stands over the river Isar, where I have an office. I work there most days and when I do, I swim there. I’m one of those people who likes to swim in all conditions – I’ll swim in the Atlantic when it’s 10 degrees, which my wife thinks is a little strange. Sometimes I swim the river with a group of friends in the autumn or winter, but I mainly swim to work in the summer.

I live two kilometres upstream from my office. The river at that point is too wild to swim down unaided; it’s like an Alpine river. I wouldn’t even consider it without a flotation device, but then I learned about a designer in Switzerland who’d invented a thing called a Wickelfisch. It’s a waterproof bag that you can keep your stuff in; it also locks in air so acts as a float. When I saw it I bought one, and the next day I swam to work for the first time.

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Caesarean section late in labour increases risk of preterm birth next time

Oct 2nd, 2017 by

Women who have a late emergency surgery should be monitored as high risk for subsequent pregnancy, researchers say

Undergoing an emergency caesarean section during the final stage of labour should be added to the list of risk factors for experiencing a premature birth in subsequent pregnancies, a study published on Thursday suggests.

In one of the largest Australian studies into the link between caesarean sections and premature birth, researchers from Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred hospital and the University of Sydney studied 2,672 women who either had a caesarean section during the first stage of labour, or at a late stage once their cervix was fully dilated.

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Craven desires: why living in the Yorkshire Dales makes you happy

Oct 2nd, 2017 by

Fantastically named villages, crazy cave systems and award-winning beers are just some of the reasons why the residents of Craven in the Dales are the most content in the UK

According to new figures from the ONS, Craven – a local government district of North Yorkshire – is the happiest place in the UK. Residents of the area, which includes much of the southern Yorkshire Dales, reported the highest level of life satisfaction and the lowest levels of anxiety – scoring 8.3, compared with a national average of 7.5. The unlucky people of Hertsmere in Hertfordshire, on the other hand, were found to be the unhappiest.

Paul Shevlin, chief executive of Craven district council, attributed the area’s high score to “beautiful countryside, brilliant schools, amazing communities and our warm and friendly people”. But there are other reasons we should all live in Craven.

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Breaking bad: how to give up drinking, smoking, nail-biting and other unwanted habits

Oct 2nd, 2017 by

With Stoptober and Sober October starting soon, we asked readers to tell us how they broke bad habits – and how this changed their life. Here’s what you said

Sunday is the start of October, which means that people across the country will be attempting to give up bad habits; some will try to give up smoking for Stoptober, while others try to quit drinking for Sober October. We asked readers to tell us what enabled them to give up a longstanding bad habit, and how their life changed as a result.

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Why do we run until it hurts? Researchers might have some answers

Oct 2nd, 2017 by

During the Ultra Gobi in 2016, I felt more aware of my own body as it gradually disintegrated. According to scientists, this might be partly why I enjoyed it

Why would anyone want to run 400km across a desert? It’s a good question and one that I confronted last year when I completed the Ultra Gobi, a single stage, self-navigated 250-mile footrace in China. This year I face an even harder question: Why would anyone do it again?

In moderation, running improves both your health and physique; in extremes, it does quite the opposite. The feet blister and swell to the point where multiple pairs of shoes in ascending sizes are required. Toenails turn black and fall off or, worse, fill with fluid and require puncturing. Some runners even choose to strike pre-emptively and have theirs surgically removed.

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How was your weekend running?

Oct 2nd, 2017 by

Anyone else spend Sunday morning working out how long they could keep up with Kipchoge for? Or were you actually out there running yourself? As always, share your weekend triumphs and woes below the line

So who spent Sunday morning glued to the TV/computer screen watching the Berlin marathon? With a hopefully-minor (denial is a healing force, right?) calf niggle, the sum total of my Sunday running comprised 2km hobbling around junior parkrun before dashing back home to watch the fantastic finish of the race. Imagine having the sheer willpower to come back from behind not once, but twice, having already run the best part of 26.2 miles at about 4 min 45 sec mile pace. No, I can’t either. Kipchoge is a legend, and deserves a world record even if circumstances and weather have conspired against it.

Though talking of legends, Yuta Shitara – who came sixth – is shaping up as one. He ran 2:09:03, a new PB for him. Impressive enough, before you take into account that he ran a half marathon last weekend in 60:17 – a new Japanese record – and a 28min 56sec 10km the weekend before. I don’t know what he does for recovery, but clearly we all need to emulate …

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Is it possible to reverse Type 2 diabetes?

Oct 2nd, 2017 by

Most doctors only address the symptoms, but the disease can be beaten into remission. However, it requires losing a lot of weight – and keeping it off

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition that can lead to heart disease, nerve damage, kidney disease and blindness. However, it is possible to beat it into remission. The pancreas can begin again making insulin, the hormone that regulates levels of glucose in the blood. The liver can reassert itself as the body’s reservoir for glucose and stop pumping out unwanted sugar. And many people who have been taking tablets to control their type 2 diabetes can potentially throw them away. This is good for the NHS, because 5% to 10% of people have type 2 diabetes. However, to beat it, you would need to lose about 10% of your body weight – and keep it off.

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