Study: Self-Injury May Begin Early
Even 7 year olds sometimes hurt themselves on purpose. Self-inury starts early in some kids, according to a study involviong 665 kids, who were in the third, sixth, and ninth grades. Overall, nearly 8 percent of the third-graders said they had intentionally hurt themselves by cutting, burning, or poking their skin with sharp objects, hitting themselves, or another method. These kids were 7 and 8 years old, and two-thirds had done it more than once. Among the older children, 4 percent of sixth-graders and nearly 13 percent of ninth-graders said they had self-injured—typically as a way to cope with emotional stress, such as school troubles and bullying. "It's unfortunately probably more common than we want to think," study author Benjamin Hankin, an associate psychology professor at the University of Denver, told the Associated Press. Study findings were published Monday in Pediatrics.
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Take Action for Heart Health
Our 21st century lifestyle is bumping up our risk of heart disease. The convenience of cars and fast food, coupled with high-stress jobs, too little sleep, and a floundering economy is creating a toxic environment for our heart health. "Over the last couple of decades, the risk for cardiovascular disease has decreased, but now we may be reaching an inflection point, where the risks will climb again if we fail to manage how we live," says Marc Gillinov, a cardiovascular surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic and coauthor of Heart 411: The Only Guide to Heart Health You'll Ever Need (Three Rivers Press, 2012).
We can't take this vital organ for granted, as no one is immune to heart disease. But heart disease is largely preventable, notes Gillinov. New studies are shining light on a few surprising risk factors, while offering fresh insight on how to keep your heart ticking for many years. Consider:
1. Cultivate a positive attitude—it does the heart good. The mind-body connection is being increasingly recognized as important to a thriving heart. Harvard School of Public Health researchers Julia Boehm and Laura Kubzansky recently completed a literature review examining the link between positive psychological well-being and cardiovascular disease. They learned that optimistic people can cut their risk of a first heart attack by 50 percent compared to glass-half-empty types. "We found that people with [a] greater level of well-being tend to engage in healthy behaviors and have better biological functioning," says Boehm. Most of the studies controlled for obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, and depression, and found optimistic views were beneficial over and above these traditional risk factors, she notes. Every day, count your blessings, practice kind acts to others, socialize, and develop relationships you feel good about—all for the good of your heart. [Read more: Take Action for Heart Health]
Bikes for Aspiring Cyclists
Learning to ride a bike is a childhood milestone. And there's good reason to stick with two wheels as we grow up. For one thing, it makes financial sense: With $4-a-gallon gas in some cities, commuting by bike is a cheaper option. Every type of bike is available at different price points, making it affordable for most riders. Prices range from $200 into the thousands, with average costs hovering around $500.
Biking is as good for your body as it is your wallet: In a study published in 2010 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, for example, researchers found that women who biked for as few as five minutes a day gained less weight than those who didn't ride. Other studies suggest that cyclists live about two years longer than non-bikers, and take 15 percent fewer sick days. And overall, research indicates that biking is good for the heart and helps stave off obesity, arthritis, and depression. (Expect to burn about 500 calories per hour, depending on how much you weigh, when moving at a moderate clip.) "The biggest thing is the fun factor," says cycling enthusiast Selene Yeager, author of Ride Your Way Lean: The Ultimate Plan for Burning Fat and Getting Fit on a Bike. "It's one of the closest feelings you can get to flying—it brings back the memory of your youth, it's a beautiful way to see places, and it's a relaxing form of exercise."
Once you decide to ride, the next step is weighing different types of bikes against each other and selecting the best fit. Choices include:
1. Road bikes. These light-weight bikes have skinny tires and drop handlebars that offer multiple options for hand position. They're ideal for riding long distances on paved or graded surfaces. They're built for speed, too, Yeager says. (Road bikes are used in the Tour de France race, for example.) [Read more: Bikes for Aspiring Cyclists]
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Angela Haupt is a health reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at email@example.com.