Kid-friendly headphones not so friendly after all!

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Parents, did your kids get a pair of child-size headphones for Christmas, that the box promised were “safe for young ears”? Don’t believe it. Because the consumer-product review site, Wirecutter, did a little investigating. They analyzed 50 different children’s headphone brands and found that half of them did NOT restrict decibel levels as advertised. And the worst ones allowed volume so loud it could permanently damage a child’s hearing – or even an adult’s – within minutes! For reference, the noise of a lawnmower is 100 decibels – and can damage hearing after 15 minutes. And the government-mandated safe limit in the workplace for adults is 85 decibels, which is about as noisy as an idling bulldozer.

Well, these child-friendly headphones allow the volume to reach 114 decibels – WAY over the safe limit. If you want to see if your child’s headphones are safe – go to The Wirecutter dot com for their list. And to further protect their hearing, make sure kids never listen to anything higher than 60% of the max volume – and have them take a break at least every hour.

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Take a deep breath!

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When it comes to relieving stress, people say, “Take a deep breath.” But a deep EXHALE may be more crucial than a deep INHALE. Physical therapist Dr. Emily Kiberd says most people think deep breathing should be about taking IN more oxygen. But the stress-relieving oxygen doesn’t reach our bloodstream until we breathe OUT. So, try this: Inhale through your nose for a count of 4… Hold it for another 4 seconds… Exhale for 8 seconds. That’s in for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 8. That’ll calm your nervous system, relaxing you.

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Do our noses keep growing?

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You may have heard that noses never stop growing. So even the tiniest button nose may become a schnoz by the time a person is old and wrinkly. Well, our nose doesn’t actually keep growing. Instead, gravity takes its toll, dragging the tip of the nose down. Plus, the same thing that causes wrinkles – our skin’s collagen and elastin breaking down – affects the nose as well. The end result: Our nose starts to droop, making it look bigger as we age.

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Take your phone out of your pocket…

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…because it’s not safe! Smartphone manuals say we should keep phones 10 millimeters away from our bodies! Because radiation exposure may exceed FCC standards if you keep your phone on your body – or press it to your head as you use it. I know that defeats the purpose of using it as a phone – but I guess that’s why there are headsets, earbuds, and speaker-phone-mode.

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If your boss has you so mad you’re about to lose it…

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…find the nearest gym and hop on a rowing machine (at lunch or after work). According to research from psychology professor, Brad Bushman at Ohio State University, just 5 minutes on a rowing machine can reduce feelings of aggression caused by criticism. And it works a lot better than taking out your anger on a punching bag. Doing that fuels aggressive feelings, and Bushman’s research found people got angrier! Because aggressive moves make people feel more aggressive. But on a rowing machine, you’re using your entire body – and rowing at a moderate pace of 7 miles per hour relaxes muscles in a way that counteracts the tension caused by anger.

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How to resist temptation!

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When you’re face to face with the free donuts in the break room, resist by clenching your fists. Doing that for just a few seconds can give you a surge of willpower. That’s according to the Journal of Consumer Research. When study participants did that, more often than not, they chose a healthier snack. Why does it work? Because we naturally tense up when we’re faced with something challenging. So it sends a signal to the brain that we’re faced with a tough task – and the brain responds by giving us a surge of mental energy. So clench your fists to resist temptation.

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Reading books will prolong your life!

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Here’s some good news for people who love to read. Reading books may add a couple more years to your life! That’s according to researchers at Yale University’s School of Public Health.

The researchers studied nearly 4‑thousand people over a span of 20 years. What the Yale team found was that older adults who were regular book readers lived an average of 2 years longer than their non-reading peers – or those who read only magazines and newspapers.

In the study, older adults who spent an average of 3-and-a-half hours reading books per week had a nearly 20% lower risk of dying over the next 12 years – compared to non-book-readers.

The Yale study also showed it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, male or female. The benefit of living longer was the same.

So what is it about book-lovers that boosts their longevity? Researchers say, because books are more in-depth, and the characters and plot are more involved, they engage the mind more than newspapers and magazines. That leads to cognitive benefits that positively affect longevity. The bottom line: Reading books prolongs your life!

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Good news for those who wait for the bus in the winter!

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If you had to wait outside for 15 minutes in winter weather for the bus today, I have good news. According to a study in the journal Cell Metabolism, those 15 minutes of shivering in the cold have a similar effect on the body as an HOUR of moderate exercise. In the study, researchers put subjects under cooling blankets – and saw that they had a rise in the hormone irisin. That hormone turns our main type of body fat – white fat, which is bad – into BROWN fat, which actually burns calories to warm us up. Cold weather – and the study’s cooling blankets – work, because when we’re cold, our muscles contract in a way that’s similar to what happens when we exercise. So the next time you’re literally cooling your heels outside this winter, just think, “My brown fat is switching on, and burning calories like crazy!”

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Make someone else’s day!

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If you post a happy picture or an uplifting quote on Facebook, you could improve someone else’s day. According to a study from UC San Diego, the emotions expressed online are contagious – whether they’re positive or negative. Researchers analyzed the emotional content of 1 billion Facebook posts – and found that the language we use impacts the words our friends use in their posts… which creates what experts call a “social multiplier.” The good news is: Positive emotions spread faster and farther than negative ones.

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Knitting is a great way to lift your mood.

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In fact, anything that engages both hands in rhythmic, repetitive motion can have the same effect – like embroidery or sewing. That’s according to the journal Neuro-psycho-pharmacology. The repetitive movements trigger your brain to release the mood-lifting chemical serotonin… and when your mind is focused on an absorbing task, it blocks out negative thoughts.

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