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Bats Are the Number-One Carriers of Disease

Bats Are the Number-One Carriers of Disease

This article originally appeared on 

Understanding where new viruses come from is critical for preventing them from rapidly spreading among humans. When it comes to preventing the next pandemic, a new study suggests that bats may be public enemy number one.

In a new study published in the journal Nature, researchers at the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance collected data on viruses known to infect mammals, which included about 600 viruses found in more than 750 species. They were then able to calculate the number of viruses from each species and identify characteristics that make the transmission to humans more likely. Living more closely to humans and being more closely genetically related to humans increased the odds of transmission.

Out of all the species assessed, bats carried the highest number of these viruses. Researchers are currently looking into why.

“A lot of people don’t realize that these viruses have been on the planet for a long time, and they are in populations of animals all around the world,” says study author Kevin Olival, associate vice president for research at EcoHealth Alliance. “What we did in this study is prioritize where we should look if we want to stop the next Ebola or Zika from emerging.”

All groups of mammals were found to carry viruses that can spread to humans, and areas around the world most at risk for carrying emerging viruses differed based on the mammal. For bats, these places are most common in South and Central America and areas in Asia. For primates, the areas with the higher risks are in Central America, Africa and Southeast Asia.

The study was funded as part of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Emerging Pandemic Threats PREDICT program, a project that seeks to identify new emerging infectious diseases that could become threatening to human health. Olival says his team hopes that scientists will use this research to identify regions and viruses to focus on for prevention efforts.

Bats don’t deserve all of the blame, however. The spreading of new diseases often involves activity from both animals and people, Olival points out.

“These diseases are not just randomly jumping into people,” he says. “We see time and time again that it is the human disturbances in the environment that are causing these diseases to emerge,” through activities like chopping down forest and hunting animals out of certain areas. “It is our interactions with these species that are causing diseases to jump.”

Source: Bats Are the Number-One Carriers of Disease

June 23, 20170 commentsRead More
Why Your Bad Memory Isn't Such a Bad Thing, According to Science

Why Your Bad Memory Isn't Such a Bad Thing, According to Science

You know those people who always boast about having a perfect memory? Maybe they shouldn’t, because having total recall is totally overrated. That’s according to a new paper in the journal Neuron, which concludes that forgetting things is not just normal, it actually makes us smarter.

In the new report, researchers Paul Frankland and Blake Richards of the University of Toronto propose that the goal of memory is not to transmit the most accurate information over time. Rather, they say, it’s to optimize intelligent decision-making by holding onto what’s important and letting go of what’s not.

RELATED: 8 Ways Sex Affects Your Brain

“It’s important that the brain forgets irrelevant details and instead focuses on the stuff that’s going to help make decisions in the real world,” says Richards, an associate fellow in the Learning in Machines and Brains program.

The researchers came to this conclusion after looking at years of data on memory, memory loss, and brain activity in both humans and animals. One of Frankland’s own studies in mice, for example, found that as new brain cells are formed in the hippocampus—a region of the brain associated with learning new things—those new connections overwrite old memories and make them harder to access.

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This constant swapping of old memories for new ones can have real evolutionary benefits, they say. For example, it can allow us to adapt to new situations by letting go of outdated and potentially misleading information. “If you’re trying to navigate the world and your brain is constantly bringing up conflicting memories, that makes it harder for you to make an informed decision,” says Richards.

Our brains also help us forget specifics about past events while still remembering the big picture, which the researchers think gives us the ability to generalize previous experiences and better apply them to current situations.

“We all admire the person who can smash Trivial Pursuit or win at Jeopardy, but the fact is that evolution shaped our memory not to win a trivia game, but to make intelligent decisions,” says Richards. “And when you look at what’s needed to make intelligent decisions, we would argue that it’s healthy to forget some things.”

RELATED: 12 Unexpected Things That Mess With Your Memory

So what does that mean for those of us who frequently forget things we just read, people we just met, and where we put our keys? For one, we should stop being so hard on ourselves, says Richards—to a certain extent.

“You don’t want to forget everything, and if you’re forgetting a lot more than normal that might be cause for concern,” he says. “But if you’re someone who forgets the occasional detail, that’s probably a sign that your memory system is perfectly healthy and doing exactly what it should be doing.”

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Especially in today’s computers-at-our-fingertips society, Richards says, our brains no longer need to store information like phone numbers and facts easily found on Google. “Instead of storing this irrelevant information that our phones can store for us, our brains are freed up to store the memories that actually do matter for us,” he says.

Richards also recommends “cleaning out” your memory system on a regular basis by doing regular gym workouts. “We know that exercise increases the number of neurons in the hippocampus,” he says. Yes, that may cause some memories to be lost, he says—“but they’re exactly those details from your life that don’t actually matter, and that may be keeping you from making good decisions.” 

Source: Why Your Bad Memory Isn’t Such a Bad Thing, According to Science

June 22, 20170 commentsRead More
Got 10 Minutes? This Kettlebell Workout Only Has 3 Exercises

Got 10 Minutes? This Kettlebell Workout Only Has 3 Exercises

This article originally appeared on Life by Daily Burn.

It’s time to show up to your workout with bells on — and we’re not just talking about your enthusiasm. Kettlebells deliver a unique and powerful workout that’s hard to mimic with other equipment. Just take it from Dara Theodore, a lead trainer for Daily Burn’s new DB10 program (now available for premium users) and kettlebell-certified instructor. “Kettlebells have an edge in improving core stability, range of motion, strength and endurance,” she says. “The handle and position of the weight allow for more seamless transitions from skill to skill, providing a great metabolic workout.”

In other words, you’ll blast mega calories and build muscle all over with each kettlebell move. And that’s especially true when you follow these three combo exercises, borrowed from Theodore’s DB10 workout. “Together, these skills effectively work your lower body, upper body and core,” she says. “They utilize push and pull motions and represent movement in all planes of motion.” So ring that bell — we have a winner!

GET EARLY ACCESS: Daily Burn’s DB10 Program

3 Exercises for a Quick, Effective Kettlebell Workout

Like every workout in the DB10 program, you can complete this kettlebell workout in less time than it takes to boil your post-cardio pasta. Continuously do six reps of each move, in order, until your 10 minutes is up. Also known as an AMRAP routine — as many rounds as possible — try to take as little rest as possible between rounds. “This can be a good benchmark for you to test over time,” Theodore explains. As your fitness level increases, the number of rounds you complete should increase, too.

Now, grab both a heavy kettlebell and a lighter one that you can lift. Then push hard through the full 10 minutes, while maintaining solid form. You’ll see just how much strength and cardio work you can ring in, in just a few minutes flat.

RELATED: 10-Minute Workouts to Get Fit Fast with DB10

 Reverse Lunge to Overhead Press Exercise

GIF: Daily Burn DB10

1. Reverse Lunge to Press

How to: Using a lighter weight kettlebell than what you’d use to swing, stand and hold the kettlebell in racked position (over your wrist and at your shoulder) with your right hand. Feet should be hip-width apart (a). Step your left leg back into a reverse lunge, both knees bent 90 degrees (b). Step back up to hip-width apart (c). Then press the kettlebell straight over head, keeping your abs engaged so you maintain a neutral spine position (d). Repeat, then switch sides.

TRY IT FIRST: Daily Burn’s DB10 Program

 Goblet Clean to Squat

GIF: Daily Burn DB10

2. Goblet Clean to Squat

How to: Start standing with feet hip-width apart. Place a heavier kettlebell between your feet, the back of it in line with your toes (a). Hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back flat and grab the kettlebell handle with both hands (b). Drive through your legs and lift the kettlebell to your chest, catching it at the bottom of the handle with both hands (c). Push your hips back and lower your butt down to do a deep squat, keeping the kettlebell at your chest (d). Then drop the kettlebell back down to the ground, bringing your hands back on top of the handle (e). Repeat.

RELATED: How to Kettlebell Swing Like the Pros

 Lateral Lunge to Row Exercise

GIF: Daily Burn DB10

3. Lateral Lunge to Row

How to: Start standing with feet just a few inches apart. Hold the lighter kettlebell with your left hand (a). Step to the side with your right leg, push your hips back and lower your butt down to perform a lateral lunge. Kettlebell comes to the inside of your left foot, slightly across your body (b). Step back up to stand (c). Next, step back with your left leg, hinge forward at the hips and rest your right forearm on your right thigh (d). Perform one row with your left hand by pulling your elbow back and hand up to your chest (e). Step back up to stand and repeat. Then switch sides.

Source: Got 10 Minutes? This Kettlebell Workout Only Has 3 Exercises

We Want You!—Here’s How to Become a Contributor

We Want You!—Here’s How to Become a Contributor

At, our goal is to deliver up-to-the-minute news on all the latest trends in the wellness world—and we want your help. We’re looking for writers to join our new contributor network. As a contributor, you’ll receive story pitches from our editors straight to your inbox, your byline will appear on, and you will be compensated for your work. And you’ll have the chance to share your story with millions of readers—whether it’s an essay about your weight-loss journey, a recipe for your favorite healthy Crock-Pot dinner, or a firsthand account of living with psoriatic arthritis, we want to hear about it.

You don’t have to be a professional writer to contribute to But we are looking for well-written, thoughtful pieces that demonstrate a passion for health and wellness and tell a unique story. We’re particularly interested in essays that highlight cool new workout classes, positive body image, relationship challenges, nutritious meal ideas, healthy travel tips, or even your favorite products (such as that incredible, can’t-live-without-it retinol cream you just discovered).

Does this sound like you? Head to Health’s Springboard page and select follow the prompts to create your account. Once you’re part of our contributor network, you can answer our story requests, get paid for your work, and see your byline appear on

We can’t wait to hear from you!

Source: We Want You!—Here’s How to Become a Contributor

June 21, 20170 commentsRead More
3 Yoga Poses to Do When Your Back Is in Knots

3 Yoga Poses to Do When Your Back Is in Knots

Source: 3 Yoga Poses to Do When Your Back Is in Knots

50 Ways to Use All of Your Vacation Days This Year

50 Ways to Use All of Your Vacation Days This Year

This article originally appeared on  

America has a vacation problem. Or a not-taking-vacation problem, to be more precise.

Last year, 54 percent of U.S. workers left an astounding 662 million vacation days unused, according to The State of American Vacation study from Project: Time Off. The reason why all of those days were left on the table? “American workers hold fast to the belief that the path to career success requires sacrificing vacation and embracing work martyrdom,” according to the report, which also suggests that if those workers used just one more day off, it would drive $33 billion in economic impact.

In response, Travel + Leisure has launched Operation Vacation, making it our mission to encourage everyone to use their much-needed vacation days to get away and recharge. As incentive, we’re offering more than 50 exclusive deals on flights, hotels, cruises, vacation packages, and more to help your budget go a lot further.

Operation Vacation offers always include discounts of at least 20 percent off published rates. The editor-curated list is updated regularly, so sign up for T+L’s Deals newsletter and be the first to know when new offers have been added.

Some of the exclusive deals currently available include:

The Project: Time Off study found that only 23 percent of workers who went without a vacation last year were promoted, meaning that limiting your time off won’t help you get ahead. Leaving behind unused vacation days isn’t just bad for your mental health, it’s also bad for your career.

So how can you be certain to use all of your vacation days this year? The answer is simple: Start planning early. The sooner you start doing your research, the better deals you’ll find. To see all of the Operation Vacation deals, visit

Join our movement and spread the word. Tell your friends about your next trip by using the hashtag #OperationVacation. With nearly half of the calendar year gone already, the time to book your next hard-earned getaway is now.

Source: 50 Ways to Use All of Your Vacation Days This Year

Why Do I Hate the Sound of My Own Voice?

Why Do I Hate the Sound of My Own Voice?

This article originally appeared on 

Have you ever recoiled at the sound of your own voicemail greeting, startled by what should be the most familiar of voices—your own? If so, then you’re not alone. It’s common to dislike the way your voice sounds in recordings, experts say. Here’s why.

You hear your own voice differently

When you hear people talking, sound waves travel through the air and into your ears, vibrating your ear drums. Your brain then transforms those vibrations into sound.

However, when you’re the one talking, your vocal cords and airways also vibrate. That means that you receive two sources of sound: the sound waves that travel into your ears from your own voice, as well as vocal cord vibrations.

“When we talk, it’s like everyone hears the sound through speakers, but we’re hearing it through a cave complex inside our own heads,” says Martin Birchall, professor of laryngology (the study of the larynx, or voice box) at University College London. “The sound is going around our sinuses, all the empty spaces in our heads and the middle part of our ears, which changes the way we hear sounds compared to what other people hear.”

People perceive their own voice to be the combination of those two sources of sound, but everyone else just hears the external stimulus. This is why when you listen to your voice in a recording, it sounds different than the voice you’re used to. You’re hearing only the external stimulus, rather than the combination of the two sounds.

People are bad at recognizing their own voice

Most people don’t sit around listening to the sound of their own voice independently from talking, so they can become detached from how they actually sound. One study, during which people were played recordings of their own voices, found that just 38% of people were able to identify their own voice immediately.

“When we hear our own voice in a recording, it can often feel surprising and disappointing,” Birchall says. “We get used to the sound we hear in our heads, even though it’s a distorted sound. We build our self-image and vocal self image around what we hear, rather than the reality.”

Birchall says this can be a particular problem for people with body or gender dysmorphia. “For people with gender issues, hearing that their voice sounds like someone of the opposite sex’s can be a really big issue,” he says. “We like to think that the way we are talking fits with our own gender identity and when we feel we are in the wrong body or our voice isn’t representative of who we are then that can be a major deal.”

You’re not necessarily stuck with your voice forever

If you’re really disturbed by the sound of your voice, you have options, Birchall says. First, you can go to see a properly trained voice therapist, which is different from a speech therapist. Voice therapists work with patients to improve their cadence and the rhythms of their pitch by doing specific exercises, like working on breathing patterns by getting them to blow bubbles through a straw. “It’s like physiotherapy, but for the voice,” he says.

If voice therapy is unsuccessful, people can seek seek specialist psychologist support. It’s also possible to make a person’s pitch higher or lower through surgery, which is a common part of gender reassignment surgery.

Source: Why Do I Hate the Sound of My Own Voice?

June 20, 20170 commentsRead More
#Workout Goals: Michelle Obama Is Still Hosting Bootcamp Weekends for Her Girlfriends

#Workout Goals: Michelle Obama Is Still Hosting Bootcamp Weekends for Her Girlfriends

This article originally appeared on 

As first lady, Michelle Obama motivated Americans to get active through her “Let’s Move” campaign. Now she’s giving fans more healthy living inspiration with a peek inside her post-White House workouts.

The former first lady took to Instagram on Monday to share photos from a recent “bootcamp weekend” that she hosted for her “crew” at a friend’s house outside Washington, D.C.

“When I was at the White House, I often hosted bootcamp weekends for my close girlfriends. It didn’t matter that we were all at varying fitness levels. Our bootcamp weekends were a reminder that if we want to keep taking care of others, we need to take care of ourselves first,” she wrote in the caption. “And even though I’m no longer at the White House, I’ve continued this tradition and wanted to share some photos.”

Obama’s bootcamp squad includes about a dozen old and new friends of varying age and fitness levels, a source close to the former first lady tells PEOPLE.

“My girlfriends have been there for me through all kinds of life transitions over the years – including a pretty big one recently! – and we’ve done our best to stay healthy together,” Obama continued in the caption. “Whether it’s a bootcamp or a walk around the neighborhood, I hope you and your crew can find some time this summer to be healthy together.”

This isn’t the first time Obama has shared details on her personal fitness routine.

In 2015 she released a video of her workout regimen as part of the #GimmeFive challenge celebrating the fifth anniversary of her “Let’s Move” campaign to raise awareness about healthy living in the United States.

In the video, Obama lifts weights, jump-ropes and boxes — challenging viewers at home to do the same.

Source: #Workout Goals: Michelle Obama Is Still Hosting Bootcamp Weekends for Her Girlfriends

3 Must-Try Beach Workouts From Top Fitness Influencers

3 Must-Try Beach Workouts From Top Fitness Influencers

Now that summer is here, is there any better place to break a sweat than the beach? Aside from all the energizing benefits of your workout, you’ll get an extra boost just from being near the water. Research suggests the simple act of taking in an ocean vista is enough to improve your mental health. And best of all, you can cool down by diving under the waves.

Lucky for us, some of our favorite fitness influencers feel the same way about training by the sea. Keep scrolling for made-for-sand moves to steal on your next beach day or vacay. 

Ebonny Fowler


This personal trainer is all about making fitness fun, and her most recent Insta post is no exception. Yesterday she shared a Pilates flow performed at the edge of lapping waves on a beach in Jamaica, set to Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You.” We can’t get enough of her killer core moves.

Katie Austin


Want to focus on your abs and arms? Check out this workout by Katie Austin. All you need is a set of dumbbells, and enough space on the sand to fit a yoga mat. 

RELATED: 27 Fat-Burning Ab Exercises (No Crunches!)

Kerri Verna


Kerri Verna, better known as Beach Yoga Girl to her one million followers, has been teaching yoga for more than 16 years. Her perfect Crow Pose in the clip above is serious fitness goals, with or without a gorgeous backdrop. “I feel that sometimes we can get caught up in the ‘I can’t’ rather than just working towards ‘I can,'” Verna wrote in the caption to the post, which shows the full progression of Crow in stages.

Looking for more moves to help you shape up for summer? Try this total-body routine from Health‘s contributing fitness editor, Tracy Anderson.

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The workout is designed to tone all over with six dynamic exercises.

Source: 3 Must-Try Beach Workouts From Top Fitness Influencers

June 19, 20170 commentsRead More
Yoga and Meditation Can Change Your Genes, Study Says

Yoga and Meditation Can Change Your Genes, Study Says

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This article originally appeared on

Yoga and meditation may do more than just help you feel relaxed in the moment. A new scientific review suggests that these and other mindfulness exercises can actually reverse stress-related changes in genes linked to poor health and depression.

In the new paper, published in Frontiers in Immunology, British researchers analyzed the findings from 18 previously published studies—involving a total of 846 people—on the biological effects of meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, Qi gong and Tai Chi. Together, the authors say, the studies show that these mind-body exercises appear to suppress the expression of genes and genetic pathways that promote inflammation.

Inflammation can temporarily boost the immune system, and can be protective against infection and injury, the authors write in their paper. But in today’s society, in which stress is primarily psychological, the body’s inflammatory response can become chronic and can impair both physical and mental health.

Researchers found that people who practiced these activities regularly had fewer signs of inflammation, including a decrease in their production of inflammatory proteins. This signals “the reversal of the molecular signature of the effects of chronic stress,” they wrote, which may translate to a reduced risk of inflammation-related diseases and conditions.

Environment and lifestyle can both affect which genes are turned on and off, and that can have real effects on disease risk, longevity and even which traits get passed on to future generations. Stressful events, for example, can activate the fight-or-flight response and trigger a chain reaction of stress-related changes in the body—including activating specific genes involved in making proteins that produce inflammation.

Lead author Ivana Buric, a PhD student in Coventry University’s Brain, Belief and Behaviour Lab in England, says her team was surprised to see that different types of mind-body techniques had such similar effects at the genetic level. “Sitting meditation is quite different than yoga or Tai Chi,” she said in an email, “yet all of these activities—when practiced regularly—seem to decrease the activity of genes involved in inflammation.”

This is a relatively new field of research, she adds, and it’s likely that similar benefits could be obtained from other lifestyle changes like healthy eating and exercise. There aren’t yet enough studies to know how activities like yoga compare to other types of physical activity in terms of altering gene expression.

Buric says the existing studies suggest that mind-body interventions “cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our well being.” She also emphasizes that inherited genes are not static and that DNA activity can depend on things people can control. “By choosing healthy habits every day, we can create a gene activity pattern that is more beneficial for our health,” she says. “Even just 15 minutes of practicing mindfulness seems to do the trick.”

Source: Yoga and Meditation Can Change Your Genes, Study Says