Kick-boxing, jogging help reduce belly fat

New Delhi, Nov 4  Want to reduce the stubborn belly fat? Try kick-boxing, which helps in burning maximum calories or jog, which increases your heart rate and improves metabolism, says an expert.

Here are tips by Yuvraj Randhawa, gym trainer, Health Plus (H+), on how one can reduce belly fat:

* Stair exercises: Stairs training will boost your cardiovascular stamina. It will also tone down the lower body.

Walk up and down a flight of stairs for 15 to 20 minutes. One can always increase it later to 30 minutes. See that you maintain a steady pace as it is a great warm up exercise also.

* Kick-boxing: Kick boxing burns about 860 calories in one hour. It helps in burning fat from your waist and thighs. It is a great cardio workout if followed religiously.

* Jumping Jacks: It is one of the simplest aerobic exercises which you can do anywhere at home. It is a great warm-up exercise and great for cardiovascular training. You sweat a lot while dong this exercise which in turn makes you lose the belly fat.

* Bear crawls: Be in a plank position with your arms and legs on the floor and extended. Keep your body flat and crawl forward fast. Put enough weight on your arms. And crawl for 45 to 60 seconds. You can always turn around and crawl back if there is lack of space.

* Tap backs: Put both your arms forward on your waist and step your right leg back. Repeat with the left leg in a rhythmic motion and it should be continuous. Remember to keep your knees soft. This exercise tones your thighs and help in losing belly fat.

* Jogging in place: This is another popular aerobic exercise which increases your heart rate and improves metabolism. Jogging in one place will help in cutting down the belly fat.

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This tree is killing us softly

The sweet fragrance that Delhi inhabitants know all too well post-diwali, no we are not talking about the pollution and smoke, comes from a tree called Devil’s Tree. Around mid-October, the tree starts blooming creamy white flowers filling the air at dusk with a distinct and unmistakable fragrance. It is this scent that beckons, nay compels you to stop and take notice of the tree. But it is also this scent that is the cause of respiratory issue for thousands if not more.

The tree commonly called Saptaparna, Saptaparni, Indian Devil Tree or Scholar’s Tree and is native to India. It is now present in China, South- and South-east Asia and Australia.  Its English names “scholar’s tree” and “blackboard tree” refer to its use in making school black boards and wooden slates for children to write on. Its other name “devil tree” or “shaitan ka jhad” is based on the belief in Western India, that the tree is an abode of evil spirits..

In the past decade the tree has become a bone of contention for people who suffer for asthma or those who have pollen-allergy.

“Not all green is good for human beings”

So what exactly is in the scent that causes so many problems?

In a study from Vietnam, more than 34 components were identified, representing 92.5% of the oil. The major portion (35.7%) is made up of linalool, a terpene alcohol found in over 200 plant species, mainly in flowers (e.g., lavender, sweet basil and hops) and spices. Other major ingredients included cis- and trans-linalool oxides (14.7%), α-terpineol (12.3%), 2-phenylethyl acetate (6.3%) and terpinen-4-ol (5.3%). More than 90% of the volatile aroma compounds were oxygenated, and together contributed to its fragrant odour.

Now, Linalool is found naturally in other flowers as well such as lavender, mint, and other plants. Linalool breaks down when it comes into contact with oxygen, it becomes oxidized and can cause allergy. Is known to cause skin allergies for atleast 5-7% population. Especially the oxides. Linool and its oxides make up about 50.4% of the frangrance.

Not just NCR that suffers 

In Pingtung City, Taipei, residents complained of feeling nauseous and headaches caused by the Indian Devil’s Tree. Officials from the Pingtung City Public Works Bureau said they receive a large amount of complaints during the tree’s flowering and seeding seasons. As a result, Alstonia Scholaris  trees were chopped down because the residents would complain of nausea, difficulty breathing and trouble sleeping because of the fragrance released by the tree.

The residents’ of the city had enough of the tree and demanded that the odour emitters be cut down. They said that if the city government could not find a solution, they would demand compensation from the central government for the psychological and physical damage they had suffered due to the trees.devils-tree

The first documented issue of allergies to the tree in India was in 1992 when 10 trees had to be felled in IIT Kanpur.  The IIT campus has nearly a thousand tall, evergreen Alstonias. After several staff members complained of asthma attacks, some trees were chopped down,however the environmentally conscious staff members raised an outcry.

A B Singh, an allergy expert at the Centre for Biochemicals (CB) in New Delhi, however, claims that there are as yet no studies indicating that Alstonia pollen is an allergen. But he indicates a number of trees that do stimulate allergic reactions in susceptible individuals. He complains that numerous exotic trees are nonetheless being planted under afforestation programmes without evaluating them for their allergen potential.

Singh cites the example of mulberry (Morus alba) which is planted extensively in India while, because of its allergenic pollen, its plantation is prohibited in certain arid regions in USA. “Not all green is good for human beings”, he emphasises. Now this is a major in India, around 20-30% of the population is reported to be afflicted with an allergic rhinitis. and 10-15 % are estimated to suffer from bronchial asthma.

In Noida alone, as per the department records, there are around five lakh Alstonia trees, planted on the lines of trees at Rajghat. Around 2007,the department realised that the tree causes problems for asthma patients. “If asthma patients stand near the tree for a longer time, they could develop breathing problems. We want to make the city people and environment friendly. The effort is to plant trees like Indian rosewood (Sheeshum), Jambul, White fig and Cassia Fistula-Amaltas,” said the official at the Horticulture department of Noida. Thus, In 2010 the Horticulture department of Noida decided to put the plantation of Alstonia scholaris trees on hold for now.

The reason these trees were planted is that this tree is able to form leafy canopies that create shade in just a couple of years. Few decades ago, the pollution levels were not as high as they are today. More people have dust, pollen and linool allergies now than they did ever before. The percentage of population with asthma has increased from 4% in 1992 to 20-30% in 2015. All these reasons coupled together have made the scent of this tree a cause of breathing difficulties and choking-sensation for people with allergies. 

So what is the solution?

The obvious one is to not plant this tree. But whats important is how we deal with the trees that are already blooming? In Taipei, the government official had advised that citizens trim the leaves and branches just before the flowering season (October – December) because this can prevent the release of the irritable odour and seedlings. If the community has funds, it is better to plant trees that will not cause allergies and add to the already existing woes of people struggling with extremely polluted air.


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Thinking of close ones can help reconnect with real people

Toronto, Oct 31 (IANS) Reminding people of their close, caring relationships can reduce their tendency to anthropomorphise objects — ascribing humanlike characteristics to inanimate objects — as a way of feeling socially connected, and help people reconnect with real people, suggests new research.

“Although anthropomorphism is one of the more creative ways people try to meet belonging needs, it is nevertheless difficult to have a relationship with an inanimate object,” the researchers said.

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There are many ways that people who feel socially disconnected can reconnect — they can try reinforce existing social bonds or forge new relationships, but there are other ways, too.

An earlier study showed that one of the ways that people may try to increase their sense of connection and belonging is by anthropomorphising inanimate objects, such as a pillow or an alarm clock.

“Reliance on such a compensatory strategy could permit disconnected people to delay the riskier–but potentially more rewarding — steps of forging new relationships with real people,” the current study noted.

“We think this work really highlights how important feeling socially connected is to people and the lengths people will go to ‘reconnect’ when they feel disconnected, and it reminds us of the value of our close relationships,” lead researcher Jennifer Bartz of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

The researchers wondered whether boosting people’s feelings of social connection might make them less likely to anthropomorphise.

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They also explored whether attachment anxiety — marked by a preoccupation with closeness and intimacy and heightened sensitivity to social cues of rejection — might be one individual characteristic associated with this tendency to anthropomorphise.

To find out, the researchers conducted an online experiment with a total of 178 participants, who completed a variety of established survey measures aimed at assessing their feelings of attachment anxiety and avoidance, loneliness, self-esteem and need to belong.

Some of the participants were then asked to think about someone who was important to them and whom they could trust.

Other participants completed the same tasks but were told to think about an acquaintance, instead of someone they were close to, serving as a comparison group.

The results, published in the journal Psychological Science, showed that thinking about a close relationship can make a difference.

Participants who thought and wrote about someone they were close to were less likely to anthropomorphise objects compared with participants who thought about an acquaintance.

In addition, the researchers found that attachment anxiety was associated with a tendency to anthropomorphise, and was actually a stronger predictor than loneliness was.

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Indian-Origin Scientist Creates ‘Real’ 3D Hands In Lab

New York, An Indian-American researcher and his team have created life-size 3D hand models, complete with all five fingerprints using a high-resolution 3D printer that can produce the same ridges and valleys as a real finger. Like any optical device, fingerprint and hand scanners need to be calibrated, but currently there is no standard method for doing so.

“This is the first time a whole hand 3D target has been created to calibrate fingerprint scanners,” said Distinguished Professor Anil Jain from Michigan State University (MSU). “As a byproduct of this research, we realised a fake 3D hand, essentially a spoof, with someone’s fingerprints, could potentially allow a crook to steal the person’s identity to break into a vault, contaminate a crime scene or enter the country illegally,” Jain cautioned.

Jain and his bio-metrics team were studying how to test and calibrate fingerprint scanners commonly used across the globe at police departments, airport immigration counters, banks and even amusement parks. To test the scanners, they created life-size 3D hand models complete with all five fingerprints.

“Another application of this technology will be to evaluate the spoof-resistance of commercial fingerprint scanners. We have highlighted a security loophole and the limitations of existing fingerprint scanning technology, now it’s up to the scanner manufacturers to design a scanner that is spoof-resistant,” Jain noted in a university statement.

The study aims to design and develop standard models and procedures for consistent and reliable evaluation of fingerprint readers and is funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

“We are very pleased with this research and how it is showing the uncertainties in the process and what it can mean for the accuracy of the readers,” said Nicholas Paulter, Group Leader for the Security Technologies Group at NIST and a co-author of the study.

The FBI, CIA, military and manufacturers will all be interested in this project, he added. Along with Jain and Paulter, the study was co-authored by Sunpreet Arora, MSU doctoral student.

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Fitness Apps Alone Won’t Help Teenagers Stay In Shape

New York  With fitness apps, the press of a button on smartphone can help you record daily calorie consumption and exercise but they alone cannot motivate you enough to lose and maintain weight loss in the long term, say researchers.

In a 24-week behavioural study that combined traditional weight control intervention with smartphone-assisted helps, researchers found that teenagers lost weight initially, but could not maintain it when smartphones were the only tool helping them stay on track. Combining fitness apps with social support and accountability are the key, the study said.

“We know that teenagers are on their phones, which gives us a way to intervene in the moment,” said lead author Chad Jensen, Professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, US. We wanted to determine whether we could effectively use texting and a commercially-available smartphone app to help adolescents with weight loss,” Jensen noted.

The study, published in the Journal of Medical Research took place during two consecutive 12-week periods, the first of which combined electronic (smartphone) intervention and traditional in-person treatment. During this period, each of the 16 participants met weekly with a clinician and other participants to share their experiences and discuss topics like adopting healthy eating patterns, reading food labels and increasing physical activity throughout the day.

In addition to these meetings, the teenagers were encouraged to record their daily food intake and exercise on the Daily Burn app. They also received text messages from the researchers three times each day to encourage healthy behaviour and pose thought-provoking questions about motivations.

Study participants achieved modest weight loss during this period, decreasing their body mass index (BMI) by 0.08 points on average. But the in-person meetings were removed for the second 12 weeks of the study, so the only interventions helping the teenagers stay motivated were the daily texts and self-monitoring on the Daily Burn app. During this period, self-monitoring rates dropped from nearly 50 percent to 16.8 percent and the participants regained their lost weight.

A possible reason for this result is that smartphones, no matter how helpful or easy-to-use, lack certain critical characteristics present during the in-person treatment, Jensen suggested. These results emphasise the importance of social support in creating lasting change and motivating healthy behaviour. But this does not mean that smartphone fitness tools are useless — they are just best used as an add-on to augment other fitness habits by making it easier to track behaviour and progress.

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How to spend more time, less money during vacations!

New Delhi, Oct 21 (IANS) Want to spend quality time with your family on a vacation, but by not causing a hole in your pocket? Travel at less popular times as the price of flights varies considerably depending on the month, day and time of travel and try a private room instead of a hotel, experts say.

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In 2015, 49 percent of travellers planning getaways for Dusshera and Diwali favoured international destinations over domestic breaks. Experts from, travel search company, have shared secrets to make holiday getaways in 2016 lighter on the pockets of Indian travellers.

* Travel at less popular times: The price of flights varies considerably depending on the month, day and even time of travel. Avoiding the weekends can make a huge impact on the price.

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* Fly indirect: In case there is more time but less money, try flights with a stop-over. Indirect routes to the main destination will cost much less and will even give one the time to explore more than one destination; thus making the most with the least.

* Mix and match your flights: Using a combination of airlines can also prove to be an effective cost saving strategy. Different airlines charge differently on similar routes. Mix and match the airlines to find the best price combination to suit the pocket.

* Fly from an alternative airport: Even though there may be an airport at the doorstep, don’t rule out the possibility that it may be cheaper to fly from one slightly further away. It may work out cheaper, even with the cost of a train or bus ticket to reach the alternative airport.

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* Bring your own food on board: Many low-cost airlines charge for food on board and it is often extremely pricey. Save yourself a small fortune by taking along snacks instead of buying them on the plane or in the airport.

* Beat the baggage fees: If you’re worried about excess baggage charges, why not wear your extra items instead of cramming them into your case? There are some fantastic products on the market that let you take additional belongings on your person ensuring they won’t count as excess baggage.

* Weigh your luggage before you leave home: Some of us get to the airport to find we’re over our baggage limit and end up paying inflated charges. Avoid this by weighing your bag before you leave home and take out any unnecessary items if you find you’re over the limit.

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* Try a private room instead of a hotel: Over the last few years there’s been an explosion in websites that allow locals to rent out their sofas, spare rooms, whole apartments and even gardens! Sites like AirBnB have transformed accommodation options, and for travellers, the experience can be far more rewarding than a stay in a chain hotel, as well as being cheaper.

* Eat like a local: Not only is tasting new cuisine part of the joy of travelling but you’re likely to eat far better as well as saving money, when you eat like a local. From $1 bowls of noodles in Vietnam to backstreet French bistros, produce is usually locally sourced and tastier, rather than imported.

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* Save on foreign currency exchange: Withdrawing money abroad can cost a lot in charges. Although using a debit card can be cheaper than a credit card, be aware that most banks will charge for each cash withdrawal on top of a commission fee. Best practice is to take out larger sums so you’re charged less frequently, only take care and don’t keep all your money in the same place. Getting your currency before you arrive at the airport is also a way of securing the best rate you can and works out a lot cheaper.

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Small Drop In Oxygen Level Could Cure Jet Lag

New York, Oct 21 (IANS) In a potential new treatment for jet lag, researchers have found that reducing oxygen level for a short period can help reset circadian clocks and help adapt eating, sleeping and running habits to the new time faster. The experiment was conducted in mice and if confirmed in humans, the research could help inform how airlines moderate cabin air pressure.

In a paper published in the journal Cell Metabolism, the researchers showed that changing the concentration of oxygen in cells by just three per cent, twice a day, will synchronise mouse cells to a circadian rhythm. “It was extremely exciting to see that even small changes in oxygen levels were sufficient to efficiently reset the circadian clock,” said lead study author Gad Asher, a senior scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.

The researchers suspected that the protein HIF1? was the link between oxygen and the circadian clock because HIF1-alpha plays both a role in oxygen homeostasis in cells. They found that cells with low HIF1-alpha levels would not synchronise in response to oxygen variations.

The researchers further explored oxygen’s effect on circadian rhythms with jetlag experiments.Just like humans, mice are prone to jetlag after a sudden shift in daylight hours.Mice were first left to eat, sleep and run on their wheels in air-controlled environments.

Altering oxygen levels alone did not change their circadian rhythms but once mice experienced a six-hour jump ahead in daylight hours, varying oxygen levels could help them adapt their eating, sleeping and running habits to the new time faster. They also saw that a small drop in oxygen levels 12 hours before the six-hour daylight shift, or two hours afterwards, put the mice back on their circadian schedules faster and this too was dependent on HIF1-alpha levels.

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Ancient Asian Practices To Fight The Flu This Winter

Endless cups of chai, coffee and cocoa. That’s what winter is to us. Winter brings happiness in various forms, its rings in the festive seasons, delicacies, cakes and all things amazing. We finally can get rid of the pesky summer problems, bye bye scorching summer heat and excessive sweating! But winter also brings the awfully dreaded flu. We get prone to diseases, there is a sharp rise in the respiratory infections, cold-cough etc. So lets us be armed with remedies to avoid the pesky cold and cough in the following months.

The most common Asian practices to fight the flu:

1. Ginger Juice

Ginger Juice is an anti- inflammatory product and it contains antioxidants which helps in many ways: It removes harmful impurities from our body, increases the flow of blood in our body, reduces all kinds of aches of our body, helps to cure Arthirits, active agent for digestion, slows down the growth of breast cancer cells.

2. Garlic

Garlic is considered as a traditional medicine in  in most parts of Asia. It is a Warm Herb in Chinese medicines, which is quite evident in historical texts. Here are some benefits of the stinky herb: It prevents human body from bacterial, viral infections, aid the spleen and helps in digestion, reduces blood pressure and eliminates toxins from the body.


3. Herbal Tea

Herbal Tea like Ginger tea or Green tea is very beneficial for our health. They contain a special anti-oxidant known as EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate), which protects us from the viruses and bacterias. These kinds of tea contain polyphenols and flavonoids that helps to increase our immune system and increases the resistance power of our body.

4. Honey

The sweet golden liquid is rich with nutritional and medicinal values, a fact known in Asia since time immemorial. Honey consumption is safe for adults and children but not for infants below 12 months. Benefits of this gold liquid: It reduce seasonal allergy symptoms, improves immune system, relieves cough and sore throat, heals wounds and burns, can be used in treating upper respiratory tract infections and boosts memory.

5. Rice Congee

This is a Chinese dish also known as Jook. It is a soupy porridge made with rice and water, vegetables and other ingredients. In China it is a traditional breakfast. Rice Congee is beneficial for people in many ways: It helps to fight infectious diseases, strengthen the spleen, strengthen the digestive system and boost longevity.


6. Golden Milk

The easiest and effective way to fight cold and cough is is with warm with mixed with turmeric i.e. haldi powder.  Turmeric has the potency to regularize the immune system and helps the body to fight with viruses and bacterias.

7. Astragalus

This Chinese herb has all the powerful properties of stimulating the immune system. It helps helps increase ones chi a.k.a prana shakti or energy levels. It can be taken for a long period of time in the form of tea or can be used as a beverage.


8. Medicinal mushrooms

Mushrooms have been used since a long time by Japanese and Chinese to cure various ailments. Though there is still a lot to be researched, several studies have have shown that Medicinal-mushroom can improve the immune system and helps to prevent us from various diseases. Chaga mushroom are known as the ‘Powerhouse of over 200 plus nutrients’. So even if you don’t like it, eat it for your well-being.

9. Isatis

This herb could be taken with tea, as a beverage or can be made into herbal cocktail if mixed with andrographis. This too has properties to fight against viral and other bacterial infections. It is also available in the form of tablets.


10. Andrographis

This herb is considered appropriate for the treatment of viral and bacterial infections. It is not supposed to be taken for a long time. Recent scientific research has indicated that it has antimicrobial effects, it supports immune function and has some cancer-targeting actions.


11. Eucalyptus oil steam

Eucalyptus steam is antiviral, antibacterial and decongestant. This inhalation is one of the convenient home remedies for coughs. It helps to get relief from congestion and fights with viruses and bacteria.


12. Acupuncture’s role

Acupuncture assists in the improvement of immune system, which plays a significant role in fighting with the infectious viruses. If provided in the early stages of cold and flu, it works effectively. Acupuncturists aim at fixing imbalances to help restore your health.


So are you ready to make your winter happy and safe? :)

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Technology makes James Marsden feel old

Los Angeles, (IANS) Actor James Marsden, who is busy working on TV show “Westworld”, says he feels old due to technological advances.

“I can see why people would want to go back in time, for sure. I’ve never felt older in my life. There’s always the generational gap — I have a 15-year-old son, and I say to him exactly what my parents said to me about the music I listened to, that it’s not music — but that gap now, is growing so rapidly and I feel so far behind, so out of touch,” Marsden said in a statement.

Known for the “X-Men” films series, besides movies “27 Dresses”, “The Notebook”, “Enchanted” and “Walk of Shame”, Marsden stars in the “Westworld” as one of the artificial characters in the futuristic theme park. The show, which is aired in India on Star World Premiere HD, is directed by Jonathan Nolan. Marsden thinks humans are changing as a species because of technology.

“I think a hundred per cent we are. It’s changing our behaviour, it’s changing how we react to one another. If you look at the amount of time you spend doing this — typing on a phone — compared to the time you spend doing other things,” he said. The 43-year-old feels nowadays “technology is insane”.

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