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This Fitness Startup Lets You Pay for Gym Time by the Minute

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In a perfect world, factors like time, money, and convenience would never stand in the way of your workouts. But as anyone who’s signed up for a gym membership and never got around to using it knows, that isn't always the case. A new startup aims to make fitness more accessible to people who are unwilling or unable to make a serious financial commitment up front. As Fast Company reports, POPiN lets users at several participating health clubs in New York City pay for gym time by the minute whenever they want.

The concept applies sharing economy principles to the fitness industry. Members with the app on their iPhone or Android phone can choose from four gyms currently partnered with the startup. Each center includes luxurious amenities that are normally exclusive to members paying roughly $200 a month. With POPiN, users can walk in, check in with the front desk, pay $.15 to $.26 for each minute they’re there, and check out before they leave. A 45-minute workout might end up costing them around $8.

The average gym membership goes for nearly $60 a month, and gyms depend on the fact that a significant chunk of their customers let memberships go to waste. POPiN claims it is designed for people who might be more comfortable hitting the treadmill every day one week and taking a break from the gym the next, as opposed to adhering to a strict schedule. With a variety of fitness centers in their system, POPiN also wants to give its users greater access to a diverse range of equipment than they would get with a single gym.

The app has been around for only a few months and is limited to New York City for now, but the long-term plan is to expand to more cities across the country within the year. If you’re still waiting for POPiN to arrive in your area, here are some more app-based ways to improve your exercise regimen today.

[h/t Fast Company]

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Animals
Owning a Dog May Add Years to Your Life, Study Shows
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We've said that having a furry friend can reduce depression, promote better sleep, and encourage more exercise. Now, research has indicated that caring for a canine might actually extend your lifespan.

Previous studies have shown that dog owners have an innate sense of comfort and increased well-being. A new paper published in Scientific Reports and conducted by Uppsala University in Sweden looked at the health records of 3.4 million of the country's residents. These records typically include personal data like marital status and whether the individual owns a pet. Researchers got additional insight from a national dog registry providing ownership information. According to the study, those with a dog for a housemate were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease or any other cause during the study's 12-year duration.

The study included adults 40 to 80 years old, with a mean age of 57. Researchers found that dogs were a positive predictor in health, particularly among singles. Those who had one were 33 percent less likely to die early than those who did not. Authors didn't conclude the exact reason behind the correlation: It could be active people are more likely to own dogs, that dogs promoted more activity, or that psychological factors like lowered incidences of depression might bolster overall well-being. Either way, having a pooch in your life could mean living a longer one.

[h/t Bloomberg]

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Live Smarter
Not Sure About Your Tap Water? Here's How to Test for Contaminants
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In the wake of Flint, Michigan's water crisis, you may have begun to wonder: Is my tap water safe? How would I know? To put your mind at ease—or just to satisfy your scientific curiosity—you can find out exactly what's in your municipal water pretty easily, as Popular Science reports. Depending on where you live, it might even be free.

A new water quality test called Tap Score, launched on Kickstarter in June 2017, helps you test for the most common household water contaminants for $120 per kit. You just need to take a few samples, mail them to the lab, and you'll get the results back in 10 days, telling you about lead levels, copper and cadmium content, arsenic, and other common hazardous materials that can make their way into water via pipes or wells. If you're mostly worried about lead, you can get a $40 test that only tells you about the lead and copper content of your water.

In New York State, a free lead-testing program will send you a test kit on request that allows you to send off samples of your water to a state-certified lab for processing, no purchase required. A few weeks later, you'll get a letter with the results, telling you what kind of lead levels were found in your water. This option is great if you live in New York, but if your state doesn't offer free testing (or only offers it to specific locations, like schools), there are other budget-friendly ways to test, too.

While mailing samples of your water off to a certified lab is the most accurate way to test your water, you can do it entirely at home with inexpensive strip tests that will only set you back $10 to $15. These tests aren't as sensitive as lab versions, and they don't test for as many contaminants, but they can tell you roughly whether you should be concerned about high levels of toxic metals like lead. The strip tests will only give you positive or negative readings, though, whereas the EPA and other official agencies test for the concentration of contaminants (the parts-per-billion) to determine the safety of a water source. If you're truly concerned with what's in your water, you should probably stick to sending your samples off to a professional, since you'll get a more detailed report of the results from a lab than from a colored strip.

In the future, there will likely be an even quicker way to test for lead and other metals—one that hooks up to your smartphone. Gitanjali Rao, an 11-year-old from Colorado, won the 2017 Young Scientist Challenge by inventing Tethys, a faster lead-testing device than what's currently on the market. With Tethys, instead of waiting for a lab, you can get results instantly. It's not commercially available yet, though, so for now, we'll have to stick with mail-away options.

[h/t Popular Science]

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