Could Tennis Be One Secret to a Longer, Healthier Life?

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Scientists love telling us what needs to be done to achieve longer, healthier lives. We know that exercise is good for heart health—ideally 45-minute sessions, three to five times per week—and some research suggests that team sports improve mental health.

As The New York Times reports, another new study is highlighting the surprising health benefits associated with certain sports in particular. Researchers say tennis is linked to a 9.7-year increase in life span, compared to 6.2 years for badminton, five years for soccer, 3.7 years for cycling, and 3.2 years for running.

These findings, published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, are based on analyses of the lifestyle choices and exercise habits of 8600 Danish people who participated in health exams and lengthy questionnaires over the course of about 25 years. Some of the participants died during that time, and researchers compared their life spans with the type of exercise they did and how often they did it. Unsurprisingly, while the study showed no causation, all sports were associated with a longer life when compared with people who led sedentary lives. The breakdown of those sports, and how good they are for your health, is where it starts to get interesting.

Even when the researchers controlled for different factors such as education, socioeconomic status, and age, tennis still came out on top as the best sport for longevity. These findings seem to support those of a 2017 study of more than 80,000 British people, which found that players of racket sports tended to liver longer than joggers.

Dr. James O’Keefe, a co-author of the new study, told the Times it’s not clear why some sports are correlated with increased longevity more than others. However, he theorized that the social aspect of certain sports plays a critical role. “We know from other research that social support provides stress mitigation,” he says. "So being with other people, playing and interacting with them, as you do when you play games that require a partner or a team, probably has unique psychological and physiological effects.”

[h/t The New York Times]

A Custom Wheelchair Allowed This Brain-Injured Baby Raccoon to Walk Again

фотограф/iStock via Getty Images
фотограф/iStock via Getty Images

Animal prosthetics and wheelchairs allow dogs, cats, and even zoo animals with limited mobility to walk again, but wild animals with disabilities aren't usually as lucky. Vittles, a baby raccoon rescued in Arkansas, is the rare example of an animal that was severely injured in its natural habitat getting a second shot at life.

As Tribune Media Wire reports, Vittles came to wildlife rehab specialist Susan Curtis, who works closely with raccoons for the state of Arkansas, with a traumatic brain injury at just 8 weeks old. The cause of the trauma wasn't clear, but it was obvious that the raccoon wouldn't be able to survive on her own if returned to the wild.

Curtis partnered with the pet mobility gear company Walkin' Pets to get Vittles back on her feet. They built her a tiny custom wheelchair to give her balance and support as she learned to get around on her own. The video below shows Vittles using her legs and navigating spaces with help from the chair and guidance from her caretaker.

Vittles will likely never recover fully, but now that she's able to exercise her leg muscles, her chance at one day moving around independently is greater than it would have been otherwise. She now lives with her caretaker Susan and a 10-year old raccoon with cerebral palsy named Beetlejuice. After she's rehabilitated, the plan is to one day make her part of Arkansas's educational wildlife program.

[h/t Tribune Media Wire]

Why You Should Never Shower With Your Contact Lenses In

belchonock/iStock via Getty Images
belchonock/iStock via Getty Images

Contact lenses offer a level of convenience for those with less-than-perfect vision that glasses can hardly compete with, but that doesn’t mean the daily struggle of taking them in and out of your eyes doesn’t wear on you. If you get a little lazy and decide it’s fine to leave them in your eyes during showers or pool parties, think again.

According to Popular Science, a 41-year-old woman in the UK lost sight in her left eye as a result of frequently showering and swimming without removing her contacts. The culprit was Acanthamoeba polyphaga, a protozoa that crawled into her eye and caused a cornea infection called Acanthamoeba keratitis. After two months of pain, blurry vision, and light sensitivity, the woman sought medical attention at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, where doctors discovered a ring shape in her left eye and a hazy layer covering her cornea. Upon testing her vision, they found that her left eye was now 20/200, which counts as legally blind in the United States.

Leela Raju, an ophthalmologist and cornea specialist at New York University, told Popular Science that the single-celled organisms “can be anywhere,” including pools, hot tubs, showers, dirty saline solution containers, and even tap water. Lens-wearers make up around 85 percent of those who get infected, and experts think it may be because the amoeba can latch onto a contact lens more easily than a bare eye.

Though Popular Science reports that Acanthamoeba keratitis only affects one or two people out of every million contact wearers each year, that’s no reason not to be careful. If you do catch it, you’ll likely need a cornea transplant, and even that won’t necessarily restore your eyesight to its previous state—after her transplant, the UK woman’s left eye now has 20/80 vision.

“It’s just a long road, for something that’s totally preventable,” Raju says. In addition to removing your contacts before swimming, showering, or sleeping, you should also refrain from reusing saline solution, make sure your contact case is completely clean and dry before filling it with more solution, and check out these other tips.

[h/t Popular Science]

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