istock
istock

Everybody Blames Everyone Else For Distracted Walking, Study Finds

istock
istock

According to a recent study [PDF] by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and polling firm Ipsos Public Affairs, 78 percent of U.S. adults believe distracted walking behaviors like talking on the phone, listening to music, or texting while walking are a “serious issue.” But only 29 percent admit to walking while distracted themselves. It’s easier to pick up on the distracted behaviors of others, it seems, than to notice them in ourselves—the study also found that 74 percent of the people surveyed believed “other people” were the ones with the distraction problem. 

Whether or not you’re what the AAOS calls a “digital deadwalker”—someone too plugged into their mobile device to notice their surroundings—the AAOS encourages people to pay more attention to what they’re doing as they walk. While most young people are resilient enough to bounce back after bumping into someone, older people can suffer real injuries from a collision, and the AAOS study found that women aged 55 and over were most likely to be seriously injured after a distracted walking incident.

While it seems the AAOS is primarily interested in discouraging distracted walking (they go so far as to suggest stepping to the side of the street if you want to talk at all), the study also dug up some interesting stats on regional pedestrian habits. New York City, it seems, is most likely to see distracted walking as a serious issue, while Seattle residents are the most cavalier about the issue. New Yorkers are also, apparently, the most likely to own up to being distracted walkers themselves.

The AAOS recognizes that distracted walking might not sound like a real problem—and, in fact, many of the people surveyed thought the issue was “funny” or just “embarrassing in a silly way”—but they claim there can be real dangers involved. "The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons urges pedestrians to avoid musculoskeletal and other injuries by engaging with their surroundings—drivers, bikers, other walkers and obstacles," Alan Hilibrand, orthopaedic surgeon and AAOS spokesperson explained. "Many of us simply need to force ourselves to set down our devices and focus on what's in front of and around us. This will ensure that we safely arrive at our destination, during this busy holiday season and throughout the year." 

[h/t: Eureka Alert!]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Health
Feeling Down? Lifting Weights Can Lift Your Mood, Too
iStock
iStock

There’s plenty of research that suggests that exercise can be an effective treatment for depression. In some cases of depression, in fact—particularly less-severe ones—scientists have found that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants, which don’t work for everyone and can come with some annoying side effects. Previous studies have largely concentrated on aerobic exercise, like running, but new research shows that weight lifting can be a useful depression treatment, too.

The study in JAMA Psychiatry, led by sports scientists at the University of Limerick in Ireland, examined the results of 33 previous clinical trials that analyzed a total of 1877 participants. It found that resistance training—lifting weights, using resistance bands, doing push ups, and any other exercises targeted at strengthening muscles rather than increasing heart rate—significantly reduced symptoms of depression.

This held true regardless of how healthy people were overall, how much of the exercises they were assigned to do, or how much stronger they got as a result. While the effect wasn’t as strong in blinded trials—where the assessors don’t know who is in the control group and who isn’t, as is the case in higher-quality studies—it was still notable. According to first author Brett Gordon, these trials showed a medium effect, while others showed a large effect, but both were statistically significant.

The studies in the paper all looked at the effects of these training regimes on people with mild to moderate depression, and the results might not translate to people with severe depression. Unfortunately, many of the studies analyzed didn’t include information on whether or not the patients were taking antidepressants, so the researchers weren’t able to determine what role medications might play in this. However, Gordon tells Mental Floss in an email that “the available evidence supports that [resistance training] may be an effective alternative and/or adjuvant therapy for depressive symptoms that could be prescribed on its own and/or in conjunction with other depression treatments,” like therapy or medication.

There haven’t been a lot of studies yet comparing whether aerobic exercise or resistance training might be better at alleviating depressive symptoms, and future research might tackle that question. Even if one does turn out to be better than the other, though, it seems that just getting to the gym can make a big difference.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Keystone/Getty Images
arrow
science
Uncombable Hair Syndrome Is a Real—and Very Rare—Genetic Condition
Keystone/Getty Images
Keystone/Getty Images

Everyone has bad hair days from time to time, but for roughly 100 people around the world, unmanageable hair is an actual medical condition.

Uncombable hair syndrome, also known as spun glass hair syndrome, is a rare condition caused by a genetic mutation that affects the formation and shape of hair shafts, BuzzFeed reports. People with the condition tend to have dry, unruly hair that can't be combed flat. It grows slower than normal and is typically silver, blond, or straw-colored. For some people, the symptoms disappear with age.

A diagram of a hair follicle
iStock

Although there have been only about 100 documented cases worldwide, one of the world's leading researchers on the condition, Regina Betz, of Germany's University of Bonn, believes there could be thousands of others who have it but have not been diagnosed. Some have speculated that Einstein had the condition, but without a genetic test, it's impossible to know for sure.

An 18-month-old American girl named Taylor McGowan is one of the few people with this syndrome. Her parents sent blood samples to Betz to see if they were carriers of the gene mutation, and the results came back positive for variations of PADI3, one of three genes responsible for the syndrome. According to IFL Science, the condition is recessive, meaning that it "only presents when individuals receive mutant gene copies from both parents." Hence it's so uncommon.

Taylor's parents have embraced their daughter's unique 'do, creating a Facebook page called Baby Einstein 2.0 to share Taylor's story and educate others about the condition.

"It's what makes her look ever so special, just like Albert Einstein," Taylor's mom, Cara, says in a video uploaded to YouTube by SWNS TV. "We wanted to share her story with the world in hopes of spreading awareness."

[h/t BuzzFeed]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios