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Distance Running May Help Improve Bone Density, Study Finds

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Regularly going for a nice long jog now might save you a broken calcaneus (or heel) bone when you’re older, a recent study suggests. Researchers from Madrid's Camilo José Cela University (UCJC) have found that endurance running can help increase the density of your heel bone, which plays an important role in walking and running. Since our bones often become weaker with age, researchers believe running may be a useful way to help prevent injury.

The study, which was published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, used densitometries (bone density tests) to compare the bone density of 122 marathon runners, 81 half-marathon and 10 km runners, and a control group of sedentary individuals in the same age group. Researchers found that endurance runners of both genders had a greater stiffness or rigidity index (a variable related to bone density) than members of the sedentary control group.

“It was also possible to confirm a dose-response relationship, meaning that greater amounts of training correspond to a greater improvement in the mineral density of the calcaneus,” researcher Beatriz Lara explained.

It’s important to note, however, that the study only looked at the density of the heel bone. While the calcaneus is important for mobility, additional studies are needed to determine whether endurance running could help strengthen other bones. Considered alongside other studies connecting running with positive mental and physical health, meanwhile, the UCJC research makes a pretty convincing case for lacing up our sneakers and hitting the pavement a little more often.

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Health
This New Gym Is Dedicated to Working Out Your Face
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You might have a workout routine dedicated to sculpting your abs and pecs, but are you ignoring your buccinators? What about your risorius? These muscles are often left out of strength training programs because instead of supporting the body parts that do a lot of heavy lifting, they're located in the face. But a UK-based beauty journalist thinks it's time we give our 40 facial muscles the attention they're due. As Fast Company reports, Inge Theron is bringing FaceGym—a spa and fitness center built around facial health and beauty—to New York City.

Theron launched her first FaceGym in London two years ago. After searching for a way to treat sagging, tired skin and finding only botox and surgery, she was inspired to offer something new. At FaceGym, clients have an assortment of facial workouts to choose from. Sessions may include an exercise routine followed by a facial massage courtesy of one of the gym's trainers. Other treatments include face masks, electrical muscle stimulation, laser sculpting, and frozen CO2 shots. "Workouts" range in price from $70 to $550.

Working out your face may have value beyond a quirky fitness trend. According to a study published earlier this year in JAMA Dermatology, middle-aged women who followed an exercise routine of certain facial movements over a few months ended up looking about three years younger. As we age, the fat pads behind our skin start to lose mass, resulting in saggy faces. The new research shows that building muscle in the face fills these areas, providing a non-invasive facelift.

FaceGym plans to open their Manhattan location in September, with more locations in the UK and the U.S. in the works.

[h/t Fast Company]

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environment
Good for You, Good for the Environment: 'Plogging' Combines Jogging With Picking Up Trash
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If you can’'t motivate yourself to maintain a jogging habit for your own sake, try doing it for the sake of the planet. That's the thinking behind plogging: an eco-friendly Swedish fitness trend that's made its way to the U.S.

As Mashable reports, plogging (a mash-up of "jogging" and the Swedish word plocka, meaning "to pick") is simply going for a jog and picking up any litter you see along your route. The trash-collecting portion of the activity requires some bending and squatting, which adds variety to your workout routine. And at the end of your run, your neighborhood is a cleaner place for its residents—human and animal alike.

Improperly discarded trash can seriously hurt and even kill wildlife if it's ingested. Cities can hire people to clean up excess litter, but it comes at a high cost. According to a 2013 story in the Los Angeles Times, communities in California spend close to half a billion dollars a year keeping litter out of waterways.

Plogging alone won't solve the world’s litter problem, but if every jogger suddenly became a plogger, that would be a huge step in the right direction. Looking for a way to jump on the trend? The fitness app Lifesum now includes a plogging option for users.

[h/t Mashable]

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