Sunday, January 31, 2010

Being straight with your boss cuts stress: study

LONDON - Telling your boss what you really think of them is good for your health - and helps managers improve, according to research published Wednesday.

Firms should be even be encouraged to let employees regularly rate their line managers, to produce "happy, healthy, stress-free employees," said the study presented at a conference of the British Psychological Society.

Researchers split a group of 150 managers into two groups, one of which received training and feedback from some 500 staff on their management skills while the other bosses did not.

"When managers received feedback from their staff, they were more likely to change their management style and subsequently be seen as more effective line managers," said the study.

Employees benefit as it allows them to let off steam, said expert Emma Donaldson-Feilder, presenting the research at a conference in Brighton, southern England.

"The consequences of stress are pervasive; those under stress may experience psychological symptoms, such as anxiety or depression, physiological symptoms, such as palpitations or raised blood pressure and/or cognitive symptoms such as reduced mental capacity.

"Stress is a significant cause of sickness absence and this puts pressure on those left behind to run the business, creating a cycle of uncomfortable pressure with costs to the individual and to the company," she said.

Donaldson-Feilder and her colleagues are developing a number of resources including a questionnaire that staff can use to rate their line manager and learning materials for managers, which will be available free online.

"Without holding a mirror up to a person, they can have blind spots about how they come across and if they think they are already good enough, why should they change," she said.

Competitive sports ups low back pain in kids

Being involved in competitive sports in childhood increases the risk of developing lower back pain in the long run, a new study finds.

According to the study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, college students who had been involved in competitive sports since elementary school are more likely to have experienced at least a single episode of low back pain in their life than their less-competitive peers.

The more years children spend in competitive sports, the greater their risk of suffering back pain becomes. The pain is also reported to be more serious and debilitating among these students, the study found.

It is, however, unclear whether the training techniques, or certain postures and motions adopted in particular sports lead to the higher risk of low back pain in these individuals.

Scientists urged teenagers to play and exercise more regularly despite the findings of this study, stressing that too much TV time and inactivity can also place kids at risk of lower back pain.

Study finds overweight seniors live longer

Individuals who carry a few extra pounds after the age of 70 tend to live longer than their normal-weight peers, a new study finds.

According to the study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, overweight seniors with no underlying disease such as diabetes or osteoarthritis, caused or exacerbated by carrying extra pounds, have a higher survival rate that normal weight individuals.

The risk of death is reported to be 17 percent lower in these individuals, the study found. Sedentary lifestyles shorten the lifespan of seniors regardless of their weight, doubling the risk of mortality for women and increasing it by 28% for men.

Scientists concluded that the widely accepted body mass index (BMI) guidelines are not useful after the age of 70, stressing that underweight elderly are more prone to death.

"This is important since under-nutrition is an important problem in older people," said Kay-Tee Khaw from Cambridge University.

One Liter of Vodka Lethal to Skinny Man

The Russian vodka will celebrate its birthday on January 31. Here are some interesting and funny facts about probably the most popular strong beverage in the world.
Thirty-five percent of Russians prefer vodka to all other strong drinks.

A pickled cucumber is a perfect snack to have after a shot of cold vodka. Vodka takes salts out of the body. Pickled cucumbers and cabbage normalize the hydrochloric balance in the process of drinking.

Before 1885, vodka was available in Russian stores only in 12.3-liter buckets.
Vodka must be served cold: 8-10 degrees Centigrade would be perfect. If the temperature of the served beverage is lower, the taste of vodka will be lost.

A bottle of vodka remains fresh for 12 months.
About 49 percent of Russians say that they drink vodka once a month, 37 percent – twice a month and 14 percent – once a week.

Russians aged from 46 to 55 buy vodka more frequently than Russians of other ages.
The day of January 31 is considered the birthday of the Russian vodka. It was the day when Russian renowned chemist and inventor Dmitry Mendeleev defended his doctoral dissertation

“On Combining Alcohol and Water.” Some people say that Mendeleev’s research had nothing in common with the invention of the Russian drink, although many believe that Mendeleev’s work laid the foundation to making the 40-degree strong vodka.

There are no congeners (hangover-provoking substances) in pure high quality vodka. There are no useful substances in vodka either. Unlike cognac or whiskey, vodka does not contain antioxidants, which slow down the process of aging and destroy cancerous cells.

100 grams of vodka contain 235 kilocalories; dry red wine – 76 kcal, beer – 45 kcal.
One liter of vodka is a lethal dose for a person weighing 70 kilograms.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Small reduction in salt intake saves many lives

Similar to smoking cessation, cutting daily salt intake by just half a teaspoon can prevent a large number of deaths, a new study finds.

While an average US man gets about 10.4 grams of salt per day, this amount in a US woman is as low as 7.3 grams per day.

According to the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, cutting salt intake by a half teaspoon (equal to 3 grams) a day can prevent from 92,000 deaths, 99,000 heart attacks and 66,000 strokes, saving $24 billion in health costs annually.

This benefit is comparable to cutting smoking by 50 percent, the study found. "The [heart] benefits of reduced salt intake are on par with the benefits of population-wide reductions in tobacco use, obesity, and cholesterol levels," said lead researcher Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo.

Scientists, therefore, urged policymakers and food manufacturers to stop adding too much salt to processed foods, the main source of salt in the diet.

Sitting for long hours is deadly: Study says

Sitting in front of computer for long hours places the individual at an increased risk of developing several health problems and even death, a new study finds.

According to the study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, sitting for long periods is associated with certain health concerns, suggesting that muscular inactivity causes illness.

These individuals are reported to be over weight and therefore more prone to suffering heart attack and even dying of the condition.

Even for those involved in regular exercises, spending long hours at a desk is harmful, the study found. "After four hours of sitting, the body starts to send harmful signals," said lead researcher Elin Ekblom-Bak, adding that genes regulating the metabolism of glucose and fat in the body start to shut down after this period.

Scientists therefore urged individuals to make some movements after spending a couple of hours in a sitting position, stressing that spreading the exercise across the day is more beneficial.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

SM Goh stresses importance of leadership for a country's economic devt

SINGAPORE: There is a relationship between a country's leadership and how its economy performs, says Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

Addressing graduates of the first batch of youth leaders from a leadership programme in his Marine Parade GRC, Mr Goh says it is important to have good leaders in four sectors of the country - political, public service, business sector and the people sector.

Twenty-four youths from the Marine Parade GRC on Saturday became the pioneer batch to graduate from the NextGen Leadership Programme organised by the Marine Parade Leadership Foundation.

The seven-month programme equips the youths with interpersonal and leadership skills for community service. During the programme, the youth leaders had the opportunity to travel to Tanjung Pinang to help the residents with development programmes.

The youth leaders also took part in several Meet-the-People sessions with the Members of Parliament of Marine Parade GRC. Ng Pei Ling, a graduate of NextGen Leadership Programme, said: "It allows me to see things from the government's perspective and I realise that actually there are a lot of things that come into play when settling things." Prasanth Selvam, another graduate of NextGen Leadership Programme, said: "I learnt that Singaporeans can actually be very petty with their requests, (like asking for the waiving of traffic summons).

The thing is that you made the mistake and you have to pay for it. Some of the requests are very genuine." Mr Goh was impressed with the work of the youth leaders. He said their involvement reminded him of an ancient saying on the importance of leadership.

Mr Goh said: "(The ancient saying is) 'an army of sheep led by a lion is stronger than an army of lions led by a sheep'.

"In other words, leadership is critical in battles; the leadership qualities, the courage and the ability and getting the team to follow you is crucial." And Mr Goh said that for a country to succeed, good leadership is critical in four areas - political, public service, business sector and the people sector.

"In a country, of course, leadership is important. In a battle it is crucial, in peacetime (it is important) in terms of generating economic growth," he said.

"If you track the performance of a country in the last 30 years, you will come to the conclusion that there is a co-relationship between the leadership of a country and economic performance of the country," he added.

"The better the leadership, the better the government, more enlightened, more visionary. The more honest the government, the better the economic performance."

However, Mr Goh hopes more can be done in the people sector, especially in grooming leaders in the volunteer sector.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Good character and strong leadership abilities are essential: SM Goh

SINGAPORE: Good character and strong leadership abilities are essential for a person's future and nation's success, said Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

Speaking at an Edusave Awards ceremony on Saturday, Mr Goh urged students to also do well in their Co-curricular Activities as good academic results alone are not enough to excel in life.

At a bursary presentation ceremony in his constituency of Marine Parade, Mr Goh took the opportunity to explain why students should win the Edusave Awards for Achievements, Good Leadership and Service.

He explained that this award also recognises the importance of character and leadership. Mr Goh added that a strong leader will have the courage to act according to one's conviction and principles in the interest of the people, society and country.

He said: "Leaders are not those who observe and exploit popular sentiment by offering popular but short-sighted and flawed solutions in order to be elected." Senior Minister Goh, also defined trustworthiness, reliability, integrity, compassion, courage and loyalty as character qualities which should be developed in a person.

In addition, Mr Goh stressed the importance of character building in school and at home. He said parents should pay attention to their children's character development.

SM Goh said: "They should spend time talking and listening to them, understanding the problems they face, showing by example what are the right values, and providing a moral compass to navigate through life." A total of 153 students received the Edusave Scholarship and Merit Bursary award which is valued between S$150 and S$500.