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Dependent on technology? ‘Digital detox’ is the need of the hour



It would not sound like an exaggeration to say that our lives have been bombarded with technology, especially over the last few years. And with such bombardment, our current strong dependency on is not unfounded. In fact, attempting to live an entire day, completely cut off from the digital world, is unimaginable for most of us. And, this unimaginable thought is what is called a Digital Detox, which, at this point, is the need of the hour for all of us, regardless of age.

This does not imply that is not beneficial. On the contrary, it offers a multitude of advantages, making our lives much more convenient, as well as accessible. However, it also comes with its own set of drawbacks, one of the most important one being its nature of enabling an excessive cycle of needs and demands. The more we tend to become dependent on for our own needs, the more demanding technology becomes of our own time and effort.

As a consequence, an overdependence on technology can have a significant amount of adverse impact on almost all spheres of our day-to-day functioning. First of all, the more we tend to depend on technology for our needs, the less we typically tend to rely on our own cognitive processes, be it for doing arithmetic calculations, making to-do lists, or even remembering contact numbers. In the long run, such an overdependence on technology could lead to the potential erosion of some of our cognitive abilities. However, going offline from all our technological gadgets for a limited period of time each day during the week can ensure we give our minds time and space to recuperate from spending too much time hooked to screens. This way, not only will we allow adequate rest to our eyes but also give our minds a breather, to ensure that our cognitive processing is not neglected completely.

Secondly, an excessive dependence on technology can make us heavily rely on social networking sites to communicate with others, as opposed to indulging in face-to -face interactions. After all, heavy dependence on technology has a greater probability of alienating us from other members of the community. In fact, with the ever-increasing amount of time and importance being attached to social media platforms, real-world socialisation has become a neglected activity, if not completely compromised. Be it at a family meal, a meeting with friends, or during commute, our reliance on technology has almost become second nature to the extent that we cannot imagine any of these activities without our smartphones or tablets within close reach. Which is why, just like in the case of any other addiction, a ‘digital detox’ is essential!

Such a detox plan simply requires us to keep aside a particular amount of time, typically an hour every day, or four hours per week, wherein we switch off all forms of social media, including gaming, television, computers, phones or any other form of technology. This is the time we can use to unwind. In fact, we can utilise this time to connect with family, friends and even ourselves!

Just like we tackle other addictions, it is the need of the hour for all of us to take a break from technology, and advocate ‘digital detox’ as a regular component of our lives!

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Sick hospital workers often expose patients to contagious illness



Hospital workers often come to work with contagious respiratory illnesses, against the recommendations of public regulators, a Canadian study suggests.

Nearly all of the 2,093 care workers in the study who had such symptoms came to work at some point while sick.

For the study, published in the Journal of Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, nurses, doctors, and support staff at nine across Canada filled in online illness diaries during four flu seasons, recording symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose, fever, cough or scratchy throat.

Of the 1,036 participants who had contagious respiratory illnesses during the study period, 52% reported working on every scheduled day of work and 94.6% reported working at least one day of their illness.

The most common reason given for working while sick was that the illness seemed mild and manageable. Compared to other care workers, physicians were more likely to work while sick and nurses were less likely.

But nurses who thought their managers expected them to show up unless they were too sick were more likely to feel obligated to work.

For most people, in fact, feeling obligated was a driving factor behind their decision to come to work sick, as was their perceptions of what managers expected from them. Younger workers, and workers without paid sick leave, were more likely to say they could not afford to stay home.

“It is only by knowing these reasons that managers and employers can take steps to mitigate the risk of infection to other people,” said Brenda Coleman, senior study author of the study from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, in email to Reuters Health. Eleven percent of the hospital workers said they had come to work even while feeling miserable because they had “things to do.” Physicians were under-represented in the study, and self-reporting of the illnesses may also confound the results, the authors acknowledge in their report.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises workers to take seven days off or consider temporary reassignment if they have a fever and respiratory symptoms.

The research team suggests that changing sick leave policies and cultural norms could help reduce the risk of disease transmission from sick health care workers to patients.

Also needed, the researchers say, is an understanding of how to balance the costs and risks of absenteeism by sick workers against the costs and risks of illness transmission associated with working while ill.

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First two cases of Ebola confirmed in Congo’s South Kivu: Officials



A woman and her child were the first two cases confirmed with in Congo’s South Kivu region this week, opening a new front in the fight against the outbreak.

Health officials said on Friday that the latest cases were more than 700 km (430 miles) south of where the outbreak was first detected.

has killed at least 1,900 people in Democratic Republic of Congo over the past year. This is the second biggest toll ever and militia violence combined with local resistance have made the outbreak harder to contain.

The 24-year-old woman had been identified as a high-risk contact of another case in Beni, more than 700 km north, last month, according to a government statement issued on Friday.

She travelled by bus, boat and road with her two children to Mwenga, in South Kivu, where she died on Tuesday night, according to a slide from a presentation by health officials.

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Research shows how nordic walking may benefit breast cancer patients



Nordic walking, an aerobic activity performed with walking poles similar to ski poles, may benefit patients with breast cancer, according to a review of existing research.

The low-impact exercise improved swelling, physical fitness, disability and quality of life, the study authors conclude in the European Journal of Cancer Care.

“The main strategy in rehabilitation for women with is a change of habits, where physical exercise is a fundamental tool,” said study co-author Jorge Torres of the Faculty of Educational Sciences and Sports at the University of Vigo in Pontevedra, Spain.

“It’s not easy to turn a sedentary person into an amateur athlete, so sports such as Nordic walking are accepted more easily,” Torres told Reuters Health by email, particularly since the activity doesn’t require expensive equipment, can be done in a group with others, and is easy to learn.

Introduced in the 1980s as a summer training exercise that was similar to cross-country, or Nordic, skiing, Nordic walking became more widespread in the 2000s. It’s now part of some exercise-based rehabilitation programs, especially in Northern Europe where it is more common, Torres noted.

He also owns a personal training company, Vigo Entrena, that creates physical activity programs for people with specific needs, including injuries, obesity, pregnancy, postpartum and women with breast cancer, and he specializes in Nordic walking training.

To see if this form of exercise helps women treated for to reduce side effects like arm swelling, and offers other benefits of exercise, Torres and his colleagues analyzed nine studies. Four studies were randomized controlled trials comparing Nordic walking to other activities; the other studies focused on specific effects of Nordic walking.

Periods of exercise in the studies ranged from 30 to 80 minutes and were performed on one to five days a week for up to 12 weeks.

In eight of the nine studies, Nordic walking had a positive effect on a number of symptoms, including lymphedema, fitness, upper-body strength, disability and perceptions of pain and swelling.

A handful of studies also showed improvements in depression, self-efficacy for managing pain and improvements in physical activity levels. They didn’t find any adverse effects, and the study participants seemed to stick with the programs.

The biomechanical gesture of Nordic walking, compared to just walking, seemed to counteract some of the side effects that can come from cancer treatment, such as shoulder-arm mobility and postural problems, the study team writes.

“(Many) health professionals and therapists do not realize that there are contraindicated exercises during breast cancer rehabilitation and that alternatives such as Nordic walking can be very effective,” Torres said.

“Nordic walking is a structured form of physical activity which nowadays has been shown to be ‘more complete’ than basic walking,” said Marco Bergamin of the University of Padova in Italy, who wasn’t involved in the research review.

“Another important point that is less stressed by these authors: quality of life,” Bergamin said in an email. “Nordic walking gives huge benefits because breast cancer patients are survivors, and from a socio-psychological point of view, that really impacts their life.”

Future studies should also investigate the intensity, frequency, duration, and length of exercise needed to help breast cancer patients, said Lucia Cugusi of the University of Cagliari in Italy, who also wasn’t involved in the review.

“What is most evident is the growing interest of the scientific community in tracking the needs, interests and preferences of patients,” Cugusi said by email.

“Offering them novel forms of physical activity that are both effective and engaging has become one of the new and stimulating research fields in cancer therapy and management.”

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