January 08, 2009

Random Thursday returns, loaded with gossip

Admit it. Sometimes you need a random Cranky Fitness post. Especially when there hasn't been a single random post all year.

Photo credit: Redvers

Especially a post that reveals some really out there interesting gossip about Crabby McSlacker...

Did that get your attention?

News flash: people aren't good at paying attention (Yes, I'm talking to you)

Psychologists are finding out that even when people try to focus on a task they tend to lose concentration within 40 minutes, and sometimes as little as 10 minutes. A psychology professor at the University of Cincinatti, Joel Warm, tracked blood flow in different areas of the brain to determine when people were, or were not, paying attention.

"During various 40-minute tests, researchers saw a decrease in blood-flow velocity over time, and, therefore, a decrease in attention. "Sometimes in the first 10 minutes," Warm says. "That early." And he says many times the participants didn't realize it was happening."

The really scary part? They plan to use this to test people who work in nuclear power plants, to find out when the person monitoring the controls has zoned out while on the job. (Just the thought of a person in that job zoning out scares me. Or a pilot zoning out while flying a plane. Or... okay, you get the idea.) Pay attention!

Another reason to feel paranoid when you're feeling sick

Fatal heart attacks and other heart disease deaths increased during flu epidemics in St. Petersburg, the researchers report. In an article published in the European Heart Journal, if you're over 50, and live in St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida) and have the flu, you have a higher risk of having a heart attack.

The study stresses that while the flu may make fatal heart attacks or other heart disease deaths more likely, just the fact that you have the flu doesn't seem to actually cause a heart attack. Dr. Mirkin reasons thusly:

"Nobody really knows why, but inflammation is the leading theory on the cause of heart attacks and strokes. Your immunity is good for you because it helps protect you from infections However, if your immunity stays active, it can attack your body to cause inflammation which damages blood vessels and sets you up for clots that cause heart attacks and strokes. "

Moral: if you have heart trouble, get a flu vaccination. Especially if you're over 50 and live in Russia. Well, frankly, even if you live in Florida.

Hey, I had to throw in a scary bit of research to see if you were paying attention

Cyclists are fit to be tied... er, I mean clipped in

People who really get into bicycling tend to use toe clips or clip-in shoes to secure their foot to the pedal. The common wisdom is that this is more efficient that regular pedaling. (You not only push down on the pedal, you also pull up on the upstroke, thus utilizing all the leg motion to keep the bicycle going.) Researchers (not the same ones as the gossip study) at the University of Bath in England showed that cycling efficiency is not altered with and without toe clips (Journal of Sports Sciences, January 2008). Turns out toe clips don't really lower submaximal oxygen consumption (VO2).

On the other hand, riding clipped in does help in other ways. Your foot isn't going to slip off the pedals if you have to speed up or slow down quickly. Personally I don't recommend it if you're the forgetful type. Otherwise, you'll come to a complete stop and only then remember to unclip... while the bicycle is falling sideways onto the pavement... um, not that I'm speaking from experience. Oh my no. Nope, not me. (Thankfully, most bicycles do not come equipped with video cameras, so there's no evidence to suggest I'm being less than candid.)

funny pictures
more animals

Did you know that looking for YouTube clips of bicycles with toe clips brings up Porn videos? I didn't know that until just this moment. Wait... where's everybody going? Geez, now you pay attention?

Turns out it's healthy to read People magazine

Photo credit: Jessica Driver

Professor Manfred Milinksi, working with Drs Ralf Sommerfeld, and Hans-Jurgen Krambeck in the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Germany, found that gossip is a vector for socially relevant information.

Those who were fascinated by the lives of others were more successful than those who were not, the researchers found. Gossip is "the glue that holds society together." (It can certainly create sticky situations, so I suppose that analogy is accurate.)

The next time you're at the gym and someone stares at you while you're working out, just tell yourself that they're looking for socially relevant information about you to share with others.

The study concludes that if people hear a lot of gossip about someone, they tend to automatically discount what they're hearing. But in small dosages, gossip can (they say) give useful information, such as whether you should avoid a prospective mate because of habitual infidelity.

I don't know. Seems to me if I heard a lot of gossip over and over about someone, I'd be inclined to start thinking about cliches such as 'no smoke without fire' and things like that. The kind of gossip I like is the sort that I used to find in the Weekly World News. Did you know that a scientist has created a death ray for the iPhone? It's amazing what you can learn.

So, did you hear the rumor about Crabby? Well, it turns out it's all true. Yes, she really is the secret love child of Elvis and Princess Diana, but don't tell anyone I told you...

Tomorrow, I promise, there's a real post about fitness and crabbiness and interesting stuff like that. Honest!


  1. ZOMG, is it Thursday already!!!??

    Toe clips scare the bejeezus outta me, I went and swapped (sold on eBay) my original clipless pedals and bought awesome BMX pedals with like 24 little knurled screws on top and bottom of each pedal that were adjustable to your exact prefs with a tiny hex wrench. A soft soled (rubber-ish) shoe sticks like it's glued almost but you can lift right off w/o going sideways first. Which I KNEW I would never master! Also if you get a big bounce those little screws will catch even the edge of a shoe and help one keep the foot on the surface.

    Of course they will rip the snot out of your bare legs in summer if you brush against them or crash and rake the pedals along any exposed skin.

    The rest of the post explains a LOT about my husband...

    And yes, you have Elvis's smoldering good looks and Di's nose. It's blatantly obvious.

    Kidding about the nose. ;)

  2. Gossip? I hate gossip! Fine, I gossip about my friends, but at least I KNOW them. Out to expand my gossip spectrum with some People Mag NOW!

    THanks for the tip!

  3. oooh I thought we might be talking about SJP and Matty B.
    did she move out?
    Is ferris bueller left alone to ponder his badbad decision making in having an affair?
    will their son ever get a haircut?!

    I do love gossip.

  4. I think it's hilarious that stationary bikes have toe clips. Personally, I've never gotten so vivid in my imaginings about speeding up and down mountains that my feet have flown off the pedals.

  5. I was going to say something extremely intelligent and profound about wondering minds but now I don't know why I'm here in the first place.

  6. As little as 10 minutes? How about as litt- ooh...shiny thing!

  7. Thank you Merry, that was entertaining. As usual, my favorite part was the LOL Cat...Not sure what that says about my attention span. Or IQ. Whatever.

  8. Wow...there was an article in Macleans magazine a while back about how current society with all the visual overload and the "get it now" attitudes has actually started to rewire our brains...children actually use their brains differently now...more like ADD people do.

    I've worked in a lab for a large company/factory and knew the operators...there they were encouraged to play solitaire on the computer just to keep alert on long 12 hour shifts. I can't emigine how *exciting* it would be to monitor levels and numbers all day every day.
    Party time...indeed.

    As for gossip? I don't know how relevant most of it is. I get my hackles up thinking of gossip being a positive thing...but then I haven't had my morning coffee yet...

  9. That was awesome. Loved the pic of the biker eating it and the research round-up. But my fave was, "The next time you're at the gym and someone stares at you while you're working out, just tell yourself that they're looking for socially relevant information about you to share with others." I LOVE YOU MERRY!

  10. Thank you for the justification for not using toe clips (when or if I get a real bike--falling off the stationary bike will have other problems than losing the pedals!)

    And what age were the subjects in the concentration study? Fifty-somethings want to know.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  11. We have a St Petersburg in Florida too! Named by some homesick Russian guy, I've heard.

    I've had some mis-adventures while toe clipped into a bike! Not in St. Pete, however :-)

  12. Is St. Petersburg where all the retirees live? And if so, shouldn't someone change the name?

  13. Excellent random post!

    I do love celeb gossip though!

  14. What? I'm sorry I lost concentration. ;)

    And finally an excuse to read PopSugar!

  15. Great post. I always love finding out evolutionary reasons to explain our current behavior, so the gossip thing was particularly interesting to me. Now I guess I'm heading over to youTube with everyone else ...

    - Dave

  16. heh I will never use toe clips for precisely that reason, I will forget to unclip, and disaster will ensue. Because I am one of those highly distractable people the study is warning about ^_^


  17. Somehow I still think my hubby will make fun of me for reading or watching gossip stuff!

    Yeah, there's a reason why I don't wear the toe/shoe clip stuff!

  18. Great roundup Merry!

    And it's nice to finally discover the secret of my parentage. Explains my love of peanut butter and British accents!

    Re: toeclips--that seems just wrong! When I cycled more in my youth, I used toeclips and could FEEL that more of my leg motion was going into the pedalling. And now that I started again, and have no toeclips, I keep whining that I need to get them because I just know I'm not getting the most out of each pedal.

    But this study says there's no difference?

    I was willing to go through the whole falling sideways into a tangled mess on the pavement training period again, but now I'm not so sure!

  19. I'm pretty sure that those clips things are just asking for trouble- getting stuck is sure to happen!

    And excellent, another reason to gossip:P

  20. Thanks Cranky, I finally 'get' why I don't have toe clips. I can't concentrate long enough to keep myself from forgetting to take those little feet out before I hit the pavement with a crash! Mystery solved!

  21. Crabby, I know the study was measuring the amount of oxygen the athletes went through, so I suppose it's accurate if they use up the same amount of oxygen clipped in or not. But I agree, it feels more efficient if you're using the upstroke as well as the downstroke of your leg motion.
    And I'm glad you don't mind my revealing the truth about you. I thought it was time the public Knew the Truth ;)

  22. Or... the study could be wrong. Scientists != infallibility?

    p.s. Trivia du jour: today is Elvis' birthday.

  23. I am so pleased to have my fascination with TMZ, d-listed, Perez, etc. justified. I feel more successful than ever!-

  24. LOVE the Weekly World News! HATE toe clips!
    And ADORE Cranky Fitness!

  25. i LOVE that fail picture!

    i've never been much of a gossiper ... no idea why ...

    and i have the clip pedals. i have only bit it once thanks to them ... kinda. i clipped one foot out at a light and the clipped-out foot hit a piece of cardboard on the ground and down i went ... still attached to the bike. got scraped up and lost a reflector off a tire and yeah. not fun.

    other than that, i mentally remind myself that i'm clipped in so it hasn't been a problem otherwise.

  26. That's it! I'm removing my clip-in pedals ASAP! I may or may not have fallen over (timbeeerrrr)at a stoplight after I may or may not have pushed my bike up on the sidewalk to push the crosswalk button. And I may or may not have a huge honkin' bruise on my leg now. I should have known those clip-ins would have been a disaster. Maybe.

  27. In college I subscribed to the WWN. :D

    There's a rash of folks out there talking about work habits (multitasking as I comment while on conference call while checking email while updating project..) creating work-induced ADD. I certainly buy that at work. And TV. Look how movies and TV used to be a linear continuous thing and now they are little modular clips with built-in redundancy. We are rewiring our brains. Eek!

    OK, calm now.

    I know I will have achieved transcendence when I can deal with toe clips. Though interesting that the main reason to use them has been debunked.

  28. Nah, use the toe clips if you like them.

    And I am so stealing the phrase 'timberrrrr' -- that's the perfect description for how it feels to go over sideways like that. Um... or so I'm told...

  29. I only like gossip if it pertains to people I know, not about the stars. Actually, I tend to amuse people because when somebody talks about a movie actor, I can't even picture who that person is! For example, yeah Bruce Willis has played in a lot of movies, but I have no idea which ones nor do I care. I also don't care about who he's shacking up with right this moment too...BUT...I do enjoy the gym gossip about the front desk guy and who he may be dating at the gym. :)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  30. Excellent post... I loved reading it. :)


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