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Burning calories easier with company

People who exercise with a teammate, whom they perceive to be better, increase their workout time and intensity by as much as 200 per cent. Kansas State University researcher Brandon Irwin tested whether individuals engage in more intense physical activity when alone, with a virtual partner or competing against a teammate.

“People like to exercise with others and make it a social activity,” Irwin said.

“We found that when you’re performing with someone who you perceive as a little better than you, you tend to give more effort than you normally would alone,” Irwin said. For the first part of the study, college-age females exercise on a stationary bike six sessions in a four-week period. They told participants to ride the bike as long as they could.

On average, each participant rode for 10 minutes. Next, the same group of participants returned to the lab for more exercise sessions, but was told they were working out with a partner in another lab whom they could see on a screen.

In reality, this was only a looped video. Participants also were told that their virtual partner was part of the first study and had ridden the bike approximately 40 per cent longer than them.

“We created the impression that the virtual partner was a little better than the participant,” Irwin said.

“That’s all they knew about their partner. In this group, participants rode an average of nine minutes longer than simply exercising alone.”

Look just below the eyes to know what a person is upto

To get a real idea of what a person is up to, the best place to check is right below the eyes.

 This is the conclusion of a study by UC Santa Barbara researchers Miguel Eckstein and Matt Peterson.  “It’s pretty fast, it’s effortless –– we’re not really aware of what we’re doing,” said Miguel Eckstein, professor of psychology in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

 Using an eye tracker and more than 100 photos of faces and participants, Eckstein and graduate research assistant Peterson followed the gaze of the experiment’s participants to determine where they look in the first crucial moment of identifying a person’s identity, gender, and emotional state. “For the majority of people, the first place we look at is somewhere in the middle, just below the eyes,” Eckstein said. 

The study shows that the ability to learn optimal rapid eye movement for evolutionarily important perceptual tasks is inherent in humans; however, said the scientists, it is not necessarily consistent behaviour for everybody.

 The research by Peterson and Eckstein has resulted in sophisticated new algorithms to model optimal gaze patterns when looking at faces. The algorithms could potentially be used to provide insight into conditions like schizophrenia and autism, which are associated with uncommon gaze patterns, or prosopagnosia –– an inability to recognise someone by his or her face.

More Facebook friends means more stress: Study

A wide circle of friends on Facebook may make you feel popular but it can also give you stress.

The more people you have as your Facebook friends, the more likely you are to get stressed trying not to cause offence, according to a new report.

The report from the University of Edinburgh Business School has found that the more groups of people in someone’s Facebook friends, the greater potential to cause offence. In particular, adding employers or parents resulted in the greatest increase in anxiety.

Stress arises when a user presents a version of himself on the social networking site Facebook that is unacceptable to some of their online ‘friends’, such as posts displaying behaviour such as swearing, recklessness, drinking and smoking.

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