Thursday, 22 October 2015

New method may fix a broken heart
Stanford scientists have found a type of cell in a growing heart that could repair damaged coronary arteries, a discovery that could lead to new heart disease treatments.
Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, but there is currently no effective method to regenerate new coronary arteries in diseased or injured hearts. The findings identified a progenitor cell type that could make it possible.
The study was carried out with mice but, as the blood vessels of the human heart are similar, it could lead to new treatments for the disease or to restore blood flow after a heart attack, researchers said.
Smooth muscle, a contractile type of muscle tissue controlled by the involuntary nervous system, is formed from cells in the epicardium(the layer that covers the heart).
Many epicardial cells travel deeper into the wall of the heart and some form smooth muscle during embryonic development.
The original cell type that undergoes this transition and what triggers differentiation into smooth muscle, were poorly understood.
The team can now show that the smooth muscle of the arteries is derived from cells called pericytes. The small capillary blood vessels throughout the developing heart are covered in pericytes. Pericytes are also found throughout the adult heart which suggests that they could be used to trigger a self-repair mechanism.
They receive signals through a protein called Notch 3 to differentiate and form the smooth muscle covering needed for larger artery walls.
When the main arteries become blocked and a person suffers a heart attack, small collateral vessels can form a detour around the blockage. Large collateral arteries are required to provide significant blood flow to healing tissues.
Providing the right molecular signals to turn pericytes into smooth muscle cells may promote a transition from tiny blood vessels to true arteries in the healing heart.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Yes, you can beat breast cancer.

She asked the beautician to paint her nails in bright pink. Her instincts were telling her - it's no ordinary day. And indeed, it turned out to be the day that changed Dimple Bawa's perspective towards life.
Back in 2013, when the doctor handed over the mammogram report to her, it confirmed Bawa's doubts - she had breast cancer. "I decided to go to the salon before meeting the doctor as I was kind of anticipating it. I wanted to put my best face forward, and look prepared for the battle," says the 34-year-old entrepreneur.
However, it wasn't her first tryst with the disease. She lost her mother to it in 2007. She knew what it looked like. "My mother got diagnosed at the age of 44. And her battle lasted for one year and three months. I was her caregiver. I saw her in pain. But I understood what it felt like only when I underwent the same treatment a few years later after her death," she says.
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The key to knock down the disease lies in early detection. "The early you detect, the lesser number of treatments you need and the higher chances of survival you have," believes Dr Vedant Kabra, director, Surgical Oncology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon. It is important to self-examine your breasts once in a month, preferably after the menses. Changes like lumps, swelling, skin irritation or dimpling are all signs that you need to bring to your doctor's notice immediately. According to WHO, the cases of breast cancer are increasing in the country and it has now become the most common cancer in urban women.
Apart from conventional risk factors good like age (after 45) and family history, environmental factors like obesity, lack of exercise, diet rich in sugar and carbs, tobacco and alcohol, are also contributing to occurrence and reoccurrence of the disease among women. "Professional women have 70 per cent higher risk of developing breast cancer than housewives or women in lower status jobs," says Dr Tetyana Pudrovska, lead author of 'Higher status occupations and breast cancer' study. Studies have also linked cancer to factors like late pregnancy (after 30), no breastfeeding, late menstruation, late menopause, lack of sleep and stress.
According to experts, breast cancer is totally curable if detected at an early stage. Thanks to technological advancements, doing away with chemotherapy is also possible in some cases nowadays. "Today with the help of a 'Risk Scoring System' based on genetic profiling, we can find out if a patient belongs to a low or high risk group, according to which the type and number of treatment/s is decided," says Dr Kabra.
Moreover, there are techniques with which the duration of the radiation has shortened from five weeks to two weeks in a few cases. "The radiation therapy is more directed due to which sparing the lung and heart has improved significantly. Plus, with Oncoplasty we can now remove the cancer and retain the breast and improve its appearance," explains Dr Kabra.
Exercise, diet and a few lifestyle changes play a crucial role in fighting the disease. The patients should take a diet rich in anti-oxidants during chemotherapy and strictly avoid eating raw vegetables or cut fruits as the chances of catching an infection are higher. "A patient can be given whole fruits and properly cooked green vegetables. The focus should be on adding different colours of vegetables to the diet because each colour offers a different phyto-nutrient. The key nutrients are Vitamin A, E and selenium. Avoid refined sugar and carbs," explains nutritionist Lovneet Batra. Plus, drink lots of liquids to flush out the toxins from the body. "You can have green tea, lemonade and coconut water," she suggests.
Also read: Diagnosing cancer gets easy, thanks to this online app
"One must move away from selfpity," says 32-year-old Sneha Routray who was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in 2014 after her masseur spotted a peanut size lump in her breast. "Meditation, deep breathing exercises and walking outdoors helps many patients channelise their energies, feel calm and beat anxiety," says Dr J. B. Sharma, senior consultant, Action Cancer hospital, New Delhi.
"Cancer doesn't need to be feared, it needs to be defeated," says Sneha's husband and IAS Ganga Kumar, who has been her pillar of strength through her struggle. Family support is crucial as sometimes patients tend to slip into depression due to side effects of chemotherapy like hair fall, low appetite, weakness, stress and lack of sleep. "In young patients the effect of the treatment on the ovaries is a cause of concern. But all these effects are temporary and we have seen women conceiving post-cancer treatment," assures Dr Sharma.
For Bawa, it was her positive attitude that gave her an edge over the disease. "For my first chemotherapy, I wore a new dress and before my mastectomy surgery, I went on a two- day holiday. I already knew in my heart that I am a survivor. There were days when I cried too; it's painful but you need to stop being a victim. You need to 'accept it' because the usual 'why me' is never going to help," shares Bawa, suggesting that catching up with a friend or going for a de-stressing massage also help keep negative thoughts at bay.
Most cancer survivors call it life enriching experience, which gave them a new purpose in life. While Bawa founded 'Cheers to Life' foundation to help others, Routray started the 'Hausala' programme under her NGO Gramin Sneha foundation, reaching out to women in rural areas with free screening camps. "Somebody like me can only imagine of what they have gone through. Breast cancer is curable and can be prevented with regular self-examination and active lifestyle. Life looks more meaningful when you meet these survivors with indomitable courage and spirit," says Milind Soman, renowned model and founder of Pinkathon.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015 twitter

Chemists all over India on strike today
 Over eight lakh chemists across the country will shut shop on Wednesday observing a day long nationwide strike to protest against the government's move to consider allowing online sale of medicines in the country.

The chemists refused to call off the strike despite intervention from the health minister JP Nadda, who spoke to the President of All India Organisation of Chemists & Druggists - the largest representation of drug retailers in the country - on Tuesday evening.

Though Nadda clarified that no decision in favour of e-pharmacies have been taken so far, chemists maintained the government failed to give an assurance to retailers that there would not be any amendments to accommodate online pharmacies under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940- which regulates sale of medicines in the country.

"There is no question of calling off the strike. The health minister spoke to me today but we have been apprising higher authorities for past few months. So far, there is no assurance from anyone, not even from the minister," AIOCD President J S Shinde told TOI late on Tuesday evening.

Shinde said chemists from across the country will hold protests at New Delhi's Jantar Mantar and Azad Maidan in Mumbai. Besides, there will be dharna pradarshan in all state capitals by chemists.

Calling internet pharmacy illegal and violation of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 - which allows sale of medicines only against prescription by doctors and only by licensed chemists - chemists with physical shops feel online pharmacies are not only posing a threat to their business but can also lead to sale of counterfeits, irrational usage of medicines and risk of adverse drug reactions or side effects.

"There is no means to keep a check on such sale," Shinde said.

AIOCD has already submitted a memorandum of demands to several authorities, including the Prime Minister's Office, the health ministry and the Drug Controller General of India.

The government has set up a sub-committee under the Drugs Consultative Committee which looks at issues related to Drugs & Cosmetics Act. The sub committee has a mandate to look into the possibility of allowing sale of prescription drugs through internet or e-pharmacies and if it requires specific changes in the law and guidelines to regulate such sales.

While the government is yet to take a final call on the issue, those who have forayed into the online pharmacy space feel it is unfair to create barriers for those who want to utilize such opportunities. "With the prominent rise of online and mobile centric consumption pattern, pharmacy cannot be insulated from this change of consumer behavior. If consumers perceive this as a more convenient and more value providing format, then there will be pressure on pharmacy retailers to cater to this demand," says Surendra Mantena, Chief Operating Officer, MedPlus Health Services.
May the bright spirit of Navratri fill your home and heart with loads of joy and happiness.
Happy Navratri!

Monday, 12 October 2015

What your food cravings say about you.
The mind and the body influence each other according to physical sensations and mental or environmental triggers. These stimuli -whether initiated in the body or from external factors -can cause cravings, make you want a morning muffin, send you on an afternoon greasy gravy run or have you scouting the freezer for ice cream after dinner.

An unhealthy treat is fine once a way. But when you're trying to improve your diet or manage your weight, these temptations can get the best of you, and it's time for some new strategies.

While the impetus that drives you to junk food may have a common root (stress, boredom, habituation, and low energy), the temptation to snack in the morning can be triggered by something completely different during the afternoon time, or even post-dinner.

Once you begin to understand situational triggers, you can mend your approach to choose healthier alternatives.

Here are a few suggestions for making mindful choices based on common triggers at various times of the day.


If you're tempted to supplement your breakfast with a creamy cake, or see biscuits in the office and suddenly feel hungry when you weren't before, you're probably not getting enough protein at breakfast.Solution: Protein is satiating and helps you feel full for longer. It provides solid energy to get you through the morning and is full of amino acids that help keep you focused and your body feeling nourished and not needing a carb-heavy snack. Boiled or poached eggs are a good way to start the day. It makes sure you have got ample protein in your first meal of the day.


That period after lunch when energy tends to dip -and you have pending files to attend to -may feel like the perfect time for a coffee break, but beware. This is because the coffee you drink in the afternoon can negatively impact sleep later that night, and some of the flavoured or milky drinks can add hundreds of calories.Solution: Green tea is a much better choice, lower in caffeine than coffee and contains antioxidants for increased focus and mental clarity.Another option is to take a walk outside in the sunshine, taking deep breaths as you go. This small activity reduces stress, helps oxygenate the lungs and reminds the brain that it's still daytime, helping restore your energy. Besides, it is a good way to loosen your limbs, by climbing the stairs or taking a short walk.


For many people, coming home from work immediately throws them from work stress into home obligations, and they don't get enough time to unwind. A common yet problematic approach is to reach out for a sugar rush (think eating a cookie or a piece of chocolate) for the instant dopamine release: it'll make you happy even if it doesn't relieve your stress. As a daily routine, sugar consumption and calories add up and don't support a healthy weight.Solution: As you make that transition from work to home, try to find a few minutes for yourself. Meditate and do pranayam for a few minutes to help transit the mind and central nervous system from the cares of the office towards the evening ahead.


If your sweet tooth tends to go crazy after dinner, it may be a sign that you don't feel satisfied from the day.Or it could just be a habit of eating something sweet after dinner. If you think you are in the latter group, then the simplest way to avoid hunting for ice cream after dinner is immediately brushing your teeth.To address bigger issues of feeling incomplete or restless, you need to address the issue through some introspection.Solution: Sugary temptations can seem to come out of nowhere and overwhelm you. But that doesn't mean you're powerless to deal with them. Recognising the cause, the stimulus that triggers it allows you to choose a more strategic approach.You can develop new habits and new systems for dealing with any type of craving and feel more successful in sticking to a healthy diet and managing your weight.

Blind and paralyzed, an adventurer takes new stepsfacebook
As a ‪#‎youngboy‬ growing up in Northern Ireland, Mark Pollock ‪#‎dreamed‬of being Superman one day.
Like his childhood comic ‪#‎hero‬, action and adventure have filled Pollock's life, but also tragedy. He is ‪#‎blind‬, and an accident as an adult left him‪#‎paralyzed‬. But he never let his physical setbacks stop him."Whenever I put my Superman costume on as a ‪#‎kid‬, I didn't have X-ray vision. I had desperately short sight and had to wear big. thick glasses to see," Pollock said during a talk at TEDxHollywood in 2014. "I couldn't leave (glasses) in the phone box like Clark Kent could. That short sight lead me to have a detached retina."
At the age of 5, Pollock had lost his vision in his right eye. Episodes of periodic blindness followed when a rogue Frisbee hit his left eye when he was 8 and at age 14, when he had another detached retina, this time in his left eye.
After graduation, he aspired to be an investment banker and work in London, but life took a different turn right before Pollock, then 22, was about to graduate. While finishing up his studies at Trinity College in Dublin, an unsuccessful operation on his left eye left Pollock permanently blind in both eyes.
    "When I lost my sight, I lost my identity, but, then I thought, 'What is going to be possible for me?'" Pollock said in a phone interview.
    'Sports gave my life meaning'
    Learn to navigate the unpredictable: It is a mantra Pollock shares with audiences as a motivational speaker. In his book "Making It Happen," which he co-authored with filmmaker Ross Whitaker, Pollock details his experiences living with blindness and the importance of recognizing the current reality of any situation.
    "This is key before you move forward," Pollock said. "Then expect problems while exploring all the possibilities."
    Living a life infused with a competitive spirit, Pollock refused to sit on the sidelines of life. A few months after he was blinded, Pollock began to explore the possibilities within his new reality. He worked, and went on to complete a Master's in business studies. It was through sports that he found the possibilities within his own life again.
    "Sports gave my life meaning," Pollock said. "I always wanted to be in the middle of the action. For me, competing means trying to pursue success and risk the possibility of failure. But being in there and trying is key."
    Pollock went on to become a successful ultra-endurance adventure athlete. His list of accomplishments grew every year.
    In 2002, Pollock won bronze and silver medals in rowing at the Commonwealth Games. The following year, he raced six marathons in seven days across China's Gobi Desert. He participated in an Ironman triathlon in Switzerland in 2006, and in 2008, made history as the first blind man to race to the South Pole.
    Pollock felt unstoppable. After completing the adventure of a lifetime and pumped with confidence, Pollock was ready to propose to his girlfriend, Simone George, a lawyer from Ireland.
    "We met by learning how to dance together," Pollock said of George, who taught him to salsa.
    Just weeks before Pollock and his fiancée were getting ready to exchange their vows and dance at their wedding, tragedy struck again.
    In the summer of 2010, Pollock was in England with a group of friends to attend Henley Royal Regatta, an annual rowing event held on the River Thames. While walking in the house where he was staying, he fell 25 feet from a second-story window, and landed on the concrete below. Pollock does not recall details of the incident.
    "I fractured my skull, broke my back and the damage to my spinal cord left me paralyzed from the waist down," Pollock said. "At the time, people who found me lying on the concrete thought I was dead. Even doctors predicted I was going to die."
    Spending the next 16 months in the intensive care unit, Pollock knew life as a blind and paralyzed man would be incredibly challenging.
    "When I realized what was happening, at times I wondered if dying would have been a better outcome," Pollock said. "The real truth of paralysis is not just the lack of movement or feeling, but rather that I was going to suffer from lack of bladder control, sexual function and my life expectancy could be reduced."
    After the incident, Pollock's fiancée quit her job and stayed by his side for each step of the recovery process.
    "I've been extraordinarily fortunate to be surrounded by people who want to go on the journey with me, through all the ups and downs," said Pollock. "People I've relied on are generally the people who want to be there along the way, not those who are being forced to be."
    What Pollock had to do now, he said, was keep his eye on the prize.
    A journey of a thousand steps
    Now 39, Pollock wants to be a voice of change to help "fast track" a cure for paralysis. Working with doctors in America, Russia and Ireland, he says researchers have already made significant strides in the field of spinal cord injuries.
    "One day scientists may find the cure, and if not, I will have at least contributed to the body of research that is out there for the future," Pollock said. In 2012, Ekso Bionics, a high-tech firm which manufactures robotic limbs, linked up with Pollock and fit him for his own pair of robotic legs.
    Last month, Pollock made international news by using a "robotic exoskeleton," an external contraption which support Pollock's body in the upright position, under the guidance of doctors at the University of California, Los Angeles.
    Doctors working on the technology call this a "novel, noninvasive spinal stimulation technique that does not require surgery." By placing electrodes over the spinal cord, doctors were able to stimulate the nerve cells which survived the injury. Pollock was able to take voluntary control of his leg muscles, stand upright and take thousands of steps during a five-day test training session, UCLA doctors reported.
    Doctors say re-establishing the action potential from the brain to the spinal cord allows for interplay between the subject and the technology.
    "This particular robot allows the subject to participate in the movements and that amount of participation can be measured by the device itself," said UCLA's Dr. Reggie Edgerton, one of the pioneers in the field of neuromodulation. "Simply speaking, motors drive the device so that the joints move as they need to move to step, the power and or current need to drive the motor normally comes from the sources of power from the device itself, such as the battery that stores the energy. But the subject itself can contribute to the work that needs to be done. The more work the subject does, the less work the robot does."
    The technology, which doctors say could potentially be available to the public in a couple years, holds promise for millions of paralysis victims around the world.
    In American alone, nearly 6 million people live with paralysis, according to a study initiated by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
    Pollock continues to draw inspiration from Christopher Reeve, who played his childhood hero, Superman, saying he paved the way for the work he and others do to find a cure for paralysis. Reeve was paralyzed after a horse riding accident in 1995 and died in 2004.
    "The road to recovery is still a long one," Pollock said. He spends four hours a day, four days a week in physical training.
    "Walking in the exoskeleton robot and working with incredible scientists from around the world, that's the exciting and easy bit. It's the impact on the day-to-day mundane things like getting up in the morning or taking a shower that are difficult," Pollock said. "The lack of overall independence and lack of dignity is tough."
    #‎Chandigarh‬ ‪#‎Mohali‬ ‪#‎Panchkula‬ ‪#‎Zirakpur‬ ‪#‎Ludhiana‬ ‪#‎Jalandhar‬‪#‎Patiala‬ ‪#‎health‬

    Sunday, 11 October 2015

    ‪#‎7Things‬ You Need To Do If You Have A Frozen ‪#‎Shoulder‬.

    Frozen shoulder is a common problem that is characterised by ‪#‎pain‬ and stiffness in the shoulder joint. It can make simple things like reaching for something or carrying a handbag extremely difficult. If you’re suffering from a frozen shoulder, here’s what you ‪#‎need‬ to do. 

    1. See a specialist.
    A doctor can distinguish between what is called a primary and a secondary frozen shoulder. If you have a secondary frozen shoulder it means that there is another reason why the shoulder is stiff and painful. Often, these reasons can be treated and cured, and the shoulder recovers faster. For diagnostics, a good clinical examination together with an ultrasound of the shoulder is the norm, but sometimes an MRI is required.
    2. Know the stages.
    If it’s a primary frozen shoulder, these are the stages of the disease: freezing – frozen – thawing. Pain is predominant in the first stage, and stiffness is predominant in the second stage. Frozen shoulder is a self-limiting disease, which means that it appears out of the blue and disappears on its own. However, the time period between freezing and thawing can range from 3 months to 2 years. 
    3. Get the injection on time.
    Ask your doctor for an injection in the first phase, when the pain is predominant. An injection into the joint can really improve the pain. Afterwards, it is not so effective. 
    4. Use your other joints.
    You can improve your mobility significantly by using the other joints around the shoulder, especially the shoulder girdle and the thoracic spine. A fixed thoracic spine that is stuck in a stooping position reduces the shoulder range a lot. Good manual physiotherapy and sports physiotherapy can help you improve your range.

    5. Improve the range of your shoulder joint.

    Although you will not regain full mobility until the end of the thawing phase, you can improve your range a little, especially when it comes to movements that are important to your daily life, like reaching behind your neck or your back. Again, manual physiotherapy can help a lot with this. At the same time, working the joint a lot doesn’t help either.
    6. Exercise even after it has improved.
    Once you have improved (with or without manual physiotherapy) you need to do a few stretching and strengthening exercises to keep the mobility.
    7. Be patient.
    The shoulder always thaws, but you need to accept the limitations it places on you for some time. You also need to find the fine balance between gradually improving mobility and fighting too hard against it.
    ‪#‎Chandigarh‬ ‪#‎Mohali‬ ‪#‎Panchkula‬ ‪#‎Zirakpur‬ ‪#‎Ludhiana‬ ‪#‎Jalandhar‬‪#‎Patiala‬ ‪#‎health‬

    Friday, 9 October 2015
    Heavy smoking and drinking will age you faster.
    Heavy smoking and alcohol use cause distinctive changes to human DNA, leading to an accelerated premature ageing, scientists reveal.

    Interestingly, moderate alcohol use -- about one to two drinks per day -- was correlated with the healthiest ageing, while very low and high consumption were linked to accelerated ageing.

    Biological ageing is the progressive decline in physiological ability to meet demands that occurs over time.

    It is due to the accumulation of damage at the cellular level and the rate of biological ageing is determined by both environmental and genetic factors.

    While calculating the difference between biological age and chronological age, the researchers found that all levels of exposure to smoke were associated with significantly premature ageing.

    "Using data from the publicly available "Gene Expression Omnibus", Robert A Philibert from University of Iowa analysed patterns of DNA methylation - a molecular modification to DNA that affects when and how strongly a gene is expressed.

    Prior research had shown that methylation patterns change in predictable ways as people age as well as in response to cigarette smoke and alcohol.

    "Being able to objectively identify future smokers and heavy alcohol users when they are young can help providers and public health practitioners improve quality of life and reduce medical costs," Dr Philibert emphasised.

    The next step is to unravel the details of how methylation patterns change in response to lifestyle changes during the life course so that their assessments can be more informative.
    Selena Gomez reveals she has lupus! Here's what this autoimmune disease is
    Answering questions about a recent hiatus from the spotlight, 23-year-old pop star Selena Gomez opened about her battle with the autoimmune disease for the first time.
    “I was diagnosed with lupus, and I’ve been through chemotherapy. That’s what my break was really about. I could’ve had a stroke."

    In the wake of the pop singer's announcement that she's been diagnosed with lupus, all her fans have been wondering about this disease. Here is all that you need to know:
    Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when the body's immune system attacks its own tissues and organs.
    The joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs can be affected by the disease, which causes inflammation.
    Often considered as a complex and misunderstood condition, it causes the body to mistakenly detect its own tissue as a foreign invader and attack itself. 
    The most important thing to note about this auto-immune disease is that it's rare but 78 percent of those who develop these diseases are women. While it can strike at any age, it usually is diagnosed in women between the ages of 15 and 35, most commonly in their late teens or early 20s. The exact cause as to why it affects mostly young women is not known, but it's thought that hormones may play a role.
    Another note-worthy thing is that autoimmune diseases leave you at a higher risk of certain kinds of cancers, such as lymphoma.
    A host of environmental factors, including infections, exposures to toxins and stress can be the spark that ignites an autoimmune disease.
    The following can be the possible symptoms:
    • Fatigue and headaches
    • Painful or swollen joints (Swelling in feet, legs, hands)
    • Fever
    • Anemia
    • Pain in chest on deep breathing
    • Mouth or nose ulcers
    • Butterfly-shaped rash across cheeks and nose
    • Sun- or light-sensitivity
    • Hair loss
    • Abnormal blood clotting
    The disease is currently treated by drugs, and by chemotherapy designed to suppress the action of the immune system. Gomez's admittance to undergoing chemotherapy was a shock to many, as the treatment is generally associated with cancer. While lupus is not a form of cancer, or vice versa, some treatments like chemo are used to fight both. Medications might include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, antimalarial drugs, prednisone and other types of steroids, and drugs that suppress the immune system.
    The best way to avoid this disease is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Make sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid smoking as much as you can. Since ultraviolet light can trigger a flare, it is recommended that patients wear protective clothing and sunscreen with a 55 SPF when outdoors.
    In an interview Selena said that her lupus is currently in remission; and added "diet, routine and medication" have been key to helping her stay healthy. Let's wish Selena a speedy recovery! After all, she has a brand new album coming out and an upcoming world tour. 

    Thursday, 8 October 2015

    ‪#‎Socialmedia‬ ‪#‎friends‬ can make you stay ‪#‎fit‬! and ‪#‎Healthy‬
    Do you agree that your social media friends can make you stay fit?
    Well, a recent study suggests that health buddies on the social networking sites can inspire you to hit the gym or motivate you to do yoga which will help you stay fit.
    Internet and social media are more helpful and effective for improving people's exercise habits than those promotional advertisements, according to researchers from University of Pennsylvania.
    The study which was led by Professor Damon Centolawas, showed that a fitness motivator can be more effective and vastly cheaper than health promotions.

    During the trial, the team created a website where 217 graduate students enrolled in free exercise classes at the University of Pennsylvania gym.
    Part of the group also received promotional messages from the University, including highly engaging motivational videos and infographics emphasizing fitness tips and the importance of exercise.
    Meanwhile, another part of the group saw no advertising messages.
    Instead, members of this group were placed into social networks with six of their peers.
    While these peer groups remained anonymous to one another, participants were regularly updated on each other's fitness achievements.
    They could monitor each other's progress on the website and when one signed up for a weightlifting or yoga class, the others were notified by email.
    As a control group for the two interventions, a final group of participants received no further follow-up through the study.
    By the end of the 13-week study, the findings were clear.
    Promotional messages caused an initial bump in class attendance but the motivational effects quickly wore off.
    The promotional messages had almost no long-term effect on class participation.
    “Health buddies, on the other hand, were much more effective at motivating people to exercise,” Centola noted.
    “We were able to use the positive signals to form a reinforcing loop that pushed everyone to exercise more," added Jingwen Zhang, an author on the study.
    The results reveal that same positive behaviour signals are also powerful in our online networks and can be harnessed for the social good.
    This approach could be applied not only to encourage exercise, but also to promote vaccinations, medication compliance and preventative care.