Discrimination against older people needs attention

Ever cracked a joke about old people? It might seem funny, but in a world where the population aged 60 or over is growing faster than all younger age groups, ageism is no laughing matter, says a University of Alberta researcher.

“Ageism is now thought to be the most common form of prejudice, and the issue is, we don’t even recognize how prevalent it is and how impactful it is,” said Donna Wilson, a nursing professor who studies aging. “A lot of societies are really youth-oriented now and don’t really respect or care about older people.”

It’s a trend that needs to be better quantified, Wilson suggests in a new study she conducted with fellow nursing professor Gail Low.

They reviewed questionnaires used by researchers around the world to measure ageism, and found they fell short of providing a comprehensive look at the problem.

“Most of them only asked, ‘What do you think’ or ‘Do you act in a certain way’; what we need to do instead is start looking at the actual impact of ageism — how have older people and younger people been hurt by ageism — because until we start understanding how harmful this prejudice is to all of us, we are going to keep doing nothing about it.”

Widespread impact

There’s widespread fallout from systemic blatant and subtle ageism, Wilson said.

“There’s a big personal impact. Children see older people being disrespected and grow up thinking they’re useless and then they find themselves turning 60 or 65. We don’t expect or encourage healthy aging; everybody who hits 65 thinks it’s all downhill from here.

“If they think they’re useless and boring, how negative is that for them and their family? They don’t exercise, they don’t volunteer, they don’t keep working if they want to, because they feel this discrimination. They don’t go out and find a new mate if their spouse dies because they think ‘I’m next.’ There’s both a societal and personal impact to internalized ageism.”

In reviewing all existing studies on the topic, Wilson discovered that 48 to 91 per cent of all older people surveyed experienced ageism, and 50 to 98 per cent of all younger people admitted to having discriminatory thoughts or behaviours toward older people.

It’s important to continue exploring the scope of the problem by doing more robust research to dispel stereotypes about old people, she believes.

“We have a rapidly aging population in Canada that will jump from 19 per cent of the current population to 26 per cent in 11 years, but we’re afraid of that fact. Based on ageism, we think they’re a drain on society, and that’s where a lot of the myths and long-standing prejudices arise.”

For instance, it’s commonly assumed that acute care hospital beds are taken up by elderly people, but in fact, only 20 per cent of people in hospitals are 65 and older — the rest are younger, Wilson said.

And research shows that only about three per cent of older Canadians are so chronically ill that they need to live in nursing homes, she added. “Most live in their own homes, lodges or other private-pay assisted living facilities.”

It’s also unfair to assume they’re unproductive, Wilson added. One in five Canadians age 65 or older is still working, and more than one-third volunteer in some way.

Wilson expects that number to rise because boomers “are active, busy people who are healthy. (They) pay taxes, they start businesses, they take care of the grandkids, they do a lot to keep society going. And yet we don’t value them and we all lose out.”

Wilson recommends that attitudes about aging be more extensively surveyed through government census.

“We need to start surveying how common ageism is, and how we can get people to look at someone with gray hair and wrinkles and think positively about them.”

She also recommends Canada enact anti-ageism legislation, as Britain did several years ago with its Equality Act.

She believes there’ll have to be a social awakening, much like the gay rights movement.

“You can’t discriminate against people who are gay, and I’d like to see that happen for older people,” she said.

“This is a serious, overlooked problem that needs a lot more attention and intervention. We can’t have a quarter of our population being harmed and we can’t lose out on all the enormous benefits that older people can bring to society.”

Indigenous cultures are among a handful of societies that provide an example to follow, Wilson noted.

“They have always respected their elders; they invite elders to meetings, ask them for guidance, elect them to important positions, make time for them. We’ve lost a lot of that in the modern world because we’ve become so homogenized and so focused on youth.”

Most e-cigarette users want to quit, study finds

Most people who smoke e-cigarettes want to quit and many have tried to reduce their use, according to Rutgers researchers.

The study, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, is the first to examine e-cigarette users’ past attempts and current intentions to quit e-cigarettes in a representative sample of adult e-cigarette users in the United States.

About 10 million U.S. adults smoke e-cigarettes. Most of these users also smoke traditional cigarettes, though many use them to try to quit traditional cigarettes.

The study found that more than 60 percent of e-cigarette users want to quit using e-cigarettes and 16 percent plan to quit in the next month. More than 25 percent have tried to quit using e-cigarettes in the past year.

“Most of the discussion about e-cigarettes has focused on the relative harm as compared to traditional cigarettes, the efficacy of e-cigarettes as a cessation device, and the alarming increase of their use in children. In addition to those issues, our data suggests that e-cigarette users do not want to use these devices forever. Eventually, they want to stop using e-cigarettes the same way a traditional smoker wants to quit smoking cigarettes,” said study co-author Marc Steinberg, an associate professor of psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the director of the school’s Tobacco Research and Intervention lab.

“The strategies that people reported using to quit e-cigarettes include many of the strategies we recommend for quitting traditional cigarettes such as FDA-approved nicotine replacement products or medications, counseling, and social support,” said study author Rachel Rosen, a graduate student in the Department of Psychology.

“While e-cigarettes may be associated with reduced harm as compared to combustible cigarettes, they also are potentially addicting and the e-cigarette aerosol still contains toxic substances,” she said. “As e-cigarette use continues to increase and as more e-cigarette users want to quit, it will be important to be ready to help those who may have difficulty stopping on their own.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by Rutgers University. Original written by Patti Verbanas. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Why lack of sleep is bad for your heart

In recent years, numerous studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep are at greater risk of stroke and heart attack.

A new University of Colorado Boulder study, published in the journal Experimental Physiology, helps explain why.

It found that people who sleep fewer than 7 hours per night have lower blood levels of three physiological regulators, or microRNAs, which influence gene expression and play a key role in maintaining vascular health.

The findings could potentially lead to new, non-invasive tests for sleep deprived patients concerned about their health, the authors said.

“This study proposes a new potential mechanism through which sleep influences heart health and overall physiology,” said senior author Christopher DeSouza, a professor of Integrative Physiology.

Despite recommendations by the American Heart Association that people get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, about 40 percent of adults in the United States fall short. Overall, the average American’s sleep duration has plummeted from 9 hours nightly to 6.8 hours nightly over the past century.

In another recent study, DeSouza’s group found that adult men who sleep 6 hours per night have dysfunctional endothelial cells — the cells that line blood vessels — and their arteries don’t dilate and constrict as well as those who get sufficient sleep.

But the underlying factors leading to this dysfunction aren’t well known.

MicroRNAs are small molecules that suppress gene expression of certain proteins in cells. The exact function of circulating microRNAs in the cardiovascular system, and their impact on cardiovascular health is receiving a lot of scientific attention, and drugs are currently in development for a variety of diseases, including cancer, to correct impaired microRNA signatures.

“They are like cellular brakes, so if beneficial microRNAs are lacking that can have a big impact on the health of the cell,” said DeSouza.

For the new study, which is the first to explore the impact of insufficient sleep on circulating microRNA signatures, DeSouza and his team took blood samples from 24 healthy men and women, age 44 to 62, who had filled out questionnaires about their sleep habits. Half slept 7 to 8.5 hours nightly; Half slept 5 to 6.8 hours nightly.

They measured expression of nine microRNAs previously associated with inflammation, immune function or vascular health.

They found that people with insufficient sleep had 40 to 60 percent lower circulating levels of miR-125A, miR-126, and miR-146a, (previously shown to suppress inflammatory proteins) than those who slept enough.

“Why 7 or 8 hours seems to be the magic number is unclear,” said DeSouza. “However, it is plausible that people need at least 7 hours of sleep per night to maintain levels of important physiological regulators, such as microRNAs.”

Research is now underway in DeSouza’s lab to determine whether restoring healthy sleep habits can restore healthy levels of microRNAs.

Ultimately, he said, it’s possible that microRNAs in blood could be used as a marker of cardiovascular disease in people with insufficient sleep, enabling doctors to glean important information via a blood test rather than current, more invasive tests.

For now, DeSouza says, the takeaway message for those burning the midnight oil is this:

“Don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep.”

Young children willing to punish misbehavior, even at personal cost

Children as young as three years old are willing to punish others’ bad behavior, even at personal cost, finds a new study by psychology researchers at New York University. The work adds to growing evidence that human beings distinguish between right and wrong at a very young age and are willing to pay a personal cost to encourage positive behavior in others.

“Morality is about more than just doing good oneself — it is also about encouraging good behavior in others,” says lead author Daniel Yudkin, a postdoctoral researcher at Yale University and an NYU doctoral student at the time of the study, which appears in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. “These results highlight a distinctly human aspect of moral behavior.”

The scientists, who included NYU psychology professors Marjorie Rhodes and Jay Van Bavel, sought to better understand a uniquely human trait: our willingness to punish, at personal cost, “bad actors” who haven’t harmed us directly.

“This behavior, known as ‘costly third-party punishment,’ is interesting because it is believed to underlie people’s conception of justice,” Yudkin explains. “Specifically, it relates to justice because it involves people making sure others are acting fairly, even if their behavior doesn’t impact them.”

The researchers focused on young children to better understand this behavior for the following reason: seeing how we think about punishment early in life can help shed light on the underlying psychological processes driving this behavior.

Yudkin and his colleagues deployed a naturalistic experiment — one aimed at capturing the reality of children’s everyday lives. In it, more than 200 children, aged three to six, were recruited from the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and brought one at a time into a classroom with a large red slide in the corner. The children were given the chance to try out the slide and all of them reported enjoying doing so. Next, they were shown a video of a little girl (“Stacey”) tearing up someone else’s drawing, then were told that Stacey planned to come back into the room later in the day to play on the slide.

The children were then given a sign — one side of which said “Open” and the other “Closed.” They were told that if they put the “Open” sign on the slide, then they could go down the slide and Stacey could, too. If they put the “Closed” sign on, then they could stop Stacey from going down, but then they couldn’t go down, either. In other words, punishing Stacey came at a cost to themselves, too — they would be denied the chance to do something they previously said they enjoyed (all children confirmed their understanding of the significance of their choice to the researchers).

Surprisingly, about half the children across all age groups — including some as young as three years old — enacted costly punishment. Rates of punishment increased with age: children aged five and six punished at about three times the rate of those aged three and four.

In a follow-up experiment, the researchers wanted to test what makes children more or less likely to punish. To do this, they randomly assigned participants to different conditions. Under one, some learned that Stacey was a member of the Children’s Museum or while others learned she was a member of the Boston Museum (thereby manipulating Stacey’s “group membership”). In another, some children wore a sheriff’s badge while others did not (thereby manipulating punishers’ sense of “authority”). They then examined whether rates of punishment differed according to which condition participants had been assigned.

The results showed that group membership and authority did in fact affect children’s likelihood of punishment, but in an unexpected way. Typically, social science experiments show that people treat out-group members more harshly than in-group members. Thus, participants might be expected to punish Stacey more when they believed she was a member of the Boston museum rather than as a member of the Children’s Museum, since the former would designate Stacey’s membership to an out-group. And indeed, among the youngest children, this is exactly what happened: children were more than twice as likely to punish Stacey in the former than the latter condition.

However, this finding occurred only when the children were not wearing a sheriff’s badge. When they were wearing the badge, they demonstrated precisely the opposite pattern, punishing Stacey more when she was a member of the Children’s Museum than when she was a member of the Boston Museum. The researchers termed this effect “in-group policing” and concluded the following: people become more committed to ensuring that members of their own communities are behaving well when they feel a sense of responsibility.

More generally, the researchers note that we frequently encounter examples of those who perform third-party punishment — from those who risk arrest at a protest over a matter that doesn’t directly affect them to others who stand up to protect a stranger being harassed on the subway.

What’s behind the acquisition of this tendency is unclear. One possibility is reputational: that people do it merely to look good to others. Another possibility is that it is innate: that people are intrinsically willing to uphold moral rules.

“By showing that even some children as young three years of age do enact costly punishment, we provide evidence that reputation isn’t the only thing driving this behavior,” notes Yudkin, who adds that past research suggests that children at this age don’t take into account their reputations when making decisions that affect themselves or others.

“Of course, we cannot tell for sure whether this behavior is innate or learned in the first few years of life,” he concludes. “But it does add to growing evidence that, at a very young age, humans are predisposed to do good themselves and encourage good behavior in others.”

Children who walk to school less likely to be overweight or obese

Children who regularly walk or cycle to school are less likely to be overweight or obese than those who travel by car or public transport, a new study suggests.

Based on results from more than 2000 primary-age schoolchildren from across London, the researchers found that walking or cycling to school is a strong predictor of obesity levels, a result which was consistent across neighbourhoods, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. The results are reported in the journal BMC Public Health.

The study, led by researchers from the University of Cambridge, is the first to assess the impact of physical activity on childhood overweight and obesity levels for primary schoolchildren by simultaneously relating two of the main types of extracurricular physical activity: daily commuting to school and frequency of participation in sport.

Instead of using Body-mass index (BMI) as a measure of obesity, the researchers measured body fat and muscle mass and assessed how these were correlated with physical activity levels. BMI is the most commonly-used metric to measure obesity levels due to its simplicity, however, it is limited as BMI looks at total weight, including ‘healthy’ muscle mass, rather than fat mass alone.

“Both BMI itself and the points at which high BMI is associated with poor health vary with age, sex and ethnicity,” said Lander Bosch, a PhD candidate in Cambridge’s Department of Geography, and the study’s first author. “While adjustments have been made in recent years to account for these variations, BMI remains a flawed way to measure the health risks associated with obesity.”

The current research is based on data from the Size and Lung Function in Children (SLIC) study, carried out at University College London between 2010 and 2013. More than 2000 London primary schoolchildren, from a range of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, were included in the study, which looked at their physical activity levels, body composition and socioeconomic status.

Close to half of children in the study took part in sport every day, and a similar proportion actively commuted to school, travelling on foot, by bicycle or scooter. The researchers found that children who actively commuted to school had lower body fat, and therefore were less likely to be overweight or obese.

Paradoxically, using conventional BMI percentiles, children who took part in sport every day appeared more likely to be overweight or obese than those who engaged in sport less than once a week. However, when looking at fat mass and muscle mass separately, children who engaged in sport every day had significantly more muscle development, while their fat mass did not significantly differ.

“The link between frequent participation in sport and obesity levels has generated inconsistent findings in previous research, but many of these studies were looking at BMI only,” said Bosch. “However, when looking at body fat instead, we showed there was a trend whereby children who were not active were more likely to be overweight or obese. It’s likely that when looking at BMI, some inactive children aren’t classified as obese due to reduced muscle mass.”

The researchers say that it is vital to understand the relationship between obesity levels and different types of physical activity in order to develop informed policy measures that could contribute to the reversal of the childhood obesity epidemic.

“Our findings suggest that interventions promoting regular participation in sports, and particularly active commuting to school could be promising for combating childhood obesity — it’s something so easy to implement, and it makes such a big difference,” said Bosch.

The research was funded in part by the Wellcome Trust, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

Anxiety might be alleviated by regulating gut bacteria

People who experience anxiety symptoms might be helped by taking steps to regulate the microorganisms in their gut using probiotic and non-probiotic food and supplements, suggests a review of studies published today in the journal General Psychiatry.

Anxiety symptoms are common in people with mental diseases and a variety of physical disorders, especially in disorders that are related to stress.

Previous studies have shown that as many as a third of people will be affected by anxiety symptoms during their lifetime.

Increasingly, research has indicated that gut microbiota — the trillions of microorganisms in the gut which perform important functions in the immune system and metabolism by providing essential inflammatory mediators, nutrients and vitamins — can help regulate brain function through something called the “gut-brain axis.”

Recent research also suggests that mental disorders could be treated by regulating the intestinal microbiota, but there is no specific evidence to support this.

Therefore a team of researchers from the Shanghai Mental Health Center at Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, set out to investigate if there was evidence to support improvement of anxiety symptoms by regulating intestinal microbiota.

They reviewed 21 studies that had looked at 1,503 people collectively.

Of the 21 studies, 14 had chosen probiotics as interventions to regulate intestinal microbiota (IRIFs), and seven chose non-probiotic ways, such as adjusting daily diets.

Probiotics are living organisms found naturally in some foods that are also known as “good” or “friendly” bacteria because they fight against harmful bacteria and prevent them from settling in the gut.

The researchers found that probiotic supplements in seven studies within their analysis contained only one kind of probiotic, two studies used a product that contained two kinds of probiotics, and the supplements used in the other five studies included at least three kinds.

Overall, 11 of the 21 studies showed a positive effect on anxiety symptoms by regulating intestinal microbiota, meaning that more than half (52%) of the studies showed this approach to be effective, although some studies that had used this approach did not find it worked.

Of the 14 studies that had used probiotics as the intervention, more than a third (36%) found them to be effective in reducing anxiety symptoms, while six of the remaining seven studies that had used non-probiotics as interventions found those to be effective — a 86% rate of effectiveness.

Some studies had used both the IRIF (interventions to regulate intestinal microbiota) approach and treatment as usual.

In the five studies that used treatment as usual and IRIF as interventions, only studies that had conducted non-probiotic ways got positive results, that showed a reduction in anxiety symptoms.

Non-probiotic interventions were also more effective in the studies that used IRIF alone. In those studies only using IRIF, 80% were effective when using non-probiotic interventions, while only 45% were found to be effective when using probiotic ways.

The authors say one reason that non-probiotic interventions were significantly more effective than probiotic interventions was possible due to the fact that changing diet (a diverse energy source) could have more of an impact on gut bacteria growth than introducing specific types of bacteria in a probiotic supplement.

Also, because some studies had involved introducing different types of probiotics, these could have fought against each other to work effectively, and many of the intervention times used might have been too short to significantly increase the abundance of the imported bacteria.

Most of the studies did not report serious adverse events, and only four studies reported mild adverse effects such as dry mouth and diarrhoea.

This is an observational study, and as such, cannot establish cause. Indeed, the authors acknowledge some limitations, such as differences in study design, subjects, interventions and measurements, making the data unsuitable for further analysis.

Nevertheless, they say the overall quality of the 21 studies included was high.

The researchers conclude: “We find that more than half of the studies included showed it was positive to treat anxiety symptoms by regulation of intestinal microbiota.

“There are two kinds of interventions (probiotic and non-probiotic interventions) to regulate intestinal microbiota, and it should be highlighted that the non-probiotic interventions were more effective than the probiotic interventions. More studies are needed to clarify this conclusion since we still cannot run meta-analysis so far.”

They also suggest that, in addition to the use of psychiatric drugs for treatment, “we can also consider regulating intestinal flora to alleviate anxiety symptoms.”

Late-Day Exercise: Can It Cause Insomnia?

Does exercise late in the day cause insomnia?

Answer From Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.

Regular exercise reduces stress and anxiety, and generally improves sleep. But for some people, exercising within a few hours of bedtime may cause problems getting to sleep. Keep in mind, everyone’s different. For some people, late-day exercise isn’t a problem.

It may require some trial and error to see how working out affects the quality of your sleep. Without making any other changes that are likely to affect your sleep, take notes on how well you sleep after working out at different times. This can help you determine the time of day that’s best for your workout and the least disruptive to your sleep.

Updated: 2017-03-07

Publication Date: 2017-03-07

11 Adventurous Moms Worth Following on Instagram

I had a serious adventurous streak as a kid. I was interested in fencing, horseback riding, and solo travel—none of which made sense for our family’s budget—so I channeled my energy into writing instead.

Then, in my early 20s, I finally had my chance. I signed up for my first skydiving course, and it changed my life. People skydive for different reasons. Eight years and 600 skydives later, I realized that I skydive because jumping out of airplanes makes me feel incredibly alive. It’s also a reminder that despite being an adult with real responsibilities, I still need to make time for play, imagination, sense of discovery, and sense of wonder.

Skydiving taught me that saying yes to adventure and trying new things outside of my comfort zone is incredibly empowering. But it also allowed me to meet so many strong, adventurous women, reminding me that there is a place for all of us in adventure sports. Even though the barriers each of us faces may be different, I believe that outdoor activities like skydiving, climbing, and hiking are for everyone.

One of the groups that often don’t get recognized in this space is moms. The women below are pitching tents, lacing up hiking boots, jumping out of airplanes, and posting about all of the badass things they do. They’re inspiring, honest, and totally relatable, and scrolling their profiles may even push you to finally start planning that big, exciting trip you’ve been dreaming of. Most importantly, they’ll remind you to get out there, play, and discover what makes you feel alive, too.

Kellie Torio and her partner live in Los Angeles, California with their 2-year-old daughter. She and her husband both grew up snowboarding with their families. “That turned into rock climbing and backpacking and a lot of dirt in our hair, and it has stuck with us,” the 26-year-old mom explains. She enjoys climbing as well as canyoneering in the San Gabriel Mountains, which Kellie describes as a “free waterpark for people who know how to use ropes, harnesses, and belay devices.”

Her love of the outdoors and passion for working with her hands is what led to her current position with Sierra Madre Search & Rescue. When she first applied, she was attending a fashion institute and studying design. Kellie laughs when she retells the story; “I was like, ‘There’s no way. Nothing in my background says I would be a good fit for this.’” But she was wrong. She enjoys training on everything from rappelling to snow anchors to swift water rescue. Check out Kellie’s account for exciting photos of her search and rescue training and heartwarming photos of her 2-year-old.

Photo by Pouyan Niknejad

Janelle Hill grew up spending time in the outdoors. Her dad worked three jobs and took the family camping often—it was a practical, thrifty alternative to family vacations. Today, Hill and her partner are raising two outdoorsy kids in Ventura, California. “We were camping and hiking before kids came into the picture,” she explains, “so we just kept doing what we were doing. We haven’t stopped.” They took their oldest son camping when he was five months old; they took their youngest when he was just five weeks old.

Having kids has made Hill feel more grounded and confident, and the healthiest and most active she’s ever been. Hill and her partner also practice micro-farming on their small family plot, and she loves that her children can find joy and gratitude in gardening. Her sons “fight every morning over who gets to take out the compost,” and that’s OK with her. Her account is full of beautiful photos of national parks that will have you itching to plan your next trip.

Photo courtesy of Mohamed Youssef

Bisan Sader is a skydiver who has done over 700 jumps. Learning to skydive was her gift to herself after overcoming barriers earlier in life. Sader married at 14 and dropped out of middle school. She completed her GED at age 16 and had her first child by the time she was 17. She then taught herself to drive, enrolled in college online, and completed an associates degree. By 19, she was a divorced single mom working three jobs to support her son. Sader eventually built a successful career with a Fortune 500 company before she remarried and had a baby girl. She and her partner of six years are both professional skydivers.

Sader and her husband recently spent two summers working together at a drop-zone in California. On the weekends, he worked as a tandem instructor and she filmed his tandem students in free-fall. Three weeks after her youngest was born, she was back in the air, breastfeeding and changing diapers between plane loads to the delight and astonishment of her customers. This proud mama loves helping people overcome their fears and find joy in the sky. Bisan’s feed is a mix of adrenaline-pumping skydives and relaxing weekends spent hiking around northern California with her family.

Nyesha & Samantha Davis-Williams are the married couple behind the children’s book Umi & Uma: The Story of Two Mommies and a Baby. They wrote the book in 2018 both for their daughter and to help normalize queer black families. “I personally was tired of seeing books with white families only,” Nyesha explains. “The options were very limited for queer families.” The two women met in 2009 while working together at a summer camp in Fishtail, New York. “Samantha taught me how to make my first fire and put up my first tent,” Nyesha explains. They started dating in 2010 and got married four years later. These days they are busy working and co-parenting their 14-month-old daughter. They enjoy spending time together in green spaces. That includes trips upstate, picnics in the park, walking to farmers markets, and adventure travel. Their daughter has already been to six states as well as Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.

Photo courtesy of Nate Hughes

Lieutenant Christine “Angel” Hughes is part of the Fab Five who comprise the only black female pilots in the entire history of the Coast Guard. All five women were stationed in Pensacola, Florida when Hughes went through military flight school. The daughter of Haitian immigrants first flew solo at age 16 and earned her private pilot’s license at age 17. By the time she arrived in Pensacola, she was already a civilian flight instructor with a degree in aviation. Graduation from Naval Flight School was one of the highlights of her life. She became the second black female fixed wing aviator in the Coast Guard to be pinned with the “wings of gold,” the badge that all Naval Flight School graduates wear. And another member of the Fab Five was there to do the honors. Today, the wife and mother of two is a founding member of Sisters of the Skies, a non-profit aimed at increasing the number of women of color in aviation. Hughes loves flying with her daughter at her local flight club in Alabama.

Jeri Villarreal completed 22 triathlons in the last four years. Growing up, there was always someone telling her how funny she ran or how slow she was, so she stopped running. Villarreal didn’t start again until she turned 36‍. That year she ran 2 miles, then 4 miles, then 8 miles. Eventually it was 21 miles, and she hasn’t looked back since. Later she found a swimming coach and began cycling, all while co-parenting three kids (a 14-year-old daughter, an 11-year-old son, and a 9-year-old daughter) with her husband.

Her favorite part of competing is “the community and the feeling that everyone is in it together.” Even though African-Americans make up less than 1 percent of the sport, her experience as a hijab-wearing, Muslim woman has been overwhelmingly positive and sometimes, she says, pretty funny. During a recent triathlon, a woman ran past her yelling cheerfully, “I love your dedication to sun protection!” Check out Villarreal’s feed for workout tips, beautiful racing suits, and personal motivation.

Cahn is a fly-fishing guide who grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. After working in the rafting industry for 15 years, she taught herself to cast by watching YouTube videos. In 2016, just six months after getting married, Cahn was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma. It was a terrifying experience that included two surgeries and bouts of depression. It radically changed her life. Cahn started living according to the mantra, “tomorrow is not promised but today I am alive.” She quit her job as an educator and became a fly-fishing guide. (She also learned how to metalsmith and began practicing yoga.)

Today, Cahn lives with her husband and infant daughter in upstate South Carolina. Life can be full of uncertainty, but living intentionally has helped immensely, she says. Throughout it all, fly-fishing continues to be a way of life for her. She enjoys guiding, even on the days when she has to find time to pump breast milk in between sessions. In her free time, she ventures alone high into the mountains to fish for native brook trout. Cahn’s Instagram is full of beautiful outdoor photos of her daughter, handmade jewelry, and gorgeous fly-fishing shots from the Chattooga River.

Justine Nobbe is the co-founder and executive director of Adventure Mamas, which began in 2015 as a meetup group for mothers of young children. It has since grown into a national organization with 13 regional chapters. Nobbe’s mission is to “give women space to pursue their passions wholeheartedly, not because it makes us better caregivers but because we all deserve to be happy. Whatever it is that sets your soul on fire, that’s what you should be doing.” Prior to the birth of her son (now 3), Nobbe enjoyed rock climbing, biking, and solo travel. She also worked for eight years as an adventure therapy guide, helping young women dealing with substance abuse, self harm, and confidence issues to develop resilience and positive coping skills via outdoor adventures.

Even now, making sure they have ample time to get outdoors (together as well as alone) is a priority for her family. Nobbe believes in “modeling joy and pursuing our passions” while empowering other mothers to do the same. Justine is the Instagram big sis you didn’t know you needed, reminding you to take time for yourself and prioritize your own happiness. Come for the cute kid and stay for the awesome sunset beer swigging, cliff rappelling, and mountain climbing.

Photo courtesy of Tsalani Lassiter

Rae Wynn-Grant is a large-carnivore ecologist and conservation biologist. She studies grizzly bears in eastern Montana, black bears in Nevada, and primates in the Congo. Wynn-Grant is also a National Geographic Fellow as well as the mom to a 3-year-old daughter. Growing up, she didn’t spend a lot of time in nature. She didn’t go on her first hike until she was 20. (By comparison, her daughter went on her first hike when she was 2.) So when Wynn-Grant found herself as the only black woman in her environmental studies classes at Emory University, she felt like “the only one starting from scratch.” It wasn’t until she signed up for a scientific study abroad program that Wynn-Grant found her calling: studying the behavior of large carnivores in the wild. She went on to complete an M.S. at Yale, a Ph.D. at Columbia University, and a postdoctoral fellowship at the American Museum of Natural History.

Wynn-Grant wants others to know that you can start late, take a non-traditional path, and still achieve your goals. She conducts fieldwork in far-off locations and occasionally brings her daughter along, thanks to generous grants from the National Geographic Society. They also enjoy spending time at home in their community garden. My favorite photos on Wynn-Grant’s feed are the ones of her snuggling black bear cubs (yes, way).

Shanti Hodges is the founder of Hike It Baby, a non-profit empowering parents to get outside with their children. She lives in LaVerkin, Utah, where she and her husband are raising a 5-year-old son. Prior to having kids, she spent a lot of time in the outdoors hiking, surfing, snowboarding, mountain biking, and even paragliding. When her son was born, she was living in Portland, Oregon, and didn’t have very many friends with infants. So she asked a few aquaintances to join her for a hike. That week, five women showed up, followed by 10 women the next week, then 15, and so on.

Hike It Baby currently has 300 chapters across the U.S. and a training program for grassroots leaders. They facilitate 30,000 hikes annually. Hodges’ vision is for the non-profit to continue to grow and enable families to enjoy nature, regardless of their “experience level or ability.” Hodges is also the author of Hike It Baby: 100 Awesome Outdoor Adventures with Babies and Toddlers. Check out her Instagram to follow her outdoor adventures in southern Utah.


Why Is My Skin Always Oily Halfway Through the Day No Matter What?

Welcome to Ask A Beauty Editor, our new column in which Sarah Jacoby, SELF’s senior health and beauty editor, goes on the hunt to find the science-backed answers to all of your skin-care questions. You can ask Sarah a question at askabeautyeditor@self.com.

Hey, Sarah!

OK so I don’t consider myself to have super oily skin, but I’ve noticed that no matter what foundation/primer/setting powder I use, it ends up breaking up around my nose by the end of the day. In high school, I swore by those little blue blotting papers, and I’m sure they would still be helpful, but I figure there must be a better way to deal with this.

I’m assuming this means that I have a good amount of oil production around my nose, so are there any ingredients I should look for in a skin-care product or makeup product to help makeup in this area stay put throughout the day? I don’t want to use anything too harsh all over my face since I do have sensitive skin and rosacea. Is there anything I could use to combat oil specifically in this area?

—Casey G.

Ah yes, the nearly universal scourge of nose oil. Even when everything else is perfectly matte—or, at most, delightfully dewy—that little area around the nose glistens with defiance. It’s annoying, to say the absolute least.

First off, know that you are not imagining things—the area around your nose is home to a high concentration of sebaceous glands, Shari Lipner, M.D., Ph.D., dermatologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, tells SELF. These are responsible for secreting sebum (oil) and the area is prime real estate for a buildup of sweat. So, it’s not uncommon for your nose to be an oil hot spot, even on an otherwise non-oily face.

So, what’s the best way to combat that stuff? It starts with the way you wash your face and how often you do it. “A common misconception is that, by washing the face more often or with harsher soaps, we will decrease oil at that time or later in the day,” Dr. Lipner says. But overwashing your face (especially with harsh acne cleansers) strips the skin of natural oils, which it then replaces with even more oil and sweat later on.

Basically, the body will always want to have a (thin, not visible) film of oil on the skin, Dr. Lipner says, and it will do whatever it takes to keep that there. That’s why Dr. Lipner recommends sticking with very gentle cleansers and only washing your face once or twice a day, depending on sweating and how much makeup you’re wearing.

The next factor is the amount of moisturizer you’re using. People with oily skin may not think they need to use moisturizer, but the opposite is true: “As long as you use a light moisturizer, it will hydrate and actually decrease oil production,” Dr. Lipner says. So, if you’re not already using a moisturizer every morning (ideally with at least 30 SPF), now is the time to start.

That said, those who are struggling with excess oil should not be using toner, which will only further dry out your skin leading to more oiliness, Dr. Lipner says.

Then, of course there’s the makeup you’re wearing. If you have oily skin, you should be paying special attention to only using oil-free or non-comedogenic products, which won’t clog your pores and will be less likely to contribute to oil, Dr. Lipner says.

And yes, in a pinch, those blotting papers are totally fine to use every so often, she says.

If you try and stick with all of this for a few weeks and still find that your skin always feels oily midday, that’s when it’s time to call in a board-certified dermatologist. They may prescribe you medication that can exfoliate and reduce the oil, like a retinoid, Dr. Lipner says. (And yes, you might be able to use them even if you have sensitive skin!).

Although there are a million over-the-counter exfoliating products, Dr. Lipner doesn’t suggest trying to go the DIY route on this one. At the point where you’re considering that, it’s time to see a derm instead.


Anxious people quicker to flee danger

Fear and anxiety are both responses to danger but differ in timing. Fear strikes when something is an imminent threat: a tiger jumps over a fence, lunging at you. Anxiety, on the other hand, occurs when you have a moment to consider a threat: you spot a tiger in the distance and have time to think about whether to run or hide.

New research from Caltech assistant professor of cognitive neuroscience Dean Mobbs, appearing online May 20 in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, shows for the first time how the brains of anxious individuals react to both fast (fear-based) and slow (anxiety-based) attacking threats. The results indicate that most individuals, whether anxious or not, respond to fast threats in the same way. Basically, they run. But when it comes to slow threats, a person’s level of anxiety makes a difference: the more anxious they are, the sooner they will flee a dangerous situation.

“If you tell an anxious person that there is a tiger in the building, then they will want to get out fast,” says Dean Mobbs. “We can see this in the brain–anxious individuals show faster and stronger activity in the anxiety circuits of their brains when presented with slow attacking threats.”

The study builds upon previous work by Mobbs and colleagues that teased apart fear and anxiety circuits in the human brain. In the study, participants were asked to play a “virtual predator” video game while inside a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine that measures brain activity. The participants’ goal was to escape attack from the virtual predator. The longer they waited out an impending attack, the more money they earned; if they waited too long and were caught, they received an electrical shock to the hand.

That research showed that the fast threats led to reactions in the fear circuit, located in the central part of the brain, which consists of connections between two structures known as the periaqueductal gray and the midcingulate cortex. Slow threats, in contrast, led to responses closer to the front of the brain, in the anxiety circuit, which consists of the hippocampus, the posterior cingulate cortex (both involved in memory and thinking about the future) and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (an area of the brain responsible for assessing risk and making decisions).

In the new study, these same tests were performed on individuals previously rated with varying levels of anxiety. The results showed that people with higher anxiety traits escaped the virtual attackers sooner than those with lower anxiety, but only in the slow-threat scenarios.

“That anxiety only manifests during relatively prolonged negative situations, the slow threats, seems sensible, but this is the first evidence we have for this in an ecological setting,” says study lead author Bowen Fung, a postdoctoral scholar in computational affective neuroscience at Caltech. “One thing I find particularly interesting is it gives some support to the idea that ‘getting it over with’ is a strategy to avoid feelings of anxiety–whether it’s the physical pain of tearing off Band-Aids, or the emotional burden of admitting guilt.”

“Even though trait-anxious subjects didn’t earn as much money in the task, they escaped more frequently. So evolutionarily, it seems important to strike a balance between rewards earned by boldness and survival because of an anxious appraisal of possible risks,” says Song Qi, a Caltech graduate student and co-author on the paper.

Anxiety results from having a time lag before danger, Mobbs explains, because it gives us time to imagine future scenarios and plan accordingly.

“Anxiety is part of a prediction strategy, which leads to prevention,” he says, “But anxiety is not necessarily built for the modern world. Today, we can imagine dangerous scenarios that may never happen. The more we can learn about how this works in the brain, the more we can figure out how this process breaks down in anxiety disorders.”


The study, titled, “Slow escape decisions are swayed by trait anxiety,” is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and the Tianqiao & Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience.

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Materials provided by California Institute of Technology. Original written by Whitney Clavin. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.