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New year, new chances

by Eva Amsen

Happy new year! Have you made any resolutions? How’s that going? In case you’re having trouble keeping them, here are two common New Year’s resolutions, and your (scientifically proven) excuses for giving up within a week:

Your resolution: Exercise more!
Your excuse for giving up within a week: Exercise? In a facility with shared equipment? But that’s a source of contamination! A study in this month’s Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine reports that while bacterial infection is unlikely to occur in an exrcise facility, 63% of hand-contact surfaces on equipment are contaminated with viruses. Surely you don’t want to come in contact with rhinoviruses while you’re trying to be healthy!

Your resolution: Quit smoking!
Your excuse for giving up within a week:You’re quitting to reduce your risk of lung cancer, but did you know that nicotine has been proven succesful in preventing the onset of Parkinson’s disease? As a therapy it’s controversial, because of nicotine’s damaging and addictive effects, but as a smoker your risk of getting Parkinson’s is reduced.

Your resolution: Drink less!
Your excuse for giving up within a week: Red wine reduces the risk of heart disease, and contains anti-oxidants which help protect against cancer. And beer is, of course, a source of vitamin B.

Disclaimer and links: These excuses should be used as excuses only, and not as arguments. Of course, when it all comes down to it, reasonable exercising has more benefits than risks, while smoking poses more risks and social stigma than the benefits are worth right now. Red wine and beer, when used in moderation, do have some health benefits, but a few years ago a brewery was forced to retract its advertising slogan “Vitamin Beer, I’ll drink to that” after being accused of being misleading. Health benefits of unhealthy products are controversial, so while I offer you some backup for giving up smoking or binge drinking, I heartily support the initial resolutions. As for exercising: keep in mind that you can get infections from handling money, public transport and anything else just as easily. The quoted study was not aimed at pointing out the risk of shared equipment, but at observing the effect of disinfectants on known sources of infections (such as shared equipment in a fitness facility).

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