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Celebs tout ice baths, but science on benefits is lukewarm

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Celebs tout ice baths, but science on benefits is lukewarm

The coolest thing on social media these days may be celebrities and regular folks plunging into frigid water or taking ice baths.

The touted benefits include improved mood, more energy, and weight loss and reduced inflammation, but the science supporting some of those claims is lukewarm.

Kim Kardashian posted her foray on Instagram. Harry Styles has tweeted about his dips. Kristen Bell says her plunges are “brutal” but mentally uplifting. And Lizzo claims ice plunges reduce inflammation and make her body feel better.

Here’s what medical evidence, experts and fans say about the practice, which dates back centuries.

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THE MIND

You might call Dan O’Conor an amateur authority on cold water immersion. Since June 2020, the 55-year-old Chicago man has plunged into Lake Michigan almost daily, including on frigid winter mornings when he has to shovel through the ice.

“The endorphin rush … is an incredible way to wake up and just kind of shock the body and get the engine going,” O’Conor said on a recent morning when the air temperature was a frosty 23 degrees (minus-5 Celsius). Endorphins are “feel good” hormones released in response to pain, stress, exercise and other activities.

With the lake temperature 34 degrees (1 Celsius), the bare-chested O’Conor did a running jump from the snow-covered shore to launch a forward flip into the icy grey water.

His first plunge came early in the pandemic when he went on a bourbon bender and his annoyed wife told him to “go jump in the lake.” The water felt good that June day. The world was in a coronavirus funk, O’Conor says, and that made him want to continue. As the water grew colder with the seasons, the psychological effect was even greater, he said.

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“My mental health is a lot stronger, a lot brighter. I found some Zen down here coming down and jumping into the lake and shocking that body,” O’Conor said.

Dr Will Cronenwett, chief of psychiatry at Northwestern University’s Feinberg medical school, tried cold-water immersion once, years ago while visiting Scandinavian friends on a Baltic island. After a sauna, he jumped into the ice-cold water for a few minutes and had what he called an intense and invigorating experience.

THE HEART

Cold water immersion raises blood pressure and increases stress on the heart. Studies have shown this is safe for healthy people and the effects are only temporary.

But it can be dangerous for people with heart trouble, sometimes leading to life-threatening irregular heartbeats, Cronenwett said. People with heart conditions or a family history of early heart disease should consult a physician before plunging, he said.

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METABOLISM

Repeated cold-water immersions during winter months have been shown to improve how the body responds to insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar levels, Mercer noted. This might help reduce risks for diabetes or keep the disease under better control in people already affected, although more studies are needed to prove that.

Cold water immersion also activates brown fat — tissue that helps keep the body warm and helps it control blood sugar and insulin levels. It also helps the body burn calories, which has prompted research into whether cold water immersion is an effective way to lose weight. The evidence so far is inconclusive.

IMMUNE SYSTEM

Anecdotal research suggests that people who routinely swim in chilly water get fewer colds, and there’s evidence that it can increase levels of certain white blood cells and other infection-fighting substances. Whether an occasional dunk in ice water can produce the same effect is unclear.

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Among the biggest unanswered questions: How cold does water have to be to achieve any health benefits? And will a quick dunk have the same effect as a long swim?

“There is no answer to ‘the colder the better,’” Mercer said. “Also, it depends on the type of response you are looking at. For example, some occur very quickly, like changes in blood pressure. … Others, such as the formation of brown fat, take much longer.”

O’Conor plunges year-round, but he says winter dunks are the best for “mental clarity,” even if they sometimes last only 30 seconds.

On those icy mornings, he is “blocking everything else out and knowing that I got to get in the water, and then more importantly, get out of the water.”

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Pupils to sing 300-year-old Latin music in concert

Pupils to sing 300-year-old Latin music in concert

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Pupils to sing 300-year-old Latin music in concert

A group of schoolchildren are set to sing newly-discovered 300-year-old music in Latin as part of a choral performance at the Royal Albert Hall.

Music charity Armonico Consort has been working with 80 pupils from three local primary schools in Yeovil.

It is part of a project to get more children into music, with the scheme reaching up to 15,000 young people every year.

Artistic director, Christopher Monks, said: “We’ve been training the kids to be really, really good singers, without blinding them with rocket science – basically making singing fun.”

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Teachers from All Saints Church of England Primary School, Preston School and Kingfisher Primary School are being trained as choir leaders, to help with their skills when it comes to music education.

Mr Monks said the project had been “great fun”.

“As long as the person in front of them believes in what they’re doing, the kids will do anything – they will go with whatever you say,” he added.

“They’ve been absolutely hilarious.

“Around here, they’re hungry to learn, they’re hungry for for opportunities and they’re fascinated and curious and just brilliant fun to work with.”

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Claire Hodgson, headteacher at Preston Primary School, told BBC Radio Somerset: “It’s absolutely amazing.

“We love every opportunity so when this came along we thought we must be part of it, and they’ve loved every single minute of all the rehearsing that’s gone into it – it’s lots and lots of effort.”

She added: “Creative arts is hugely important in the curriculum.

“It’s the chance to give these children an opportunity to show their talents and what talented children they are so we love it.”

Dexter from Kingfisher Primary School, described singing in Latin as “pretty hard”, but added: “Once you get it, you can sing it properly.”

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He said performing at the Royal Albert Hall on 9 July will be “really exciting, because you know you’re going to sing in front of 2,000 people.”

Armonico also performed in Yeovil later on in the evening, after rehearsing with the children.

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SHC orders removal of Khaqan Abbasi’s name from ECL

SHC orders removal of Khaqan Abbasi’s name from ECL

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SHC orders removal of Khaqan Abbasi's name from ECL

The Sindh High Court has ordered the removal of former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL).

During Monday’s proceedings, the former premier’s counsel, Barrister Khawaja Naveed, argued in court that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had placed his client on the ECL to prevent him from traveling abroad.

He further contended that Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, as a former prime minister, has had to travel abroad on various occasions, adding that he had consistently complied with court summons over the past several years.

The lawyer requested the court to remove Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s name from the ECL.

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Subsequently, the court ordered the FIA to remove the former PM’s name from the ECL.

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Momina Iqbal enraptured by renovation of police stations in Punjab

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Momina Iqbal enraptured by renovation of police stations in Punjab

Pakistan entertainment industry’s emerging actor Momina Iqbal has expressed pleasure over upgradation and construction works of police stations in Punjab.

She was impressed by the upgradation of police stations under the Special Initiative Police Stations Project (SIPS) and reached the Mastigate police station where she was received by ASP Shazia Ishaq.

Momina also met SP City retired Capt Qazi Ali Raza who informed her about the project and the services of police stations.

He also told her about the facilities including chemical machine and front desk. 

On this occasion, Momina Iqbal said that as a woman, she felt a sense of security while coming to the police station as she appreciated the upgradation of the police stations in light of the orders of IG Punjab.

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