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Health Capsules: Feb. 21

Music may improve athletes’ mood, but not performance

Athletes who listen to music to get “psyched up” just before a big game or competition do not perform better as a result, although they do tend to take more risks, according to a recent experimental study. The risk-taking effects were more noticeable among men compared to women, as well as among athletes who selected their own music playlist. Listening to music was also shown to boost the self-esteem of athletes who were already performing well – but not of those who were poor performers.

In recent years, listening to motivational music has become a popular way for athletes to prepare for sporting events. Those athletes point to benefits such as enhanced mood, higher motivation and greater self-confidence after cranking up the tunes, which are often those with strong lyrics and a pounding beat. However, the psychological processes behind the motivational power of music, as well as its impacts on performance, have not been well-researched or understood.

The study, which was conducted by the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Germany, divided 150 athletes into three groups: one listened to music they selected themselves, another listened to music selected by a researcher, and the third didn’t listen to music at all. All three groups then performed a ball-throwing task from fixed distances. To assess risk-taking behavior, the participants were also allowed to choose the distances to the basket themselves, and received points connected to monetary incentives for each successful trial.

The results showed that listening to music did not have either a positive or negative impact on overall performance. However, it did increase the sense of self-esteem in participants who were performing well, and also increased risk-taking behavior, especially in male participants and those who could choose their own motivational music. The researchers also found that those who made riskier choices also earned higher monetary rewards.

The study findings play an interesting role in “understanding the functions and effects of music in sports and exercise,” the authors stated, adding that more research is required to “better understand the impact of motivational music on the intricate phenomena of self-enhancement, performance and risky behavior during sports and exercise.” The study was published in Frontiers in Psychology.

‘Tide Pod challenge’ is no joke

Teenagers sometimes do exasperating, senseless and even dangerous things. Those three words certainly describe the rising popularity of the “Tide Pod challenge,” where teens post seemingly humorous videos online that show them eating the small, colorful laundry detergent packets. During the first three weeks of January alone, U.S. poison control centers handled 86 cases of intentional laundry pod misuse among 13- to 19-year-olds, compared with 53 such cases for all of 2017.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers [AAPCC] issued a warning in late January that it had received an increasing number of reports of teenagers ingesting the detergent pods, which can cause breathing problems, seizures, respiratory arrest, coma and even death when the contents are swallowed. Tide manufacturer Procter & Gamble also is attempting to curb the social media trend, which the company’s CEO, David Taylor, called “dangerous” and “extremely concerning” in a recent blog post.

P&G has produced a public service announcement warning teens not to take the challenge, and is working with social media companies to remove the videos [Youtube recently banned the Tide Pod challenge videos and announced it would delete them]. Taylor also appealed to parents to speak to their kids about the trend. “Let’s all take a moment to talk with the young people in our lives and let them know that their life and health matter more than clicks, views and likes,” Taylor wrote. “Please help them understand that this is no laughing matter.”

Area parents with questions or concerns about the Tide Pod challenge can reach the Missouri Poison Center 24 hours a day by calling (800) 222-1222.  Information is also available online at www.missouripoisoncenter.org.

On the calendar

Missouri Baptist Medical Center holds its annual Heart Fair on Saturday, Feb. 24 from 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the hospital’s campus, 3015 N. Ballas Road. Health screenings will be offered at no cost, along with live heart-healthy cooking demonstrations, free food samples, exercise classes, health presentations by physicians, interactive activities for families and kids, and a blood donation drive to benefit the American Red Cross. Register by visiting www.missouribaptist.org/HeartFair.

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An American Red Cross blood drive is on Wednesday, Feb. 27 from 3-7 p.m. at Saeger Middle School, 5201 Hwy. N in St. Charles.  To register for an appointment time, visit www.redcrossblood.org, or call the Red Cross at (800) 733-2767.

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A Babysitting 101 course for children and teens is offered on Saturday, March 3 from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. at Progress West Hospital, 2 Progress Point Parkway in O’Fallon, in Conference Room B. Topics include the business of babysitting, child development, safety and first aid, and fun and games. A workbook, backpack and light snack are provided. The course fee is $30 per child. Advance registration is required by calling (636) 344-5437.

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Free health screenings for adults are available during two upcoming events:  Wednesday, March 14 from 7:30–9:30 a.m. at Progress West Hospital, 2 Progress Point Parkway in O’Fallon, in Conference Room B; and Friday, March 16 from 9-11 a.m. at the Middendorf-Kredell Branch Library, 2750 Hwy. K in O’Fallon, in Room A. Screening tests include lung function and blood pressure checks, cholesterol lipid panel and glucose testing, body composition analysis and BMI measurement. Participants should fast for at least 10 hours prior to screening. Preregistration is required by visiting www.bjcstcharlescounty.org/events.

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