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Constipation: Does rubbing your fists together make you go to the toilet?

A TikTokker has gone viral over her simple hack for helping with constipation. So does rubbing the inner edges of your fists together actually help, or is it a load of crap?

Here in Australia, around 20 per cent of the population suffer from constipation – and live with symptoms like abdominal pains and bloating, and the passing of small, hard stools.

None of the above is pleasant, so when acupuncturist Anita Tadavarthy went viral for her constipation quick fix, sufferers thought all their Christmases had come at once.

„All you’ve got to do is just do this for a couple of minutes a couple of times a day or while sitting on the toilet, and you’ll have a bowel movement,“ she explained while rubbing the inner edges of her fists together. She said the friction between the thumbs sends nerves to the large intestine, leading to a bowel movement.

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But like many viral TikTok hacks, this one isn’t worth the hype, according to the experts.

„No, this is not recommended regularly. I have actually never heard of it before,“ Rabia De Latour, a gastroenterologist told Health.

„There is no proven link to rubbing your fists together that would stimulate a [bowel movement],“ she added.

Dr De Latour did say, however, „There are certain abdominal massage manoeuvres and techniques and yoga poses that are thought to help.“

Diet and exercise can also bring the magic back to your restroom moments. „Two things that often go without credit are adequate hydration and movement; simple movement of the body can stimulate gut motility,” Dr De Latour explained.

Fibre is also a nonnegotiable, dietitian Melissa Meier insisted, adding that there are three types we should consider in our daily diets.

The first is insoluble fibre, „which absorbs water and adds bulk to your stool. Also known as ‘roughage’, this is the type of fibre you want to focus on to keep things moving along,“ she explained.

Then there’s soluble fibre. It, too, dissolves in water, but it forms as a gel in your bowel. „This type of fibre keeps you feeling full, supports a healthy heart by lowering cholesterol levels and even helps to manage blood sugars,“ Melissa explained. 

The third type of fibre to keep on your radar is resistant starch, which gets fermented in the large bowel and produces beneficial compounds that work to keep the lining of your gut healthy. 

She suggested having wholegrain bread as a kitchen staple, along with raw, unsalted almonds. Chia seeds, unpeeled fruits and veggies, and chickpeas are also part of her fibre arsenal. 

Diet and exercise aside, it’s essential to consult your doctor, because we all know that if you’re having trouble going to the toilet, there could be a more serious reason for it.

The same goes for bleeding or unexplained weight loss.

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Research reveals taking the stairs instead of the elevator can provide numerous health benefits

New research suggests those little bursts of daily activities like taking the stairs instead of the elevator can truly pack a punch when it comes to reducing cancer risks.

We all know we should exercise (cue: eye roll), but finding the time to do so can be difficult. What if we could improve our health and reduce our disease risk without adding new tasks to our to-do list?

A recent study published in The Jama Network looks into the potential health benefits of short bursts of vigorous physical activity, which we already do on a daily basis. Power-walking to the bus stop, climbing stairs, doing housework, or running errands are all examples.

The promising findings suggest that health is not limited to structured workouts; by transforming these mundane tasks into micro-workouts, you can watch your health improve without adding anything new to your routine.

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Researchers examined the activity habits of 22,398 participants who had never been diagnosed with cancer and did not participate in any structured leisure-time exercise using data from the UK Biobank. The group was mostly female, with an average age of 62, and factors like smoking, diet, and alcohol consumption were considered.

Participants wore wrist activity trackers for a week, which allowed the research team to assess the intensity and duration of their movement. Over the next 6.7 years, the recorded activity data was linked with cancer registrations and other health records. The team estimated the impact of „vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity“ — those daily bursts of movement — on overall cancer risk thanks to this data fusion.

And the results were compelling. Despite not engaging in any structured exercise, approximately 94 per cent of the participants recorded bouts of vigorous activity, 92 per cent of which lasted less than a minute. It turns out that these mini-workouts could have a significant impact on health.

The researchers discovered that even as little as 3.5 minutes of these brisk, incidental daily activities was associated with a significant 17-18 per cent reduction in total cancer risk compared to those who did not participate in such activities. And, for those who were more active, completing at least 4.5 minutes of physical activity per day, the total cancer risk was reduced by 20-21 per cent.

The results were more significant regarding breast, lung, and bowel cancers, the risks of which are known to be influenced by physical activity. The same 3.5 minutes of vigorous activity per day resulted in an astonishing 28-29 per cent reduction in risk, and 4.5 minutes resulted in a 31-32 per cent reduction in risk.

While this study has provided an intriguing window into how we view and use our daily activities, it is critical to recognise its limitations. Because the study was observational in nature, it only recorded outcomes rather than implementing new interventions. It also fails to explain the precise biological mechanisms by which brief bursts of vigorous activity could potentially reduce cancer risk.

This re-evaluation of how we perceive daily activities, no matter how minor or insignificant, is reminiscent of a 2007 published study on the link between mindset and exercise. Despite being active throughout the day, their target audience was hotel housekeepers, who felt they received no exercise at all, a sentiment 67 per cent of them shared.

The researchers divided the housekeepers into two groups: one was informed about the calorie-burning benefits of their daily tasks, while the other was not. The difference in outcomes was startling. Those who were aware of the exercise value of their job saw reductions in body fat, weight, and even blood pressure. They lost an average of 1.3 kg and had lower body fat percentages.

This study demonstrates the potent influence that perception has on our outcomes. Consider this the next time you’re rushing around doing household chores or running errands: it all counts as exercise. If you need me, I’ll be over here trying to figure out how to add ‚domestic tasks‘ or ‚daily activities‘ to my Apple Watch as a recordable workout.

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