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Photo: Tour de France cyclist shares shocking photo of veiny legs

People across the world marvel at athletes’ physiques and rightfully so. They train months, even years, to get in great shape. 

>> Read more trending news 

However, what people don’t always see is the grueling effect it has on the body. Polish cyclist Pawel Poljanski changed that this week when he shared a picture of his veiny, muscular legs on Instagram

Poljanski, who is competing in the Tour de France, captioned his photo: “After sixteen stages I think my legs look (a) little tired.”

In just 21 hours, the photo garnered more than 22,000 likes on Instagram and hundreds of comments. 

The image was also shared on Twitter, where users expressed awe and disgust.

Do low-calorie sugar substitutes, artificial sweeteners help you lose weight?

Of the 41 percent of American adults and 25 percent of U.S. children who consume artificial sweeteners, most consume them at least once a day, according to a study published earlier this year.

» RELATED: These 9 healthy-sounding foods have more sugar than a Krispy Kreme doughnut 

And the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has said artificial sweeteners can be used to manage weight or blood sugar by limiting energy intake.

But if you’re looking for a sweet secret solution to your weight loss woes, new research warns against falling into the growing trap of artificial sweeteners or low-calorie sugar substitutes for weight management.

>> Read more trending news

In fact, according to the new study, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), artificial sweeteners (like stevia, aspartame or sucralose) may actually lead to heart disease, higher risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and long-term weight gain.

» RELATED: Exercising to lose weight? Skip these popular workouts 

To determine whether or not artificial sweeteners are associated with the negative long-term effects previous studies have cited, researchers from the University of Manitoba’s George and Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation examined more than 11,000 studies on both artificial and natural sweeteners, performed a meta-analysis of 37 studies and then divided them into randomized controlled trials (seven) and longitudinal studies (30).

» RELATED: Are artificial sweeteners safe (and how much can you have)? 

In total, scientists followed more than 400,000 people for an average of 10 years, with seven of those studies (the randomized controlled trials) involving 1,003 people for an average of six months.

Here’s what the researchers found:

  • In the short seven randomized control trials of 1,003 people, those who consumed artificial sweeteners did not lose or gain more weight or see a decrease in body mass index (BMI) or in waist circumference than the controls in that group.
  • The 30 longer, observational studies showed people who consumed those low-calorie sweeteners were actually more likely to face increased risk of type 2 diabetes (14 percent), obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and other related cardiovascular issues (32 percent higher risk for the heaviest participants compared to the lightest).
  • The longer observational studies also pointed toward an increase in BMI and waist circumference due to consumption of artificial sweeteners.

» RELATED: New study on Splenda's link to cancer sparks controversy 

“Despite the fact that millions of individuals routinely consume artificial sweeteners, relatively few patients have been included in clinical trials of these products. We found that data from clinical trials do not clearly support the intended benefits of artificial sweeteners for weight management,” Ryan Zarychanski, assistant professor at University of Manitoba and author of the study, said.

But there are some limitations to the study. For example, the way people consumed artificial sweeteners in the clinical trials may not exactly mimic how people would actually consume them.

» RELATED: Scientists say eating cheese can help weight loss 

Most of those involved in the randomized trials were on a weight-loss program, but the larger population consuming low-calorie sweeteners may not be doing so to lose weight.

It’s important to remember the study’s findings are associations, not cause and effect.

But lead author Meghan Azad, who is also an assistant professor, cautioned against the consumption of artificial sweeteners until more research is done to identify long-term health effects.

Azad and her colleagues are currently researching how such sweeteners consumed by pregnant women may impact their baby’s weight, metabolism and gut bacteria, according to Medical News Today.

In the meantime, instead of using artificial sweeteners as a healthy substitute for sugar, try to decrease your sweet tooth altogether by consuming fruit-infused water, black coffee or plain yogurt with fruit, Azad told NPR.

Read the full study at CMAJ.ca. 

Seniors: Get your $10 lifetime pass for National Parks now before price hike

If you’re over 62 years old and love the great outdoors, the time is now to get the deal of a lifetime.

>> Read more trending news

Right now, senior citizens can get a lifetime pass to visit national parks for $10. But that’s going to change on Aug. 28 – with the price rising to $80.

An annual pass will cost them $20, which they can apply to the cost of a lifetime pass at a later point if they decide they want one. Follow this link for the application.

Money raised from the price increase will go to the enhancement of the national parks. There are more than 400 national parks across the country

Here's a Q&A from the National Parks Service on the price increase:

Why is the price of the Senior Pass increasing?The price of the America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass is increasing as result of the Centennial Legislation P.L. 114-289 passed by the US Congress on Dec. 16, 2016.When was the last time the price increased for the Senior Pass? The Senior Pass has been $10 since 1994.How much is it increasing?The lifetime Senior Pass will increase from $10 to $80.Why $80?The legislation states that the cost of the lifetime Senior Pass be equal to the cost of the annual America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, which is currently $80.

What if a senior citizen is on a fixed budget?

The legislation also establishes an annual Senior Pass for $20. That pass is valid for one year from the date of issuance. Four annual Senior Passes purchased in prior years can be traded in for a lifetime pass. Additionally, access to the majority of National Park Service sites remains free—only 118 of 417 National Park Service sites have an entrance fee.What if I have a current Senior Pass?The current passes are lifetime passes and will remain valid.Will the benefits of my Senior Pass change?No. All benefits of the current Senior Pass stay the same.What if my current Senior Pass is lost or stolen?Passes are non-refundable and non-transferable and cannot be replaced if lost or stolen.If lost or stolen, a new pass will need to be purchased.Who is eligible for a Senior Pass?US citizens or permanent residents 62 years or older are eligible for the Senior Pass.  

Click here to read more.

Pregnant woman’s cure for morning sickness? Boxing

An expectant mother in Australia decided to take a swing at curing her morning sickness.

>> Read more trending news 

Vicky Sims, 39, of Melbourne, who is nine months pregnant, found that working out helps to offset some of the symptoms of her pregnancy, according to Inside Edition.

Sims, a gym owner, has an exercise regime that consists of 30 minutes of boxing and 30 minutes of lifting weights that she has kept up throughout her pregnancy.

“When you are pregnant, there are so many restrictions and physical and emotional changes, which can be hard to adjust to, but exercise really helps (me) feel good,” Sims told Inside Edition.

She found that the exercise helped relieve the nausea related to her pregnancy. She also kept a strict diet through her first two trimesters, according to Inside Edition.

>> Related: Olympic swimmer who’s six-months pregnant enters swim meet

“Eating for two is a very old-fashioned mentality ... it’s not a green light to go crazy,” Sims told Inside Edition. “This is the most important time to be healthy, so although I have definitely relaxed with my food, I am still controlled and watching what I’m putting into my mouth.”

The mother-to-be gained fewer than 25 pounds while pregnant and started showing at seven months.

Read more at Inside Edition.

Hershey getting health conscious, cutting chocolate calories by 2022

The Hershey Co. is promising to make major changes in the calorie count of some of its chocolate snacks.

The company announced last week that it wants to cut the calories in 50 percent of its standard and king-size confectionary snacks by 2022, and include easier-to-read nutrition labels on the front of 100 percent of its standard and king-size packaging by the end of next year.

>> Read more trending news

Hershey CEO Michele Buck said in a statement that the calorie campaign is part of the company’s efforts at “providing the choice and transparency” about its chocolate products that customers want.

“These steps will provide an even wider range of portion options and clear information to help them select treats that fit their lifestyles,” Buck said.

>> Got a question about the news? See our explainers here

About 31 percent of Hershey’s standard and king-size snack products contain 200 calories or less, the company said, and 70 percent already have front nutrition labels.

101-year-old woman wins 100-meter dash at World Masters Games

She came. She ran. She conquered. 

A 101-year-old woman from India won gold in the 100-meter dash at the World Masters Games in New Zealand.

>> Read more trending news

Man Kaur may have been the only athlete competing in her age division in the race, but she finished in 74 seconds. Not bad for someone who only started running at 96, according to Sports Illustrated.

The World Masters Games are held every four years by the International Masters Game Association for athletes over 30, in middle age and seniors, according to the organization’s website.

The next games are scheduled in Japan’s Kansai region in 2021, when some 50,000 athletes are expected to participate.

 

Woman claims Fitbit burned her arm after it ‘exploded’

A Wisconsin woman said she suffered second-degree burns on her arm after her Fitbit tracker “exploded” while she read a book, ABC News reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Dina Mitchell said she had owned her Fitbit Flex 2 for about two weeks when the fitness tracking device allegedly caught fire on her arm Tuesday night.

"I was literally just sitting and reading when my Fitbit exploded,” Mitchell told ABC News in an emailed statement Sunday. "It was either defective or really mad I was sitting still so long … I don’t know. Either way, it burned the heck out of my arm."

When the device began to burn, Mitchell said she ripped it off her arm and tossed it on the floor. She told ABC News that her doctor had to pick pieces of plastic and rubber out of her arm after the incident.

An emergency care provider in the Milwaukee area told KTRK that Mitchell was treated the day after she said the incident occurred.

Mitchell, who said she got the tracker as a birthday gift, said Fitbit offered her a free replacement device after she notified the company.

A Fitbit spokesman told ABC News that the company is investigating the issue. The company said it was unaware of any other similar complaints.

First woman to officially run Boston Marathon does it again, 50 years later

In 1967, Kathrine Switzer registered for the all-male Boston Marathon under the name K.V. Switzer — hiding her gender — and went on to become the first woman to officially run the race.

>> Read more trending news

Fifty years later, according to the New York Times, the 70-year-old Syracuse University grad returned to the starting line in the 121st Boston Marathon on Monday, April 17.

Switzer took to Facebook and Twitter to document her experience throughout the 26-mile trek from start to finish.

She stopped at the place where, 50 years ago, one of the Boston Marathon race organizers, Jock Semple, tried to force her off the course.

Switzer told NPR that Semple jumped off the media truck and began yelling at her.

"It took a body block from my boyfriend to knock the official off the course,” she penned in a New York Times essay 10 years ago.

She ended up finishing the race in four hours and 20 minutes, wearing the number 261.

Since then, the star athlete has competed in more than 30 marathons and won the New York marathon in 1974.

On Monday morning, Switzer donned the same three digits she wore in 1967, when she first shattered stereotypes about women and sports.

According to WFXT, the Boston Marathon will retire Bib No. 261 in honor of Switzer. 

The race has only retired one other number in its 121-year history. The No. 61 bib was retired in honor of John Kelley, who ran with the number, completing his 61st Boston Marathon in 1992 at the age of 84.

Read more at the New York Times.

Marathons linked to short-term kidney injury in new study

With the days ticking down to the 121st Boston Marathon, a new study from Yale University might give some runners pause about lacing up.

The study found that in a sample of healthy long-distance runners, more than 80 percent showed signs of acute kidney injury right after a marathon.

“We know that bouts of acute kidney injury in the hospital, such bouts of injury are not good. But the case may be completely different for healthy people,” lead author Dr. Chirag Parikh told Fox25Boston.com.

>> Watch the news report here 

The signs of kidney injury only last a few days, but the concern is that it might lead to long-term problems for long-distance runners.

“If somebody's running several marathons, over time, maybe it can lead to cumulative damage,” Parikh said.

Even the most experienced marathon runners know a race of 26.2 miles is no picnic.

“I've never finished one and said, oh, I feel great,” said one runner on a training run Wednesday.

>> Read more trending news

But the study raises special concerns for runners who may have pre-existing kidney issues they might not know about – especially if they're tackling a difficult course like Boston.

“We're kind of running downhill, flat and then you're up and down in the hills. So that puts a strain on the body,” Shane O’Hara from Marathon Sports said.

The study reinforces a simple rule many runners know all too well.

“Some of them run marathons without drinking fluids properly and they need to stay hydrated,” 2017 Boston Marathon entrant Christopher Battoo said.

Runners are taking the information in stride, but it won’t stop them from competing.

“Even knowing this study, I'm still going to run. It's something I love to do,” 2017 Boston Marathon entrant Meagan Kelly said.

Slaying of three female runners sparks safety concerns for others

SAFETY TIPS FOR FEMALE RUNNERS

  • Avoid running alone in the dark
  • If running in the dark, stay on populated, well-lit streets
  • Be sure someone (friend, relative, spouse) knows your intended route and when you should return
  • Change your route periodically
  • Always run with your cellphone and identification
  • Don’t wear noise-canceling headphones
  • Wear reflective clothing
  • Carry pepper spray

In recent weeks, the running community nationwide has been shocked by the slayings of three avid female runners -- all of whom were partaking in their daily training in broad daylight.

In order:

  • July 30: Alexandra Brueger, a nurse in Detroit, was shot and killed during a 10-mile run on a dirt trail
  • Aug. 2: Karina Vetrano was raped and killed while running on a trail in a Queens, New York, park.
  • Aug. 7: New York City resident Vanessa Marcotte was found dead, burned and possibly sexually assaulted after not returning from a run in her parents hometown of Princeton, Massachusetts.

As Gabriel Paiella wrote in New York Magazine, "These murders are notable because they've shattered the perception that this particular violent crime only takes place under certain circumstances, which was always a subtle way of suggesting that the victims were somehow complicit in their own attacks."

In other words, despite following all the common-sense precautions -- not being out late at night, not being provocatively attired, not being distracted by headphones, etc. -- tragically, these women were violently victimized anyway.

>> Read more trending stories  

These incidents have served as a reminder for local female runners how vigilant they need to be.

"I definitely have a healthy fear, so I try to trust my intuition when I am somewhere that potentially is unsafe," said Melissa Perlman, an avid runner and assistant track and cross-country coach at Spanish River High in Boca Raton, Florida.

She said she tries to run in groups when possible but advises those who exercise alone to "inform someone (friend, spouse, neighbor, roommate) of the route you are following and your expected return time."

At Fleet Street Sports in Delray Beach, Florida, husband-and-wife owners Nick and Mackenzie Stump counsel their customers about some of the best strategies and products to ensure their safety.

"Running safety, for me, is about communication," Mackenzie said. "It's important to unwind when you run, but a wave, a smile, the runner's nod and a 'hi' make you a familiar face that people look for on your routes."

"We are all about the buddy system for both training and group runs," Nick said. "But when you can't be with a partner or group, awareness is the most important aspect of running safely."

Among the safety gear that the Stumps recommend for all runners:

  • Mini-clip strobe lights for nighttime visibility
  • High-visibility running vest for nighttime reflectivity for others to see you
  • Handheld flashlight with siren
  • Handheld pepper spray
  • Waist belt to easily carry cellphone and other emergency gear

In addition, safety experts recommend downloading a free safety app such as bSafe to your cellphone. With the bSafe app, you can activate an audible alarm that immediately starts broadcasting to your contacts video captured by your phone, as well as your GPS location. This data is continually collected, updated and recorded and can be shared with the authorities if the need arises.

Whitney Cherner, of Lake Worth, Florida, told the Palm Beach Post about the frustration that many female runners feel in needing to take precautions that male counterparts rarely, if ever, think about: "As a woman, it makes me angry that I have to think about safety so much when I run. I want to just go out and enjoy my run. But as a mother of four, I value my safety even more because I have to be there for my kids ... Now if I get a weird feeling in my gut about a white van passing by me too many times, I turn around and run home."

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