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We’ve Tried Every Walking Accessory to Make Our Walks Better at Fat Burning, and This One Is the Winner

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We’ve Tried Every Walking Accessory to Make Our Walks Better at Fat Burning, and This One Is the Winner

Exercise fads have come and gone over the years, but the one that has never gone out of style is walking. Experts agree that walking is the best form of exercise you can do—it delivers countless health perks, from easy weight loss to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, better immunity, stronger bones and more.  

 “I recommend walking to my patients because of the positive effects it has on metabolic health, mood and stress levels,” shares integrative and functional medicine physician Sara Gottfried, M.D., NYT bestselling author of Women, Food, and Hormones. “Don’t underestimate the power of walking.”

While walking alone delivers these incredible perks, there are all kinds of accessories you can bring along on your walk to make it even more effective, from ankle weights to heart rate monitors, step counters and more. But the one accessory that stands out? Nordic walking poles, which can help counteract pain, stability and balance issues, plus improve confidence.

These hiking poles (available at sporting-goods stores) originated in Finland in 1979 as a way for cross-country skiers to train in the off-season. By the late 1980s, the poles had become popular all over Europe for their superior toning capabilities, and they’ve become increasingly popular in America too!

Hiking poles speed slimming.

Walking poles perform a function similar to circuit-training machines, toning virtually every muscle in the body in a short amount of time. But the real body-sculpting prize is that, throughout the entire range of motion, the abdominal muscles are engaged. And pushing the poles forward with each step works the shoulders and upper arms, while pulling the poles back tones the back. Fans of the walking accessory also say holding the poles upright through the motion engages the body’s core to sculpt abs, so a simple stroll can deliver full-body firming. What’s more, Nordic walking burns 46 percent more calories than walking without poles. And researchers in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that women who walked with trekking poles increased their upper-arm strength and muscle tone over eight weeks.

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Hiking poles ease pain.

Walking poles are a great tool for women who are just starting out walking, since they help support body weight, reducing pressure on the feet. And that can mean the difference between sticking with an exercise program and giving up. What’s more, one study of elderly people with chronic back, hip or knee pain found that walking with poles eased the pain in 12 weeks and increased the distance walked for 91 percent of subjects. If you decide to hit the trails with your walking poles for a hike, it will feel even easier than working out on asphalt or concrete, says women’s health expert Jamé Heskett, M.D., author of The Well Path. The reason? The softness of the dirt cushions joints, lessening the impact that can cause pain.

Hiking poles make walking easy!

Though this walking accessory deliver a full-body workout, women who walk with them don’t feel like they are working any harder. Fitness experts say this is because the poles provide lateral stability and encourage proper posture, which helps walkers sidestep ankle, knee, hip and lower-back pain.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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Could your car make you sick? Study highlights potentially cancerous toxins in vehicles

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Could your car make you sick? Study highlights potentially cancerous toxins in vehicles

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Americans may be breathing in cancer-causing chemicals while driving, recent research suggests.

A study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology has sparked discussions about the potentially harmful toxins that could be lurking in the cabins of vehicles.

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“Certainly the indoor air quality can cause health symptoms,” Dr. Ken Speath, M.D., the division chief and medical director for occupational and environmental medicine at Northwell Health on Long Island, New York, told Fox News Digital.

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It is important to be mindful of what you’re breathing in at home, at the office, at school and even in cars, according to Speath, who was not involved in the study.

“There can be situations where levels of harmful chemicals get high enough to potentially cause health harms,” he said.

Americans may be breathing in cancer-causing chemicals while they are driving, recent research suggests. A study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology has sparked many discussions. (iStock)

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“A car is a closed small space — so whatever is in the air is certainly going to be breathed in.”

Research reveals ‘harmful chemicals’

The peer-reviewed study looked at 101 owned vehicles in the U.S., model year 2015 or newer.

The researchers concluded that harmful flame-retardant chemicals — including those suspected of potentially causing cancer and some neurological issues — may be polluting the air inside vehicles.

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“Flame retardant chemicals, which are intentionally added to vehicle interiors to meet flammability standards, are released into the cabin air from the materials to which they were applied,” lead author Rebecca Hoehn, a scientist at Duke University, told Fox News Digital.

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“People in these vehicles may be exposed to these chemicals.”

Seat foam was the only material the researchers measured, Hoehn said, but other interior materials could also contain the chemicals.

driver in car

The researchers concluded that harmful flame-retardant chemicals — including those suspected of potentially causing cancer and some neurological issues — may be polluting the air inside vehicles. (iStock)

“Considering the average driver spends about an hour in the car every day, this is a significant public health issue,” Hoehn warned.

“It’s particularly concerning for drivers with longer commutes, as well as child passengers, who breathe more air pound for pound than adults.”

The chemicals detected in the car cabins included a flame retardant called tris (1-chloro-isopropyl) phosphate (TCIPP), which is currently being investigated as a potential carcinogen by the U.S. National Toxicology Program.

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“Considering the average driver spends about an hour in the car every day, this is a significant public health issue.”

Other flame retardants — tris (1, 3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCIPP) and tris (2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP) — were also detected. 

These are “two Californian Proposition 65 carcinogens linked to neurological and reproductive harms,” according to a press release.

Higher concentrations of the flame retardants were found during warmer weather.

“We found that the same cars, sampled in both winter and summer, had higher concentrations of flame retardants in the cabin air during the warm summer months,” Hoehn told Fox News Digital.

Car fire

Flame retardants are added to vehicles to meet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, which mandated their use in the 1970s. (iStock)

Flame retardants are added to vehicles to meet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS 302), which mandated their use in the 1970s, the release stated.

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Flame retardants have been the “focus of concern for some time,” Speath told Fox News Digital.

More information is needed to determine the health risks these chemicals pose in humans, he said.

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“A number of these have been demonstrated in studies to have health harms in animals,” he said.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean that would be true for humans, but it raises that possibility, so we need to study these chemicals more in relation to their effects on humans.”

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woman driving a car

Higher concentrations of the flame retardants were found during warmer weather, the researchers said. (iStock)

Emanuela Taioli, M.D., PhD, the director of the Institute for Translational Epidemiology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, was also not part of the study, but shared her reactions.

“This is a very relevant finding, since it may prompt changes in cars’ upholstery, as well as in other parts of the car where there is foam,” she told Fox News Digital via email.

“We also want to know more about this finding and monitor whether it is replicated by other investigators.”

Other sources of toxins

Stephen Showalter, a home inspector and indoor environmental air consultant with Showalter Property Consultants in Maryland, said he typically interviews clients about their history of illness, then tests for potential sources of sickness in buildings, cars, RVs and boats. 

Mold is a common culprit when it comes to health issues triggered by one’s environment, he said in an interview with Fox News Digital.

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Dr. Daniel Johns, a member of the International Society of Environmentally Acquired Illnesses and a chiropractor who practices in Annapolis, Maryland, echoed Showalter’s concerns about mold-related health issues.

Johns also cautioned that cars can be a daily source of mold exposure.

“Any water that leaks from a window, sunroof or convertible can get into the carpet and cause mold growth,” he said during an interview with Fox News Digital. 

Mold in car

Mold is a common culprit when it comes to health issues triggered by one’s environment, according to an environmental expert. (iStock)

“Mold can start growing on a wet surface within 24 to 48 hours.”

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For families with small children, spilled sippy cups could play a role when it comes to mold in cars, Johns warned.

“The water seeps into the upholstery and doesn’t get noticed or properly dried out, and the whole seat can become moldy,” he said.

“Mold can start growing on a wet surface within 24 to 48 hours.”

“Every time you sit on the seat, it releases a mold spore cloud into the car. Once that happens, you can’t clean it away. The upholstery must be removed and replaced.”

The impact of these potentially harmful pollutants can vary from one person to the next, experts told Fox News Digital.

Child strapped into car seat

For families with small children, spilled sippy cups could play a role when it comes to mold in cars, an expert warned. (Kids and Car Safety)

People metabolize chemicals and toxins in different ways, according to Taioli. 

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“Metabolism happens through enzymes that the body produces,” he said. 

“Each of us has a different genetic profile that defines our metabolic capacity. As a consequence, the same amount of toxin may be metabolized better/faster by some, and worse/slower by others.”

Tips for ensuring safe interiors

While further research on car-borne chemicals is needed, experts say people can take measures to limit exposure.

“People may be able to reduce their exposure by ventilating their cars,” Hoehn advised. 

“For example, rolling down the windows to let out contaminated air, or pulling in fresh air with climate control systems, should reduce concentrations. 

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“Ultimately, reducing the amount of flame retardants added to vehicles in the first place would provide the greatest reduction in exposure risk.”

Controlling your vehicle’s cabin temperature may also reduce exposure, she added. 

“Parking in a garage or shade instead of full sun may reduce the cabin temperature and limit the extent of flame retardant release,” Hoehn said.

The researchers also called for action from regulatory agencies and vehicle manufacturers. 

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“Ultimately, reducing the amount of flame retardants added to vehicles in the first place would provide the greatest reduction in exposure risk,” Hoehn noted.

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“If flammability standards for vehicles could be revised to meet fire safety guidelines without the use of added flame retardants, risk of flame retardant exposure from personal vehicles could be greatly reduced.”

Car window rain

To prevent mold in a vehicle, experts recommend keeping your windows up when it rains or snows to prevent water from permeating the carpet or fabric. (iStock)

Having your car’s air quality and surfaces tested is one way to reduce the risk of exposure to allergens, toxins and chemicals, experts told Fox News Digital.

To prevent mold in a vehicle, Showalter recommends keeping your windows up when it rains or snows to prevent water from permeating the carpet or fabric.

He also cautioned about leaky air conditioners, which can foster mold growth in vehicles, and about leaving wet items in the car.

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Lastly, before buying a used car, he said it is important to check the vehicle’s history to make sure it doesn’t have flood damage, which can lead to mold and other issues.

If you think you are experiencing illness due to chemical exposure in your car, home or office, it’s best to see a health care professional to discuss your symptoms.

Fox News Digital reached out to several major car companies for comment.

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.

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