Exercise

Get pumped about Bike-To-Work Day Give your car a rest, at least for one day.

May 15, 2008

That's the message being sent by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council. To kick off Clean Commute Month, the regional planning group is sponsoring the 11th annual Bike-to-Work Day. The event encourages cyclists to mount their bicycles to commute to work tomorrow morning.

A series of rallies throughout the region from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. tomorrow will give registered cyclists the opportunity to enjoy free refreshments and win prizes before biking to work.

"There will be a guiding convoy for the different designated routes," says Barbara Herron, the council's communications director. "People can participate on their own, but for first-timers, being part of a convoy might be more comfortable and less intimidating."

Registration closes today at noon. It can be completed online at baltometro.org, where information about rally locations and bike routes is also available.

Brad Schleicher

Neurology

Getting a fair deal stimulates brain

The sinking feeling that creeps in after you've paid too much for a house, car or new pair of shoes may be a hard-wired, neurological response to being treated unfairly.

On the flip side, getting a fair deal on that same car or pair of shoes stimulates parts of the brain associated with reward and happiness.

Researchers at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior recently reported in the journal Psychological Science that getting a fair deal activated the same parts of the brain - the ventral striatum, the amygdala and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, together known as the reward circuit - that are stimulated by earning money, looking at attractive faces or eating chocolate (in those who like the stuff).

Lead study author Golnaz Tabibnia, a postdoctoral researcher in the department of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, said the findings suggest people care about fairness itself not just because unfairness is unpleasant, but because fairness generates positive emotions. Fairness, in and of itself, she said, is emotionally rewarding - regardless of how much money may come (or go) in the deal.

Los Angeles Times

Smoking

Restaurant bans deter kids from starting

Regulations banning smoking in restaurants were designed to protect the health of nonsmokers. But the laws appear to have an unintended bonus: They deter kids from becoming smokers.

A study published last week in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that teens in towns with complete smoking bans were 40 percent less likely to become established smokers compared with their peers in areas with weak restrictions. The study followed 3,834 Massachusetts youths, ages 12 to 17, for up to four years. In towns where smoking wasn't restricted or was only partially restricted, 9.6 percent and 9.8 percent of the youths, respectively, became established smokers over the study period. But in towns where smoking was banned in restaurants, 7.9 percent became smokers.

"These regulations are basically sending a message that smoking in public places is no longer socially acceptable," says Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor of social and behavioral sciences at Boston University's School of Public Health. "I think that decreases the appeal of smoking to adolescents."

About half of all states have banned smoking in public restaurants. The regulations' effect on youth smoking surpasses that of tobacco taxes and media campaigns, Siegel says.

Los Angeles Times

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