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Had a hectic week? Just 10 minutes of massage will relax you

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Sexual assault, Massage therapy, Dakabin, Brisbane, Australia, World news

If you have had a tiring week, just 10 minutes of simple massage at home can do wonders to rejuvenate your mind and body, suggests a new research. All you need to do is find someone to do that for you.

Even ten minutes of simple rest increases relaxation, albeit to a lesser degree than massage, showed the research published in the journal Scientific Reports.

This study indicates that massage is an easy-to-apply intervention that can boost the body’s principal engine for relaxation – the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) – and also lead to a reduction in perceived mental stress.

The discovery that massage is effective on the level of both psychology and physiology via the PNS may pave the way for future studies on understanding the role of relaxation on stress.

“We are very encouraged by the findings that short periods of dis-engagement are enough to relax not just the mind but also the body,” said study first author Maria Meier from the University of Konstanz in Germany.

“You don’t need a professional treatment in order to relax. Having somebody gently stroke your shoulders, or even just resting your head on the table for ten minutes, is an effective way to boost your body’s physiological engine of relaxation.”

Stress is known to have negative consequences for health and disease. However, our bodies have an inbuilt regenerative system, the PNS, to ward off stress during times of threat.

Launching a relaxation response is thus key to protecting our health and restoring balance in our body. Massage has been used to improve relaxation, yet no systematic approach exists to robustly confirm its effect on the PNS and whether or not this could be used as rehabilitation for patients suffering from stress-related disease.

For the current study, the researchers developed a standardised approach for testing if tactile stimulation could improve mental and physical relaxation.

They applied two different ten-minute massages on human subjects in the laboratory to test. A head-and-neck massage was designed to actively stimulate the PNS by applying moderate pressure on the vagus nerve, which is the largest nerve running to the PNS.

Then a neck-and-shoulder massage with soft stroking movements was designed to examine whether just touch can also be relaxing. Finally, a control group of participants sitting quietly at a table was tested for the effect of rest without tactile stimulation.

Physiological relaxation was gauged by monitoring the heart rate of participants and measuring heart rate variability (HRV), which indicates how flexibly the PNS can respond to changes in the environment.

The higher the heart rate variability, the more relaxed is the body. Psychological relaxation was gauged by asking participants to describe how relaxed or stressed they feel.

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Corona

Men produce more Covid antibodies than women says study

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On average, men produce more Covid-19 antibodies than women, say Portuguese researchers, adding that, 90 per cent of the patients have detectable antibodies up to seven months post contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The results, published in the European Journal of Immunology, also show that age is not a confounding factor in levels of antibodies produced, but disease severity is.

“Our immune system recognizes the virus SARS-CoV-2 as harmful and produces antibodies in response to it, which helps to fight the virus,” said study author Marc Veldhoen from Medicina Molecular Joao Lobo Antunes in Portugal.

For the findings, the research team set up an in-house sensitive specific and versatile Covid-19 serology test.

They started to monitor the antibody levels of over 300 Covid-19 hospital patients and healthcare workers, and over 200 post-Covid-19 volunteers.

The results of this six months cross-sectional study show a classic pattern with a rapid increase of antibody levels within the first three weeks after Covid-19 symptoms and, as expected, a reduction to intermediate levels thereafter.

“In this early response phase, on average men produce more antibodies than women, but levels equilibrate during the resolution phase and are similar between the sexes in the months after SARS-CoV-2 infection,” Veldhoen said.

In the acute phase of the immune response, the team observed higher antibody levels in patients with more severe disease.

Also, the results show that age is not a confounding factor for the production of antibodies, as no significant differences were observed between age groups.

Globally, 90 per cent of participants have detectable antibodies up to seven months post contracting Covid-19.

Next, the research team evaluated the function of these antibodies, i.e. their neutralizing activity against the virus SARS-CoV-2.

Also, the research team analysed the neutralizing capacity of the antibodies produced by the patients and volunteers.

“Our work provides detailed information for the assays used, facilitating further and longitudinal analysis of protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2,” Veldhoen said.

Importantly, it highlights a continued level of circulating neutralising antibodies in most people with confirmed SARS-CoV-2.

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