2 years ago

Walking or cycling to work can help you lose weight

Using public transport, cycling or walking, instead of driving to work, could help people shed pounds, a new study has found.

Researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR) in the UK found that walking and cycling to work improves wellbeing and mental health.

They found that making a change from driving to work to using public transport, cycling or walking could help reduce body mass index (BMI) over two years.

“This study highlights the potential to contribute to reducing the average weight of the population by helping commuters build regular physical activity into their daily routines through walking, cycling and using public transport on their journey to work,” said lead researcher Adam Martin, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School.

The research team based their findings on the responses of more than 4,000 adults in three annual waves of the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) collected between 2004 and 2007.

Commuters reported their usual main mode of travel to work each year, and their height and weight in the first and third years.

The researchers then used a series of analyses to see if changes in mode of transport were linked to changes in weight over time.

“We found that switching from the car to walking, cycling or public transport is associated with an average reduction of 0.32 BMI, which equates to a difference of about 1 kg for the average person,” Martin said.

“This might sound like a relatively small proportion of their total weight, but we also found that the longer the commute, the stronger the association.

“For those with a commute of more than 30 minutes, there was an average reduction of 2.25 BMI units, or around 7 kg (over one stone) for the average person,” he said.

The research team also found that switching to using a car to get to work was associated with a significant average increase of 0.34 BMI units.

2 years ago

Meet Dextrous Blue – the robot that sorts and folds clothes

Dextrous Blue is an 8-foot tall robot designed to do one of the most mundane household chores – sorting and folding clothes. Its creators, from the University of Glasgow, believe it could well be a technological breakthrough to rival the automatic washing machine, which transformed domestic routines.

Not only does Dextrous Blue sort clothes, it also folds them and puts them neatly into a pile.

It even works out how best to arrange a pile of clothes, and can fold all garments, large or small.

The scientists, from Scotland, Italy, Greece and the Czech Republic, had to focus carefully on the technology involved in giving the robot human-like dexterity. Robots can deal with liquids and solids relatively well, flowing fabrics are much more challenging.

Dextrous Blue

Dextrous Blue has been created by a team of Scottish, Greek, Czech and Italian scientists. (Image: CloPeMa)

Research associate, Dr Gerardo Aragon Camarasa, who works at the University of Glasgow’s School of Computing, said:

“The most difficult aspect was to understand the dynamics and the interaction with these type of materials. Because they are not completely solid. They are very floppy and very difficult to understand what’s going on.”

Dextrous Blue touches, sees and hears

Dextrous Blue is 8 foot high and has a pair of enormous mechanical arms with grippers at the end that do the sorting and folding. Its two electronic eyes were made from digital cameras.

According to the creators:

“The robot head comprises two Nikon DSLR cameras (D5100) that are capable of capturing images at 16 mega pixels. These are mounted on two pan and tilt units (PTU-D46) with their corresponding controllers. The cameras are separated by a pre-defined baseline for optimal stereo capturing. Its position enables imaging the robot work-space from above. The head provides the robot system with high resolution 3D points clouds.”

The robot can even hear – through sensors in its hands – where it discerns the subtle rustles of different fabrics.

Dr. Paul Siebert, who also works at the University’s school of computing, and specialises in vision research, said:

“The key innovations behind this machine are the use of vision and how we understand the scene in terms of providing very, very high accuracy in our depth sensing.”

“So we treat the clothing as a sort of mountain range and then parse that range into its different shapes, which allows the machine to build up a picture of what state the clothing is in.”

“This sounds very trivial, the sort of thing a person could do instantly. But to get a machine to do this is a phenomenally difficult task.”


The project is called CloPeMa, which stands for Clothes Perception and Manipulation.

The research team hope their technology may eventually be used in the textile industry, as well as driving advances in other areas of robotics.

Dr. Siebert said:

“Perhaps the most immediate and serious application is onshoring – how to be able to produce perhaps small runs of custom clothing affordably without having to send it to the other side of the world.”

“So you reduce carbon footprint, you increase profitability and you bring textile manufacturing back to Scotland.”

Video – Robot sorting clothes

2 years ago

Nadal eases past Dimitrov in Madrid

Madrid - Rafa Nadal remains on course for a third straight Madrid Open title after sweeping past Grigor Dimitrov 6-3 6-4 in the quarter-finals on Friday.

The Spaniard, seeded third, came into the tournament with plenty of doubt over his form but in front of his home support he has not yet dropped a set in his quest for a fifth Madrid crown.

Nadal decided to return to his old racket design after trying out a new style in the last two tournaments - and it appears to be working for him.

Throughout the match, Nadal returned serve well against the 10th seeded Bulgarian, breaking Dimitrov in just his second service game with a cross court winner.

Yet the world number four did not have it all his own way as he also lost his own serve before taking control with two more breaks in the first set.

After comfortably enjoying the upper hand in the second set, Nadal told reporters: “This was a good win. I knew that I needed to play better and I think in the first set I played at quite a high level.

“I feel quite positive and I always like playing in Madrid where the people make it a lot easier for me.” – Reuters


2 years ago

Pellegrini: We can rival Barca

The gulf between the clubs seems large at present, Barca having beaten City four times in the Champions League over the past two seasons, comfortably ousting them from the tournament on each occasion.


The Spanish side are top of their domestic standings and hammered Bayern Munich 3-0 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final, while City have surrendered their Premier League crown in fairly tame fashion.


However, Pellegrini pointed out that his club have come a long way in quite a short time and thinks there is even better to come.


"The project at this club is to improve every year,” said Pellegrini. “To grow every year as a club, in all senses, in every department, young players, first team.


"It's not easy to compare, not the whole history, but this club in the last seven years has had the amount of money you need to compete with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern, Manchester United - the most important teams of the world that can spend more money and have the best players.


"Maybe a lot of people are nervous, because you don't do it in three, four, five years. All these projects need a long time and every year you must demonstrate that you are growing and improving.


"This season we are really seeing again the Barcelona we saw a few years ago.


"But there is a lot of things we can try to reduce the distance between our team and them. I am sure we are going to do it sooner than five years."


The great Lionel Messi was the key man in Barcelona’s win over Bayern and Pellegrini would love to have someone who could make a similar impact.


"First we need to find another Messi!” he said. “He makes the difference, without doubt, like (Cristiano) Ronaldo at Real Madrid.


"But last year Barcelona didn't win any titles. Messi is an important player but it's not just Messi, you need a lot of things around him to be an important team.


"I said when we played against Barcelona we were very unlucky, that both years we had to play against the best team in the world, with Messi included.


"I think what Barcelona did against Bayern is no surprise for anyone, and not to me. Now they are demonstrating that I was not so wrong in what I said."


Pellegrini thinks forward Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero can be the key man for City in coming seasons.


The Argentinean has had another superb campaign but injuries have limited his impact to an extent.


Pellegrini added: “It's important for Kun to improve every year, to play all the games. Maybe next year we'll see another Kun because he is working differently, he is growing every year.


"I hope he will be as important here as those players are at their teams."

2 years ago

England coach Moores faces sack

London - Peter Moores is set to be sacked for the second time as England coach after Andrew Strauss takes up a new post in the national set-up, several British newspapers reported on Friday.

Strauss is the overwhelming favourite to land the post of England director of cricket, a job created by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) last month following Paul Downton's sacking as managing director.

Further evidence that former England captain Strauss was on course to take up the administrative role at Lord's came when he was withdrawn from the Sky television commentary team covering the washed-out one-day international between Ireland and England in Malahide on Friday.

James Taylor, England's stand-in captain against Ireland, said the players were unaware of any possible changes to the coaching set-up.

"I haven't heard anything on that," Taylor told BBC Radio's Test Match Special.

"I haven't heard any echoes of that being the case. I know in my brief time with England in the last six months he's been really good with me, really positive, so I haven't heard anything like that."

If Strauss does take over and Moores is removed from his post, it will mean the coach's second spell in charge will have lasted barely a year since he was brought back in 2014 following England's 5-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia, which led Andy Flower to step down as coach.

Moores's second spell in charge - he was initially dismissed in 2009 after a falling out with then captain Kevin Pietersen - has so far yielded just one series win, at home to India last year, and included England's embarrassing exit from the World Cup, where they failed to beat a single Test nation, and a disappointing 1-1 series draw in the West Indies.

Former Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie, now the coach of English county champions Yorkshire, having been brought on board at Headingley by incoming ECB chairman Colin Graves, has been touted as a possible replacement for Moores.

Speculation has also focused on another former Australia international, Justin Langer, who was a mentor to Strauss early on in his professional career when the two left-handed batsmen played for county side Middlesex.

2 years ago

House prices up by 1.6%, Halifax says

House prices rose by 1.6 per cent between March and April as the economy continued to pick up but new housing remained in short supply, according to Halifax.