Author Archives: Benjamin R Tuohey

Music in sports

ATHENS - AUGUST 15: Michael Phelps of USA prepares to compete in the men's swimming 200 metre freestyle heat on August 15, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Main Pool of the Olympic Sports Complex Aquatic Centre in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Michael Phelps

You see athletes in all sports walking around with their headphones on getting ready for their game or match or event or whatever they were going to compete in. And I’m sure they all have different songs and genres of music that get them psyched and in the mood and ready to play. I always wondered though if listening to music before sports actually would help your performance.

Dr Costas Karageorghis, the leading researcher in music’s effects on performance, often refers to music as a performance enhancing drug, that you can’t be penalized for using obviously. His research has shown that music enhances athletic performance and can help with visualizing how you’re going to perform and ultimately what the end result will be after your competition.

Music in general has been shown to help in disassociating your mind. This basically means that the music can help athletes by distracting their mind in a way, from feelings of fatigue during performance The disassociation is really shown in endurance sport, such as running, swimming and cycling. An interesting fact, researchers in the UK have found that music can benefit athletes by improving their levels of effort up to 12% and their endurance up to 15%.

Flow is an alternate state of mind, most athletes will refer to it as being in the zone. Some athletes use their music to help them get into this zone and get ready to go and compete. The music has also shown benefits of aiding in visualization while the athletes are in the zone. The music helps in visualizing how they’re going to compete and what the result will be after their competition. Music help the athletes reach that top level of focus and concentration while putting all else aside in their life and just focusing on their competition visualizations.

All in all, I think music definitely has benefits in performance and endurance throughout competition. One thing I think though with music, especially in sports, is when athletes listen to certain songs they get into the zone and are excited to compete and are more relaxed which can help them perform better. Me personally I compete better when I am relaxed, having fun and just competing. I think the music can help some athletes relax and escape everything in their life just to focus on the one task at hand and perform to the best of their abilities and worry about all the rest later. It is also very interesting to me just to see how powerful your mind can be. For me at least it seems as if this is all mental that then translates to your physical performance. You’re thinking about competing and visualizing what you want to happen and to see how much it improves your performance is very intriguing. 

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Can you actually sweat out a sickness?

Growing up playing sports, especially a sport like wrestling that is just known for having a bunch of bacteria and disease associated with it, I’ve heard the saying oh just sweat it out quite a lot. I never really understood this though because when I was sick during the season when I was playing sports I usually did not feel good, or feel like I had the energy to even walk around my house let alone go and workout or practice. So I always wondered if it were possible to actually sweat out a cold or a sickness that you had incurred.

Saunas are recommended to many patients with asthma and arthritis and things of this sort. Scientists do have some evidence that shows that saunas do benefit in recovery from colds and also reducing the amount of sickness a person contracts. At temperatures of upwards of 180+ degrees fahrenheit saunas are definitely a plsaunaace where a lot of sweating and exfoliation takes place. Now some scientists believe that the saunas show these benefits because when you’re in the sauna you’re sweating and all your pores are open and exfoliating and other think it is due to the fact that the high temperatures in the sauna weaken the viruses.

In a study, Austrian researchers set up 2 groups of 50 adults, on group was to sure the saunas regularly and the other was to not use them. The researchers tracked the 100 subjects for 6 months. After the conclusion of the 6 months, the scientist research showed that the subject who used the sauna regularly contracted less colds as opposed to the group who did not use the sauna.

Overall, I think that saunas have definitely showed positive results and are leading scientists to say that using the saunas are good in fighting colds, but I don’t think there is enough proof to say that they definitely do. In my opinion I feel like all peoples bodies are different and they may react to the sauna in different ways, so I feel as if the sauna could benefit one person in this scenario and not the other just due to the fact at how their body reacts to this. I also do not think that this will make me want to go sit in a sauna when I am sick seeing as this does not seem to have that many benefits, it’s more so saying there are benefits to not getting colds, not necessarily if you have a cold and are trying to get rid of it.

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Does classical music actually have benefits?

Growing up I never really listened to music, it never really even crossed my mind to listen to it. Still to this day I never listen to classical music. Throughout middle school and high school though teachers would give us work to do or during an exam they would put on classical music in the background and I never really understood why. I always wondered if classical music actually had a benefit in your performance, whether that be on a test or just on the work you were homqyxygiven?

A University in France did some research and found that the students who were in a one hour lecture where there was classical music playing softly in the background perform much better than those who sit in the lecture not containing the music. Following both of the lectures, the students were given a quiz that pertained to the information in the previous lecture and the students in the lecture with the music performed substantially better on the quiz then those not in the lecture. The music was thought to motivate the students to focus and changed their emotional state. Thus reflected upon their better results on the quiz.

There was also research done by Duke University’s cancer institute that showed that classical music can have benefits in decreasing anxiety. In this study subjects who were undergoing a stressful biopsy were given headphones that were playing classical music. Following the biopsy, the subjects showed significant levels of pain throughout and also had no spikes in blood pressure throughout the procedure.

Classical music also has benefits for relaxation. A study published in Human Physiology showed that classical music  helps you relax, even if you’re not paying too much attention to the actual music. In this study they had children listen to classical music for 1 hour every day for 6 months. Over the course of the 6 months the children’s brains showed greater levels of relaxation. An interesting fact is the students were not even told to pay attention to the music in some cases, it was just in the background during something they were doing.

Overall, there are a lot more benefits to classical music then I had previously thought. Its interesting to see that maybe this music playing in the background may have indirectly helped my performance during the classes when it was playing, even though I did not give it much attention or care for it too much. In the future i will definitely try putting classical music on in the background and seeing if it will benefit me personally.

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Hot vs cold water??

handwashing-banner1Washing your hands is just a common thing that everyone does multiple times throughout the course of a day. You wash them after you use the bathroom or after you get something onto your hands, it happens many times in a lifetime. I was always told growing up to wash my hands in hot water and I always wondered why. I also wondered if there was significant benefits to washing your hands in hot or cold water, what the big difference was.

The FDA talks about how hot water that is comfortable enough to wash your hands in is not nearly hot enough to to kill bacteria that may be on your hands. Although it is more beneficial than cold water because the hot water will remove oils that are on your hands that can carry bacteria. But, there was a meta analysis published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, says otherwise. In this report the scientists referenced the studies that were done starting with the subjects hands being contaminated, and then proceeded to wash their hands with soap and water for 25 seconds with water temperatures that ranged from 40 to 120 degrees fahrenheit, that the water temperatures had no significant effect on reducing bacteria from the subjects hands. So this meta analysis shows there is no significant difference when washing your hands with either hot or cold water.

I looked into the guidelines for the Center for Disease and Control Prevention and the World Health Organization and in both of their guidelines, neither of them talk about the temperature of the water that is used when washing your hands. They both just reference using soap and water and washing your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds.

Another interesting article that I read talks about that the energy side of washing your hands. This example talks about how hot water isn’t really that important more so the soap and friction. This article though suggests that you should use cold water or cooler water because it save a great deal of energy. Changing to the cold water can benefit the earth and save some money at the same time, meanwhile still getting to job done with cleaning your hands.

I think the big take away from this is just to make sure that you use soap. I think that is important to wash your hands vigorously and as often as you can to prevent as many germs getting on your hands as you can. As long as you use antibacterial soap when you wash your hands you will be killing around the same amount of bacteria, it doesn’t matter what temperature water you choose to wash your hands in.

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How good are dogs memories?


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I’ve been to many different zoos and just been around animals in general quite a bit throughout my life. During my time spent with animals, I’ve learned a good amount about them. One thing that really sparks my interest is just how smart some species are. It is truly incredible to see how intelligent some species of animals are and I’ve always wondered how much information animals could retain. One specific animal that has always caught my eye is dogs. Dogs can be trained to sit, roll over, they are used for hunting and many other incredible things, the list goes on and on. I always wondered if they could remember more than just simple command or who their owner was. Could they remember and recall specific memories or moments in time?

Human beings obviously can remember and recall a lot of previous events and things that have happened to them. In order for humans to do this, scientists link this ability to self awareness. Being self aware is basically just being able to consciously know that you are one individual thing, separate from other individuals and all the other things that encompass the environment that we live in.  It is being aware of your thoughts and your feelings and to understand other people’s thoughts and feelings. This helps us in making decisions, on how and why we do what we do, it helps us in how we think about the past and what we predict for our futures. The idea that non humans, animals, can remember things that they’ve done in the past is known as episodic memory. Now this idea is obviously very controversial throughout the science world. The idea naturally assumed is that animals can not have this type of memory because they are not self aware. There are some species of birds, rate and apes that have memories very similar to episodic memories, but just aren’t quite the same. Now a new study recently published suggests that dogs may have a memory that is very similar to that of humans.

In this study, scientists asked 17 different dog owners to teach their pets to do a specific trick that they referred to as the do as I do. For instance after watching their owner jump into the air the dog should then reciprocate the behavior of their owner when told to do so. In the first untitled-1_16x9round the owner would perform a certain action and then the dog was told to do it. In the second round, the owner would perform an action and then lay down, the dog was then expected to do the same. As soon as the dog laid down, they were commanded to do it, meaning the dog had to recall the thing they did prior to laying and down and then perform that action. This is especially interesting because the dogs were not expecting that they needed to remember what they had previously did. This test was done once a minute after watching their owner and then an hour after watching their owner. The dogs were successful 33 out of the 35 times the trial was performed.

The results of this study definitely are surprising to me, the dogs were very efficient in remembering things. I definitely think that not only dogs but animals are very smart, smarter than we perceive them to be, but I definitely think this suffers from the file drawer problem. I do think this has definitely done before and just because nothing came of it scientist did not want to write and up and publish their thoughts. Another thing the article does not talk about is what kinds of dogs, how old the dogs were, how long they’ve been with their owner. I think there is definitely a lot of confounding variables that could have affected the result of this specific study. The sample size was also very small, they only had 17 dogs. It is hard, at least in my opinion to generalize this to all dogs and even more to all species of dogs.

All in all, I think dogs are very intelligent creatures, I just don’t know how similar they are to humans. I think with a higher sample size and more positive results from multiple studies would lead me to think that dogs have memories similar to humans. The one study and the small sample size is not that convincing of an argument to me that dogs have episodic memories.

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Are vision problems hereditary or environment?


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When I was little I never really had problems with my eyes, I could always see everything near and far and never had an issue. As I got older my eyes progressively got worse, to the point where I wasn’t even noticing it. I never thought I needed glasses or that I had a vision problem, I just figured that I was far from the board or the markers were old and they were writing really light. I just figured from where I was everybody couldn’t see those things. It wasn’t til I took a vision test my 8th grade year that I realized that my vision was really bad for things that were at a distance. I ended up getting glasses today and pretty much wear them just in class, but I never thought that I would need glasses. None of my siblings, parents and even my extended family really ever had glasses. This led me to the question of whether or not problems with your vision are hereditary or not?

Most doctors claim that some vision problems are hereditary whereas others say they are more environment. A study conducted in London shows that eyesight problems are mostly hereditary. They conducted a study of 500 pairs of twins, the results showed that 85% of cases of nearsightedness and farsightedness in kids is due to the inherited traits from their parents.

I also ran across an article that had differing opinions on the topic. This article makes the claim that vision problems are due to environment. He makes claims about the substantial amount of people that need to wear glasses or contacts today as opposed to those before World War I.

I think that needing to wear glasses is more of an inherited trait that can be strengthened by environment. I think that yes over time if you stare at your phone all day or at a screen all day that it will eventually do damage to your eyes. But I think previously when we didn’t have phones and computers that people inherited the traits of being nearsighted or farsighted. It is a pretty interesting topic to read about. I would love to hear about other people’s opinions on the topic.

Does turkey actually make us tired?


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Thanksgiving is coming up and that means a nice little break from classes and getting to spend time at home. Obviously the most important part about thanksgiving though is thanksgiving dinner. Sitting around the table with your family, eating turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and etc. Then following dinner that feeling of your stomach about to explode. You make your way over to the couch for a nice nap. Now this a theory that I have heard from many people, that turkey makes you tired and my question is does turkey actually make you tired?

Turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, which is an amino acid that makes people tired. So naturally people assume that since the turkey contains this that it’s the reason that people tend to fall asleep following their feast. Studies show that this is merely a myth, the turkey doesn’t make you any more tired than any other food that you would have consumed at dinner. There’s numerous amounts of food that contain the exact same amount of tryptophan if not more. The real reason people fall asleep contributes more so to the fact that you’re consuming a lot of carbohydrates. When your body consumes carbs, it triggers the release of insulin in your body which ultimately leads to the production of melatonin which causes you to become tired. In my opinion I think that the third variables are more impactful to falling asleep after thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving is a time most people are off from school or work so naturally they are tired from these things additionally. Another thing that contributes to being tired is the fact that you are overeating. You are eating way much more food in less than an hour then you typically would. Your body has to exert a lot of energy in order to digest all of this food. When you are this full, your body directs blood away from your organ systems, which results in that sleepy feeling following your mass consumption. I think with all the contributing factors this is merely just a myth and the real reason that people fall asleep contributes more to third variables.

Are pre workouts actually beneficial?

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Going to the gym and working out isn’t for everyone especially when you would rather lay in bed or take a nap. After a long day of classes, it is very hard to have the motivation to get up and go workout. One thing that helps a lot of people is pre workout. Pre workouts are becoming ever so popular among athletes and people who work out. The purpose of taking them seems very beneficial because if you’re taking time out of your day to go work out, you obviously want to get the most out of your workout. Pre workout supplements are supposed to help you stay focused and increase your energy levels. Most of these pre workouts I’ve seen contain a lot of caffeine and some sort of creatine and then a bunch of ingredients I don’t really know. My question is do these pre workouts actually help or are they all just placebo and make you think that they help?

A study done by the International Journal of Medical Sciences shows the effect of pre workout supplements on subjects. They did a double blind random placebo trial, they used healthy men and women who were undergoing an exercise program. They looked at the effects it had on the subjects overall health, their performance and the safety of the subjects. The subjects were to maintain around the same food and fluid intake and rest for certain periods of time before they were brought in to workout. The study showed that the subjects felt as if they were more focused and that the preworkout helped them throughout their workouts, but as far as the physical tests done, there was no significant improvement shown to the subjects muscle mass or fat tissue.

All in all, pre workouts seem to be more of a placebo effect then an actual benefit physically. Personally I feel like pre workouts help me to stay focused, in the gym. I don’t think that this study will steer me away from taking pre workouts because I feel that they benefit me, even though it may only be a placebo. 

Beer.. A recovery drink?


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Growing up and being athletic you hear about and see all kinds of different recovery drinks. Gatorade and Powerade were usually go to recovery drinks in sports or just simply water. Then there are things like pedialyte which is good for rehydrating you. More recently I have heard from many trainers and strength and conditioning coaches that chocolate milk is the best recovery drink. Intrigued to find the best recovery drink, I went and did some research on the internet and I ran across this company in Canada who is trying to market a recovery beer.

This canadian beverage company has managed to create a low alcohol, high protein/nutrient enriched beer. A team of food scientists created this unorthodox recovery drink as an alternative to a traditional beer, at only .5% alcohol by volume, 77 calories and packed with antioxidants and electrolytes, it seems like a pretty good idea. When you workout and exercise your body sweats and you lose electrolytes and fluids, so after your workout you need to put back those things into your body that it lost. A traditional beer contains a small amount of carbohydrates and electrolytes as is, obviously not as much as for say a Gatorade, but altering and adding to the beer can improve the amount of carbs and electrolytes. A study published in May of 2013 shows that by adding sodium and changing the electrolyte content of beer, you can decrease the dehydrating effect that beer has. A study conducted in 2011 in Germany shows low alcohol beers with additional sodium can be very beneficial to those who lose a lot of fluids through lengthened workouts.

All in all, I think beer can be a very beneficial recover drink as long as you take out majority of the alcohol. I don’t know how successful this product would be or if it will ever make it to market. Who knows, beer could be the next recovery drink.

Is cutting weight actually an advantage?


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Cutting weight, a part of most combat sports, is something most athletes don’t look forward to. In sports such as MMA(mixed martial arts), boxing and wrestling, athletes pick to compete at a certain weight and must make that weight on the day they weigh in otherwise they are unable to compete. Cutting weight is pretty much just losing a lot of weight in a short period of time. Some athletes cut upwards to 20-25 lbs in a few days.

Having been a wrestler since the age of 5, I am pretty familiar with cutting weight. I’ve been around guys who have cut 20+lbs in 2 days and I’ve also had to lose 15-20lbs in a few days. When I was little my parents wouldn’t let me cut weight because they said it stuns your growth. I just listened to them when I was little, but as I got older I made my own decisions and I felt that I almost had to cut weight because that is what everyone did. I felt as if I would be a disadvantage if I did not cut weight. Looking back now, I am wondering if cutting weight is actually an advantage?

An article published in December of 2012, by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, shows a meta analysis of 50+ studies done on athletes cutting weight and the effects of cutting weight on them and their bodies. They organized these studies into 5 subcategories. They looked at rapid weight loss very generally, the ways people lose weight, the physiological and psychological effects it has and the success/failure rates in competition of the athletes.

According to the analysis, a high percentage of athletes lose 2-5% of their body weight. In addition 40% of all the athletes in the study lost 5-10% of their body weight and there were some high outliers who lost even more. The athletes reported their varying methods of rapid weight loss, which include fasting, reducing liquid intake, saunas, plastic suits, vomiting, laxatives etc. The results of the meta analysis show that there are many psychological effects including, depression, decreased short term memory, concentration issues and increased rage. As far as physiological effects, most studies showed there was an effect on both aerobic and anaerobic performance. This refers to things like dehydration, increased heart rate and muscle depletion.

Overall the study is saying and showing the negative effects of cutting weight. I understand and can see all of the negative effects but I don’t think that will stop people from cutting weight. It has been a part of the sport for so long and still is a big part. I think they can continue to do studies and publish them but I don’t think it will stop people. If you are going to cut weight in sports I think that you should diet and do it more so in a correct way rather than starving yourself, not drinking water and running and sitting in a sauna.


Whatsup everybody! My name is Ben Tuohey and I am a freshman from right outside of Philadelphia, delco, Garnet Valley if anybody knows where that is. Anyways I am currently in the Division of Undergraduate Studies. I’m leaning towards Finance, I’m not really to sure though. I have always liked math which is contrasting to a lot of other people. I always felt like I understood it well, enjoyed it and was for some reason, pretty good at it. Pursuing some career in math or the business world is what I hope to do after college.

Science has never really been my forte, Freshman year I somehow got put into Honors Bio.. Big mistake.. I failed pretty much everything in that class and that kind of sealed the fate for any career path in science. When I was picking classes in the summer, I was going down the list, Bio, no way, Chem, not happening, Physics, no thanks. Then my advisor suggested that I looked into this class that was for people who didn’t really like science. A science course for people who don’t like science, sounds good to me.

Coming into the class I didn’t know what to really expect. As we talked about the course and got more into the syllabus, I was very intrigued. It’s cool that we get to learn about what we want and can pretty much pick whatever we want to learn and write about as long as it relates back to science. I find science very interesting, not the parts of a cell and all those chemistry formulas and symbols, but thinking about science is very interesting to me. I think it is cool that a lot of things that function in this world can be related back to science. I am a big sports fan and have always enjoyed the sports science videos.  I’ve always found bits and pieces of my past science classes interesting, but those things always seemed to be less relevant to the teachers. Its interesting to read about how our bodies function and all the little things involved, but never understood why it was necessary to memorize and reproduce for a test grade.

I am hoping to learn the more interesting and fascinating parts of science throughout this course. I hope this class will make science a little more interesting than what I’ve experienced in the past. I’m excited for what this class has in store.5622527_orig