Get a good night of uninterrupted sleep

 In the second instalment of our Live Well series – a summary of health news and advice published in the paper and online – this week we bring you links to articles and studies that show male cyclists do not have to worry about their fertility while women should consider eating an apple a day to improve their sex lives.

1. No link between cycling and infertility

Male cyclists need no longer worry about the impact the sport has on their future chances of having a family. In the largest study of cyclists ever undertaken, scientists found claims that cycling can negatively impact on infertility and erectile dysfunction are not true.

Researchers at University College London even found that men who cycled for more than eight and a half hours a week were not affected. Despite previous studies suggesting that cycling put too much pressure on reproductive organs, the new study of more than 5,000 cyclists will be welcome news for many men.

But it was not all good news in the study published in the Journal of Men's Health. Scientists suggested middle-aged men should be careful about how much time they spend on their bikes because cycling for as little as half an hour every day doubles the risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer in the over 50s.

2. Healthy pensioners can live as long as those ten years' younger who smoke and drink

We are always told that staying fit and healthy will mean we lead a better and longer life. But now a new study proves that healthy pensioners are as likely to survive the next ten years as those ten years' younger who smoke and drink.

Academics at the University of Zurich in Switzerland have created a calculator for 75-year-olds which can predict their likelihood to make it to 85. The chances of making it for another decade is based on alcohol consumption, level of physical activity, smoking habits and how much fruit you eat. If individuals maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, they can stave off chronic illnesses, thereby increasing their chances of living longer.

For example, alcohol intake was classed as high if women reported drinking at least two units of alcohol a day (175ml wine) and if men drank at least four units (less than two pints of lager) a day. Unsurprisingly, smoking had the greatest impact on life expectancy, increasing the risk of premature death by 57 per cent.

3. Why disrupted sleep is as bad as getting none at all

Parents probably do not need to be told this one, but researchers have found that being woken up in the night is as detrimental as getting just four hours of sleep. Professor Avi Sadeh and a team of researchers from Tel Aviv University's School of Psychological Sciences discovered that waking up because of a disruption of some sort - whether that be a crying baby or the phone going off in the middle of the night - has the same impact as being severely sleep-deprived.

Being disrupted during slumber causes the same confusion, depression and fatigue, the academics found in the study published in journal Sleep Medicine. They studied 61 adults who were monitored at home using wrist-watch like devices which detected when they were asleep and when awake.

4. Eating an apple doesn't just keep the doctor away - it helps your sex life too

Scientists believe eating an apple daily can boost sexual pleasure in women and they think the reason is because of phloridzin. The compound, found in apples, is similar to the female sex hormone, estradiol, whichs plays a large role in sexual arousal.

Apples contains polyphenols and antioxidants that can stimulate blood flow to the genitalia, which helps with arousal. The academics believe the more apples women consume, the higher the level of lubrication and sexual function – a measure which takes into account overall satisfaction with sex.

The study, published in Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, analysed 731 Italian women aged 18 to 43.

5. Light drinkers could still be raising their risk of heart disease

Six glasses of wine a week may not sound like it is too much but according to one study, it still raises the risk of heart disease. The new research counters claims that moderate drinking, of 12 to 25 units of alcohol a week, can carry cardiovascular health benefits.

A reduction in alcohol consumption, even for light to moderate drinkers, was linked to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, lower body mass index and lower blood pressure, according to the paper published in The BMJ.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine reviewed more than 50 studies into the drinking habits and cardiovascular health of more than 260,000 people.

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