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Who needs a gym? Shoeless runners trek through snow in Finland

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Who needs a gym? Shoeless runners trek through snow in Finland

HELSINKI – Finns keen to avoid gyms and other indoor sports venues this winter because of the coronavirus pandemic have found a new way to keep fit – running in the snow wearing no training shoes, just thick woolen socks.

Finland has seen particularly heavy snowfall this winter and running outside in just socks provides great exercise as well as a sense of freedom, said Pekka Parviainen, a helicopter pilot and an avid barefoot runner.

“This is traditional Finnish crazy stuff, I think we all agree,” said Parviainen while out running with a group in Nuuksio national park, 35 kilometers (20 miles) from the capital Helsinki.

“And it’s really the happiness side. I mean it’s very good sport, strong exercise and everything, but it really is the happiness,” he added.

In Finland, where taking a sauna in winter and then running through snow to jump into an ice-cold lake is a traditional pastime, barefoot running has become popular in the past few years during the warmer months.

Running in socks through heavy snow, now about half a meter deep in many places, takes this to the next level.

“You can do it quite light or you can do it really heavy in the deep snow as we did now. But the feeling afterwards is just great. You have had a good foot massage,” Parviainen said, because your feet are not tightly “packaged” in trainers.

There is no shortage of warm woollen socks as many Finns have taken to knitting during long winter lockdowns.

Parviainen recommends wearing at least two, preferably three, pairs of woolen socks to get the most out of the run.

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These colleges require students to get vaccinated if they want to live on campus

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These colleges require students to get vaccinated if they want to live on campus

As academic institutions look toward the post-COVID-19 future of education, some are implementing strict vaccine requirements ahead of the upcoming semester as others incentivize or urge students to pick up the inoculations.

Many colleges already require students to provide proof of certain vaccines, but those have been in use for years. The three FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines are all less than a year old.

But now that vaccines are open in many places to people age 16 and up, colleges are beginning to look into how that can benefit their reopening plans.

Colleges that will require proof of vaccination for students who want to live on campus include Oakland University in Michigan, Cornell University in upstate New York, Rutgers University in New Jersey, and Brown University in Rhode Island.

“Students have an option to come to Oakland University and not stay in residence halls,” Oakland President Dr. Ora Pescovitz told Fox 2 Detroit this week. “Only 20% of our students live on campus. The other 80% are commuter students.”

The school is offering religious and medical exemptions to students who provide proof to the dean of students.

But she said more than 1,000 people signed up for vaccines within the first six hours after the school announced the new requirement.

Northeastern University in Boston is going a step further and requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for all students before the fall 2021 semester as part of its plan to return to full-time, in-person learning.

Nova Southeastern University announced last week it would require vaccinations by Aug. 1 – then backtracked after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a statewide ban on “vaccine passports,” citing concerns about individual liberty and patient privacy.

“We will continue to follow all state and federal laws as they evolve,” Nova President George L. Hanbury II said in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Mars Perseverance rover takes selfie with Ingenuity helicopter ahead of historic flight

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NASA's Perseverance Mars rover took a selfie with the Ingenuity helicopter on April 6, 2021, using the WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering) camera located at the end of the rover's long robotic arm. Perseverance's selfie with Ingenuity is constructed of 62 individual images, taken in sequence while the rover was looking at the helicopter, then again while looking at the WATSON camera, stitched together once they are sent back to Earth.

To the delight of social media users, NASA’s Perseverance rover used a camera on the end of its robotic arm to snap a selfie with the Mars Ingenuity helicopter this week ahead of its historic flight mission.

Shown about 13 feet apart in the pictures taken on April 6, 2021, or the 48th Martian day of the mission, the rover used its WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and Engineering) camera on the SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals) instrument.

In a release, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said Wednesday that the selfie had been constructed using 62 individual images — taken in sequence — that were stitched together.

It noted that the Curiosity Mars rover, which landed on the red planet in 2011, takes similar “selfies.”

Ingenuity, which has been released on the Martian surface, is scheduled to attempt the first-ever powered and controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet no sooner than April 11.

NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter with its blades unlocked acquired by NASA's Perseverance Mars rover using its Left Mastcam-Z camera, on Sol 47, 08 April 2021. Mastcam-Z is a pair of cameras located high on the rover's mastcam-Z.
NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter with its blades unlocked acquired by NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover using its Left Mastcam-Z camera, on Sol 47, 08 April 2021. Mastcam-Z is a pair of cameras located high on the rover’s mastcam-Z.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE

Once the team at JPL is ready, Perseverance will relay the helicopter’s final flight instruction from mission controllers, according to NASA.

If all final checks and atmospheric conditions look good, the helicopter will lift off climbing at a rate of 3 feet per second and hover at 10 feet above the surface for up to 30 seconds.

After data and potentially images from the rover’s Navigation Cameras and Mastcam-Z are downloaded, the Ingenuity team will determine whether the flight was a success. 

The results will be discussed by the team at a media conference that same day.

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California’s Disneyland to open an Avengers area

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California’s Disneyland to open an Avengers area

LOS ANGELES – A new Avengers-themed area featuring a Spider-Man ride, roaming superheroes and a shawarma food cart will open at Walt Disney Co’s Disneyland Resort in California on June 4, the head of the company’s parks division said on Thursday.

The debut will come weeks after the resort in Anaheim, about 35 miles southeast of Los Angeles, begins welcoming back guests for the first time in a year starting on April 30.

Disneyland, the original Disney theme park and neighboring California Adventure were closed in March 2020 to help prevent spread of the novel coronavirus. The shutdown thwarted plans to open the Avengers Campus in July 2020.

Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney parks, experiences and products, announced the new opening date as he offered a glimpse of the Avengers attractions during a pre-taped video shown to reporters.

In a new Spider-Man ride called “Web Slingers,” which combines physical and virtual environments, guests will team with Spidey to capture out-of-control Spider-Bots.

“You will swear Peter Parker’s right there,” said Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, referring to Spider-Man’s alter ego.

A swinging Spider-Man character also will perform acrobatics above the park’s rooftops. The character is a “stuntronic” robot designed to perform somersaults while flying 60 feet in the air, Disney said.

Black Panther, Black Widow, Doctor Strange, Iron Man also will found in the park, as well as a Quinjet, an advanced aircraft used by the Avengers.

“There’s only one place you can see one of our Quinjets,” Feige said. “It’s either in the movie or it’s here.”

Food options will include a cart offering shawarma, a nod to a scene at the end of the 2012 “Avengers” movie when various superheroes ate the Middle Eastern dish together after saving the world.

Visitors to Disneyland will need advance reservations and must follow COVID-19 safety precautions including wearing masks and social distancing.

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