Saturday, December 26, 2015

Sweating: good for you and good for your performance

pre-Christmas 2015 run in the dreary dead of winter
(note trees) -- except it was 71 deg F/ 22 deg C!
I was not expecting to go running on Christmas Eve 2015 in shorts and a tank top and return as sweaty as if it were a warm summer's day.

But it was nearly that, at 71 degrees F (22 degrees C), record-breaking for Washington, DC (average December 24th temperature is 30 degrees cooler!). Crazy.

Not only that, my little GPS watch showed that my pace was far faster than I'd expected (5:20/km or 8:35/mi in what was supposed to be an easy run), supporting the idea that sweating helps improve athletic performance, on top of keeping you cool in hot weather.

Historically not a major concern in winter, sweating is generally good for us as we exercise.

Sweating is our body's means of staying cool. Eccrine sweat glands, found all over our body, produce clear, odorless fluid that is basically water + salts. As the water evaporates off our skin, we feel cooler (and saltier).

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hidden gems: pygmy seahorses' beautiful camouflage

In the search for interesting behaviors and traits that help species survive and reproduce successfully, to improve their biological fitness, seahorses seem to come up frequently!

These traits get crazier with the pygmy seahorse. These little guys have a single gill that opens on the back of their head (all other seahorses have a pair of gill openings either side of the head) and the young develop within the male's trunk, rather than a pouch on the tail

Residents of the western Pacific Ocean, pygmy seahorses are usually less than 2 cm long and thus rely on perfect camouflage to survive.  So here's a question:

Do they search for a coral that matches their color, or do they change their color to match the coral?

Find out in this video!