DROPPING THE STITCH

Runners, cyclists, swimmers, and aerobic types all get them at one time or another. Hernias? No, stitches, those searing pains that leave you clutching your sides and whimpering softly. They were once thought to be caused by digestive problems, but now researchers in New Zealand have found they may be related to joggling movement (horseriders are particularly prone to them) and may occur because of contents in the stomach pulling on ligaments. Runners, who suffer the most, are advised to cinch a standard 2-3 inch wide belt round their waist to contain the pain, or to bend forward whilst pressing on the site and tightening the abdominal muscles, or to breathe through pursed lips, or for the supplest, a combination of all three.

THAT MONDAY MORNING FEELING No wonder Bob Geldof didn't like Mondays - a new study from the University of Minnesota has found that back injuries are 25 per cent more likely to occur on Mondays than any other working weekday, whil you're also 33 per cent more likely to have a heart attack on Monday. Sounds like the perfect excuse for a long weekend.

WET WET WET

The latest research from the Tea Council's ongoing Healthy Drinks Survey shows a worrying trend - the number of people failing to monitor their fluid intake is increasing. In 1989 only 25 per cent drank less than they should, compared with 37 per cent today. We need at least a litre of fluid a day to keep our system in balance, but, says Vincent Marks, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Surrey, this is a rough guideline. "We need to drink considerably more for good health, especially to flush out the bladder and kidneys. Ideally you should have a minimum of two litres a day." Few people questioned were aware of the health problems that could result from inadequate intake: only 21 per cent knew that kidney damage could result and fewer than 10 per cent mentioned the short-term effects of dehydration - irritability, headaches, fatigue, poor concentration, and lethargy. Longer-term problems include low blood pressure and cystitis as well as kidney disorders. If in doubt, says Professor Marks, just keep imbibing. "Water and tea are probably the best bets. And it's hard to drink too much, non-alcoholically speaking, so more is always better."

YOGI PAIR

Yoga's image as the ultimate in solitary contemplative activities is about to be shattered - the latest thing in New York is You And Me Yoga, in which couples invade each other's personal space to strike a few joint hatha yoga positions. Breathing is synchronised, enabling couples to "tune in to one another", according to instructor Jackie Prete. "It's exhilarating to pose together, to feel the energy and encouragement pulsing between you," she gushes. "And by leaning and pulling in certain ways you get a deeper stretch than you ever could on your own." There are few practitioners brave enough to take on yoga a deux in this country as yet, but the British Wheel Of Yoga on 01529 306851, will have details of those who've succumbed.

CONTRAPTION OF THE WORK: HEART MONITOR

Agony aunts and crooners have been telling us to listen to our hearts for years, and now it seems we're finally heeding their advice. More and more people are sporting heart monitors, which are now small enough to fit on your wrist. Shops like Cycle Surgery in London are finding it's not only bikers who want to keep an eye on all things cardiac. "We sell to everyone, from office workers to clubbers," says a spokesman. "We've even got a barrister who wears one in court." Prices range from around pounds 50 for a basic model which records pulse rates to the more advanced pounds 400 gizmos made by Polar, which come with a strap-on waist transmitter and enable you to set limits while training, with an alarm that goes off if the limits are breached. You can even download the resulting readings into a computer and devise a workout programme that won't make your heart burst; alternatively you can gauge your organ's response to everything from a cup of strong coffee to a hold-up on the bus, and work at reducing stress levels. More information: Cycle Surgery, 0171 375 3088 or 0171 609 2348.

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