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Your Lifetime by the Numbers

A fascinating international study takes a look at what the average person does in a lifetime, broken down by days and percentages.

As you go through life, some days seem longer, some shorter, but altogether it's often hard to get a sense of what actually constitutes your life while you're living it. There are too many demands on your time, too many variables. Life just flows and flows, in a succession of days that seems endless until it isn't.


To gain an overarching perspective, a new study takes a look at the life of an average person in terms of pure numbers. Researchers surveyed over 9,000 people in 9 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France, Mexico, Russia, Korea and Spain. What they found out were some striking stats.

Taking the average life expectancy to be 25, 915 days (71 years), an average human would spend:

0.45% (or 117 days) having sex - given it's prominence in our everyday thinking and pursuits, that doesn't seem like such a great success rate.

On the other hand, humans spend 6.8% (or 1,769 days) of their lives socializing with someone they love.  Germans apparently top this category at 10.48% (or 2,724 days). Spending 7-10% of our time engaged in some form of loving seems reassuring.

0.69% (or 180 days) of their life, people spend exercising, while 29.75% (7,709 days) sitting down, with the Russians sitting most of all at 32.9%.  Maybe it's time we got up? A third of our life is just sitting somewhere and if you add to that all the time we are sleeping, it really seems like a giant waste.

Another sobering number is how much time we spend staring at some screen, be it a smartphone, tablet, laptop or TV.  That's 41%! Again, Germans appear to do this the least, around 8,995 days, probably spending the extra time with the loved ones.

More interesting tidbits from the study:

Mexicans are most proud of their bodies (38.6%), average the longest before breaking a New Year's Resolution (3.6 months) and laugh on average 24 times per day (more than anyone). Perhaps, all these facts are related.

Americans challenge themselves to do something physically tough the most (9.84 times per month) and spend the most money on fitness at $16.05 per week. They are also the most adventurous, trying some new thing about 7 times per month.

Russians sleep the most per night (7 hours 5 minutes ) and also dance the most per month - about 15 times per month.

Here's a nice graphic putting some of these numbers in further perspective:



The study was conducted by Reebok in partnership with the global survey consultancy Censuswide. Sure, Reebok had its own commerical reasons for looking into these numbers, but the end results are fascinating, regardless of your interest in their shoes.

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Physicists have understood at least theoretically, that there may be higher dimensions, besides our normal three. The first clue came in 1905 when Einstein developed his theory of special relativity. Of course, by dimensions we’re talking about length, width, and height. Generally speaking, when we talk about a fourth dimension, it’s considered space-time. But here, physicists mean a spatial dimension beyond the normal three, not a parallel universe, as such dimensions are mistaken for in popular sci-fi shows.

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Image source: camillo jimenez/Unsplash
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  • 10-15% of people visiting emergency rooms eventually develop symptoms of long-lasting PTSD.
  • Early treatment is available but there's been no way to tell who needs it.
  • Using clinical data already being collected, machine learning can identify who's at risk.

The psychological scars a traumatic experience can leave behind may have a more profound effect on a person than the original traumatic experience. Long after an acute emergency is resolved, victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continue to suffer its consequences.

In the U.S. some 30 million patients are annually treated in emergency departments (EDs) for a range of traumatic injuries. Add to that urgent admissions to the ED with the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Health experts predict that some 10 percent to 15 percent of these people will develop long-lasting PTSD within a year of the initial incident. While there are interventions that can help individuals avoid PTSD, there's been no reliable way to identify those most likely to need it.

That may now have changed. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers has developed a method for predicting who is most likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic emergency-room experience. Their study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.

70 data points and machine learning

nurse wrapping patient's arm

Image source: Creators Collective/Unsplash

Study lead author Katharina Schultebraucks of Columbia University's Department Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons says:

"For many trauma patients, the ED visit is often their sole contact with the health care system. The time immediately after a traumatic injury is a critical window for identifying people at risk for PTSD and arranging appropriate follow-up treatment. The earlier we can treat those at risk, the better the likely outcomes."

The new PTSD test uses machine learning and 70 clinical data points plus a clinical stress-level assessment to develop a PTSD score for an individual that identifies their risk of acquiring the condition.

Among the 70 data points are stress hormone levels, inflammatory signals, high blood pressure, and an anxiety-level assessment. Says Schultebraucks, "We selected measures that are routinely collected in the ED and logged in the electronic medical record, plus answers to a few short questions about the psychological stress response. The idea was to create a tool that would be universally available and would add little burden to ED personnel."

Researchers used data from adult trauma survivors in Atlanta, Georgia (377 individuals) and New York City (221 individuals) to test their system.

Of this cohort, 90 percent of those predicted to be at high risk developed long-lasting PTSD symptoms within a year of the initial traumatic event — just 5 percent of people who never developed PTSD symptoms had been erroneously identified as being at risk.

On the other side of the coin, 29 percent of individuals were 'false negatives," tagged by the algorithm as not being at risk of PTSD, but then developing symptoms.

Going forward

person leaning their head on another's shoulder

Image source: Külli Kittus/Unsplash

Schultebraucks looks forward to more testing as the researchers continue to refine their algorithm and to instill confidence in the approach among ED clinicians: "Because previous models for predicting PTSD risk have not been validated in independent samples like our model, they haven't been adopted in clinical practice." She expects that, "Testing and validation of our model in larger samples will be necessary for the algorithm to be ready-to-use in the general population."

"Currently only 7% of level-1 trauma centers routinely screen for PTSD," notes Schultebraucks. "We hope that the algorithm will provide ED clinicians with a rapid, automatic readout that they could use for discharge planning and the prevention of PTSD." She envisions the algorithm being implemented in the future as a feature of electronic medical records.

The researchers also plan to test their algorithm at predicting PTSD in people whose traumatic experiences come in the form of health events such as heart attacks and strokes, as opposed to visits to the emergency department.

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