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  • norberthedog/Instagram(NEW YORK) -- Nine years ago, Julie Steines was looking on Petfinder for her first dog and stumbled upon a little white ball of fluff that was just 4 months old."I never had a dog before and just saw him and said, 'Oh my gosh, that's him!'" Steines told Good Morning America.This adorable pup named Norbert would grow up to be a social media sensation. But the tiny, high-fiving therapy dog didn't get to where he is today overnight.The award-winning author said she knew it was meant to be and "he was just my buddy from the start and I took him everywhere. He was just used to being around lots of people."It was this level of comfort that made the little guy perfect as a therapy puppy. And that's where his fame began.Norbert started volunteering at a local retirement home, and Steines' brother said she should start a Facebook page."He slowly started to get a following, mostly just friends and family at first," she said. "Then I had this dream to publish a children's book with my mother. We thought Norbert's story of finding his purpose in life as a therapy dog would translate beautifully to a picture book. I was the author, and my mother was the illustrator. It did remarkable well."Norbert's social media grew from there, and the family added an Instagram page as well. With more than 1 million followers on Facebook and 600,000 on Instagram, Norbert has quite the fan base."Now he has four books, and we just made a plush toy," she said. "It wasn't this overnight success-type thing at all. It's been quite a journey, something I never anticipated."Norbert and Steines are about much more than social media; they are about making people smile. In addition to his travels to retirement homes and children's hospitals, Norbert made a special trip to see a very special boy.Steines said she got an email one day from someone in California."Their son had cancer, and they asked if Norbert could make him smile," she said. "I just had this feeling I was supposed to do more."She went ahead and asked her husband if they could fly to the boy's home and surprise him for Christmas."We went to their house, hung out for an hour and gave him high fives," she said. "It was one of the most memorable things Norbert and I have done. Sadly, the boy passed away, but we are still connected to the family on social media. They are just such wonderful people, and it breaks our hearts that anyone would have to go through something like that."While Norbert has a huge platform, the foundation for everything the duo does is "giving back," she said.
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  • ABC News(NEW YORK) -- If running is good for you, is running 100 miles better?ABC News' latest digital documentary, Ice Runner, focuses on Alicja Barahona, a 64-year-old resident of Greenburgh, Westchester, just outside Manhattan. She's been running ultramarathons for the past 20 years. This year, she tackled the Baikal Ice Marathon, a standard 26.2 miles across a nonstandard terrain: the frozen surface of the deepest lake in the world, Russia’s Lake Baikal in southeast Siberia.More than 2 million Americans participate in long-distance races -- marathons or more -- each year, and this number is on the rise. Why? Increased public awareness of health benefits of exercise, social media and maybe even the "Oprah effect." (Oprah Winfrey famously ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 1994.)In general, exercise is your body’s greatest ally. But along with millions tackling 2 miles around the track, a 5K or even a 26.2-mile marathon, some take running to an extreme with the ultramarathon.What is an ultramarathon?There are two types of ultramarathon events: those that cover a specific distance, and those that are time-driven -- that is, whoever covers the most distance in a certain amount of time takes home the laurel wreath. The most common distances are 31, 50, 62 and 100 miles, but there are even races that cover more than 1,000 miles.What are the effects of running long distances on the heart?It can be positive for the heart. With intense athletic training, there are some normal changes to the heart, depending on the type of exercise. Triathlon competitors have small increases in size to the heart chambers (ventricles) and small increases in thickness of the heart muscle. These changes are considered adaptive, meaning they are changes that allow the heart an increased ability to pump oxygen and blood to the exercising tissues.Is there a downside?Yes, occasionally. As several studies show, those who participate in endurance sports are at increased risk of atrial fibrillation (an irregular and rapid heart rate) and atrial flutter (abnormal heart rhythm) compared to those who do not participate in endurance sports. Doctors don’t yet know how to prevent this.“Much of the data points toward atrial fibrillation with long-term running -- it's unclear if it’s related to a single marathon,” said Dr. Matthew Martinez, associate chief of cardiology at Lehigh Valley Health.Dr. Micah Eimer, co-director of the sports cardiology program at Northwestern Medicine, advises runners to take it slow.“Patients who engage in low and moderate intensity exercise can decrease their risk of atrial fibrillation. However, patients who exercise at the extreme levels of exertion appear to have a significantly increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation,” Eimer said.Runners can feel it and sometimes notice it if they are wearing a heart rate sensor. “Usually they will return the device assuming that it is malfunctioning,” Eimer said. “After they get the same result on a new monitor, they come to the office, where we diagnose them with atrial fibrillation.”If running is good for us, more running is better, right? Or is 100 miles too much?Doctors say it’s a matter of running “dosage.”“Low-level exercise will reduce your risk of dying from heart disease, and up to a point, the more you exercise, the lower your risk. But above a certain level -- which is about three times per week -- the benefit is attenuated,” Eimer said, pointing to research on very long-distance runners. “In one study, those patients had a risk level that was the same as patients who did not exercise at all. My recommendation to patients is that moderate exercise strikes the right balance between long-term risk and benefit."What about runners and sudden death?Running-related cardiac arrests are rare events, according to several studies. One study of 10.9 million half-marathon/marathon runner
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Have you been a victim of orbiting?It's not quite ghosting, when someone completely cuts off contact after a date, but it's a new term to describe what many may experience in online dating.Imagine going on a few dates with someone, connecting on social media, but then the other person stops answering texts. Then you notice they're watching your Instagram and Snapchat stories, and liking photos.That's exactly what happened to writer Anna Rose Iovine, who told ABC News' Start Here podcast that she was so frustrated with the experience, she coined a new phrase: orbiting.It comes from people who don't actually contact you but keep you in "their orbit," she explained in a now-viral article for Man Repeller."I just think that it messes up with people's psyches," she said. "I was racking my brain as to why this person was looking at my stories and keeping up with me on social media, but not texting back."When she told her friends about the encounter, they all admitted to having similar stories. Iovine said on Start Here that one friend even confronted a guy who was watching all of her Snapchat stories and not responding to texts.His response? "Oh, you can see that?"Iovine believes people orbit because "they want to keep someone on the backburner" when "they don't really like them that much." Similar to ghosting, she said she thinks people "don't really want to reject them outright."Orbiting is still different from ghosting or even creeping, according to Iovine, who argues it is "unique to this era" of social media."You can stand someone up, or just never call back, or never return a letter," she said. "But orbiting -- the fact that you can see someone on social media and see what they're up to even if you don't contact them -- is very much a new concept." Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Spencer Platt/Getty Images(BROOKLYN, New York) -- More than two dozen people at the same street corner had to be rushed to the hospital after suffering a bad reaction to synthetic marijuana in Brooklyn on Saturday night.Police sources told New York ABC station WABC-TV that officers reported to a street corner in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn after receiving multiple calls for bad reactions to the drug. The sources said at least 25 people were taken to the hospital to be treated for adverse symptoms.Officials told WABC-TV that none of the patients are in life-threatening condition.The drug, often labeled synthetic marijuana, doesn't include any actual cannabis.Synthetic weed, also called K2 or spice, is dried plant material sprayed with chemicals, which can be smoked or sold in liquid-form to be inhaled with a vaporizer. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, effects can be "unpredictable and, in some cases, more dangerous or even life-threatening."The overdoses on Saturday occurred at the intersection of Broadway and Myrtle Avenue under the J and Z subway tracks. The location is well-known by authorities.In July 2016, at least 33 people had serious adverse reactions to synthetic weed in one day at the exact same corner, and more than 100 were taken to the emergency room from July 11-13, 2016, according to the National Institute of Health.The National Institutes of Health released warnings in four states -- Wisconsin, Indiana, Maryland and Illinois -- over dangerous synthetic marijuana in early April. Illinois especially was hit with a number of problems due to the drug; three people died and more than 100 people were hospitalized in April, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- A doctor who slipped an abortion pill into his pregnant girlfriend's tea was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Friday. However, he will serve only three years.Brooke Fiske was dating Sikander Imran when the Arlington, Virginia, doctor slipped a drug into her tea he knew could cause her to have a miscarriage, according to ABC affiliate WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C.Fiske was 17 weeks pregnant when she went to visit Imran to discuss raising the child, according to reports. That's when he slipped a pill into her tea, which caused her to go into premature labor hours later. She was rushed to the hospital, but the infant did not survive.Imran was arrested in May 2017 and pleaded guilty in March to fetal homicide, court records show.Despite Fiske's loss, she argued against a stiff penalty for Imran. The doctor, who lost his license following his arrest, faced a minimum of five years and maximum of 40 years in prison for felony, according to Virginia state law."To me, the length of time that he serves in prison isn't what's important," Fiske told WJLA-TV. "I think that it is really important that people know that if they are dealing with depression, before they do something, they should reach out and get help."Imran's lawyers said he was dealing with mental health problems at the time, including panic attacks, and had threatened suicide, according to WJLA-TV.Imran told the judge Friday he loved Fiske "more than anyone in the world" and prays for their unborn child every day."What matters is that people hear this story and realize that either they need to help themselves and they're going to reach out and get it before something awful happens, or they realize that whatever weight, whatever tragedy, whatever pain they're carrying, there is a way through it," Fiske said.WJLA-TV reports Imran could also be deported to his native Pakistan after serving three years in prison.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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