A present connects, communicates and makes people generally happy. It can strengthen a relationship, but also jeopardise it. Have you ever wondered why a certain present was chosen for you? And how much thought goes into the presents you give?
This Why Factor unwraps the social complexities that surround the giving of gifts.
Lore Wolfson finds out what makes a perfect present and receives clues on how to choose it. While revealing the risks inherent to the act, especially when a gift is given across cultures, she also learns why it’s best not to give a clock to someone from China and seeks advice on the pitfalls that need to be navigated.
A psychologist uncovers some underlying motivations of why we give presents and shares tips on dealing with disappointing ones.
The truth about gifts – donated free and without obligation – in the Why Factor.
Presenter: Lore Wolfson
Producer: Sabine Schereck
Editor: Andrew Smith
Picture Credit: Getty Creative / iStock / AntonioGuillem
In a world increasingly obsessed with health, the fitness technology market is booming. Whether you’re a serious athlete or just enjoy a casual run or cycle around your local park on a Sunday morning, it seems more and more of us are using fitness devices and activity trackers to record our efforts.
But what is the motivation for measuring every aspect of a workout? Can it inspire us to go further, faster or longer? Sharing our performances online allows us to compete virtually with pretty much anyone across the globe – but does it risk turning every training session into a race?
Presenter Lowri Morgan talks to the CEO of one of the most popular activity trackers Strava which has more than 36 million members. James Quarles says the main reasons why people use these apps and devices are motivation, competition and simply recording your efforts.
But in South Africa in the township of Soweto, the local cycling club is using the data from activity trackers to try to persuade sponsors and professional cycling teams to take on their best riders. They say the statistics help back up their claims about the potential of a rider.
While for many these devices and apps are a great help in motivating us to exercise, for some they can increase the risk of exercise addiction. Sport psychologist Dr Josie Perry says athletes can do many more miles training than is necessary simply because they are chasing an online challenge.
Lowri meets cyclist Ben Dowman from the UK who says in the past he became somewhat obsessed with trying to top the leader board on his activity tracker – even monitoring the weather to know when the wind direction would be most favourable to beat his rivals’ times.
As more of us record every step, pedal stroke and heartbeat, these apps and devices are changing the face of exercise as we compare, share and compete online.
Presenter: Lowri Morgan
Producer: Paul Grant
Editor: Gail Champion
(Photo: Female cyclist points to a smart watch on her wrist showing heart rate./Photo credit: ipopba\Getty )
Whether it’s climbing Everest, hiking through the Amazon jungle or cycling round the world, why are more of us taking on extreme endurance challenges which push our minds and bodies to the limit?
Marathons now seem commonplace and a whole new breed of extreme events have come along such as the double, triple or even Deca Ironman, sailing thousands of miles alone, multi-day adventure races and activities that defy description.
Presenter Lowri Morgan spends much of her time seeking out these adventures and extreme challenges. She is an ultra-runner and has raced 350 miles non-stop across the Arctic Circle and run through the Amazon jungle.
She talks to other runners about what motivates them to tackle such long distances, often in extreme conditions. We hear from one competitor racing in the Himalayas who started taking on endurance challenges after a difficult time in his life. Another runner who is attempting to get the record number of ultra marathons in a year and run a thousand marathons in four years, says he has yet to celebrate any of his achievements.
According to experts, the main motivation for competitors is to test themselves to the limit and to set and achieve a goal. Endurance athletes appear to have a higher tolerance to pain than the rest of us and a more positive mood, not only after a race but during their daily lives too.
But there can be downsides. There’s evidence that endurance athletes – in particular runners – have a much higher chance of exercise addiction which can impact on their health and family life.
But for many, the satisfaction they feel when they have completed such an extreme event means they soon come back for more.
Presenter: Lowri Morgan
Producer: Paul Grant
Editor: Gail Champion
(Photo: Endurance athlete Lowri Morgan in training / Photo credit: Lowri Morgan)
We are asking why so many people are fascinated by Zombies. For many people the Zombie is a walking corpse that’s out to bite you, and turn you into a similarly mindless, flesh craving undead person. What’s not to like? And we seem to be going through a bit of a Zombie boom with TV series like The Walking Dead capturing the imagination of audiences worldwide.
But Zombies have been around for more than a hundred years. They first came to the attention of the American public through a book called The Magic Island, about Haiti written by William Seabrook in 1929. And we will be exploring why many say there’s more to Zombies than a reliable source of Hollywood horror. Perhaps they tell us something about significant, deep divisions at large in society. We will be tracing their history through the centuries and continents – from Africa through to Central America, the US and Europe.
Photo: A man dressed up as a Zombie
Credit: Getty Images
Why do some instruments get all the tunes and the respect, while others are left at the bottom of the heap? The leader of the orchestra is always a violinist, and the guitarist usually gets to leap around at the front of the band. Meanwhile other instruments, like the drums, don’t get a lot of attention - except when it comes to being the butt of jokes.
Matt Allwright is on a mission to uncover the source of this terrible injustice, and find out whether his own beloved “low status” instrument – the pedal steel guitar – can ever find the spotlight.
• Stewart Copeland – The Police (drums)
• Dr Daria Kwiatkowska – composer, University of Birmingham (piano)
• Margaret Birley – Keeper of Musical Instruments, Horniman Museum
• Superorganism (assorted)
• Richard Farnes – conductor
• Stephen Bryant – leader, BBC Symphony Orchestra (violin)
• Tony Bedewi – BBC Symphony Orchestra (timpani)
• Tomoka Mukai – BBC Symphony Orchestra (flute)
• Steve Magee – BBC Symphony Orchestra (contrabassoon)