Stay Active This Summer

Spring semester has come to an end and summer is approaching. For some students this means starting summer with an internship or a job. These exciting opportunities might also involve being sedentary for long periods of time. So what can you do to keep active during work hours?  Here are some creative ways to stay active if you have an office job or internship:

  1. Change up your routine to work. If possible, instead of driving to work, walk or ride a bike. You’ll get fresh air and work those leg muscles. If you have to drive to work, try to park away from the entrance to get additional steps.
  2. Take the stairs. Skip the elevator and you’ll increase your endurance.
  3. Stand up instead of sitting down. Try changing up the work day by using a standing desk to do your work.
  4. Take calls while standing. If you have the opportunity to stand, do so while talking on the phone.
  5. Move around. Avoid sitting in the same exact position for an extended period of time.   You can stretch your arms or round and then straighten your back several times. This will help increase blood flow.

Written by Michelle Szczech, HealthWorks member

Reduce Stress with Physical Activity

College can be stressful. Stress will always be part of life, so the key question is: how will you respond to it? Researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) studied one strategy to help you handle stress during college: physical activity (1). The researchers conducted a 3-day program called “Fitness4Finals” (F4F), which focused on increasing the physical activity of college students during final exams. The goal of the program was to reduce stress levels associated with final exams.

The program included light, moderate, and high intensity exercises. The light intensity exercises included yoga, Pilates, Thai-chi (50 minute duration). Moderate intensity exercises included 50 minute fitness walking, 10-30 minute stair climb, and 4 minute Flash mob. High intensity exercises included 50 minute boot-camp, 50 minute cardio-boxing, and 1.5-5 minute obstacle course. The students participated in at least one of these exercises every day for 3 days.

Researchers examined the change in perceived psychological stress (PPS) of students before and after F4F events. The results revealed that the program was effective in lowering perceived stress of participants. However, physiological measures of stress were not significantly different.

At the end of the program, students said:

  • “I was able to clear my mind and [physical activity] helped me focus more when I did have to sit down and study [for finals].”
  • “[Physical activity] gave me an active outlet and break from schoolwork.”
  • “I felt compelled to relax my mind.”
  • “I felt mentally relaxed after yoga and meditation.”

Being active can be beneficial on many levels, including improving academic performance (2), mental health, social health and physical health (3). You can receive these benefits from any type of physical activity, including fitness walking, jogging, stair climbing, boxing, Pilates, Thai-chi, swimming, and playing basketball, tennis, football. You can make physical activity fun by discovering the exercises you enjoy the most!

College can be stressful, especially during finals. One way to manage stress is by being active. As one of the participants of F4F stated, physical activity can give you an opportunity to clear your mind and relax, which will help you concentrate better during studying. Next time you feel stressed, take a walk or play basketball!


  1. Koschel, Tessa L., John C. Young, and James W. Navalta. “Examining the Impact of a University-driven Exercise Programming Event on End-of-semester Stress in Students.” International journal of exercise science 10.5 (2017): 754.
  2. Salas CR, Minakata K, Kelemen WL. Walking before study enhances free recall but not judgement-of-learning magnitude. J Cognitive Psychol. 2011;23(4):507–513.
  3. de Vries JD, van Hooff MM, Geurts SE, Kompier MJ. Exercise as an intervention to reduce study-related fatigue among university students: a two-arm Parallel randomized controlled trial. Plos ONE. 2016;11(3):1–21.

Written by HealthWorks member, Deniz Siso

JUUL Vaping

You have seen students smoking a JUUL or e-cigarette on campus.  Are you wondering if these products are less harmful than traditional cigarettes?  According to the US Surgeon General, e-cigarettes have grown in popularity by 900% among high school students between 2011- and 2015 (1). In 2016 alone, over 2 million US middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days (2). E-cigarettes are sometimes advertised as a product that will help individuals quit smoking; however, the Surgeon General reports that the most frequently cited reasons for why youth and young adults use e-cigarettes are curiosity, flavoring/taste, and lower perceived harm compared to other tobacco products (1).

One cartridge for a JUUL equals close to one pack of cigarettes.  JUUL pods contain nicotine, which is an extremely addictive substance (2). Nicotine is as addictive as cocaine or heroin.  It is also harmful to the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, immunological system, ocular system, renal system, and reproductive system. Nicotine and smoking is linked to lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, or breast cancer (3). Ingesting the liquid of an e-cigarette can cause acute toxicity and possibly death if a large amount of the liquid is consumed (1).




Diet Soda

Are zero calorie soft drinks good or bad? In particular, how does diet soda affect your health? Have you ever heard someone say:  “It has 0 or low calories, so it can’t be bad for you.” Would you be surprised to hear that diet soda might be bad for you?

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Harlan Krumholz (a cardiologist) discusses a study showing that diet drinks can lead to metabolic abnormalities. The study indicates that artificial sweeteners (such as aspartame) in beverages and food might be causing unwanted weight gain (1). Azad and colleagues reviewed 37 studies and found that zero calorie sweeteners did not help people lose weight. In fact, the researchers found that people who consumed artificial sweeteners were more likely to experience weight gain, a higher risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and other health issues (2).

If you want to replace your diet soda, try replacing it with water, tea, coffee, and milk. If it seems difficult to suddenly take soda out of your diet, try to cut back slowly.  Drink one fewer soda per day until you eventually eliminate it entirely.


  1. Harlan Krumholz. (2017, September 14). Why One Cardiologist Has Drunk His Last Diet Soda. Retrieved from: CMAJ 2017 July 17;189:E929-39. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.161390
  1. Azad, Meghan B. et al. “Nonnutritive Sweeteners and Cardiometabolic Health: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials and Prospective Cohort Studies.” CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal28 (2017): E929–E939. PMC. Web. 23 Feb. 2018.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Did you know that Health Promotion and Wellness offers some great resources to help students? Whether you’re looking for fun things to do that don’t involve alcohol or you’re interested in learning more about the effects of alcohol, HPW has you covered.

Here are some important facts you should know about alcohol:

  • 66.3% of Penn State students reported having had to “baby-sit” a student who drank too much (1).
  • 53% of students at Penn State report not engaging in high-risk drinking, while 21% of students are not drinking at all (1).
  • 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences due to their alcohol use (2).
  • 1,825 college students die per year due to alcohol related injuries, including overdoses (2).
  • 20% of college students meet the criteria for a Substance Abuse Disorder (2).

If you are concerned about your alcohol use or a friend’s alcohol use, help is available. For more information or to schedule a confidential, free appointment, call 814-863-0461 or schedule through myUHS.

Additional resources at Penn State:

If your student organization or club would like to learn more about alcohol, schedule an alcohol workshop provided by HealthWorks peer educators.


  1. Student Affairs Research and Assessment Penn State University. (2017). Student Drinking Spring 2017. Retrieved from


  1. (2015, Dec.) College Drinking. Retrieved from



Sexual Violence Awareness Month

April is National Sexual Violence Awareness Month.   The goal of the month is to increase awareness about sexual violence in the US and on college campuses.  The National Sexual Violence Resource Center defines sexual violence is “any type of unwanted sexual contact” (1).  The Gender Equity Center is working with several departments to sponsor a range of great events this month.  The events are designed to raise awareness, educate, and help prevent sexual assault.

What Were You Wearing? Survivor art installation, April 2 – April 410 AM to 2 PM, 134 HUB

Men Against Violence Walk April 9, 2:30pm, Heritage Hall, HUB

Honoring Survival: Transforming the Spirit April 9, 6:30pm, Memorial Lounge, Pasquerilla Spiritual Center

Wade Davis: Won’t you celebrate with me April 10, 6:30pm, Freeman Auditorium, HUB

Stevie Tran: She’s Still My Fraternity Brother April 18, 7pm, 233B HUB

For more information about these events, visit or contact the Gender Equity Center at 814-863-2027 or

The University and State College community offer a variety of resources to support victims of sexual violence (2).

Centre County Women’s Resource Center –  140 W. Nittany Avenue, State College, PA. Hours vary. Phone: 814-238-7066 and 24 hour crisis hotline: 1-877-234-5050

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) – 501 Student Health Center. Open Monday – Friday 9am to 5pm. Phone: 814-863-0395. Penn State Crisis Hotline 1-877-229-6400. Crisis Text Line: Text “LIONS” to 741741

Gender Equity Center – 204 Boucke Building, Open Monday – Friday 9am to 5pm,

University Health Services – Student Health CenterHours vary, click the link for details:  Call 814-863-4463 to speak with an advice nurse 24/7


  1. National Sexual Violence Resource Center. (2018). About Sexual Assault.  Retrieved from
  2. Penn State Student Affairs. (2018). Confidential Support. Retrieved from

The Addictive Nature of Social Media

Justin Rosenstein is a social media trailblazer. Living in Silicon Valley, this 34-year-old former Facebook and Google executive was one of the co-creators of Facebook’s transcendent “like button”, which has now been altered to fit other social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram. Rosenstein, along with a growing number of executives in the social media business, are ditching their use of social media. He went as far as to set parental controls to block his ability to download social media apps on his phone, and set rigid limits on his Facebook use (1). Why are some of the developers of social media sites ditching their accounts on those sites? They see how addictive social media can be, and witness firsthand the negative outcomes of too much time spent on it.

Suren Ramasubbu has done extensive work related to parental controls for social media. He claims that, “neuroimaging studies have shown that three networks in the brain may be stimulated when using social media: the “mentalizing network”, “the self-referential cognition network” and the “reward network” (2). Research shows that the mentalizing network of the brain is used as a “social lens”; when the brain is not actively engaged in something, it tends to start focusing on other people (3). This is a function of the brain that allows us to have empathy and also make judgements about others (3). The self-referencing network of the brain is used to think about ourselves, whether that be comparing ourselves to others or simply talking about ourselves.  The percentage of time we spend doing this doubles on social media compared to all speech (2). It is easy to see how this network can be stimulated by the use of social media. The mentalizing and self-reference network contributes to the often compulsive checking of social media. Dopamine is the hormone responsible for this “want” feeling. Ramasubbu tells us that, “dopamine is released by unpredictability, by small bits of information, and by reward cues, all of which are characteristics of social media use” (1). Social media acts on the brain’s reward network and dopamine levels, through a constant supply of social rewards in the form of “likes” and other interactions similar to them (2). The more “likes” someone receives on a post, the more the reward network is stimulated, causing its users to crave more of that stimulation.  Chris Marcellino, a contributor to the invention of notification “badges” for Apple, claims, “These are the same circuits that make people seek out food, comfort, heat, sex,” (1) showing just how much social media addiction can be ingrained in our brain’s hardware.

Excessive time spent on social media (often estimated somewhere around two hours per day) has shown to be an implicating factor in higher levels of stress, worse mood, higher rates of anxiety, worse academic performance, and lowering the body’s production of melatonin, leading to poor sleep quality (4). If you are looking for ways to help reduce your time on social media, look out for more tips from Healthy Penn State’s Unplug campaign. Visit the Wellness Suite in 20 IM Building to Unplug and enjoy activities like coloring.

This article was written by HealthWorks member, Steve Driscoll. 

  1. Lewis, Paul. “’Our Minds Can Be Hijacked’: the Tech Insiders Who Fear a Smartphone ” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 6 Oct. 2017,
  2. Ramasubbu, Suren. “Biological & Psychological Reasons for Social Media Addiction.”The Huffington Post,, 13 Mar. 2017,
  3. Spunt, Robert P., et al. “The Default Mode of Human Brain Function Primes the Intentional Stance.” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, vol. 27, no. 6, 2015, pp. 1116–1124., doi:10.1162/jocn_a_00785.
  4. Brown, Jessica. “Is Social Media Bad For You? The Evidence and the Unknowns.” BBC, 5 Jan. 2018,

De-Stress at the Wellness Suite

Enjoy end-of-semester activities at the new Wellness Suite. Visit 20 Intramural Building for stress reduction activities in March and April. Bring your friends and enjoy an hour of fun. All activities are 5-6pm in 20IM.

During the month of March, there will be two fun and engaging activities. On Thursday, March 22nd enjoy making your very own overnight oats and trail mix! On March 29th come practice meditation with the Dharma Lions! Something we could all use as finals approach.

If you cannot make any of the March activities, no worries! April also has two dates filled with fun and relaxation. On Thursday, April 5th come try out Pilates! On Thursday, April 12th experience how art can help with mindfulness. Create your own face mask and enjoy the comfort of the suite!

Remember to check back in for more updates about activities happening in the wellness suite.

Welcome to the Wellness Suite

What is the Wellness Suite?
The Wellness Suite is located in 020 IM and offers a variety of services and houses both the Center for Fitness and Wellness (CFW) and Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW).

What services are offered at the Wellness Suite?
The suite is divided into two areas. HPW (part of Student Affairs) offers wellness services and the nutrition clinic in this section of its space. Students from the peer education program, HealthWorks, conduct the free wellness services. As a student you can sign up for services on these topics: Healthy Eating, Physical Activity, Sleep, Stress, Healthy Relationships/Sexual Health, and Financial Wellness. Each service consists of three, one-hour session over a three week period. These services are open to all Penn State students and are a great opportunity to take a step towards making healthy lifestyle changes! You can also schedule a nutrition clinic appointment with a registered dietitian. The suite includes a relaxation room with adult coloring books, biofeedback software, and other calming features such as zen gardens and relaxation soundtracks. During the gray winter months, you can use a light therapy box in the relaxation room. All are welcome to come unwind! Wellness services and nutrition clinic appointments are free.

The CFW is part of Kinesiology and offers fitness testing. The CFW peer interns conduct fitness assessments and blood lipid/glucose testing. The fitness assessment consists of body composition, VO2 max bike test, push-up, curl-up, and flexibility tests. Several of the Kinesiology fitness classes (e.g. 061, 093, 201) require students to complete fitness and blood testing, but any student is welcome to make an appointment! The fitness assessment takes ~45 minutes and costs $13.27 and the blood testing is $29.76.

How do I sign up for HPW Wellness Services?
Phone: 814-863-0461
Web: Schedule using 
Click “schedule online”
Choose a service that interests you!
Hours: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

How do I sign up for fitness testing with the CFW?
Phone: 814-865-4488
Hours: 7:30 am – 5:30 pm