According to a recent student health survey at University Park, only 4.4% of undergraduate students reported eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables (Penn State University, 2018, American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment). Look at this guide from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to learn about how many cups are recommended for your age. You will find simple suggestions to help you eat more fruits and veggies.
You can also sign up for a free session with a registered dietitian or talk with a peer educator in the nutrition Wellness Service. Read more about these free resources.
Buy frozen? Buy fresh? But what about your budget? You can eat healthy even on a budget. Here are four tips that can help you eat healthy while keeping your finances in mind.
1. Plan before you shop.
Check what food you already have at home. This will help you know what you need to buy in the grocery store. Based on your current food supplies, plan your meals for the week. Make a grocery list to make sure you do not buy items you do not need.
2. Frozen or canned vegetables and fruits are a good option.
Frozen and canned veggies and fruits have almost the same amount of nutrients as fresh ones. Frozen or canned veggies and fruits cost less and they have a longer shelf life which allows you to shop less frequently. Read the nutrition label carefully and look for the low-sodium or no salt/sugar added options.
3. Shop after you have eaten.
Don’t shop when you’re hungry. If you are hungry when you shop, you will most likely buy food that isn’t on your list. For best results, it is a good to feel satiated when you arrive at the grocery store.
4. Use your resources.
Coupons can be an easy way to save money. Join your favorite grocery store’s loyalty program to receive special discounts and offers. Check the availability of online coupons frequently. Buy the things you need, not the things you want.
THON might be one of the most exciting times as a Penn State student. Walking into the BJC with the stands filled and a smile on every individual’s face is a memory no person will ever forget. Last year, I stood for approximately 40 hours over the duration of the Dance Marathon. During that time, I was able to understand the true impact that lack of sleep can have on an individual. As a peer educator I learned the importance of sleep, but I had never experienced the symptoms and impact of sleep deprivation. As a result of being sleep deprived, I constantly found myself forgetting conversations, I did not know the time, and when I last ate. I experienced hallucinations, muscle fatigue, and even illness all because my body did not get the recommended amount of sleep. After the weekend was over it took several days to “repay” the sleep debt. Here are a few tips for you as THON weekend approaches.
Harvard Health shares the importance of getting enough sleep and the impact sleep can have on memory, safety, mood, and disease (1). Research shows that sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In order to experience the benefits of sleep, aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night and a consistent sleep-wake schedule. No matter the reason for losing sleep, it is important to repay sleep debt as soon as possible to ensure that we stay healthy and our memories are stored for that next big exam! It is important for us as students to recognize when physical exhaustion takes over. Make sure to stay hydrated, eat healthy meals, and take frequent naps during your 2019 THON experience.
Schedule a Sleep Wellness Service with at the Wellness Suite by visiting https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/free-wellness-services
Written by a HealthWorks member
Calling all runners, joggers, and walkers. Are you interested in completing a 5k?
Join Club Cross Country, Campus Recreation, and Health Promotion and Wellness on February 23rd for a fun Penn State community event, the Winter Thaw 5K. The event starts at 10:00 am at the Westgate Building (intersection of Burrowes and Pollock). The pre-registration table will be in the HUB 11 am to 2 pm on February 18 – 22. The registration fee is only $10 prior to race day. Registration fees increase to $15 on race day, February 23. Look for the Winter Thaw Run banner. Participants are guaranteed a race bag filled with goodies. Race day registration is $15 and will start at 9:00 am on February 23rd at the intersection of Burrowes and Pollock.
The top five male and top five female finishers will receive prizes. Registration forms will be available at the registration tables. A downloadable version is available here.
Winter Thaw Run Registration Form
Thaw 5K Waiver
Research indicates consuming Omega-3 fatty acids can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 fatty acids also play a role in brain development. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods like fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts. There are 3 main types of omega-3 fatty acids:
There are 3 main types of omega-3 fatty acids (1):
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
ALA is found in plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils. Some ALA is converted into EPA and DHA, but only in small amounts. DHA and EPA are utilized easily by the body, which is why they are considered the best way to increase intake of Omega-3 (2). DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood. Algal oil is a comparable vegan source of DHA and EPA (3).
Experts recommend consuming at least 2 servings of fish each week to meet recommended intakes of Omega-3 fatty acids. Another way to increase Omega-3’s is to add walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds to your usual snacks or meals throughout the week. The daily adequate intake of ALA for men age 19-59 is 1.6 and 1.1 g for women (2). Recommended amounts of EPA and DHA have not been established. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist if you are interested in taking a supplement.
Written by Kate Quick, RD
Most Penn State students are doing a good job of making health a priority. In a recent survey, 89% of Penn State students described their health as “good, very good, or excellent (1).” Many students meet the recommendations for physical activity (56%) and a majority report healthy habits when it comes to sexual health (80%).
Despite this good news, there’s a growing area of concern about vaping and the use of e-cigarettes. There is a significant increase in the number of Penn State students regularly using these products. In 2016, 4% of Penn State students reported vaping or using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. In 2018, this statistic jumped to 16% of students. Students perceive their peers to be vaping much more than they actually are. Eighty-six percent of students perceive other students vape or use e-cigarettes, when it is only 16% (1).
This misperception could be contributing to the increase in vaping over the past two years. Studies show that students who overestimate how much their peers use a substance such as cigarettes or alcohol are more likely to try the substance or increase their own use (2). Social influences are strong determinants of health behavior as well as marketing and low perception of risk.
Unfortunately, the use of e-cigarettes, especially high-nicotine versions, can lead to nicotine addiction. Researchers predict that dependence on nicotine caused by e-cigarettes may lead many young users to eventually turn to cigarettes (3).
Nicotine addiction can be hard to beat, but quitting is possible. Health Promotion and Wellness can help! Get the support you need to quit for good. Schedule an appointment at www.studentaffairs.psu.edu/healthmyUHS or call 814-863-0461. Ask for the Freedom from Smoking program. This program addresses all types of nicotine and tobacco use, including vaping and e-cigarettes.
- Penn State University’s ACHA National College Health Assessment, Spring 2018
- Warner, K.E., Mendez, D. E-cigarettes: Comparing the possible risks of increasing smoking initiation with the potential benefits of increasing smoking cessation. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 2018, 1-7.
- Spindle, T.R., Hilder, M.M., Cooke, M.E., Eissenberg, T., Kendler, K.S., Dick, D.M. Electronic cigarette use and uptake of cigarette smkoing: A longitudinal examination of U.S. college students. Addictive Behaviors 67 (2017) 66-72
Health Promotion and Wellness is happy to offer stress reducing activities for students throughout the 2019 spring semester. All activities are held in the Wellness Suite and are free to students. No registration or experience required.
Meditation Mondays 6:00 -7:00pm in the Wellness Suite. Stop by, grab a meditation pillow and relax. Meditation pillows are provided, no experience required.
- January 14 – Learn to Meditate
- February 11 – Relaxation Meditation
- March 11 – Mindfulness and Stress Reduction Techniques
- April 15 – Calming the Mind with Meditation
Wellness Wednesdays happen each Wednesday in the suite 4:00-4:45pm. Join HealthWorks for an interactive activity about stress reduction strategies. These activities start January 9.
You won’t want to miss Thursdays this spring! Check out all the great offerings happening 5:15-6:15pm in the Wellness Suite:
- January 10 Meditation and guided vision board*
- January 24 Yoga
- February 7 Self-care Box*
- February 21 Knitting* and Overnight Oats
- March 14 Stamp making*
- March 28 Yoga
- April 11 Art Journaling*
- April 25 Pilates
*Part of the Mindful Making Series in collaboration with Student Engagement Programs.
The Wellness Suite is located in 20 IM Building and is open M-F 8am-5pm in addition to the activities listed above.
Many students give up sleep to meet the demands of a busy schedule. The overall effect negatively impacts productivity. Do you have trouble falling asleep? Do you wake up frequently throughout the night? What stands between you and the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night? Could it be your nutrition?
Eating before bed can affect how well you sleep during the night (1). Heavy, high-fat foods may cause bloating and stomach pain that can keep you from a restful sleep. Spicy foods may cause heartburn or indigestion which can keep you up at night. However, going to sleep on an empty stomach can also cause a sleepless night. If you’re hungry, try a light snack, like a bowl of cereal with low-fat milk, about an hour before going to bed (2).
In addition to decreased energy and productivity, current research links inadequate sleep with weight gain and type 2 diabetes. Although exact causes are unclear, one theory for weight gain is that inadequate sleep disrupts hormone levels that regulate appetite and food intake (3). This means that a lack of sleep may cause you to eat.
Are you interested in learning more about sleep or nutrition? Health Promotion and Wellness offers free one-on-one wellness services to students. Topics include stress and time management, sleep, physical activity, nutrition, healthy relationships and sexual health. HealthWorks peer educators provide the services. These services are FREE and are in the Wellness Suite, 020 IM Building. To schedule an appointment, call 814-863-0461.
It’s been a long semester and you’ve studied hard. Now it’s time to cap off the semester by doing well on final exams and projects. A lot of students associate finals week with all-nighters, constant studying, and plenty of coffee. These behaviors can actually be detrimental to your academic performance. Here are ways to take care of your mind and body so that you can do your best on finals.
Sleep deprivation affects not only your energy level and mood, but also your ability to concentrate, learn, and focus. As finals week approaches, maintain a regular sleep pattern and aim for 7-9 hours per night. For more restful sleep, avoid alcohol and stop drinking caffeine at least six hours prior to your typical bed time.
- Get your nutrients
Antioxidants from fruits and vegetables help keep your brain healthy. Throw an apple or a banana in your backpack before you head out to study or have a salad with your next slice of pizza. Most importantly, do not skip meals.
- Be active
Physical activity is not just good for your body, but also for your brain. Endorphins released in the brain during physical activity can reduce tension, improve mood, and increase brainpower. Take a walk, turn your music on and dance, or take some time to stretch. If you exercise regularly, keep it up! You’ll reap the benefits more than ever this week.
You can use muscles in the classroom with “Deskercises.”
Following are a few examples. Perform these three exercises twice, holding for 10 seconds each:
- Ab squeeze
- Leg lifts
- Shoulder shrugs
Physical activity breaks are associated with improved attention, improved concentration and improved academic behavior.