Category Archives: On Campus

See what’s new from the Health Promotion and Wellness department within University Health Services at Penn State University Park.

Navigating the Dining Commons

Eating a healthy meal in the dining commons can feel overwhelming with all the choices.  You are offered an all you care to eat buffet as well as individual food stations.  How do you get started?

One helpful way to approach the dining commons is to first review the online menu.  If you plan ahead, you can make a healthier and balanced meal.  If you don’t have time to view the online menus ahead of time, use the MyPlate concept when approaching the food station.  For a balanced meal,fill  ½ your plate with fruits and vegetables, ¼ of your plate with grains and another ¼ of your plate with protein.  Don’t forget the healthy fats!

Look for the RHEAL program in the dining commons.    RHEAL stands for Residential Healthy Eating and Living.  This program is designed to help students identify foods that are healthier options.   Look for the sign with the carrot on it. For more information, click here RHEAL .

Tips for eating healthy in the dining commons:

  1. Check out the fresh fruits and vegetables at the salad bar
  2. Choose a whole grain for pasta, bread and rice
  3. Try other grains such as quinoa or farro
  4. Take a piece of fruit every time you leave the dining commons. (It will be a great snack for later!)
  5. Try other sources of protein including beans and tofu
  6. Add healthy fats to your meal from the salad bar such as nuts or olive oil as a dressing

Eating Healthy: Dorm Edition

Claire Pomorski, a student in Nutrition 360 during spring 2017, created this awesome brochure full of valuable information to help students, living in the residence halls, make healthier food choices.  She highlights healthy food options in the Dining Commons, including getting Green 2 Go and healthy meal essentials found in the convenience stores.  She also includes meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that can easily be made in a residence hall room.  Check it out below.

Manage Stress 101

Everyone gets excited about returning to Happy Valley for the start of fall semester. As activities and classes get underway, it’s inevitable that your stress level will increase.  On the spring 2016 National College Health Assessment, 27% of undergrads at University Park said stress had a negative effect on their academic performance. To keep your stress in check here are a few tips:

Exercise. One of the best ways to manage stress and keep your body healthy is exercise. Physical activity increases endorphins, which are neurotransmitters in the brain that make you feel good (1). Exercise can also improve brain function so you feel and perform better in school (2).

Meditate. Try a yoga class or practice mindfulness exercises. Research shows that meditation can help reduce stress, depression and pain (3).

Take a Break. Read a book. Go for a jog or a walk. Watch TV or listen to music. The American Psychological Association recommends taking a 20 minute break if you are feeling overwhelmed by a situation or project (4).

Find your friends. Talking about your problems to a friend, sibling, or parent actually reduces stress (4). Talking to someone about what’s causing you stress can give you the social support you need to get through the problem.

These tips will help you reduce stress and may improve your mood and performance. Stay ahead this semester by managing your stress with a Mange Stress Workbook.

References:

  1. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015, April 16). Exercise and Stress: Get Moving to Manage Stress. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469
  2. Hillman, C. Erikson, K. Kramer, A. (Janurary 2008). Be smart, exercise your heart: exercise effects on brain and cognition.  Nature Reviews Neuroscience. Retrieved from: http://www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v9/n1/full/nrn2298.html?foxtrotcallback=true
  3. Corliss, Julie. (2016, December 14). Mindfulness Meditation May Ease Anxiety and Mental Stress. Harvard Heart Letter. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967
  4. American Psychological Association staff. (2017). Five Tips to Help Manage Stress. Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/manage-stress.aspx

Outdoor Activities

When the sun is shining and you have a few free hours, check out these fun activities to get you moving:

  • Go for a walk- this is one of the simplest ways to be active and offers numerous health benefits. Maybe a nature walk is for you or maybe local streets are your thing. Here’s a campus map if you’re at Upark! https://sites.psu.edu/healthypennstate/files/2016/09/Campus-Run_Walk-Map-accessible-version-2gmv9mi.pdf
  • Kick your hiking up a notch and try out rock scrambling. This fun blend of hiking and rock climbing is a great total body workout that improves cardiovascular health, strength, and flexibility.
  • Grab a friend and a Frisbee and head outside for a light and fun workout. Disk golf may be your next favorite activity. Check it out! http://www.pdga.com/introduction
  • Go Kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, swimming… the list goes on and on. If you live near water your options are endless. Check out Lake Perez at Stone Valley for boat rentals

For more fun activities and local outdoor events check out onlyinyourstate.com (1) to see all your state has to offer.

Check out Penn State Adventure Recreation for all of your adventure needs!

  1. Only In Your State | Discover What’s In Your Own Backyard. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/

Exercise is Medicine Earns Gold Status

Penn State’s Exercise is Medicine on Campus program (EiM-OC) recently received gold-level status from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). By actively implementing physical activity as a vital sign of health, Penn State EiM-OC was awarded gold level recognition at the World Congress meeting in May 2017 (1).

EiM-OC aims to improve the health and wellbeing of students and faculty through physical activity. The initiative encourages physical activity as part of everyday life and overall health.  At Penn State, EiM-OC initiatives include campus walks, push-up challenges, classroom presentations and promoting campus health services & fitness centers on social media. Every year in October, Kinesiology students and faculty spend a week at locations around University Park engaging the campus community in exercise and general physical fitness. The outcomes from the 2016 EiM week are available on Penn State’s EiM website (2).

Penn State EiM was founded in 2012 and awarded silver status in 2015 and 2016. Dr. Melissa Bopp, associate professor of kinesiology, and Zack Papalia, EiMOC coordinator, hope to reach even more students and increase the impact on the Penn State community in 2017-2018.

  1. http://www.exerciseismedicine.org/support_page.php/recognition-program/
  2. https://sites.psu.edu/psueim/eim-2016-outcomes/

Resources at CAPS

Penn State’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is committed to helping students cope with and prevent mental illness. CAPS has recently added new resources to their website,  http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/counseling/ . Click on the “wellness” section to get to online educational and screening tools. You can use the resources to learn more about common mental health issues and to see if you or a friend might need help from a professional.

The first resource is WellTrack, an online mental health resource to help students deal with stress, anxiety, and depression.   You’ll complete an initial self-assessment and then work through modules to learn how to handle what causes you stress.

The second resource is a compilation of self-help videos on various health topics. These educational videos cover a wide range of topics such as mental health, common concerns for college students, and descriptions of services offered by CAPS.  Each video is under 30 minutes.

The third resource is anonymous mental health screening tools. Each screening tool takes about 4 to 5 minutes to complete.  You’ll receive immediate results that can be printed.  The screening topics include depression, bipolar disorder, alcohol problems, eating disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, and PTSD.

Test Anxiety

As finals week approaches, most Penn Staters begin to flock to their favorite study spots to start preparations for a grueling week of exams and projects. Worrying about exams is common, and can even help your mind stay focused and sharp. However, when worrying becomes intense and overwhelming, it may be test anxiety.
Test anxiety can affect anyone. Experts suggest a few simple strategies that everyone can use to help reduce test anxiety and increase your chances for success during finals week.

  1. Learn what study styles work for you. Think about exams you have done well on in the past. How did you study for those exams? Consider using similar strategies for upcoming exams.
  2. Establish a routine. Make a schedule for the next few weeks to help you follow a similar routine each day. On the days of your exams, follow the same steps. This will help you feel calm and well prepared.
  3. Eat healthy and stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and fuel your body with healthy food during study sessions. Your body and brain need attention when studying. Check out some easy, healthy recipes at: http://sites.psu.edu/healthypennstate/eating/cooking-videos-healthy-eating-with-healthworks/
  4. Be active. Exercise to relieve stress and boost your mood. Although you may feel like you are too busy studying, it’s important to take an active break.
  5. Sleep is important. Sleep after studying to help encode new information into long term memory.  This will help you recall the information on the day of the exam. Getting a good night’s sleep is important when you’re studying for exams.
  6. Take a break. Check out Penn State Libraries’ De-Stress Fest.

  1. Ask for help. Consider meeting with your professor or a staff person from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). If you think you are experiencing test anxiety, talk to somebody about it. Book an appointment with CAPS at: 814-863-0395.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/generalized-anxiety-disorder/expert-answers/test-anxiety/faq-20058195

http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/counseling/self-help_anxiety.shtml

Nutrition Services

Did you know there is a Nutrition Clinic specifically for Penn State students at the Student Health Center?  Here is what students are saying about it:

“I found that the dietitian offered information that was useful and effective for me.”

“I liked the recommendations she made to improve my health in a way that I would be able to keep up with.”

“Thoroughly enjoyed my visit. ”

Check out our inviting space and become a champion of your health!  A Registered Dietitian will meet with you to discuss your goals and personal health needs.  These needs may include, but are not limited to, digestive disorders, disordered eating, vegan or vegetarian diets, general health and wellness, weight management, nutrition and exercise, and diabetes.  Make an appointment online through myUHS or call 814-863-0461.  The cost is $28.00/hour.

Tread Desk

Have you ever tried to study or read over your notes while on the elliptical, treadmill, or stationary bike? You might want to try one of the new walking treadmill desk at the White Building Fitness Center. UPUA and Campus Recreation partnered up to bring this specialized, walking treadmill desk to Penn State. Located in the hallway to the right of the fitness center entrance, this ‘Tread Desk’ allows the user to be as productive as they would be at a regular desk, while stretching their legs and racking up steps.

Recent research has shown that sitting for too long each day is detrimental to one’s overall health[i],[ii] and has shown that Americans, on average, sit too much and exercise too little. According to Harvard Health Publications, the average person is inactive for over half their day, which can lead to lower cardiovascular health and higher rates of type 2 diabetes, cancer, and cancer-related deaths in very sedentary people[iii],[iv].

Walking treadmills like the Tread Desk provide a unique solution for individuals who would like to be more active, but due to the nature of their job, school, or other obligations, do not have time. From answering emails to reading over flash cards, the Tread Desk is a great way to multitask and save time, while getting some steps. The Tread Desk is in White Building for a trial period, so try it soon!

Looking for other ways to move more, sit less, and increase your daily steps? Then check out the Walking Club! Every Monday at 4:30 pm, students meet up in the lobby of the Student Health Center  and, weather permitting, walk outside for about an hour. The route changes each week.  The participants get to decide where they want to walk. Now that the weather is getting warmer, come hang out with Healthy Penn State Ambassadors for a fun and relaxing walk.  It’s a great way to end your Monday and start your week off on the right foot!

Written by Healthy Penn State Ambassador, Michelle Mehallow

[i] American Heart Association News – Sitting Too Much Can Increase Heart Disease Risk. http://news.heart.org/sitting-too-much-may-raise-heart-disease-risk/

[ii] Mayo Clinic – What are the Risks of Sitting too Much? http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sitting/faq-20058005

[iii] Biswas A, Oh PI, Faulkner GE, Bajaj RR, Silver MA, Mitchell MS, et al. Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2015;162:123-132

[iv] Corliss, Julie. “Too Much Sitting Linked To Heart Disease, Diabetes, Premature Death – Harvard Health Blog”. Harvard Health Blog. N.p., 2017. Web. 24 Mar. 2017. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/much-sitting-linked-heart-disease-diabetes-premature-death-201501227618