Category Archives: On Campus

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

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

4th Annual Winter Thaw 5K

For the last 4 years, Health Promotion and Wellness has teamed up with Club Cross Country to hold the Winter Thaw 5K. The 5K provides an opportunity to spend time with friends on the weekend while getting fit! Despite the chilly rain, lots of students and community members participated!

Seventy-seven runners and walkers gathered at 10:00 a.m. on west campus on Saturday, February 24. All participants received a pair of running gloves and a bag filled with Healthy Penn State swag. At the finish, KIND bars were handed out to everyone who crossed the line. The top male and female finishers received a 1-month supply of KIND snacks! The top 5 male and top 5 female runners received a gift card for Rapid Transit Sports. The top 5 men were Ray Friend, Matthew Pennock, Matthew Beyerle, Ben Hietsch, and Mark Puleo. Ray Friend finished with a time of 15:54. The top 5 women were Baylee Robey, Grace McStravock, Megan Ellery, Rachael Wittmer, and Kelly Dworak. Baylee Robey finished with a time of 18:50. The full results, including times, can be found here

A big thank you from HealthWorks and Club Cross Country to all 77 participants and our sponsors for participating and thawing out with us!

Healthy Eating with HealthWorks Cooking Demonstration

HealthWorks utilized the kitchen in Beaver Hall to prepare a full, healthy meal for students. The purpose of the demonstration was to help students see how easy it is to make a nutritious meal with fresh ingredients.

In just thirty minutes we were able to prepare guacamole, black bean salad and vegetarian stuffed peppers. All three of these dishes are simple, healthy alternatives that can be prepared quickly for dinner or prepared at the beginning of the week to be eaten at a later time.

One of HealthWorks goals is to help students develop cooking skills that they’ll need when they move off campus.  The kitchens in the residence halls are a great resource to help you start learning skills that you’ll need when you move into an apartment. By setting aside time in the day to prepare meals, or even once a week to meal-prep, you can create a healthy, nutritious meal with your friends. The recipes used in our demonstration, along with many other easy and delicious recipes and video tutorials, can be found here on the Healthy Penn State website in the Health Eating section.

How to Combat the Winter Blues: Stay Light at the Wellness Suite

Do you experience feeling “down” during the winter months? In the medical world, this is known as “seasonal affective disorder” (SAD). The term SAD is used to describe recurring major depression with a seasonal pattern. However, most of us have mood fluctuations during this time of year that can be described as “winter blues”. Since sunlight can be rare in Central Pennsylvania during the short, dark days of winter, many individuals struggle with feeling down and having a lack of energy (1).

How can I boost my mood in the winter? 
There are several ways to improve your mood during the winter months. Most of the recommended tips involve every day health behaviors: 30 minutes of aerobic activity per day, 7-9 hours of sleep per night, a balanced diet with at least 5 servings (about 5 cups) of fruits and vegetables per day, and spending time with friends and family. Research also shows that use of light therapy boxes can significantly improve feelings of sadness during the winter months (1).

How can I access light therapy boxes?
PSU students can use the new light therapy boxes in the Wellness Suite in 20 Intramural Building. The light therapy boxes can be used in the relaxation room. It is recommended that students use the lights for 20 to 30 minutes first thing in the morning. A trained peer educator will walk you through how to use the light box.

Stop by the suite and check out the light boxes. The Wellness Suite is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm. Call us at 814-863-0461 or email, if you have questions.

1. Melrose, Sherri. “Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview of Assessment and Treatment Approaches.” Depression Research and Treatment 2015 (2015): 178564. PMC. Web. 13 Feb. 2018.


Importance of Breakfast

You have heard the adage before, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”.  Is it though?  Let’s look at some data:

  • Individuals who eat breakfast have higher intakes of vitamins and minerals like fiber, calcium, iron and other essential nutrients (Nicklas, Bao, Webber & Berrenson, 1993).
  • Eating a healthy breakfast is associated with improved cognitive function and academic performance, and reduced absenteeism (Taras, 2005).

Taking a little time for breakfast can make a big difference even if you are in a hurry.  Here are some quick grab and go breakfast ideas: a nutrition and a piece of fruit, yogurt with nuts or overnight oats packed in a to-go container.  If you have more time, try making scrambled or hard boiled eggs with a piece of whole grain toast.

For more great breakfast ideas, download the Time for Breakfast brochure. The brochure was created by Alexandra Kummerer, an undergraduate nutrition major at Penn State.

Health Promotion and Wellness now accepting applications for peer educators

Health Promotion and Wellness is currently accepting applications for HealthWorks, a peer outreach and education program at University Park. The deadline to apply is March 2.

HealthWorks offers two unique opportunities for students who are interested in health and wellness. These opportunities include facilitating one-on-one wellness services and conducting outreach events and educational workshops. During the application process students prioritize which opportunity they are most interested in.

Participation in the program is a three semester commitment, which includes one semester of training (during fall 2018)  and two semesters of service. For this reason, students who wish to apply must plan to graduate in fall 2019 or later.

Training for the program requires the completion of a three-credit course offered through Biobehavioral Health in the fall semester.  Students learn about the following topics in the course: alcohol and other drugs, financial literacy, sexual health, nutrition, physical activity, sleep, and stress. There are no prerequisites required to register for the course.

After completing the 3-credit course, participants are required to complete 45 hours of service each semester. Members participate in one of two opportunities:  1) deliver free wellness services about stress and time management, physical activity, nutrition, sleep, sexual health and healthy relationships, and financial literacy;  or 2)  conduct educational workshops, hold outreach events, plan and implement health promotion initiatives.  A few examples of the health promotion initiatives include conducting healthy cooking demonstrations, writing blog and social media posts for Healthy Penn State and appearing in The Body Monologues.   A small group of students are trained to provide HIV test counseling.

If you’re passionate about health and promoting the well-being of all Penn State students, then HealthWorks is a great fit for you,” said Christina Volpicelli, a senior majoring in biobehavioral health.  “HealthWorks also offers many leadership and learning opportunities for its members such as video editing, leading health campaigns, public speaking and teaching skills to educate the Penn State community.  Everything you will learn and the people you will meet through this organization will benefit you throughout any career you wish to pursue.”

For more information about HealthWorks, including an application, please visit


Exercise is Medicine

Exercise is Medicine on campus (EMOC) is a global health initiative that promotes exercise as a way to decrease chronic disease. Exercise is Medicine is designed to increase physical activity and use exercise as the best ‘medicine.’ Every year in October, Penn State’s Kinesiology department organizes a week-long series of events to spread the word about how exercise can improve the well-being of Penn State students and employees.  Based on the Penn State Health Assessment, 56% of students are meeting the national guidelines for aerobic exercise (1). However, 50% of students report spending 4 or more hours per day on their computer, mobile device or watching TV (not including time for work or schoolwork).

There’s still work to be done, which is why this is a great campaign to get people moving! Health is wealth. Keep moving Penn State.

1. Penn State Student Health Assessment 2016 

Meal Planning, Grocery Shopping and Cooking…Oh My!

Meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking for yourself can be exciting but it can be overwhelming.  Healthy eating, when cooking for yourself, is possible when you are on a college student budget.

Let’s explore ways you can plan out meals for the week:

  1. Map out meals for the week.
  2. Know what foods you have on hand already.
  3. Think about your schedule.  Choose meals that are easy to prepare on busy days and save longer recipes for weekends or days when you have more time.
    • Cook several meals at once when you have free time.  In other words, make lasagna or a casserole that can be used for several meals. The extra food can be reheated or finished after a busy day.
    • Use a crockpot to create meals that are ready when you get home.
    • Check out nutritious and delicious recipes and view cooking videos on for ideas.
  4. Make a grocery list
    • Can use scratch paper, templates or mobile apps.
    • Keep an ongoing list in your kitchen or on your phone.

The Wellness Suite

Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW) has new space. The Wellness Suite is in 20 IM building, downstairs and next to Adventure Recreation.  The Wellness Suite offers many great resources for students including walking maps, Manage Stress workbooks, Smart & Safe at State guides, and free wellness services.
The wellness services are designed to help you set goals, develop skills and enhance your health behaviors.  The topics include: nutrition, physical activity, sleep, stress (with an emphasis on time management or relaxation strategies), healthy relationships and financial wellness. HealthWorks peer educators facilitate the sessions.  The services were developed using research-based models.  Each service is designed to help students increase knowledge and learn new skills that contribute to healthy behaviors and academic success.   Schedule an appointment by calling 814-863-0461.
In the suite, you will find an area with tables, comfy chairs, and a relaxation room.  It’s the prefect place to study or chill out in the middle of a busy day.  The relaxation room features coloring pages and colored pencils, meditation information, a zen garden, and biofeedback software. Visit the Wellness Suite this semester, open MondayFriday 8am-5pm.