Category Archives: #HealthyPSU

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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 http://sites.psu.edu/healthypennstate/wp-content/uploads/sites/4423/2016/07/Accessible-version-PSU-Annual-Report-2016.pdf 

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 www.healthypennstate.psu.edu 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.

Discover Intuitive Eating

Do you find yourself dieting frequently, feeling guilt after eating certain foods, or setting up rules for yourself surrounding eating patterns?  Do you often feel like you’ve failed when it comes to eating and weight?  If you identify with any of these concerns, you may want to consider intuitive eating.  It’s not a diet, rather it’s a way of eating that encourages you to make peace with food.  Intuitive eating can help you achieve the natural weight that is the best fit for you. There are 10 “rules” that will help you to ditch diets and start enjoying your food, your body and your life.

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality: Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. They don’t work.
  2. Honor Your Hunger: Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat.
  3. Make Peace with Food: Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing.
  4. Challenge the Food Police: Scream a loud “NO” to thoughts in your head that declare you’re ‘good’ for eating under 1000 calories or ‘bad’ because you ate a piece of chocolate cake.
  5. Respect Your Fullness: Listen to the signals from your body that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that you’re comfortably full.
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor: When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting and conducive, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content, likely with less food.
  7. Honor Your Feelings without Using Food: Find ways to comfort, nurture, distract, and resolve your issues and emotions without using food.
  8. Respect Your Body: Accept your genetic blueprint. A person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six. The same is true for body size. Learn to feel better about the body that you have.
  9. Exercise and Feel the Difference: Forget militant exercise. Just get active and feel the difference. Focus on how it feels to move your body, instead of how it “feels” to burn calories.
  10. Honor Your Health With Gentle Nutrition: Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel well. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters; progress not perfection is what counts.

If you’d like more help with planning a healthy well-balanced diet, make an appointment with a dietitian at by calling 814-863-0461 or by visiting our website.  Nutrition visits are free for all Penn State students.

Source: Resch, E, Tribole, E. Retrieved from Intuitive Eating.

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.

Emotional Wellness

Emotional Wellness: What It Is, Why It’s Important, and How to Cultivate It

What does it mean to have Emotional Wellness? 

Emotional wellness means having the ability to acknowledge, express, and cope with your feelings (1). You engage in self-care and stress reduction activities.  You also have the inner strength to handle tough situations (2).

Why is Emotional Wellness important? 

Being emotionally well and able to recognize and accept your feelings can make you more emotionally intelligent.  This will also help you handle stressful situations. Emotional wellness is important because it can help you become more emotionally stable.  You’ll also increase your inner strength and improve your self-worth and confidence in your ability to make decisions (2).

How do you cultivate Emotional Wellness? 

Cultivating emotional wellness requires you to be positive and be true to yourself. To have emotional wellness, you must be able to accept your feelings and be comfortable expressing your emotions (3). To fully accept your emotions, you first have to be okay making mistakes and be able to learn and grow from your mistakes (3). Cultivating emotional wellness is not an easy task. Take small steps.  Start by writing down your thoughts and feelings.

  1. Ohio State University, Student Wellness Center: https://swc.osu.edu/about-us/9-dimensions-of-wellness/
  2. UC Davis Student Health and Counseling:  https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/wellness/emotional/
  3. University of California, Riverside: https://wellness.ucr.edu/emotional_wellness.html

Tips to Reduce Stress and Sleep Better

During finals week, most students would agree that their stress level increases, while the number of hours they spend sleeping decreases. This might sound like old news, but did you know that stress and sleep directly affect your overall health and wellness?

Increased stress can lead to decreased sleep, and both can lead to lower academic performance, more illness, weight gain, and increased mental health issues. One way to decrease stress and improve sleep is to incorporate relaxation into your daily routine. Research shows that practicing relaxation techniques may result in recovery from fatigue, better sleep quality, and an increased sense of control and efficacy in stressful situations. Relaxing includes taking a walk in the park, deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga. Try the free yoga classes at the Student Health Center from 4-5pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays all fall semester and through finals week.

In addition to stress, sleep can be affected by the blue light that is emitted from electronic screens. Blue light delays the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, increases alertness, and interrupts your circadian rhythm. Normally, the pineal gland in the brain begins to release melatonin a couple of hours before bedtime, and melatonin reaches its peak in the middle of the night. When people use a device that emits blue light (like cell phone) in the evening, it takes them longer to fall asleep and they tend to spend less time in a deep sleep (1).

Interested in learning more about sleep?  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, and financial wellness.  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.

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side

Snacks

Looking for new healthy snack ideas? You’ve come to the right place! These snacks are convenient, delicious and will keep your energy up between classes.   Below is a list of healthy snacks that contain both carbohydrates and protein to fuel your body and help fill you up between meals, classes and meetings.

  • Trail mix (nuts, dried fruit & whole grain cereal)
  • Yogurt and berries
  • Pita chips with carrots and hummus
  • Cheese cubes and whole grain crackers
  • Pretzels or an apple and nut butter
  • Nut butter and crackers
  • Nutrition Bar

What does one e-cigarette do to a nonsmokers’ heart?

On Thursday, November 16, the country celebrated The Great American Smokeout.  The day began in the 1970’s as a way to encourage smokers to give up tobacco products for just one day.  According to the American Cancer Society, only 15% of Americans smoke cigarettes today.  That’s down from 42% in 1965 (1). Cigarette use is even lower among Penn State students. In the 2016 National College Health Assessment, 9.4% of students reported using cigarettes in the last 30 days.  Of those, only 1.5% used cigarettes every day for the last month (2).

E-cigarette use is even lower.  Only 3.8% of students reported using e-cigarettes in the last 30 days (2).  That’s somewhat good news because a recent study by Dr. Holly Middlekauff and colleagues showed that when a non-smoker is exposed to just one e-cigarette they experience “higher levels of adrenaline in the heart, which can lead to an increased heart rate and high blood pressure” (3,4).  “The findings challenge the concept that inhaled nicotine is benign, or safe” said Middlekauff (3).

Middlekauff’s study disputes the notion that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to cigarettes.

If you are interested in quitting smoking, Penn State offers a FREE smoking cessation services. Click here for more information about how you can get help from Health Promotion and Wellness.

  1. American Cancer Society, cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/great-american-smokeout.html
  2. Penn State Student Health Assessment, Spring 2016 http://sites.psu.edu/healthypennstate/wp-content/uploads/sites/4423/2016/07/Accessible-version-PSU-Annual-Report-2016.pdf
  3. http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/one-e-cigarette-with-nicotine-leads-to-adrenaline-changes-in-nonsmokers-hearts
  4. Sympathomimetic Effects of Acute E‐Cigarette Use: Role of Nicotine and Non‐Nicotine Constituents. Roya S. Moheimani, May Bhetraratana, Kacey M. Peters, Benjamin K. Yang, Fen Yin, Jeffrey Gornbein, Jesus A. Araujo, Holly R. Middlekauff

Improve your Body Image

Your body hears everything your mind says.  Why is body image so important?  The way in which you view your body impacts your emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing.   Negative consequences such as eating disorders, obesity and depression can arise when your self image is persistently poor and you lack appreciation for your body. Studies show that the more a person focuses on their body, the worse they feel about their looks.  Other factors like personality traits, genetic make-up, family, friends and social media also influence body image.  What would it look like if social media played a more positive role, instead of a negative one, when it comes to body image?  How can we begin thinking, talking, and posting about ourselves in a way that encourages ourselves to love our bodies and others to do the same?

Practicing positive self-talk is a great starting place.  Become aware of the language you use when you talk to yourself.  Journaling can often be helpful to bring about this awareness.  If you find your language to be harsh and negative, try stopping the thoughts by putting your focus on something else.  One helpful next step is to begin making more neutral or positive statements.  For example, instead of criticizing how a certain body part looks, state what that body part allows you to do.  My legs allow me to walk, run, or play a sport.  In time, transition the self-talk to be positive: I love my legs because they are strong.

Assess your social media use.  How much time, each day, do you spend on social media?  How do you use social media?  What’s the purpose?   Who do you follow, like or tweet about and why?  Are the images and messages you see on a daily basis helping you feel good about yourself or are they perpetuating feelings of not being good enough?  Challenge yourself to unfollow or defriend accounts that don’t support your goals of feeling good about yourself and being the best version of you.  Doing so will have a positive impact on your life and the life of others.

De-Stress at the Wellness Suite

Enjoy end-of-semester activities at the new Wellness Suite! Visit 20 Intramural Building for stress relieving activities this week. Bring your friends and enjoy an hour of fun.

Monday, November 27th from 6-7pm, enjoy putting together puzzles and prepare your breakfast for the next morning. Learn and make your very own Overnight Oats! If you can’t make tonight’s activity, how about Thursday?  On Thursday, November 30th from 6-7pm make your very own stress ball. Something we could all use as finals approach. Check back in for more updates about activities happening in the wellness suite!