Category Archives: #HealthyPSU

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Tobacco Use and Vaping

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. 

  1. Penn State University’s ACHA National College Health Assessment, Spring 2018 
  2. 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.  
  3. 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 

Wellness Suite Activities

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.

Nutrition and Sleep

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. 

References 

  1. https://share.upmc.com/2015/07/is-eating-before-bed-okay/ 
  2. https://share.upmc.com/2015/11/is-it-bad-to-sleep-after-a-meal/ 
  3. https://www.eatright.org/health/weight-loss/overweight-and-obesity/how-sleep-habits-affect-healthy-weight 

Stay Well During Finals Week

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.

  1. Sleep

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Take the Lead

The 2018 Take the Lead Campaign is in full swing! Check out Penn State student leaders by clicking here. Featured student, Meghan Field, shares with peers how she takes the lead on campus. Her message to students is “You may think that drinking will help you fit in and gain respect. In reality, drinking can keep you from having meaningful experiences. Don’t let drinking be the focus of your time at Penn State.” Penn State offers many free services for students concerned about their alcohol use: Self-Help Resources.

Wellness Activities

All students are welcome to join Health Promotion and Wellness in 20 IM Building for wellness activities. The wellness suite is a great space for students to unwind and relax. Enjoy Yoga, coloring, meditation and much more. Bring a friend and let’s de-stress, Thursday’s 5:15-6:15 p.m.

Here’s what coming up:

October 4 – Yoga 5:15-6:15 p.m.

October 11 – Art as Meditation 5:15-6:15 p.m.

October 18 – Learn to Meditate 5:15-6:15 p.m.

November 1 – Game night, coloring and Puzzles 5:15-6:15 p.m.

November 15 – Knitting and Overnight Oats 5:15-6:16 p.m.

November 29 – Pilates 5:15-6:16 p.m.