Health Promotion and Wellness has moved

During Spring Break, Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW) moved from The Student Health Center to the Intramural Building. HPW still offers the same services but in a different location. HPW has the following programs, services, and offerings:


1. BASICS – Brief Alcohol Intervention for College Students
2. FFM – Freedom from Smoking program
3. MIP – Marijuana Intervention program
4. Nutrition clinic
5. Relaxation Room
6. Sexual health supplies
7. Wellness Services – Healthy Eating, Physical Activity, Sleep, Stress, Healthy Relationships/Sexual Health, and Financial Wellness


Check out the website for more details.
The HPW Office is open 8am-5pm, Monday through Friday. You may also call HPW at 814.863.0461 or contact us at
We look forward to seeing you in Suite 001 and Suite 20 in the Intramural Building!

Spring Break Nutrition & Money Saving Tips!

Spring Break is a time to relax and take a break from the stress of college life; however, some students may struggle to eat a healthy diet, especially if you are traveling. HealthWorks student, Valerie Snell, has done research on easy ways to eat healthy while on vacation. Whether you’re traveling by plane or taking a road trip with friends, we have some easy tips for you to follow!

When traveling, it is always important to plan ahead. Take advantage of the hotel breakfast to save money. Look for whole grains, low fat milk, Greek yogurt and fruits when choosing your breakfast. If your hotel room has a coffee machine, use it to make hot water for a hardy oatmeal that will keep you full through the morning (1). Take advantage of the mini fridge in your hotel room to save money and store healthy options, like yogurt.  For snacks we suggest whole wheat crackers with low fat cheese, fresh fruits, and a variety of veggies with hummus; these are all great ways to save money and avoid dining out for every meal.

When eating at restaurants, and in airports, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Watch portion sizes

Portions sizes can be a tricky thing when the food you’re eating is delicious. Share a large meal with a friend, get an appetizer instead of an entree, and ask for a take-out box right away to make a second meal.

  • Pay attention to how the food is prepared

Eating baked, broiled, steamed, and grilled options are better compared to deep fried; avoid food with words like crispy and creamy, if possible. This will help keep saturated fats and total fats down.

  • Add veggies!

Try them on sandwiches, in salads, on pizzas, or even as a side to get beneficial vitamins and minerals while on vacation. Substitute a house salad or veggie of the day if your entree comes with fries or chips.

Have a healthy spring break!


  1. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

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!

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

What does it mean to have Physical Wellness? Physical wellness means getting adequate sleep, eating a healthy and balanced diet, being physically active every day, and getting an annual medical check-up (1).

Why is Physical Wellness Important? Physical wellness is important because your body needs to be healthy so you can perform to the best of your ability in all areas of your life, including academically.  Physical activity is just one aspect of physical wellness.  It also includes managing your stress, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet.  Many college students struggle with getting enough sleep.  Staying up late to cram for an exam or write a paper can be counterproductive because you will accrue sleep debt.  If you are sleep-deprived, your memory will not be as good and you will not be able to learn efficiently or focus your attention.  Also, sleep, stress and physical activity are all connected.  If you are physically active, you will reduce your stress level and will probably sleep better as well.

How do you cultivate Physical Wellness?  To cultivate physical wellness you must get adequate sleep (7-9 hours) every night (1). Aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per day. Incorporate strength training and stretching into your exercise routine (5). You can achieve a balanced diet by eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day (1 serving = about 1 cup), eating whole grains and, if you eat meat, make sure the protein is lean (e. g., fish, chicken). Limit saturated fats, but consider including more unsaturated fatty acids found in foods such as chia seeds, avocados, and salmon (6). Avoid consuming trans fats (6). In general, make sure to eat a variety of whole foods to get the most out of every meal (7).


  1. Ohio State University Student Wellness Center: 9 Dimensions of Wellness
  2. Harvard Health Publishing; Harvard Medical School: Importance of Sleep: 6 reasons not to scrimp on sleep
  3. UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services:
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Why is Sleep Important?
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
  6. Choose My Plate: Saturated, Unsaturated, and Trans Fats
  7. Choose My Plate: USDA Food Pyramid

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.

Environmental Wellness

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

 What does it mean to have Environmental Wellness? Environmental wellness is about having a connection with the earth. This means you actively work to preserve and protect the planet and help make it a clean and safe place to live (1). This includes protecting yourself from environmental hazards such as air pollution, ultraviolet radiation in the sunlight, chemicals, noise, water pollution, and second-hand smoke (2).

 Why is Environmental Wellness important?

If the environment isn’t healthy, then humans and other creatures cannot thrive.   Human beings have the greatest impact on the earth’s resources (e. g., air and water) than any other creatures.  It’s up to us to make sure we’re engaging in behaviors that foster sustainability and are ecologically friendly.  Also, having a healthy and clean environment contributes to your overall physical and mental health (2).

 How do you cultivate Environmental Wellness?

Protect and preserve the environment by reusing and/or recycling paper, glass, plastic, and metal.  Understand that natural resources are not limitless (2).   Buy less stuff (e. g., clothing,  electronics).   Reduce trips in the car by walking, taking the bus, or riding a bike to work, class, and the store.  Use natural cleaning supplies.   Reduce your use of paper; don’t print things unless you need to.   Make sure your living space is clean and free of the environmental hazards listed above.

 Share examples of how you reduce your impact on the planet with #healthypsu


  1. UC Davis Worklife and Wellness:
  2. University of California, Riverside Wellness:


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