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Technology and Fitness: Friends or Foes??

It is easy to argue that technology and the digital age has made our lives more sedentary and maybe even more lethargic overall. Why go to class when I can opt in for the online session and stay in bed? Why run actual marathons when I can run a “House of Cards” Netflix marathon from home? Still, we all know that physical activity is an important part of our well-being, so rather than letting technology tie you down, use it to make fitness fun and motivate you to keep moving.

In the wake of final exams, for my housemates and me, study breaks are important and help us keep the creative juices going. But we don’t take just any study break… we take dance break-study breaks! Just Danceis a game for Wii, but there are variations of this for other game consoles. Nothing is better than synchronized dancing to the song ‘Hey Ya!’ by Outkast.

http://www.gamedynamo.com/images/galleries/photo/2384/just-dance-4-wii-ps3-xbox-360-gamescom-2012-screenshots-8.jpg


Wait, I lied, nothing is better than owning your friend with your superior dance moves to the line “shake it like a polaroid picture”. There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of good-hearted competition, especially if it drives us to be more physically active and healthier. My Fitbit Flex allows me to see where I stand among my friends on a Leaderboard for who has taken the most number of steps, (right now, my mom is in the lead). Hey, being a student doesn’t usually involve the same amount of mobility as other occupations! I could sit for hours straight writing a paper, while Andy Sachs, the assistant to Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada”, always seemed to be running around all of New York City. Being aware of your level of activity forces you to take time to get up, stretch and move around. Even if the Fitbit Flex isn’t for you, there are numerous different types of pedometers or physical activity tracking devices out there that you can try and get moving!  


source: http://giphy.com/gifs/BhkU4CyiSkFGM

So are technology and fitness friends or foes? Well, that’s entirely up to you. But a mini dance party amidst final exams and race against your friends (and mom) sounds like fun to me. Those are just two of the many ways that technology is able to make fitness enjoyable and remain a priority in our lives.



Take Care During Finals...

This week will be my 10th finals week in my college/graduate school career. Over the years, and through many phone calls home, feelings of doubt, not-so-good ideas and numerous cups of caffeine, and packets of sugar, I have learned a thing or two. In the last blog, we posted a ton of awesome tips to have a successful finals week (check it out here!). There is one huge point from that list that I would like to expand on. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.

finalshealth

It took me a few too many all-night study sessions to realize they really don’t work! Let the information you do know by midnight sink in. I can almost guarantee that it’ll start to fizzle out when the zombie behavior kicks in and you’re on your 7th red-eye. (coffee with espresso!) The sleep will help you power through that exam and leave you energized for yet another day of studying. I remember when I pulled my few all-nighters, I was so exhausted after the test that I crashed and took a 3 hour nap; problematic when I had yet another test the very next day…

After you’ve managed to get a good night’s sleep, make sure to have a good morning too. Whether it’s stocking up on some healthy breakfast foods in your dorm room or taking a quiet morning walk to clear your head, it’s important to give the books a break and make some time for yourself. Remember, it’s not just about the information on the test, but about the state of your mind when you take that test.

More than anything, know that no matter what, you have done your best. It’s a great feeling when you realize taking care of yourself is not an option, but a necessity. Make sure to above all, make yourself a priority this finals season and you will do well. It worked for me! 



Reclaim your mornings: Fight Hangovers

Good morning, sunshine?

Your head’s in a vice, your whole body is vibrating with nausea, you’re hungry for anything greasy and thirsty for anything carbonated, and all you want to do is sleep until it’s dark out again but you can’t even doze off.

What could you have done to wake up fresh as a daisy, ready to take on your finals study material?  Eaten McDonalds at 2AM? Swallowed some ibuprofen at bedtime? Stashed some Bloody Mary makings in the fridge for a little hair of the dog? And even more puzzling, how is your roommate, who was out with all night, ready to take on the day?!

Here’s what your chipper roomie probably did to avoid joining you in your hangover misery.

  1. She paced herself. She didn’t guzzle back-to-back drinks.
  2. Because she paced herself, she didn’t consume unnecessary extra servings of alcohol and still had a great time.
  3. She stopped drinking a couple of hours before bedtime, so she didn’t spend all her sleeping hours processing alcohol.
  4. She drank water before, during, and after drinking, so she didn’t wake up dehydrated.
  5. She ate a normal amount and didn’t even have to stop for fast food.

Next time try these tips so you, too, can avoid the pitfalls of a hangover. If you’re having trouble, contact the Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Program Initiatives.

Alcohol: It's a Science.

aod


Tips for a Successful Finals Week

Finals week is a stressful time for everyone. Start preparing now to maximize your success and well-being.

Get organized & study smart:

  • Break down your studying a week or more before exam week. This will have an unbelievable effect on your final grades, and you’ll feel great during exam week. This really is the most useful studying advice in the entire world.
  • Stay focused! Cut down on commitments- whether they’re social, family, or work-related.
  • Spend more time on the exams you expect to be harder. Students often make the mistake of spending an equal amount of time on each class. By the end of the semester you know which exams will be more challenging!
  • Focus on professor or TA-guided study materials like review sessions and practice exams. They’re almost always incredible useful.

Stay positive during finals and during finals week:

  • Don’t forget that your professors and TAs are rooting for you! (even if you think they’re not) Don’t be afraid to write down all your thoughts on exams even if you aren’t sure you’re right. Your graders want to give you points!
  • Remember to take a few deep breaths during your exams if you get stuck or start feeling burnt out. You can do it!
  • After an exam, put it out of your mind and focus on the next one. What’s done is done, stay positive!

Take care of yourself: You may think neglecting your health for a week is a necessary sacrifice for incrementally better grades, but the reality is you’ll do better on your finals if you:

  • get enough sleep
  • drink lots of water and avoid abusing caffeine or alcohol
  • exercise at least 30 minutes a day
  • eat breakfast… even if you normally don’t have one!
  • Take time to relax and laugh. Take brief study breaks to watch your favorite comedy show, grab lunch with a friend, or go for a walk. Try yoga or meditation to cut down on stress.

Summer is almost upon us! You're on the homestretch!! 

Tips for a Successful Finals Week

Finals week is a stressful time for everyone. Start preparing now to maximize your success and well-being.

Get organized & study smart:

·         Break down your studying a week or more before exam week. This will have an unbelievable effect on your final grades, and you’ll feel great during exam week. This really is the most useful studying advice in the entire world.

·         Stay focused! Cut down on commitments- whether they’re social, family, or work-related.

·         Spend more time on the exams you expect to be harder. Students often make the mistake of spending an equal amount of time on each class. By the end of the semester you know which exams will be more challenging!

·         Focus on professor or TA-guided study materials like review sessions and practice exams. They’re almost always incredible useful.

Stay positive during finals and during finals week:

·         Don’t forget that your professors and TAs are rooting for you! (even if you think they’re not) Don’t be afraid to write down all your thoughts on exams even if you aren’t sure you’re right. Your graders want to give you points!

·         Remember to take a few deep breaths during your exams if you get stuck or start feeling burnt out. You can do it!

·         After an exam, put it out of your mind and focus on the next one. What’s done is done, stay positive!

Take care of yourself: You may think neglecting your health for a week is a necessary sacrifice for incrementally better grades, but the reality is you’ll do better on your finals if you:

·         get enough sleep

·         drink lots of water and avoid abusing caffeine or alcohol

·         exercise at least 30 minutes a day

·         eat breakfast… even if you normally don’t have one!

·         Take time to relax and laugh. Take brief study breaks to watch your favorite comedy show, grab lunch with a friend, or go for a walk. Try 

Tips for a Successful Finals Week

Finals week is a stressful time for everyone. Start preparing now to maximize your success and well-being.

Get organized & study smart:

  • Break down your studying a week or more before exam week. This will have an unbelievable effect on your final grades, and you’ll feel great during exam week. This really is the most useful studying advice in the entire world.
  • Stay focused! Cut down on commitments- whether they’re social, family, or work-related.
  • Spend more time on the exams you expect to be harder. Students often make the mistake of spending an equal amount of time on each class. By the end of the semester you know which exams will be more challenging!
  • Focus on professor or TA-guided study materials like review sessions and practice exams. They’re almost always incredible useful.

Stay positive during finals and during finals week:

  • Don’t forget that your professors and TAs are rooting for you! (even if you think they’re not) Don’t be afraid to write down all your thoughts on exams even if you aren’t sure you’re right. Your graders want to give you points!
  • Remember to take a few deep breaths during your exams if you get stuck or start feeling burnt out. You can do it!
  • After an exam, put it out of your mind and focus on the next one. What’s done is done, stay positive!

Take care of yourself: You may think neglecting your health for a week is a necessary sacrifice for incrementally better grades, but the reality is you’ll do better on your finals if you:

  • get enough sleep
  • drink lots of water and avoid abusing caffeine or alcohol
  • exercise at least 30 minutes a day
  • eat breakfast… even if you normally don’t have one!
  • Take time to relax and laugh. Take brief study breaks to watch your favorite comedy show, grab lunch with a friend, or go for a walk. Try yoga or meditation to cut down on stress.

Summer is almost upon us!

yoga or meditation to cut down on stress.

Summer is almost upon us!


Sexual Assault Awareness Month

sexualassaultawareness

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)! SAAM was created by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) with the purpose of promoting public awareness about sexual violence and educating communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. For 2014 the theme of SAAM is Healthy Sexuality and Young People. The Campaign is promoting a healthy foundation in relationships, development and sexual violence prevention. SAAM engages adults in supporting positive youth development, as well as encouraging young adults to be activists for change. Some specific actions being taken are:

  • Teaching age-appropriate behaviors and skills and informing adults on how to support these behaviors and healthy development
  • Discussing best practices for employing youth as partners in sexual violence prevention
  • Demonstrating strategies on becoming an adult ally for young people
  • Detailing how youth can become agents of social change surrounding the ideas of sexuality and sexual violence
  • Providing resources on sexuality and being safe such as Safe Sex(uality)

NSVRC provides resources on each of the above bullet points, plus numerous other campaign related items here. NSVRC also has visuals and arts for the campaign, as well as resources specifically for college campuses.


Show Support. Be Aware.

Got your Denim on? Today, April 23, 2013 is Denim Day. It is part of a larger National Awareness Campaign- Sexual Assault Awareness Month. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, Denim Day came about after a ruling of a rape conviction was overturned in Italian court. The court decided that a woman’s jeans were too tight on the night of her rape, so she must have helped her rapist remove them and thereby implied consent. The next day, women in parliament came to work in jeans to show their support and solidarity. Wearing denim is a symbol of protest against the destructive beliefs many people carry about rape and consent.

 protestsexualviolence

This is not only a time to wear denim or show support, but an opportunity to become familiar with the legal definitions of consent in the United States. Do not be afraid to ask the questions! The Penn Women’s Center is a great resource and helped me to become more informed with state and campus policy. Check out the Sexual Assault Awareness Month Website for more information on resources and policy and to find other opportunities to show your support and learn more about what you can do to stop sexual violence.


The Benefits of immunizations

Vaccines are one of the single most important advancements in the history of human medicine. Evidence has been found to suggest that the Chinese were inoculating for smallpox as early as 1000 CE. In 1796 Edward Jenner made the practice widespread by using cowpox to inoculate for smallpox in humans. Next came Louis Pasteur’s rabies vaccine in 1885. Medical advancements through the 1930s led to vaccinations for diphtheria, tetanus, anthrax, cholera, plague, typhoid, tuberculosis, and more. Visit an interactive vaccine timeline HERE.

Before vaccines the only way to deal with these widespread diseases was to brave the often horrific symptoms and survive the illness. One usually lived with the consequences of the disease for the rest of their life.

Today some still question the value and necessity of vaccines. While serious reactions to vaccines are extremely rare (generally less than 1 in a million depending on the vaccine) they do exist. This forms the main argument of those who don’t favor vaccines. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these side effects are less common the occurrence of the serious diseases they protect against. (Even in our mostly vaccinated population.) This pretty much sums up and concludes the debate.

Get yourself vaccinated! Not only does it protect you, but it also protects those around you. For more on vaccines and immunizations check out CDC.gov/vaccines.

Chart Courtesy of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Impact of Vaccines in the United States

Disease

Baseline 20th Century Pre-Vaccine Annual Cases

2009 Cases

Percent Decrease

Measles

503,282

71

99.9%

Diphtheria

175,885

0

100%

Mumps

152,209

1,991

98.7%

Pertussis

147,271

13,214

91.0%

Smallpox

48,164

0

100%

Rubella

47,745

3

99.9%

Haemophilus influenzae type b, invasive

20,000

35

99.8%

Polio

16,316

0*

100%

Tetanus

1,314

18

98.6%

Widespread use of vaccines in the United States has eliminated or almost eliminated infectious diseases that were once terrifying household names. *Single case of oral vaccine-associated polio in 2009. Credit: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4/2/99, 11/12/10


Stress and Eating

Stress-eating is a common problem. Who doesn’t run to a favorite snack or comfort meal when they’re stressed? As tempting (or familiar!) as this may sound, emotional eating often causes more problems than it solves. Not only can it lead to overeating, but often calorie, starch, or sugar rich foods top stress eating lists. According to WebMD, ice cream, chocolate, potato chips, casseroles, pizza, and steak are the most commonly “stress-eaten” foods. None of these count as healthy eating options!

However, studies show that there is more to this phenomenon than lack of self-control. According to this Harvard Article, persistent stress causes the human adrenal glands to release the hormone cortisol… which increases appetite. Use these tips adapted from HelpGuide.org to recognize and prevent/control emotional eating:

Signs of emotional eating:

  • You crave specific comfort foods
  • You eat mindlessly or aren’t satisfied even when you’re “full"
  • After eating you feel regret or guilt

Solutions for emotional eating:

  • When you’re hit by a craving, recognize that hunger is not the problem and strive to deal with the underlying issue.
  • If you’re lonely, call up a friend, anxious, get some exercise, tired, have a warm cup of tea, take a bath or quick nap, bored, reread your favorite book or revisit an old hobby.
  • Take time each day for exercise and relaxation. This will help cut back on stress/ negative emotions in general and decrease emotional eating.

Good luck managing your eating habits; we know you can do it!


Yoga and Meditation

bewell

Happy Stress Awareness Month! Today I want to talk to you about yoga and meditation as a way to treat your body and your mind. If you are anything like me, you have seen the pictures of impossibly strong and flexible individuals doing extreme yoga positions and you have felt completely intimidated. Well, there is good news! Yoga is not a competitive sport; it is designed to be adaptable to all people of all abilities. Yoga is not just for people who can already touch their toes.

This is wonderful because yoga has been found to have a positive influence on many aspects of health. According to the National Institute of Health, yoga can reduce depression, anxiety, heart rates, and blood pressures. It is also an excellent way to increase muscle strength and flexibility while simultaneously improving posture. Different types of yoga can focus on just relaxation, just movements, or both.  Some of these styles use meditation techniques to keep the mind calm.

So how does meditation work? It is a way of focusing your mind in a way that helps you feel calm with a clear awareness about yourself and your life.  Meditation can be done during yoga, in bed before you fall asleep, or even for five minutes in between class.

There are lots of ways to try out yoga and meditation here on campus! Here is a short list:

  • Check out the free guided mediation podcasts on the SHS website here
  • The Penn Rec Center offers many different yoga classes that you can check out here
  • Free Mediation is offered every Monday from 12-1 in the Graduate Student Center
  • Take a look at Campus Health’s Be Well page for more stress reduction resources

 For more information visit WebMD!


Breathe Well - Smoking Cessation

Have you thought about quitting smoking, or you have been trying, and just can’t seem to shake the habit? We understand how much commitment and self-control it takes to quit.

 

Many smokers often dread what comes after they quit smoking. It’s true that initially, you may experience intense cravings, anxiety, trouble sleeping, or headaches, but here’s what else you can expect after your last cigarette:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

  • 20 minutes after quitting

Your blood pressure and heart rate drops.

  • 12 hours after quitting

Carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.

  • 48 hours after quitting

Your nerve endings start to regrow and your ability to taste and smell increases.

  • 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting

Your risk of heart attack decreases and your lung function improves.

  • 1 to 9 months after quitting

Your coughing and shortness of breath decrease, while your overall energy level increases.

  • 1 year after quitting

Your risk of coronary heart disease is HALF of that of a smoker’s.

  • 5 years after quitting

Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker’s 5-15 years after quitting.

  • 10 years after quitting

Your lung cancer death rate is about half of that of a smoker’s. Your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas also decreases.

  • 15 years after quitting

Your risk of coronary heart disease is back to that of a nonsmoker’s.

We hope that though quitting smoking may seem difficult at times, you realize that it is definitely worth it, and we at Student Health Service are rooting for you. As a Penn student, you have access to a number of resources to help you quit. All you have to do is call (215) 746-3535 to make a smoking cessation appointment with our Health and Wellness Educator, Sandi Herman.

Read up on other interesting facts related to smoking here and visit the Campus Health Breathe Well page!