Disclaimer: The information, articles, and tips portrayed on this blog, while based on research, do not constitute medical advice. The opinions expressed are meant to educate and inform, but not to dictate lifestyle choices or personal beliefs. These articles are meant to provoke thought on issues surrounding college health and to inform the Hopkins community of healthy information and resources.


SEE a Flash of Fitness

SEE Tip: If you have lag time in between classes, use the time to fit in a quick, but effective workout!  Studies show this can be just as (or more even) than spending an hour at the gym.  It can be anything from interval walking to more high intensity training.  If you have 15 minutes between classes, and you only need 5 minutes to get to class, how about you spend 10 minutes getting in a "flash of fitness"?  If you do that three times, that gets you 30 minutes of a workout-- all effective, and without forcing you to go to the gym or lose other valuable moments of your day.

Stop by the Gilman Quad today starting at 11:15am to jump start your Flash of Fitness with some ideas and win a prize for breaking a sweat with PEEPs.

HKB Tip:   In the last 25 years, we've seen a 47% decrease in cotinine, a measurement taken in non-smokers to study the secondhand-smoke exposure.  This steep decrease shows a high likelihood that laws like the indoor air act, which prohibits smoking within public places, is having a significant impact on improving the health of the population, and reducing the chances of exposure to chemicals found in second-hand smoke; 70 of which are cancer causing.

Want to talk more about second-hand smoke or the benefits of going smoke-free?  Stop by HKB's meeting tonight at 6pm in the AMR I TV room!

Mellow Out Monday Tip:  If you're feeling super stressed, try a Flash of Fitness by going for a walk/run.  The change of environment and body movement can help reduce the stress you may be feeling, and can even help you work through a problem that was getting to you in your previous state.

If you're still feeling stressed, try the benefits of touch.  Get a free back rub from a Stressbuster!  Stop by Q level in the MSE starting at 8pm tonight!


SEE Mindfully

SEE Tip: As part of Love Your Body Week, when it comes to eating well, consider practicing the art of mindful eating.  To get started, try some of these tips:

1. Try sitting at a table, rather than on a couch or bed.
2. Before picking up the food to eat, take a few deep breaths to allow your mind and body to settle and relax.
3. Appreciate the food in front of you.  Where is it from?  How did it get to your plate?  How does it look?  What about smell?  What do you like about it?  How does it feel (either in your hands or mouth or both)?

4.  How is your mind responding to the food?  Is it too hot, too cold, bland, or spicy?  Take your time to chew the food and allow your mind to process what you are doing and how you feel about it.
5. If you notice your mind wandering, try to bring your attention back to what you are doing to stay present in the moment.
6.  Once you are done, take a moment to notice if you are satisfied by your meal, and if so, move on with the next part of your day.

Want to practice mindful eating with a snack?  Stop by the Breezeway today starting at 11:30am for a mindful bite with the PEEPs!

HKB Quit Tip: When it comes to practicing mindfulness, it turns out that incorporating this practice into one's daily life can actually help smokers cut down on how much they smoke.  In a recent study, it is believed that the practice of mindful meditation may have helped smokers use more personal control and be better able to cope with their symptoms of the addiction to nicotine.

Mellow Out Monday:  Fall break is upon us, but before we get there, of course, there are about 2 midterms and a paper to get through first.  Instead of feeling overwhelmed and stressed by everything, try taking three deep breaths and repeat this mantra: I will get through this.  Why?  Because you will.  Also, because deep breathing promotes calmness in the body by increasing oxygen to your brain and stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.  Yes, simply breathing (but deep breathing in particular) can help reduce stress.

Another way to bust stress?  Try Stressbusters tonight starting at 8pm on Q level in MSE for a FREE back rub!


Avoid the Bubble- a PEEPs suggestion

Real PEEPs Talk:

Hey y’all!

Are you stuck in the bubble yet? “What bubble?” You ask. Well the Hopkins bubble! This term basically refers to never leaving the four corners of the Homewood campus and no, going to the medical campus does not count.

Can you count how many places you have been in Baltimore that is not associated with Hopkins? Are you thinking, “I’m in Baltimore but there’s literally nothing to do around here!” Well think again! There is oh-so-much to do in this amazing city! Did you know that just a few weeks ago, Baltimore celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner with a free festival? Tall ships, Navy ships and the Blue Angels arrived at Baltimore’s famed Inner Harbor to celebrate our national anthem. There were fireworks downtown, naval seals at the harbor, and flight demonstrations all around Fort McHenry and Federal Hill. 

Now, you may not even know where those places are and I challenge you to go forth and seek! Personally, I take the JHMI to Penn station and then hop on the Charm City Circulator (the purple line), otherwise known as the “free bus.” Yes, I said free! This bus is geared towards getting visitors around Baltimore, it stops in most if not all of the historical places in Baltimore so not only do you get a free ride, you also learn so much about the city along the way. Here is the link to the circulator times and schedule: http://www.charmcitycirculator.com/content/schedule.

Many times during my freshman year, I gave so many excuses such as, “Oh I have so much work” or “Brody is my new home” and things like that. But to be honest, you only live once! Even if you have so much work and no time at all. You could also join a group that volunteers off campus. There are so many service groups, performance groups, and others that volunteer at schools, jails, hospitals and so on. Here is a link to where you can find many of these groups: http://www.csc.jhu.edu/studentgroups.shtml

Now that you have been provided with all of this knowledge, I cannot wait to see you exploring!  Tell us about what you find here: facebook.com/jhupeeps


SEE Tip from PEEPs: All-Nighters No More!


SEE Tip: All-nighters No More!
A SEE Tip provided by PEEPs, the peer health education group on campus!

Thinking about pulling an all-nighter before your first midterm of this semester? While you may take this time to go over all the materials covered in the lectures, you may not be getting the best results.
Sleep deprivation (total or partial) has a negative impact on cognitive functions, including attention and working memory. As we sleep, our brains are consolidating the memories encoded and stored during the day, incorporating the new information into the pre-existing memory structure. While the waking brain encodes information, it is during the sleeping stage that the brain really works for memory retention.[1] Also, even a short nap would help to recall information. A study done at Harvard University shows that even naps shorter than 90 minutes can boost memory. 33 students were asked to memorize 60 pairs of unrelated words, solve a maze puzzle, and copy an intricate figure, and a 45-minute nap boosted the performance of students with good initial learning of the information. [2]
So the night before a big test, some restful sleep is probably more helpful than an all-nighter!
Have you ever pulled an all-nighter for a test? Do you think sleeping well help your academic performance?

HKB Quit Tip: How much money do you think a smoker might save by quitting?  A pretty good amount, depending on how much the person smokes.  The lowest cost for a pack of cigarettes in the U.S. is in Virginia and Missouri at $5.25 a pack.  The cost in Maryland is $7.75, while the highest cost is $12.85 in New York. [3]  Try using this calculator from Quit Now to see how much a person could end up spending on cigarettes in a week, a month, a year, etc.

Mellow Out Monday Tip: Getting enough sleep each night keeps stress levels balanced.  Avoid trying to cram everything into one night and pulling all-nighters.  They leave you exhausted, stressed out, and vulnerable for other health problems.  Sleep more for lowered stress!

If you feel the stress levels creeping up, stop by Q level tonight in the MSE. Stressbusters will be there giving FREE back rubs from 8-10pm!  Don't let your stress control your life-- take control by taking a seat with a Stressbuster!

[1] Alhola P, Polo-Kantola P. Sleep Deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. Oct 2007; 3(5): 553–567.
[2] Simon H. Learning while you sleep: Dream or reality? Harvard Men’s Health Watch. Feb 2012.
[3] http://www.theawl.com/2014/08/how-much-a-pack-of-cigarettes-costs-state-by-state


Weeding out the facts

Earlier this week, marijuana was decriminalized in the state of Maryland.  The bill reduces the penalty for small amounts of marijuana possession from a 90-day prison term and $1000 fine to a civil fine starting at $100.  In other words, possessing 10 grams or less of the substance will now be considered a civil offense, rather than a criminal offense, and the punishment will be less severe (no jail time and increasing monetary fines, as necessary for multiple offenses).

For anyone wondering, this does not mean that the use of marijuana is legal.  Recreational marijuana  use continues to be illegal in Maryland.

So, what does it really do to our bodies?

Marijuana over-activates the part of the brain that influences memory, pleasure, perception, and coordination, causing the “high” and other effects that users experience. These effects include altered perceptions and mood, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory.  Some users may feel more relaxed, while others may feel anxious.  The effects can vary for each person, which can make it difficult to predict how one's body might react to the drug.

"Smoking marijuana can also cause many of the same respiratory problems experienced by tobacco smokers, such as increased daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illnesses such as bronchitis, and a greater instance of lung infections, according to NIDA."  However, there does not appear to be a connection between lung cancer, specifically, and marijuana use, according to some recent studies.

There is a lot to still learn about marijuana, and likely more will come out as studies become more abundant.

We also know that most JHU students have never used marijuana, according to a recent survey of undergraduates.  Through that survey we learned that a students think more people are using than really are; in fact, they think nearly 82% of our campus had used in the last 30 days.  However, the reality is less than 18% had used marijuana in that time frame.  Talk about overestimating the amount of drug use that is happening on campus.  So if you're not using marijuana, know that you are in the majority at Hopkins.  And with the potential for slower brain functions and all, should we really be surprised that Hopkins students are avoiding the memory shrinker?

Sources: drugabuse.gov 
NCHA JHU Survey, 2014


Health Fest!!

SEE Tip: Come to the Healthy Jays Health Fest today in the Rec Center from 5-7pm!!  Free Zumba, fitness assessments, food, and much more!!  SEE for yourself how you can get exercise in your day with plenty of activities, and lots of other ways to get healthy in the semester ahead.


SEE Tip: Fuel up with Breakfast!


SEE Tip:  Start your day with a full tank-- eat breakfast!  Sure, having a cup of coffee may give you a jolt, but if you want lasting energy, take a minute for breakfast.  For the best results, try a breakfast with protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs-- something like whole wheat toast with a thin layer of peanut butter (or the nut butter of your choice) and sliced banana- yum!!  It doesn't take long to prepare and will keep you energized and full much longer than skipping breakfast or trying to subsist on coffee alone.

Get started with the PEEPs today for a healthy breakfast on the go.  Find them in Mattin Courtyard from 8am-10am (or until supplies run out)!

HKB Myth busting: If a smoker quits tobacco, are they inevitably going to gain weight?  Truth: Not necessarily.  While a former smoker may have a normalized appetite and metablism to re-adjust to, and a better ability to taste and smell food, that doesn't mean the person is guaranteed to gain weight.  The person has it within their control to choose wisely in regards to their meals and snacks, as well as, include exercise in their day- things that can help regulate their weight.

Are you passionate about tobacco issues?  Consider joining Hopkins Kicks Butts and meet other passionate students-- meet tonight at 6pm in AMR I TV Room!

Mellow Out Monday Tip: In a 2012 study, researchers found that those who ate breakfast after waking were able to face challenging situations with nearly 90% less anxiety than on days when they did not have breakfast at all.  So, eating breakfast --> less stress!

Another way to have less stress... stopping by the MSE on Q level for a FREE back rub from Stressbusters!  Stop by starting at 8pm tonight!


But everybody's doing it

College can mean different things to people-- from a chance to make new friends, live away from home, taking the next step towards a career dream, or trying new things.

Some of us come in with the idea that everyone at college drinks-- that it's what college is here for (aside from the other academic reasons, of course).  In a recent study on our campus, students reported thinking that 97% of their classmates were drinking alcohol within the past 30 days.  However, through that same survey, it was found that actually 66% of students had used alcohol within that time frame.  

NCHA 2014

As you can see, many people thought that nearly the whole campus was drinking within that month, but in reality, it was around 30% less than that.  Often, our perceptions of what everyone else is doing may be skewed by a variety of things, including the media, our social circle, and even myths or rumors.  

What about you?  Were your perceptions different than the reality of what happens on our campus? 


This room is made for Sleep!


SEE Tip: Sleep is crucial for functioning throughout the day.  So why not do everything we can do to create the best space for a restful night?  Whether you are sleeping in a residence hall, an apartment, a row house, or even a tent-- there is a way to make your sleep space ideal for quality ZZZ's.

  • Noise - It's best to keep most noise at a minimum.  That means, falling asleep while your roommate practices the trumpet is probably not going to work out well.  If the trumpeter HAS to practice (and can't get to the practice room), consider trying ear plugs to help you drown out the music.
  • Tempature - If you're freezing or sweating- you're likely too busy trying to regulate your body tempature to even get to sleep.  Instead, try creating a tempature that works for you.  Whether that's using a fan or using an extra blanket on the bed.  Find your cool place for a comfortable night's sleep.
  • Light - Keeping light to a minimum can help your body's natural circadian rhythms know that it's time to sleep (and time to wake when the sun peaks through the windows).  Start setting the darker tone by reducing light in the room at least 1 hour before you're attempting to be asleep; turn the main light off (use a small bedside lamp if needed), or try darker curtains on the windows to keep out street light.
  • Technology - Turn off the TV, Laptop, and any other tech about an hour before bed.  Consider reading a book (for pleasure or for class) instead of refreshing your Facebook feed.  Trust, the FB updates will be there in the morning-- perfect to read while eating your breakfast before class, right?
  • The S's- Sleep & Sex.  Keep the use of your bed limited to sleep and/or sex.  The bed should be associated with stress relief, not stressful things--  in other words, don't bring your books to bed, only yourself or a bed buddy.
Do you already do any of these?  Or think you might try one?  Stop by the Breezeway today from 10:45-12:30 to tell us about your sleep space, and you could win a sleep kit from PEEPs!

HKB Tip:  Creating an environment for better sleep can also mean reducing unhealthy distractions or addictions.  Some cigarette smokers may choose to fall asleep and/or wake up with a smoke.  However, we know this is not helpful for better sleep, as the smokers may feel an intense craving for the nicotine, possibly waking them from slumber and creating interruptions in their night of sleep.  Additionally, it can be extremely dangerous as the leading cause of home fire deaths is from smoking.  If you are a smoker, consider only smoking outside in a safe area, and avoid smoking in bed to reduce the chances of becoming a statistic.

Mellow Out Monday Tip:  We're BAAAAAACK!  Stressbusters is back in the MSE tonight and throughout the rest of the semester from 8-10pm with free back rubs for all!  Stop by for a 5-7 minute back rub from a trained Stressbuster tonight.  Let us reduce your stress for a better night sleep and week ahead!


Staying in the Blue Zone

If you choose to drink, remember to stay in the blue zone. 

What's the blue zone?  It's a safer BAC level for people who choose to consume alcohol.  Somewhere between .02-.06 is the level people are looking for that buzzed feeling, the increased socialability, and general euphoria that can be what they are hoping to get out of the night.  However, a drink over that amount could lead to some risky territory.  

How do you stay in the blue zone?  Try having dinner with friends before drinking alcohol, and remember to drink water before, during, and after.

And be on the lookout for the PEEPs outside of CharMar tonight around 9:45pm for a free way to stay in the blue zone! #PartySafer