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.


How to Stay Healthy in the Winter - Tips from a former JHU intern!


 Hi Johns Hopkins! I am a Penn State student who had the joy of being the Fitness Intern at the Recreation Center during the Fall 2014 semester at this wonderful institution. I was asked to write a few articles for this blog and I thought I would share a few tips on how to maintain your health and fitness throughout the winter.

Exercise is STILL Important
It’s so much easier to give an excuse in the winter to not exercise because of the colder temperatures outside, but you still need to get moving! If you’re a runner, make sure you wear lots of layers, gloves, and a hat to ensure that your entire body is covered. If you’re snowed in from going to the gym, there are plenty of free YouTube channels devoted to uploading complete workouts, most without equipment! A few fan favorites are Tone it Up, Blogilates, Tony Horton Fitness, and Scott Herman Fitness. Jackie Lebeau, Assistant Director of Fitness at the O’Connor Recreation Center, encourages students to go outside and participate in winter activities during the season. Winter brings outdoor activities like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and ice skating. Exercise doesn't have to be strenuous in order to be effective so don't forget about winter recreational activities like sledding, snowball fights and building snowmen! We're only blessed with snow for a few months each year so get outside this winter and take advantage of the outdoor exercise opportunities!”

Enjoy your Comfort Food in Moderation
Most people associate winter with eating lots of mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and sugar-loaded hot cocoa. While all of these foods are absolutely delicious, it is important to remember that while trying to live a healthy lifestyle involves eating these “guilt foods” in moderation. The best tip I can recommend is to allocate one meal per week as your “cheat meal” and eat a moderate (not the entire bowl!) serving of the comfort food of choice. This way you can indulge in your favorite foods without budging the scale. There are also plenty of recipes online that swap out the “evil” ingredients in your favorite foods. I recommend looking up spaghetti squash, cauliflower mac and cheese, and cauliflower mash potatoes. I can promise you that while you are getting in your daily intake of veggies, you will hardly notice the difference!

Take a Multivitamin
It’s hard to get enough of your RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of most nutrients through food alone. Make sure you take your multivitamin during a meal that has a little bit of fat and with a glass of water to help absorb all of the nutrients.


Make sure that you get between 7-9 hours of sleep in order to keep your immune system in check. College students are notorious for being the poster children for sleep deprivation, which makes it easier for illness to spread. For example, the recent meningitis outbreak at University of Maryland. Also make sure that you use hand sanitizer, wash your hands frequently, and keep alert for any outbreaks of any illnesses in the area.  


SEE the boosting power of breakfast


SEE Tip:  You hear it over and over again, "eat breakfast", "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day", and blah blah blah.  And the thing is, it really is important.  Often people skip it because they aren't hungry first thing in the morning, or because they are in a rush to get to class after hitting the snooze button a little too many times.   However, missing breakfast means missing out on some pretty great benefits.

Eating breakfast:

  • improves memory and academic performance
  • improves the ability to maintain weight 
  • improves consumption of nutrients
  • balances hunger levels throughout the day

SEE the PEEPs in Wolman and Charles Commons starting at 8:40am for a healthy breakfast bite 
to start your last week of classes right! 

HKB Quit Tip:  A 2013 study from Columbia found that of cigarette smokers who had their first smoke first thing in the morning (within 30 minutes of waking up), they were more at risk for head, neck, and lung cancer than those who would wait beyond that point.  While both groups were at risk for cancer, it seems that having the cigarette first thing, and likely breathing in more deeply, was greatly correlated with the forms of cancer.  As a way to reduce the risk, try putting off your first cigarette of the day by an hour from when you normally do.  See how that feels for you, and see if you can do it.  If you can do that, see if you can push it back by another hour the next week, and continue to see how late you can wait to have your first cigarette.

Mellow Out Monday: Stressful days can be tackled by something as simple as eating yogurt.  Grab some yogurt for the probiotic benefit which has been linked to lowering depression and anxiety (in mice), and providing a healthier digestive tract.

If you are looking for continued stress relief, check out Mellow Out Monday in the MSE on Q level starting at 8pm tonight.  Get a FREE back rub from a trained stressbuster and feel better fast!


Can we really trust the free condoms?

Something we hear at least once a month is, "Don't the free condoms from CHEW/the health center break more easily than other condoms?"

The short answer: No. They work equally as well as other brand name condoms.

The longer answer:  The free condoms, typically Lifestyles for our campus, are tested rigorously to make sure they do not break, tear, or fail.  If they are used correctly, they are just as effective as the condoms you can choose to pay for.  Of course, you have that option, as well:  JHU Condom Sense.

So why are we giving out free condoms?  I mean, free giveaways usually aren't really free... you usually have to do something, right?  Well, in this case, no.  All we ask is that people use these freebies to have safer sex when they might not have otherwise.  It's a lot better for our community as a whole when people are being safer by reducing their risks for HIV, STI/STDs, and unplanned pregnancies.

One thing to look out for are condoms marked as "novelty" or "for entertainment purposes".  All condoms used for safer sex purposes should be cleared by the FDA to prevent STDs and unplanned pregnancy so that bacon flavored condom might not cut it.... but check the packaging to be sure.

If you have had trouble in the past with free condoms, you may want to make sure you have the proper fit, amount of lubricant (more is usually better), and that you are generally putting them on correctly.  For instructions on how to put a condom on, check out the video below.


SEE for Yourself: Sleep More, Stress Less


SEE Tip:  Is stress keeping you from getting a good night's sleep?  Are you kept awake by the mounting number of to do items on your planner, the big exam you have in two days, or a fight you had with a good friend?  You are not alone.  The stress of the day is linked with a lack of sleep in many individuals.  Furthermore, continued restless nights add to the stress by piling on more issues for the next day.  When a person does not get a full night's rest, s/he is more likely to suffer from a lack of focus and energy leading to more mistakes.... and more stress.  What an awful cycle!

The lack of sleep can mess with more than tomorrow's exam result.  Aside from adding on more stress, sleep deprivation and sleep restriction have been linked with obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and immune functioning issues.

But don't lose sleep over this!  Practice some stress relieving strategies to feel better during the day, and ease you into a peaceful sleep at night.  Things like organizing your notes before bed, making a to do list, practicing yoga or meditation, or even listening to relaxing music can help to soothe some stress.

You can also stop by the RELAX! Party sponsored by FSI and CHEW where there will be free massages from Stressbusters, Tea Time, a cozy corner, and make your own sleep sachets!  Lots of opportunities to improve your sleep for the night ahead.  Come to Levering's Sherwood Room (near the cafe) from 11-1!

HKB Tip: A survey from the American Lung Association found that 6 out of 10 former smokers were not able to quit successfully on their first quit attempt.  If you or a friend has tried once before, but had trouble staying quit use this Thursday's national Quit Day known as the "Great American SmokeOut" to provide some incentive. On this day, hundreds of other current smokers will be quitting the habit.  You are not alone with your plans to quit the addiction to tobacco, and there is support like 1-800 QUIT NOW which provides a quit coach and a supply of nicotine replacement products, as well!  You can do this!

And join Hopkins Kicks Butts and the O'Connor Recreation Center this Thursday from 5:30pm-6:45 for a FREE (no class card required) KICK the Habit Kickboxing and Zumba fusion fitness class.  There will be free t-shirts for raffle winners!!

Mellow Out Monday Win:  You have two chances to mellow out with Stressbusters today!

RELAX! Party sponsored by FSI and CHEW, Sherwood (Levering), 11am-1pm
Free massages from Stressbusters, Tea Time, a cozy corner, and make your own sleep sachets, and more!

Mellow Out Monday, MSE on Q level, 8pm-10pm

Free backrubs!! Why say anything but YES?! :)


SEE for Yourself: Exercise the body and the brain!


SEE Tip from PEEPs: Combat stress with exercise and other healthy behaviors

What exactly is stress?
Stress is a response to a demand that’s been placed upon you, whether it’s related to school, work, relationships, or anything else going in your life. It can certainly help you accomplish tasks and meet challenges, but when stress doesn't subside, it can harm you both physically and mentally.

How can you relieve stress?
There are many ways to manage stress!  Here are some suggestions:

Healthy diet: Make sure you’re eating well and getting all the nutrients you need. Eating junk food may help you feel better temporarily, but healthy foods are better for your body and will keep you happier in the long run.

Exercise: Engaging in physical activity can be an immediate stress reliever and help you manage stress in the long run too. Try to aim for 30 minutes a day, but if you can’t get to the gym or go outside, even a few minutes of exercises like lunges, crunches, and push-ups will help you feel more relaxed.

Sleep: Try to get the recommended 8 hours of sleep a day. In order to be at your best, you need to get adequate amounts of sleep. Even a quick nap during the day can help you feel more rested and better able to concentrate.

Socializing: Having healthy relationships is key to helping with stress. Try to make time to hang out with friends or talk on the phone with family members. They can help take your mind off of whatever is stressing you out, or they are there to listen if you need to talk about it.

Relaxation techniques: Last but not least, there are tried and true methods to manage stress. These include meditation, deep breathing, and visualization. This website explains how to do each of the techniques: https://www.uhs.uga.edu/stress/relax.html. You’ll be surprised at how even doing them once a day makes you feel more relaxed!

HKB Quit Tip: The Great American SmokeOut is approaching on November 20th.  If you're a current smoker, join the nation and make next Thursday your quit day for tobacco products.  You can do it!  If you are interested in support for quitting, call 1-800-QUIT NOW for one on one assistance and access to nicotine replacements like the patch or the gum to help fight any intense cravings.  You can KICK the habit!

Join Hopkins Kicks Butts and the Recreation Center on Thursday, November 20th at 5:30pm for a Kickboxing and Zumba fusion workout in honor of the Great American SmokeOut!  Come KICK the habit with us, and win a free HKB shirt!

Mellow Out Monday: Some days the stress we feel can be overwhelming and leave us feeling like we don't know what to do about it.  Try to be prepared for these kind of days (we all have them) and have a list of things you like to do to reduce your stress ready for you to choose from.  One thing that is on most people's lists of stress relievers is exercise, but try and be specific.  Maybe it's zoning out with a new playlist on the treadmill, or meeting up with a friend who you can vent to while you go for a walk around campus.  Find options that work for you, and then have the list ready for those moments when you need it.

Another thing on  your list can always be Stressbusters!  If you're feeling stressed, be sure to stop by Q level in the MSE for a FREE backrub from Stressbusters from 8-10pm tonight.


SEE a healthy snack portion


SEE Tip: Do you struggle with mid-afternoon hunger, but you're stuck in class without options? Avoid this common dilemma with easy to grab and go snacks like an apple, string cheese stick, or a serving of your favorite pretzels. Have trouble with sticking to the actual portion size? Try measuring out the serving size for your desired snack and then using a clip to close the bag or portion out all the servings ahead of time if you have the space and storage abilities.

Stop by the breezeway from 11:30-1:30 today for a chance to win a chip clip for a healthy portion helper!

Don't forget! Tonight at 8pm is your chance for a free back rub from Stressbusters!! Stop by the MSE on Q level for your moment of relaxation today.


Halloween BOOz

Halloween falling on a Friday could mean lots of options for a social life this weekend!  From the Peabody Costume party, to Fells Point, to staying near campus with friends, or going out around campus....there is definitely going to be lots to do.

 If your activities include drinking alcohol, consider some ways to stay in the blue zone. Pace yourself with each drink. No need to rush to the next drink. Sip, savor, and socialize.  Also, BYOW - bring your own water! Or make sure wherever you are going well have some available. You can put some in your cup after each drink to stay hydrated and reduce the nasty effects that can come with dehydration. You can also wear a costume that makes it difficult to drink...something like partial mask or makeup that you may not want to smear or ruin (#forthegram).

Mainly, keep in mind that this weekend can be fun with lots going on. Recovering from a hangover or a regrettable moment (like getting sick all over your super creative Harry Potter costume) may not be the ideal way to spend it. So don't be "that guy" or "that girl". Instead, stay in the blue zone and stop at buzzed.


SEE: Benefits of Aromatherapy

SEE Tip: Aromatherapy can be a natural way to improve sleep quality.  Researchers at Wesleyan University found that students who smelled lavender before going to bed at night slept more deeply and woke up with more energy than those who did not.[1]  Additional research supports the findings that calming scents, like lavender and vanilla, can aid in better sleep.

Want to try it out for yourself?  Stop by the PEEPs table on your way to the FFC tonight between 5:30-7 to make your own lavender sachet to be placed by your bed for a better night's sleep!

HKB Quit Tip: A study from 2013 found a potential link between aromatherapy and cravings associated with nicotine.  The researchers had 20 participants sniff a drop of black pepper or angelica oil from a tissue when cravings would arise.  They found that both worked, though the cravings appeared to drop more dramatically for the group using the black pepper.  The researchers noted that the study was too small to be statistically significant, but it provided useful information for those who are interested in quitting and may need an aid when cravings creep up. [2]

Mellow Out Monday: Did you know when you're stressed your sense of smell becomes sharper?  That's definitely useful if your stress is caused by being stranded in the woods and you need it to sniff out food and potential attackers.  However, this is Hopkins, and chances are you're dealing with papers and exams, and what you are smelling is that person who hasn't left D-level in 3 days.  Instead of letting the stress and smells over-power you, try aromatherapy to bring you to a calmer place.  With just a few drops of an essential oil like lavender, sandalwood, or chamomile, you can reduce your stress levels and smell something much more pleasant. [3]

If you want some more stress relievers, stop by Stressbusters on Q level tonight starting at 8pm!  Get a free backrub and feel refreshed for the week ahead!

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16298774
2. http://www.prevention.com/health/healthy-living/aromatherapy-curbs-nicotine-cravings
3. http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/natural-remedies/how-aromatherapy-soothes-stress


Fat Talk Free Week!

Today marks the official last day of Fat Talk Free Week.  Of course, it doesn't have to stop here-- every day can be a fat talk free day.  Instead of focusing on what's wrong with our bodies, we can focus on what's right with them.  Thank our bodies for allowing us to smell the flowers, feel the wind blowing against our skin, and so many other amazing things.

To celebrate the final official day of Fat Talk Free Week, and all the Love Your Body celebrations of the last two weeks- we are asking you to share the name of someone you aspire to be like, and what is about that person that makes you want to be like them, one that is not based on physical appearance.  Examples include: because of their kindness, aptitude in science, dedication to soccer, their commitment to helping others, social skills, etc. Please consider sharing this on our Facbook page, Twitter, or Instagram!

And Happy FTFW to all!  You are all amazing, talented, and incredible individuals.  Thank you for being you.


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!