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.

7.30.2010

Happy Shark Week!

7.30.2010
Protect your health and wellness, avoid sharks.

Weekend Sip Tip... for the Gentlemen

Since last week's post focused on women and alcohol, this week it's time for the guys. While women may feel the effects of alcohol faster, men may be prone to more negative consequences of drinking. Men are five times more likely to have a problem with alcohol abuse, are more likely to be binge drinkers and alcoholics, and also have higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women. Plus according to one study, the bigger the guy, the more likely he is to be an aggressive drinker. Scientists believe the differences may be linked to genetic and metabolic differences, but a definite conclusion has not yet been reached. So fellas, if you choose to drink, be wary of how much you consume. Check into your family history for any substance abuse, as that increases your risk of alcoholism. Pace your drinks and avoid any potentially violent or dangerous behaviors. Remember, it takes a real man to be responsible. Use good judgment as you drink and Stop@Buzzed!

7.29.2010

Tip of the Week: Back in the Habit

7.29.2010
Like it or not, the start of another school year is about a month away. Just as you settled into your normal summer routine, you'll quickly be in the throws of another hectic semester. To help ease the transition and prevent some stress, take your last month to start getting into healthy habits. Find a few fast and easy recipes and practice making healthy dinners, set a consistent sleep schedule (at least 7 hours!), find an exercise routine you enjoy, learn some stress relieving behaviors, and practice sticking to it. Studies show that it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days for behaviors to become habits. By starting now, your brain and body may get used to engaging in these healthy habits so it becomes second nature. You won't have to force yourself into thinking about your health among your classes, schoolwork, and extra-curriculars; your body will be conditioned to practice healthy behaviors!

7.27.2010

In the News: Stand Up for a Longer Life

7.27.2010
Take a moment and think about how often you sit throughout your day. Between classes, studying, watching television, or on the computer, chances are you are sedentary for the most part of your day. According to a new study from the American Cancer Society, all that sitting may be cutting years off your life!

Turns out a long life is not just about how frequently you move your butt, but also how much time is spent sitting on it. Researchers found that time spent sitting was independently associated with total mortality, regardless of physical activity level. The study examined the amount of time spent sitting and physical activity in relation to mortality of over 123,000 participants. Across all activity levels, participants who sat for more than 6 hours a day were more likely to die than those who sat for less than 3 hours a day. Combined with lack of physical activity, the association was even greater. Researchers concluded that public health messages should promote both being physically active and reducing time spent sitting.

If you're seated more often than you would like, hope is not lost. Just find ways to work movement into your daily routine. If you have time, take the long way between classes or use class breaks to stand and stretch. When studying, pace while reviewing flash cards. You can even take your tasks to the gym and read or watch TV while on a treadmill. If you need to be seated, use a stability ball instead of a chair- it doubles as a workout! Find ways to avoid sitting and stay moving. You just may add years to your life, and life to your years!

7.26.2010

SEE for Yourself on Monday!

7.26.2010
SEE Tip: Make it a habit to move – pick 3 days this week to exercise for 30 minutes. A multi-year study by researchers at Tufts University found that students who said they exercised at least 3 days a week were more likely to report a better state of physical health and greater happiness than those who didn't exercise. For more information, click here.

Quit Tip from HKB: Looking for love? Quit smoking and your love life may improve! A 2005 Canadian survey found that 56% of those surveyed would not date a smoker. It also found that 20% of people had, or knew someone who had, broken up with someone because he or she smoked. So if you want to pucker up to a new cutie, you may want to stop puckering up to cigarettes!

Minimize Monday: Many people have started using reusable shopping bags to carry groceries and other purchased items. Plastic bag waste is a universal problem and one we can easily solve. Beyond using a reusable shopping bag, you can also reuse your zipper shut sandwich baggies. Do not save greasy grimy sandwich bags, because that is just gross; however, saving bags that were used for relatively greaseless, crumbless food items (ex. baby carrots) can be saved and reused without a risk to your health. When plastic lunch baggies are manufactured they release toxic emissions along with CO2, so it is a wise idea to reduce the amount you use each week. For more information on this new habit, click here.

7.23.2010

Weekend Sip Tip... for the Ladies

7.23.2010
Ladies, have you ever gone out with a group of guy friends and despite drinking the same amount found yourself more intoxicated than your counterparts? You may chalk it up to tolerance or weight differences, but the fact is that women are biologically inclined to feel the effects of alcohol faster than men. Even if all factors were equal between a man and woman (weight, drinks, amount of time), the woman will most likely have a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC). This is due to differences in body composition. Women generally have a higher ratio of fat to water in their bodies. Alcohol is water soluble and absorbed less easily in fat tissue so a person with a higher body fat percentage will feel the effects of alcohol more easily. But even women with very low body fat are still vulnerable thanks to the lack of a stomach enzyme, gastric alcohol dehydrogenase. This enzyme breaks down alcohol, lowering the amount that enters the blood stream directly. Because women have nearly half as much of this enzyme as men, one drink may actually have the effects of two! So ladies, if you choose to drink with the boys, do so at your own pace. Don't succumb to the pressure, just blame it on biology and Stop@Buzzed!

For more information on women and alcohol, check out Women under the Influence from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

7.22.2010

Tip of the Week: Ready, Set, Lift!

7.22.2010
Are you a cardio junkie? Do you incorporate weight or resistance training into your routine as well? Although aerobic training is important for your health and wellness, adding strength training may be more beneficial than you realize!

There are many great benefits to strength training that make it important to any workout: it boosts your stamina, reduces your risk of osteoporosis, builds and tones muscles, increases your resting metabolism, improves your posture, and builds strength- just to name a few! Even the CDC recommends that all adults get both aerobic and strength training several times a week for optimum health.

So, is it better to run first, or lift first? It depends on your goals! Most fitness experts agree that to burn fat and increase muscle development most efficiently, the best order is to weight train first and perform your cardio exercise at the end of your work-out. During weight training (an anaerobic exercise), your body runs through most of its glycogen stores. Once you begin your aerobic exercise, your body is forced to utilize body fat as a reserve source of energy. This order results in more of a total body workout. Of course, everyone is different, so be sure to stick to plans that are most comfortable for you. If endurance is your goal- then run, run away!

7.20.2010

In the News: Trading Needles for Patches

7.20.2010
For those with an aversion to needles, flu season may bring some added angst. While the thought of being struck with a bad case of the flu is not appealing, for some, neither is the thought of being stuck with a needle to receive the vaccine. True, there is a nasal flu mist available but it can be quite uncomfortable. Good news- a new option may be available!

Thanks to research from Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, a new type of patch has been developed that contains 100 tiny micro-needles that dissolve into the skin to deliver vaccines. So far it has only been tested on mice with positive results, but researchers hope to move to human trials so that the patch could be available in doctor's offices and drugstores within the next five years.

If the patch passes human trials and FDA approval, patients would be able to self-administer the patch simply by pressing it to their skin and leaving it on for ten minutes. Besides being basically pain-free, the patch would also prevent the biohazardous waste now associated with needles and syringes. While the flu-shot patch may be a few years away, for all the trypanophobics (fearful of needles), hope is out there! For more information, click here.

7.19.2010

FYI: Boost your Health, Boost your GPA

7.19.2010
Based on the densely populated tables and computers at MSE Library you may think that the only way to achieve at Hopkins is through countless hours spent studying. Think again! A 2008 study from the University of Minnesota’s Boynton Health Service found that students with unhealthy behaviors had significantly lower GPAs. Additionally, a 2009 study from The College of New Jersey concluded, "students’ health and lifestyle decisions have the ability to influence their academic success". Turns out, a great way to get ahead of your peers may be to put greater focus on your health and well-being!

Whether decreasing stress, getting more sleep, or increasing physical activity, healthy behaviors have a huge impact on your performance as a student. Based on 2009 ACHA-NCHA data, the majority of factors that Hopkins students rank highest for negative social and academic impact were health related (lack of sleep, stress/anxiety, cold/flu/sore throat, and pregnancy to name a few!).

To keep ahead of the academic curve and keep your health in focus, sign-up for a new list-serv for weekly tips and updates to help you be a healthier (and more successful) student! To register, visit: http://tinyurl.com/chewsnews

SEE for Yourself on Monday!

SEE Tip: Give the cows a break - choose a veggie burger instead. If you took the 13 billion hamburgers that Americans eat every year and put them in a straight line, they could circle the earth more than thirty-two times? That’s 43 hamburgers per year for every person in the U.S.! (SCHLOSSER & WILSON)

Quit Tip from HKB: Whether or not you enjoy the taste of cigarettes, smoking impacts your ability to taste everything else! Cigarette smoking deadens the taste buds and receptors in your nasal lining, plus suppresses brain receptors for the sensation of taste! If you want to enjoy your next meal, consider quitting. You may find you enjoy the taste of food much more than the taste of cigarettes!

Minimize Monday: A Danish study assessed the health of 30,000 people who biked to work over a 14 year period. Results showed that those who biked to work had a 40% lower risk of death than those who used other methods transportation. Biking is plain safer, and it is better for your health. No more excuses! Dust off your trusty old bike; start commuting to work, and start stopping 900kg of CO2 emissions annually. For more information on this study, click here.

7.14.2010

Tip of the Week: Streamlined Shopping

7.14.2010
While the dining halls and local restaurants offer a variety of food options, you may occasionally have to make a trip to the dreaded grocery store. It can be tempting to stock up on Easy Mac and Ramen noodles, but know that while those processed foods are cheap and easy, they're not very healthy. Not sure what constitutes a processed food? Basically, if it's in a box or bag, it's probably processed. These foods contain preservatives and additives that prolong the shelf life, but do little to help your health. Even boxed items claiming to be healthy (HealthyChoice, I'm looking at you), often contain high levels of sodium that are hard on the heart. To purchase the healthiest options, go for the freshest options.

If the temptation of processed foods is too appealing to pass up, use this trick: avoid the aisles. Think about it, when you head down the aisles of a grocery store you are usually surrounded by bright bags and boxes full of temptation. Next time you go food shopping, stick to the perimeter of the store. You'll pass through fresh produce, the deli counter, fish and meats, and the diary sections. That just about covers all the food groups! If the fresh produce prices are a bit out of your budget, head down the canned or frozen aisles for vegetables and fruit (just avoid anything with added sauces or sugars!). A quick trip down the bread or pasta aisle to grab some whole grains and your healthy shopping is complete. And as a bonus- with all your healthy choices, it's okay if you can't resist that candy bar at check-out!

7.13.2010

In the News: Addicted to Love?

7.13.2010
Between the poptronic beats and catchy chorus, Ke$ha may have been on to something with calling Love her drug. According to a study published in this month's Journal of Neurophysiology, those who have recently been rejected in love may actually experience cravings similar to cocaine addiction.

The study utilized brain imaging (fMRI) of 10 females and 5 males that had recently been rejected in love. Participants were asked to view photographs of the person that had recently rejected them, as well as photographs of people that sparked no emotional feelings. Upon viewing the source of their heartbreak, researchers found increased activity in the pathways of the brain associated with cocaine addiction and nicotine addiction among the study participants. It appears that the thrill of being in love sparks similar brain activity to the high of being on cocaine. Once your body is removed (or rejected) from the cause of your high, you actually continue to crave it. In theory, your brain is addicted to the feeling of love caused by your former partner. It's no wonder it's normal to feel down after experiencing heartbreak. So go ahead and grab a box of tissues, your favorite sappy movie, or a group of your closest friends for comfort. It may not just be your heart that's breaking, but you're also breaking the habit! For more on the study, click here.

7.12.2010

SEE for Yourself on Monday!

7.12.2010
SEE Tip: Decrease stress, give your heart a break: take an afternoon nap. The siesta habit is associated with a 37% reduction in coronary mortality, thought to be because of reduced cardiovascular stress associated with daytime sleep. Zaregarizi M, Edwards B, George K, Harrison Y, Jones H, Atkinson G. Acute changes in cardiovascular function during the onset period of daytime sleep: comparison to lying awake and standing. J Appl Physiol. 2007 Oct;103(4):1332-8.

Quit Tip from HKB: Do you often wake up feeling tired? Quit smoking! A 2008 study from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found that smokers are four times as likely to report feeling unrested after a night's sleep, reportedly due to nicotine withdrawal. Once your body no longer craves it's addiction to cigarettes, you may find you breathe easier and rest easier!

Minimize Monday: When you think about saving money which people come to mind? For many of us, those people are our grandparents who still cling to the lessons taught by the Great Depression. Abiding by your grandparents’ food habits will do the world and your wallet a favor. The four commandments of the depression era kitchen follow: use leftovers; cook food instead of ordering in; cook from scratch; and be thrifty. It is easy to see how those principles save you money, but it is harder to see how they minimize your environmental footprint. Using leftovers cuts down on waste, and cooking your own food instead of ordering in cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions. Cooking from scratch using whole foods minimizes the environmental impact from the packaging and production of food. Being thrifty minimizes the amount of food items you may let go by in your fridge; thereby, you create less waste and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For more information on cooking like your grandparents, click here.

7.08.2010

Weekend Sip Tip

7.08.2010
What do Paris Hilton, Keanu Reeves, Khloe Kardashian, Mike Tyson, and Lindsay Lohan all have in common? Besides questionable career choices, they have all been arrested and charged with a DUI: Driving Under the Influence. In Maryland, that means driving at or above a BAC of 0.08 if 21 and older, or 0.02 if under the age of 21. While DUIs run rampant in the media among celebrities, few stories ever actually focus on the dangers of drinking and driving. A study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shows that just 4% of celebrity reports mentioned any injury or potential injury from the DUI events. The CDC reports that every day, 32 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. If you choose to drink this weekend, don't drink and drive. Line up a designated sober driver, keep a taxi number handy, stay close to home, or arrange for some other sort of transportation. Avoid the jail time and the risk of harming or killing yourself and others. Drink responsibly, Stop@Buzzed, and never drink and drive!

Tip of the Week: Chill Out During Exercise

As mentioned before, exercise is a great way to improve your body and brain. But keep in mind as you exercise - it is summer! That means it is most likely going to be hot, humid, and pretty uncomfortable outside.

The American Heart Association states that the risks of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke increase when the humidity is above 70% and the temperature is above 70°F. This is well below the current Baltimore weather! When exercising in the heat, your body is working to cool you down through sweating while also attempting to deliver blood to your heart. Too much sweating results in fluid loss which then makes your heart work even harder. In fact, excessive fluid lost can result in damage to your heart and brain.

If you choose to exercise outdoors, be sure to hydrate frequently during your activity. Wear light, loose-fitting clothing and stop exercising if you begin to feel light-headed, dizzy, or nauseous. Check for heat advisories or warnings to see if it may be best for you to keep your exercise indoors. Try exercise tapes, free weights, cardio equipment, or take it to the pool. Many gyms even offer discounted student summer memberships so you can get your physical activity in the comfort of air conditioning. While it's important to stay active in the summer, it's also important to stay cool!

In the News: Exercise for Brain Power

Sure, exercise is great for your heart, lungs, and physique- but did you know that exercise has also been shown to improve brain function? Recent studies such as this one published by Dr. Fred Gage and colleagues at the Laboratory of Genetics at the Salk Institute in San Diego report findings that may explain some of the brain benefits of exercise.

In simple terms, Dr. Gage et al studied bone morphogenetic proteins (BMP) found in body tissues. In the brain, these proteins help to control stem cell division that lead to the creation of new neurons (neurogenesis). The more BMP found in your brain, the more inactive your stem cells will be. This may result in a slower, more sluggish brain. But good news! Dr. Jack Kessler, the chairman of neurology at Northwestern, found through studies done with mice that those with access to running wheels had roughly 50% less BMP-related brain activity. Scientists sited that those with reduced levels of BMP, "exhibit remarkable gains in hippocampal cognitive performance and neurogenesis, mirroring the effects of exercise". So what does this all mean? In short, exercise works to help stem cells generate and allow neurons to grow. In shorter, more exercise = more brain power. For a more in depth description, click here.

7.07.2010

SEE for Yourself... this week!

7.07.2010
SEE Tip: Trouble sleeping at night? Hit the gym during the day. Many studies have shown that exercise during the day helps you fall asleep easier at night and enter a deeper level of sleep to make the most of those precious hours. To learn more, click here!

Quit Tip from HKB: Think cessation resolutions are only reserved for the New Year? Think again! According to an article in Psychology Today, July may actually be the best month to make commitments for change. If you've been thinking about quitting tobacco, make the pledge to quit now. You just may find it easier this time around!

Minimize Monday Wednesday: You don’t have to travel across the universe to get much needed rest and relaxation on vacation. Reduce CO2 emissions from long distance travel and put money into your local economy by vacationing locally. Maryland has plenty of exciting activities and outdoor adventures to offer. If you want to make an easy change in the way your summer lifestyle impacts the environment, choose Maryland or choose your home city as your summer vacation destination. For more information on the benefits of taking a “Staycation,” click here.

7.01.2010

Happy 4th of July!

7.01.2010
Have a happy, healthy, and safe Independence Day!

Weekend Sip Tip

Happy 4th of July Weekend! As we take an extended weekend to celebrate our nation's independence, you may be planning on sitting poolside, enjoying a cookout, or taking in a fireworks spectacular. However, if your plans also include some underage drinking, you may want to take note of this shocking statistic. According to estimates from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), the number of emergency room visits involving underage alcohol use increases by 87% over this 3-day weekend compared to any other average July day. Although the legal drinking age in the US is 21, holiday parties make for easy access to large quantities of alcohol. If you do choose to drink this weekend, be sure to drink responsibly. Pace yourself, drink plenty of water, and avoid pools, fireworks, or any other potentially dangerous situations. There are few worse ways to celebrate your independence then dependently waiting on a doctor in the local ER! Celebrate safely, and Stop@Buzzed!

Tip of the Week: Slip, Slap, Slop!

Today marks the first day that the new Indoor-Tanning Tax will be in effect. Anyone choosing to use UV-emitting tanning equipment will have an additional 10% surcharge added to their tanning experience. In honor of skin safety, this week's tip focuses on protecting yourself from natural UV rays!

Whether on a beach or at a pool, harmful UV-A and UV-B rays are beating down, potentially damaging your skin. The burning and peeling are bad enough, but exposure to the sun increases the likelihood of developing skin cancer down the road. To protect your skin, remember these three words: Slip, Slap, Slop.

SLIP on a lightweight shirt to cover your back and arms. This is especially important if already burnt and you intend to be out in the sun again.
SLAP on a hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes, face, and scalp. Even though you have hair on your head, it is still possible to get burned or to develop melanomas. In fact, hair makes early warning signs of cancer harder to detect!
SLOP on some sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) and reapply regularly. Be sure your sunscreen protects against both UV-A and UV-B rays as both are harmful.


These three easy steps can help make for an aloe-free summer and healthy skin in the future!