Health Matters Newsletter


Health Center
LoGrasso Hall
SUNY Fredonia
Fredonia, NY 14063
(716) 673-3131 or
(716) 673-3132
(716) 673-4722 (fax)

March 2011

Let's get ready for Spring

Welcome to the March 2011 issue of the Health Matters Newsletter.  The Health Matters Newsletter is published on a monthly basis on the Health Center home page, and is linked to the weekly Campus Report.  The purpose of the newsletter is to share information, regarding pertinent medical issues and health and wellness suggestions with the students, faculty, and staff here at SUNY Fredonia.  This month's topics include:

Beat the Winter Blues by Staying Fit

Walking your way to a Healthier You

Spring Break Essentials

 

“Beat the Winter Blues by Staying Fit”

By:Megghan Connolly

We all know how important it is to stay physically and mentally fit, the issue that many of us face is keeping ourselves this way during the winter months. With the stress of the holidays and cold weather it is a struggle to make time and muster the energy to exercise. However, there are little ways to beat the winter blues and keep in good shape throughout this time of year.

Some tips to keep active during the winter

  • Don’t always take the easy route: While out shopping,  take the stairs instead of the escalator; all those bags serve as great hand weights! No need to get the closest parking spot available, a slightly longer walk burns more calories
  • Change your scenery: Sick of the same view from the treadmill? No one says you can’t go outside just because it’s cold! Take a quick jog around the block, the fresh air is energizing and the movement keeps you nice and warm.
  • Join an indoor recreational team with a friend: There is plenty of indoor volleyball, soccer, flag football, or other teams that you don’t need to be a superstar to play for. Many play once a week for a just a month or two; a great way to combine spending time with friends and getting your exercise in .  Not into team sports? Grab a friend and take a yoga, aerobics, or spinning class together at a local gym!
  • Don’t let the gloomy weather get you down: Many people admit to feeling depressed or lazy when the weather is gray and cold. Exercise releases endorphins in the body that improve mood and increase energy. Even if you only have time for 10 minutes of exercise, 10 minutes is better than no minutes! You will feel better and happier for the entire day; instead of curling up with a snack and your favorite TV show, do some squats or crunches during commercials. It’s the ultimate in multi-tasking!

It’s essential to stay moving during the winter season, but it needs to be complimented by careful eating habits to be effective.

  • Make smart choices: go for the “right” appetizers; choose the non fried snacks, pretzels over chips, or bring an app to pass that you know is a healthier option that you can eat if there isn’t a lot to choose from. This includes being careful with alcoholic beverages as well. Choose red wine, or calorie free mixers; juices and fancy cocktails can have a lot of sugar. No need to drink empty calories that aren’t filling you up!
  • “Pre-game” for parties:  It’s tempting to save your appetite for the evening party that is sure to have fabulous food, but it’s better to eat breakfast and even something healthy and filling (things high in fiber are a great option!) an hour or two before party time. This way, you won’t be completely starving by the time you arrive and therefore less tempted to scarf appetizers and overeat.

The  winter blues can be tough for keeping ourselves physically and mentally healthy. Fortunately, mental health and improved moods go hand in hand with being active. Positive thoughts about how we look and feel decreases the likelihood of slipping into stress, gloominess, and lazy winter habits. Following these tips and creating some of your own can really help beat those winter blues !

 

Walking your way to a healthier you...

As we look forward to some nicer weather coming our way, most of us are unpacking those sneakers, shorts and tee shirts, and are ready to hit the pavement. Studies show that physical activity is essential for healthy living.  A minimum of 30 minutes of activity per day to reduce disease risk, and 60 to 90 minutes per day to lose weight.  People who are usually inactive can improve their health and well-being by becoming even moderately active on a regular basis.

Walking for fitness:

How to trim your waistline, boost your spirits and improve your health.

Walking is a gentle, low-impact exercise that can ease you into a higher level of fitness and health.  It's one of your body's most natural forms of exercise.  It's safe, simple and doesn't require a lot of practice, and the health benefits are many.  Here's what you need to know to get started.

Benefits of walking
Walking for fitness can help  you achieve a number of important health benefits.  For example you can:

- Reduce your risk for heart attack. Walking keeps your heart healthy by lowering low density lipoprotein (LDL)  cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) and raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol).  A regular walking program also reduces your risk of developing high blood pressure, a factor that contributes to heart disease.

- Manage your blood pressure. If you already have a high blood pressure, walking can help reduce it.

- Reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  Regular exercise reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you're female, overweight and at a high risk of diabetes, walking can improve your body's ability to process sugar (glucose intolerance)

- Manage your diabetes.  If you already have type 2 diabetes, taking part in a regular waking program can improve your body's ability to process sugar, lower your blood sugar, reduce your risk of heart disease and help you live longer.

- Manage  your weight.  Walking burns calories, which can help you manage your weight.  For example, middle-aged women who walk more then 10, 000 steps a day, have lower levels of body fat than do women who are less active.

 -Manage stress and boost your spirits.  Going for a brisk walk is a great way to reduce stress.  Regular walking also can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.

Prepare yourself before each walking session

-Take time to prepare yourself to prevent injuries, such as blisters on your feet or muscle pain.

-Wear walking shoes and comfortable, protective clothing. Before you set out, be sure to select comfortable footwear.  Also dress in loose-fitting comfortable clothing and in layers if you need to adjust to the temperature.  If you walk outside, choose clothes appropriate for the weather.  Avoid rubberized materials, as they don't allow perspiration to evaporate. Wear bright colors or reflective tape after dark so that motorists can see you.

-Warm Up. Spend about five minutes walking slowly to warm your muscles. You can walk in place if you want.  Increase your pace until you feel warm.  Warming up your muscles reduces your risk of injury.

-Stretch. After warming up, stretch your muscles for about five minutes before walking. Include the calf stretch, quadriceps stretch, hamstring stretch, lower back flexion stretch and chest stretch.

Tips for Pedestrians

-Only cross the street at a crosswalk

-Pay careful attention to road signs and cars around you.  Don't assume that cars will stop when they should .

-Follow traffic signals, and don't cross the street unless the sign says "walk".

-If walking at night, wear bright, reflective clothing, and be sure not to walk alone.


Getting started: Design a program that works for you

-Start slow and easy. If you're a seasoned walker, keep doing what you're doing. If you've been inactive and tire easily, it's best to start slow and easy.  At first, walk only as far as or as fast as you comfortably can.  If you can walk for only a few minutes, let that be your starting point.  For example, you might try short daily sessions of three to five minutes slowly build up to 15 minutes twice a week.  Then, over several weeks' time,  you can gradually work your way up to 20 minutes of walking five days each week.

-Use proper technique to avoid injury and setback.  Walking is a great exercise because it's so simple to do.  But if your posture is poor or your movements exaggerated, you increase your risk of injury.

-Measure the intensity of your workout. As you walk, measure the intensity of your workout. Knowing the level allows you to increase the intensity to maximize your workout or slow down to avoid overdoing it.  You have these options:

Talk test. If you are so out of breath that you can't carry on a conversation with the person you are walking with , you are probably working too hard and should slow down.

Borg Scale.  This method is a self-assessment of your perceived exertion.  You rate how hard you think you are working on a scale that ranges from six (no exertion) to 20 (maximal effort).  Aim for at least moderate intensity (12 to 14) as you walk.

Calculate your heart rate (pulse).  To find out if you're exercising within the range of your target heart rate, stop exercising to check your pulse manually at your wrist (radial artery) or your neck (carotid artery).  Another option is to wear an electronic device that displays your heart rate.

-Keep track of your progress.  Keeping a record of how many steps you take, the distance you walk and how long it takes can help you see where you started from and serve as a source of inspiration.  Just think how good you will feel when you see how many miles you have walked each week, month or year.

-Cool down after each walking session.  To reduce stress on your heart and muscles, end each walking session by walking slowly for about five minutes. Then, repeat your stretches.

-Stay Motivated: Set goals, have fun and stay in the game
Starting a walking program takes initiative.  Sticking with it takes commitment.  But when you think of the potential health benefits, it's well worth the effort.  Over time, you'll likely feel more invigorated.  To stay motivated:

-Set performance goals. People who can stick with a new behavior for six months usually make it a habit.

-Make it fun. If you don't like walking alone, invite your spouse, partner, friend or neighbor to join you.  You might also join a health club and use a treadmill.

-Vary your routine. Plan several different walking routes for variety.  But if you're walking alone, be sure to tell someone which route you're taking.  Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car a few blocks from the office or store and walk the rest of the way.  If you take public transportation, get off a stop or two early and walk the remaining few blocks.

 

Keeping you safe during Spring Break

General Safety

Not only during spring break, but anytime, it is always smart to use the buddy system while out with friends.  The buddy system means that before going out, you will designate which friends will stay together and make sure that no one ends up alone and/or in a compromising situation.

1) Safety in numbers. Go out in groups and make sure that no one is ever left alone or behind.

2) Don't ever leave your drink out of sight. If you take your eyes off of it, discard it.

3) Wear sunscreen

4) Always keep emergency money in a separate place other than your purse or wallet.

5) Only accept drinks from a licensed bartender or drinks that you pour yourself. Do not accept drinks from strangers unless you watch it being poured. You put yourself at risk for receiving an altered beverage if you don't know the source of the drink.

6) Do not travel with illegal substances

7) Avoid casual intimate relationships with someone you just met and make sure that you practice safe sex.

8) Never leave an intoxicated friend.  If a friend is sick, don't leave them alone. If you feel sick, ask someone to look out for you.  If a member of your group passes out, turn them on their side to prevent choking and call 911 immediately.

9) Be careful following people you don't know back to hotel rooms, parties, homes, etc

10) Don't carry a lot of cash. Use credit/debit cards, or traveler's check. If theft occurs, report your card stolen immediately and have it canceled.

Personal Safety

High profile cases such as Natalee Holloway, a high school student who disappeared during her Spring Break trip to Aruba, are uncommon.  However, sexual violence and other violent acts during Spring Break are not.  Use common sense and follow these simple safety tips.

1) Always be aware of your location and how to get back to your hotel.

2) Take only what you absolutely need during the day.  The less baggage, the better.  Store valuable items in hotel safe.  Or don't bring them with you at all.

3) Never share personal information with a stranger, especially hotel information.

4) Never go anywhere alone and always make sure someone knows where you are going.

5) Never take offers for free rides or tours from anyone.

6) Keep money, passport and ID in a pouch that is not easily accessible, such as a neck pouch hanging inside you shirt or a waist belt inside your pants.

7) Be cautious of groups of kids, strangers offering to help with your bags and anyone that inadvertently bumps into you.

8) Keep carry-ons, purse and other baggage near you.  If you set baggage down, place it securely between your legs.

9) Place your purse strap over a shoulder crossing it over your upper torso.  Place wallets in front pockets; they are too easy to steal from back pockets.

10) If you are robbed, don't resist -- give up any money, jewelry, or other valuables.  You can always replace material things.  Call 911 as soon as you can.

Hotel Safety

1) Always keep your door locked whether you are in your room or away from it.

2) Keep track of your hotel key and never lend it to a stranger.

3) Use your peephole before answering the door.

4) Never leave your valuables in sight: lock them in a suitcase or room safe.

5) Never go anywhere alone. If you are in an elevator with strangers, stand next to the alarm.

6) Be aware of the fire escape route.  Know the way out if needed.

7) Don't horseplay or climb on balconies.  Never sit on railings and always keep both feet on the floor at all times.  Falls from balconies, even those on lower floors, can be fatal.

 

Travel Tips for Students

Be aware that there are lots of people out there who see students on Spring Break as easy targets for theft.   Don't prove them correct.  When traveling , here are some precautions you should always take with your valuables.

1)  Take only what you will need.  Clean out your wallet and keep only a small amount of cash, ID, ATM card and credit cards.

2) If traveling abroad, check with the US Department of State for the required visa, ID or passport.

3) ATMs are often the easiest and the cheapest way to get money abroad.  Be sure to carry your card in a safe place.

4) Do not forget a week's worth of any prescription medication.

5) Leave a copy of your itinerary, passport, ID and list of wallet contents with someone you trust back home.

6) Make a list of ID numbers, contact information, travel information (flight and hotel) and credit card numbers and leave it with a trusted friend or relative. Call friends or family members to let them know that you have arrived and returned safely.

 

SUN, SAND, & SURF

That new bathing suit has you bearing more skin than ever and it is easy to spend hours partying with friends on the warm sand.  Before it's too late, you need to know that too much sun can not only damage and dry our skin over time, it can cause a nasty sunburn and possibly lead to skin cancer in your later years.  Prevention is important.   Here are some things that you can do:

Avoid sun exposure during the hottest hours of the sun's rays... Protection from sun exposure is important all year round, not just during the summer months or while at the beach.  The hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. are the most hazardous for UV exposure.    This is just as important on cloudy and hazy days as on bright and sunny ones.  It is important to protect your skin. 

Avoid over exposure - limit your time in the sun .. Ultraviolet (UV) rays are a part of sunlight that is an invisible form of radiation.  UV rays can penetrate and change the structure of skin cells.  Although getting some sun exposure can yield a few positive health benefits, excessive and unprotected exposure to the sun can result in premature aging and undesirable changes in skin texture.

Sun exposure has a cumulative effect over one's lifetime.  It is now thought that many skin cancers actually start from sun exposure or sun tanning in the teenage years.  The dark suntan that you enjoy now can actually contribute to your getting skin cancer in your later  years.

Apply sunscreen with SPF (Sun Protection Factor) .. Sunscreens come in a variety of forms such as lotions, gels, and sprays.  Some are for specific purposes, such as the scalp, sensitive skin, and for use on babies.  But the important take home should be that regardless of the type of sunscreen you choose, be sure that you  use one that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and that it offers at least SPF 15.  Pay special attention to the face, nose, ears and shoulders.  Reapply sunscreen after swimming and sweating.

Wear sunglasses with UV (Ultraviolet) Protection.. Oh, and don't forget your sunglasses.  Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts.  They also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure.   The standard sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection.

Drink plenty of fluids.. It is important to keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water, non-carbonated and non-alcoholic drinks, even if you do not feel thirsty. 

Not all skin is created equal...Whether individuals burn or tan depends on a number of factors , including their skin type, the time of the year, and the amount of sun exposure they have received recently.  The skin's susceptibility to burning can be classified on a five point scale as outlined in the following descriptions:

Skin Type I - Always burns, never tans, sensitive to sun exposure

Skin Type II - Burns easily, tans minimally

Skin Type III - Burns moderately, tans gradually to light brown

Skin Type IV - Burns minimally, always tans well to moderately brown

Skin Type V - Rarely burns, tans profusely to dark

Skin Type VI - Never burns, deeply pigmented, least sensitive

Though everyone is at risk for damage as a result of excessive sun exposure, people with skin types i and II are a the highest risk.

 




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