Healthy UNH Blogger: Katrina Heisler, All Entries

Frazzle Free Finals Week

Friday, May 4, 2012
By: Katrina Heisler

I’m sure to many of you, even mentioning the word “finals” sends your body into a meltdown as you try and wrap your brain around the million and one things you still need to do this semester. It never feels like there are enough hours in the day during finals week and it can be one of the most stressful time of the year. Increased anxiety and stress levels are the result from lack of sleep, poor eating habits, decreased relaxation time and missed workouts.  Well, Healthy UNH is giving you an excuse to make time with “Frazzle Free Finals Week”. Because so many of the poor habits we develop during finals week have negative effects on our body and brain, this is the time when it is most important to de-stress!  Stop by the YoNola bar in front of Zekes Café to refuel with a healthy snack of low fat yogurt and granola. This will keep you focused on studying instead of your stomach growling. Feeling stiff from hunching over a textbook or rolling around trying to sleep all night? Sign up for a free, five minute chair massage to release tension and help relaxation. No, you are not hallucinating if you see dogs roaming through the library! Therapy dogs can be found in the Dimond Library during Frazzle Free Finals as well, giving students time to take a break and de-stress with dogs. Check out the full list of stress free events and schedule in your have time to have some fun! Good luck on finals everyone!

Tagged In: Health, Healthy UNH, mental wellness, Stress, UNH, UNH Event

Have a Sex-Ed Question?

Monday, April 23, 2012
By: Katrina Heisler

UNH Health Services does a great job spreading sexual health and awareness across campus. Starting March 20th until May 15th sexual health and information tables can be found in the MUB Food Court from 11:45-1:15 every Tuesday. This information table also provides free male and female condoms, personal lubricant and dental dams. This weekly informational table will be a helpful resource on campus and serve as a student reminder of the importance of safe sexual health. The informational table will provide you with the contacts and information you need for further guidance on sexual health such as STD/HIV testing, pregnancy and counseling. Don't forget, students can also visit Health Services website to learn about a variety of topics regarding sexuality such as relationships, communication skills, sexual pleasure, contraceptive choices and gender identity.  If you have more serious question regarding your sexual health feel free to call (603) 862-3823 or visit Health Online to make an appointment. Don’t miss out on these amazing opportunities to learn more about your health and ask the questions you’ve always wanted!  No need for feeling embarrassed or timid, all are encouraged to stop by the information tables and sessions, judgment free!  

Tagged In: Health Services, Healthy UNH, mental wellness, Physical Activity, UNH, UNH Program

National Nutrition Month

Wednesday, March 21, 2012
By: Katrina Heisler

March is National Nutrition Month, so for everyone who made a New Years resolution to eat better but maybe hasn’t always stayed on track, ahem, myself, this is a great time to focus on “getting your plate in shape” . The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics created this annual educational and informational campaign to stress the importance of making healthy food choices and developing lifelong eating and physical activity habits. A few tips on just how to get your plate in shape include making half of your plate have fruits or vegetables, making at least half your grains whole grains, switching to fat free or low-fat dairy products, varying your protein, and cutting back on sodium and sugar rich processed foods. 

I think the most important piece of advice is to slow down and enjoy your food. Eating smart doesn’t mean chocolate, chips or pizza are never allowed, but it certainly doesn’t mean it is okay to eat an entire box of Thin Mints in one sitting. You can see more about March’s healthy eating initiative on the website as well as healthy recipes, and books to help you on your way to becoming a National Nutrition Month all-star!

Tagged In: Health, Healthy UNH, Nutrition, UNH

Northeast Passage Making Strides at UNH

Friday, March 16, 2012
By: Katrina Heisler

For those of you who might not know, the UNH College of Health and Human Services is home to the nationally renowned and innovative non-profit organization called Northeast Passage, providing therapeutic recreation and adaptive sports for those with disabilities. Guiding principles of the organization include promoting client independence through education and problem solving, creating opportunities, and collaborating with others to create a strong network of accessible recreation. “Research has shown that regular participation in physical activity has a positive effect on the rehabilitation process, self-esteem, education, employment, and overall health” and Northeast Passage honors this through their Recreational Therapy program. This offers wellness education, fitness plans, functional skill development, community integration, resilience techniques, and resource and network development. There is a community/home based program that works with veterans on a one to one ratio to help them utilize the most of their community as well as a school based program that is designed to work with parents, students, administrators, therapists and teachers to provide an equal opportunity to disabled students. Northeast Passage also provides the option to rent equipment needed for activities such as cycling, golfing, power soccer, skating, skiing and snowshoeing, even if you just need a wheelchair, the options are endless and you have the freedom to take the equipment where ever you want. You can easily rent equipment online under their “equipment rentals” tab.  If you are interested in becoming a therapist and teacher for Northeast Passage, UNH conducts clinical research and practical classroom and living lab teaching. Any one is welcome to apply for a position, intern or volunteer and the doors of Northeast Passage are always open to visitors.

Northeast Passage is affiliated with the U.S. Paralympics and has recently gathered much attention at UNH after receiving Paralympics grants for disabled veteran activities. The program plans to use the $150,000 grant to launch the New England Veterans Paralympic Regional Development Program and $17,000 for its Paralympic Sport Club. “With the larger grant, Northeast Passage will help build a pipeline for veterans with disabilities to access community adapted sports and recreation programs”. Sounds like a great organization doesn’t it? If you would like to get involved with Northeast Passage at UNH, sign up to volunteer on their website. 

Tagged In: Health, Health Care Consumerism, Healthy UNH, mental wellness, Northeast Passage, UNH

Heel to Toe May be Hurting You

Monday, March 12, 2012
By: Katrina Heisler

While running, we repetitively hit our feet against the pavement, one in front of the other. Lots of times, our brain runs as well, thinking about your current to do list, a conversation earlier in the day, how you’re breathing, what music is playing, but do you ever stop to think about just how your moving your feet? It is almost like breathing, you don’t think about each breath in and out, it just happens, but a recent study from Harvard University is saying we should be making a conscious effort to think about how our foot hits the ground. The New York Times article “Does Foot Form Explain Running Injuries?” discusses the way you run, either heel to toe or forefoot first, can be causing you unintentional injury.  While most of us strike the ground with our heel first, we don't always maintains the same stride. Many factors affect how we run such as speed, terrain and whether you’re tired or not. So while researchers were studying the relation between stride and injuries amongst the Harvard University cross country team they found a larger distribution of injuries among predominant heel strikers.

Does this mean all heel strikers should change their form? First, have you been prone to getting injured in the past? If not, you probably do not need to change your form, however if you have experienced multiple injuries you should consider it. You will need to proceed with this change slowly however or you may hurt yourself even more. “The body’s tissues adapt to the forces generated by long-term heel striking. Change your form and the forces will affect different parts of the leg, leading to soreness and, potentially injury” says Mr. Douad, one of the researchers of the study. He suggests focusing on landing forefoot during the last five minutes of your run and gradually increasing that time; as you become more comfortable and you do not notice any significant continuing soreness.  So next time you’re on the road or the treadmill, take a minute to think about how you are running and what works best for your feet and form. 

Tagged In: Fitness, Health, Healthy UNH, Physical Activity, UNH

Target for Being Bullied

Monday, February 27, 2012
By: Katrina Heisler

For those of you who have felt bullied, witnessed bullying, or are a bully yourself, what makes a target for such torment? It is frequently believed that bullying causes depression in those being persecuted, which many times it does, but does being depressed also make you a target for being bullied? A recent study discussed in Time Magazine, “The Relationship Between Bullying and Depression: Its Complicated” states that “children’s depressive symptoms in elementary school precede social victimization and isolation later on”. Children who displayed depressive symptoms such as low energy, passive behavior, and social withdrawal in the 4th grade were more likely to be victimized in the 5th and then socially isolated in the 6th grade.  Being visually marked as having a low social status and passive attitude attracts bullies’ attention because it is easily assumed they won’t fight back. The author believes this trend can be seen even through the teen and adolescent years. “As socializing becomes more important in the teen years, vulnerable kids who experience social difficulties like bullying and rejection may become more likely to develop depression, or if they were previously depressed, their social problems may exacerbate their symptoms”. Conclusively this should make us reevaluate society’s activism against bullying. Perhaps interventions should also make an effort to minimize the adverse influence of depressive symptoms as well as encouraging all to strive to be kinder to those who already feel weak and vulnerable. Through this we can aim to prevent bullying before it begins. If you feel you are being ostracized on campus, UNH has multiple outlets to help such as the “Courage to Care” campaign, SHARPP, and the Counseling Center

Tagged In: Health, Healthy UNH, Mental Health, mental wellness, UNH

“The specialist will see you now”

Thursday, February 2, 2012
By: Katrina Heisler

Have you noticed that your doctor has been referring you to a specialist more often then diagnosing and treating you in their office? Well, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine the likelihood that a doctor refers a patient to a specialist has doubled from 1999-2009. This means that the estimated number of visits that resulted in a referral jumped from 40.6 million to 105 million. The New York Times recently addressed this issue and attributed it to the rising cost of medical care in their article “Doctors Refer More Patients to Specialists”.  Researchers state “This evolution in care patterns may be playing a role in the rising trajectory of health care spending in the U.S., as referrals to specialists may lead to increased use of higher-cost services,”. This is especially true in cases where the referral requires expensive tests and labs that provide little benefit to the actual care of the patient. 

With medicine becoming more focused and detailed “medicine is becoming increasingly technologically sophisticated”.  Part of the problem related to this increase in referral rates is that most serious medical conditions cannot be discussed within the standard 15-minute doctor appointment. More research still needs to be done to analyze just how doctors make use of and when it is appropriate for a primary care doctor to make a referral. 

Tagged In: Health, Health Care Consumerism, Health Cost, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, UNH

Core No More?

Thursday, January 5, 2012
By: Katrina Heisler

Crunches, sit ups, planks; just some of the many abdominal exercises we do daily in an effort to achieve the coveted “six pack”. According to an article in the New York Times, researchers at Indiana State University are questioning if the crunches are really worth it. It was previously thought that a stronger core will improve your overall physical performance, but after conducting a fitness test, results showed no correlation “between robust core muscles and athleticism”. This finding was counteracted by another study conducted by the Dept. of Sports and Exercise Sciences at Barry University. Novice adult runners with weak core strength showed a decrease in their 5K running times after completing six weeks of core drills versus those who did not focus on their abdominal strength.

So what’s the verdict? Researchers aren’t saying to completely nix your ab workout, but potentially tone it down. Repeated bending of the spine during sit ups and crunches can lead to serious spinal issues and contributes to damage of the spinal discs. Brad Schoenfeld, a professor of exercise science at Lehman College in the Bronx, states that six to eight crunches a few times a week is enough, but what is most important is that you are performing them correctly. Schoenfeld recommends placing your hands, palm down beneath your lower back to lessen spinal pressure, and whatever you do, don’t flatten your back. Proceed by lifting your shoulders only slightly off the ground. So what is the trick to getting those super star six pack abs without crunches? Low-body fat, but that will take a little more than a few sit-ups to achieve. 

Tagged In: Fitness, Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Physical Activity, UNH

Energy for your Brain?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

Recently I have noticed a campus-wide discussion examining the pros and cons of the sale of energy drinks on campus, specifically Red Bull. Why is it that students are so passionate about having energy drinks on campus? What are effects to the human body from energy drinks?

So do energy drinks like Red Bull really have a positive effect on the brain or could students survive with out it? The ingredients in Red Bull include caffeine which stimulates mental functions such as alertness, concentration, and reaction speed, Taurine, is an amino acid and it effects the central nervous system and cardiovascular system. Also included is lucronolactone, a derivative of sugar, B-group vitamins important for energy metabolism and neurological functions, sucrose and glucose, types of sugar, and alpine spring water. The amount of caffeine and sugars in these energy drinks help keep you awake and alert so that you can log increasing hours in the library. However, these beneficiary effects on cognitive performance, mood, cognitive speed, accuracy and increased alertness can be accomplished by drinking roughly 200 mg of caffeine.

According the BioMed Nutrition Journal a 16-23 ounce can of Red Bull far exceeds the amount of caffeine necessary. With the majority of students consuming energy drinks to replace insufficient sleep (67%) or to increase energy (65%), perhaps it is sleep habits that should be more of a concern. Students should also be informed that too much consumption can lead to a “crash” including headaches, and heart palpitations. If too much caffeine is getting in the way of your sleep, check out UNH Health Services’s website. They have great tips and techniques to help you fall sleep.

Tagged In: Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Mental Health, mental wellness, Nutrition, UNH

Start Texting to Start Flexing

Friday, October 28, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

Trying to lose weight or find the motivation to get to the gym? There’s an app for that. Gone are the days of technology holding back the couch potatoes, technology has now made it easy enough to have a personal trainer in the palm of your hand. There are hundreds on weight loss apps on the market for your smart phone that can help you track how much you’re eating, how many calories you burned on your run, fitness tips, and even personalized workout plans. Who needs a trainer or even a gym when all you have to do it turn on your phone? Men’s Health Magazine compiled nine of the top fitness apps available to help you pick which ones are worth using for your weight loss program. 

Don’t stray too far from your phone, USA Today released an article that even text messaging could help with your weight loss!  Temple University recruited college students to test whether a Facebook tool sending reminders with diet and fitness advice could help them lose weight. The students in the Facebook-Plus group were sent text messages of encouragement and suggestions, as well as having the opportunity to receive feedback on their nutrition and exercise regimens. These students lost on average 5.3 pounds while the students who were not part of the group lost only a half pound.  Researchers at Temple “really wanted to mimic a face-to-face treatment with text messaging” which is what often makes sessions with nutritionist and trainers so successful for those struggling to lose weight. Perhaps this will become a popular weight loss tool in the future, but for now remember, your phone is your friend!

Tagged In: Fitness, Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Physical Activity, UNH

Fall into Fitness with Healthy UNH

Wednesday, September 28, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

As some of you hopefully know about already, Healthy UNH is running its third campus-wide Fall into Fitness Event for students, faculty and staff. For those of you who don’t know, you have only a few more days to sign up for this fitness competition.  To participate in this competition is easy; form a team of 1-5 people and register yourself or your team by September 29 on the Healthy UNH website. Between October 3 and October 30, teams will keep track of their fitness minutes weekly and enter them into the website. Teams will compete against one another for prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in multiple categories. There are plenty of chances for your team to win! So, if you are an active person on campus, get a few of your friends together and sign up your team today!

There are plenty of places on campus to keep you active during the competition. The Hamel Recreation Center is open seven days a week, as well as the indoor pool at the field house. Fitness classes are offered throughout the week if you enjoy exercising in groups.  Free Yoga is even offered for UNH students every Wednesday and Friday from noon-1:00 pm. Don’t just limit your physical activity to the hour or two you exercise a day, park your car in the further lot from your office or class, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or ride your bike to work, class, and the grocery store instead of driving. Good luck to all the teams as they Fall into Fitness this season!

Tagged In: Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Physical Activity, UNH, UNH Program

Why buy what you can drink for free?

Friday, September 23, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

Paying more than the price of a gallon of gas for a product that American’s could consume for free would be foolish, irrational, and uneconomical, right? Then why do we spend nearly $21 billion purchasing something that can be easily be acquired by flicking on your faucet? I’m talking about water. Author Charles Fishman writes in his book, The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water, that Americans are spending "more on Poland Spring, FIJI Water, Evian, Aquafina and Dasani than we spent buying iPhones, iPods and all the music and apps we loaded on them".  So what is the obsession with bottled water and is it really any better than the free stuff? Many would argue no, and by reverting to good, old tap water you may not only be saving yourself some money, but also may be saving your health. 

Eat This Not That revealed that bottled water companies could be keeping secrets about their products to maintain consumers. What many Americans may not understand is that tap water is mandated to pass state, federal, and local guidelines for cleanliness and quality, where bottled waters are not upheld by the same strict standards. While you may in fact be drinking bottled tap water, it also may not be as pure as what you would get from your own faucet. What a scary idea, paying to drink tap water and the fact that these plastic containers could also be infecting your water with toxic chemicals!

Drinking straight from the tap can not only benefit your health, your bank account and the environment. Purchasing plastic bottles leaves you with less money in your pocket while also costing the nation money, as well as using previous resources to fuel the pumping of the liquid. Still don’t trust what is coming from your faucet? There are numerous home filtrations systems such as Brita and Pure that are worthy investments for clean water.  Check out the National Resources Defense Council website for great information regarding water across the globe all the way to your hometown. You can also learn more about what UNH and the New England Water Treatment Technology Assistance Center is doing to keep our campus water safe, clean, and economically friendly! Also find the Hydration Station located nearest you on campus!

Tagged In: Health, Health Care Consumerism, Health Cost, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Nutrition, UNH

Once You Pop, You Just Can’t Seem To Stop

Tuesday, September 13, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

I’m not ashamed to say that this weekend I found myself standing in front of my pantry looking for something to satisfy my snack craving when I spotted it, the bags of Lays Potato Chips. The golden yellow bag looked so tempting and delicious I told myself, “I’ll just have one”. Lets all be honest… who can have just one chip? Next thing I know, the bag is sitting next to me on the couch and I’m elbow deep.  We’ve all done it. Face it, chips are addictive! In one ounce of Lays Potato chips, or in 15 chips, there are  160 calories! These clearly are a dangerous addiction. 

I was recently reading TIME Magazine, and their feature health article was coincidentally “5 Healthier Alternatives to the Potato Chip”. I was amazed to learn that more people share this salty addiction than I thought, with Americans spending more than $7 billion a year on chips! Author Anita Hamilton suggested five alternative ways to the snack, which you can purchase or even prepare yourself! Her suggestions included apple chips, taro chips which are made from a root vegetable, sweet potato chips, kale chips and plantain chips.

As much as I love the salty, crunchy potato chip, I know just one handful is a difficult feat. So instead of humming the mantra “just one chip” each time I feel a craving, I am excited about trying some of Anita’s healthier options and finding a new favorite! Read her article to get recipes on how to make all the snacks in your own kitchen, or her top brand choices to buy on your next grocery trip.  

Tagged In: Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Nutrition, UNH

Mandatory Nutrients Before You Think About Going Meatless

Friday, May 13, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

Whether you are contemplating cutting meat out of your diet to try and lose weight, be more friendly to animals, or because you just don’t enjoy a big, juicy, burger anymore, there are eight essential nutrients you are going to have to ensure are in your new meatless meal plan. Many times, when people decide to go all green and stop eating meat, they wind up depriving themselves of important nutrients. There are those who replace meat with hearty vegetables, beans, legumes and nuts, while others replace meat with potato chips and cakes. Either way, it is important to maintain a balanced diet to stay healthy.

According to Eating Well Magazine, calcium is one of the most important nutrients to maintain. If you are planning on taking your vegetarian goals to the extreme and cutting out dairy as well, vegetables like bok choy, broccoli, and kale are great sources of calcium. Iodine is essential for metabolizing food into energy, but since seafood is a primary source of the nutrient, vegetarians are often lacking. Sprinkle a little extra iodized salt onto your next meal to make up for it! Iron, probably one of the most prevalent nutrients found in meats, can be found in legumes, whole grains, and dried fruits. Vegetarians are advised to consume 1.8 times the amount of iron daily than non-vegetarians. Eating iron-filled foods with tea, coffee, and chocolate can help increase absorption. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain development and heart health and are abundant in fish. Eating foods like walnuts, flaxseed, and soy can increase amounts in your diet. Vegetarians should have no problem getting enough protein in their diet as it is in nearly every food, but for extra cell building power, foods like beans, whole grains, and nuts provide an extra serving. Veggie lovers will, however, have some trouble finding Vitamin B12 in any natural foods. Because this vitamin is only found in animal foods, vegetarians must look to processed foods that are fortified with it such as cereals and soy milks. Aside from just sitting in the sun all summer to soak up enough Vitamin D, try adding fortified cow’s milk and soy milk into your diet to increase bone health. To avoid getting sick this season, zinc is a vital nutrient to keep your immune system healthy. Bountiful in meats such as beef and pork, vegetarians should look for legumes, beans and soy products to make sure they are fighting off and illnesses this summer. Read more of the article titled Eight Key Nutrients Vegetarians Need for more information on the nutrients as well as delicious and nutritious vegetarian meals. Maybe after trying out some of these recipes you’ll find you enjoy your meals meatless. I’m not sure I could turn down steak tips and burgers at summer barbeques, but the vegetarian burger recipe might bring out my inner omnivore. 

Tagged In: Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Nutrition, UNH

Running or Reps - What is better for your body?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

We all have our personalized exercise plans when we lace up for a workout. There are the muscle men that spend their entire gym sessions lifting weights, while there are others who hit the roads for long runs. So who is more effective at working out? When discussing lifting weights versus cardio, is one really better than the other? Well, Women’s Health Magazine says that it depends! The battle of strength versus cardio is squashed as research and experts dish out advice on when to hit the track and when to pick up the pounds.

It takes a lot of hard work to achieve your ultimate body, and once you’ve reached your goal it can be even harder to stay there. Recently exchanged five pounds of fat for long lean muscle by logging miles around the track each day? Congrats! But the same old workout isn’t going to cut it if you want to maintain your physique.  While cardio does technically burn more calories than strength training, lifting weights is actually going to become your new favorite hobby in the weight loss world. Your metabolism spikes for an entire hour after your regular strength training workout, meaning you’re burning an additional 25% of the calories you already burned by just being you! The heavier the weight and the less rest you take results in even more calorie torching. So after adding strength training into your routine, you’ve started to build some muscle - here comes even more great news - according to PhD Wayne Westcott, for every three pounds of muscle you build, you burn an additional 120 calories a day. Amazing right? This is because muscle requires more energy to maintain.

The tables are turned however if you’re tying to trump stress levels. While little research has been conducted on the stress reducing effects of weight lifting, participating in just 15 minutes of cardio a day can cut fatigue in half, lower anxiety, and increase your serotonin levels. Ever heard of strength training or cardio to build confidence? How does that work? Well aside from the high confidence levels that arise from the sense of accomplishment among cardio fitness gurus such as swimmers, sprinters and cyclists, lifting weights may boost your confidence even more! Blood swells to your muscles after an intense lifting session which gives them a toned appearance and after weeks of training can significantly improve confidence levels. Read more of Women’s Health Magazine’s “Face Off” article to find out which wins the duel when it comes to trying increase your speed, enhance your endurance, or even avoid an irritating knee inflammation.

Tagged In: Fitness, Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Physical Activity, UNH

Boys Don’t Cry

Friday, April 29, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

Stereotypes on masculinity in today’s society have told men for decades to “suck it up” and “be a man.” And while young boys are teased for being “mama’s boys” a new study presented at the American Psychological Association meeting suggests that it may be good for your mental health. Through a study published in TIME Magazinetitled “Being a Mama’s Boy; good for your health?” Carlos Santos, a professor at Arizona State University's School of Social and Family Dynamics found that adolescent boys adopted more “hyper masculine stereotypes” such as ideas on toughness and lack of emotion. Those that had developed and maintained a closer relationship with their mothers did not feel the need to act as tough and were more open with their feelings. These students in turn had better rates of mental health. Research has shown that “close emotional connections and relationships can provide a sense of safety and emotional security that can reduce stress and foster good health” while a attempting to portray a masculine façade has shown men are less likely to seek medical attention when needed.

Now this does not just apply to all men out there who are trying to avoid acquiring a “sissy” stereotype. Women should be in tune with their emotions, too. In a world where a woman’s power and professionalism can be overlooked should any signs of weakness show (i.e. emotions), many women are fighting to act tough and stand with their male counterparts. Professor Niobe Way of NYU points out that as a society "we have come to view fundamentally human attributes such as empathy, emotional skills, and the desire for intimate relationships as being girlish or gay.” Certainly upholding to such standards omits all ability to enjoy one of the most human abilities we have - to feel. Sadness, anger, joy, releasing such expression sparks a number of hormones in the brain and releases stress on the mind, body and soul. So, in the spirit of Mother’s Day, go ahead, give your mom a big hug and kiss, laugh, and even cry! Let out your emotions because after all, you are only human.

Tagged In: Health, Katrina Heisler, mental wellness, Stereotypes, UNH

24-Hour Counseling for UNH

Friday, April 22, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

During Public Health Week at UNH, I had the liberty to attend a seminar run by Dr. David Cross, Director of the UNH Counseling Center. His presentation focused on identifying “at risk” students on campus and what can be done to help them. With nine licensed psychologists, three pre-doctoral interns, one post-doctoral fellow, and three administrative staff, the Counseling Center is located on the third floor of Smith Hall. The center offers multiple services ranging from individual and group counseling to stress debriefing, GLBT, alcohol and drug abuse, eating concerns bereavement, and suicide assessment and prevention.

Dr. Cross focused largely on suicide, how signs can be recognized and what steps you can take to prevent a suicide from occurring. With 5000 people ages 15-24 dying from suicide and two cases sadly occurring this year at UNH, the counseling center offers 24-hour emergency services. Signs to look for include a lack of joy in activities that previously were enjoyable, feeling hopeless, difficulty making decisions, feeling worthless, and depression. Check out the Counseling Center website for more information on services available and tune into what is going on this month. April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. SHARRP and the Counseling Center will be hosting activities to increase awareness and support. Counseling Center Hours are 8am-5pm Monday through Friday.

Tagged In: Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Mental Health, mental wellness, Stress Management, UNH

Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin

Friday, April 15, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

A recent article published by TIME Magazine has sparked controversy nationwide. Author John Cloud writes on the touchy subject of exercise and weight loss. Cloud proclaims that exercise won’t make you thin. There is always the conceived idea that if you want to lose weight all you need to do is exercise. But how many of you exercise relentlessly everyday, yet the scale never seems to budge, and your pants still seem to feel a little too tight? With more than 45 million Americans with gym memberships, it is interesting that obesity is still on the rise, and the average weight of both men and women has increased significantly. Cloud states “people who regularly exercise are at significantly lower risk for all manner of diseases — those of the heart in particular. They less often develop cancer, diabetes and many other illnesses. But the past few years of obesity research show that the role of exercise in weight loss has been wildly overstated.” While exercise does increase calorie burn, which is essential for weight loss, exercise also stimulates hunger. More often than not this leads to over-eating and over-indulgence. One is more likely to overestimate the number of calories burned in a workout, which then leads to over eating. Exercise has also been shown to increase cravings for sugary foods.

So what do you think? Stop exercising with the hopes of seeing weight loss? While that result is even more unlikely, read Cloud’s entire article for a more in-depth discussion. His article examines the exercise to lose weight obsession and looks at multiple weight loss studies. I feel exercise has far too many health benefits aside from just maintaining or reaching a healthy weight, but read on and decide for yourself. Will you turn from the treadmill to the couch or choose to lace up?

Tagged In: Fitness, Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Physical Activity, UNH

The Not-So-Sweet Facts on Artificial Sweetners

Monday, April 11, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

From the days the “S” word became a threat in the dieter’s world, and we’re talking sugar here, the search for the perfect substitute has been endless. There is practically a rainbow of artificial sweeteners on shelves throughout grocery shops nationwide. From the pink packets of Sweet’N Low, to yellow packets of Splenda, just what is behind these sweeteners? Are they safe? Is one better than the other? And are they truly effective for weight loss?

Regular, caloric sugar is composed of primarily sucrose or high fructose corn syrup. Artificial, calorie-free sweeteners use substitutes to replace the sugary taste in many of your favorite foods with aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, stevia, Ace-K, and neotame. Sounds a lot more complicated doesn’t it? Sweet’N Low, made of mostly saccharin, has only 1/8 calorie per teaspoon versus sugar's 15, but is nearly 300 times sweeter than the natural stuff. Aspartame, a popular ingredient in sweeteners, such as Equal, has 24 calories per teaspoon, and is 180 times sweeter than sugar. Derived from the amino acids L-aspartic acid and L-phenylalanine, aspartame has a slightly less chemical taste than saccharin, which is the result of a chemical reaction that produces methyl anthranilate. Finally, the most recognizable artificial sweetener, Splenda is probably the closest tasting to real sugar and is composed of sucralose, which is nearly 600 times sweeter! Yikes!

Aside from the noticeable taste difference in many diet foods that use artificial sweeteners many buyers have been hesitant due to increasing safety concerns. Through research and studies some of the artificial sweeteners have been linked to cancer. Nearly thirty years ago research conducted with laboratory rats resulted in the development  of cancer. Despite this scare there is little evidence that this sweetener actually causes harm to humans and remains a popular tabletop component. Aspartame, a popular sweetener in diet sodas, has also been linked to increased headaches and neurologic problems. The Women’s Health Magazine article Which is Better? Artificial Sweeteners or Sugar?  suggests avoiding foods with this sweetener if you are especially prone to headaches and migraines, as scientists believe that the phenylalanine in aspartame negatively affects neurotransmitters in the brain. The FDA has established a recommended daily maximum intake with out risking any adverse side effects. As a precaution, the FDA states that A 150-pound adult can ingest eight and a half packets of Sweet'N Low, 87 packets of Equal or NutraSweet, or 25 packets of Splenda daily.

Now, it may seem like you’re cutting out the calories of sugar so weight loss should be simple right? Wrong. Believe it or not, studies have been shown that dieters using artificial sweeteners may in fact gain weight. Using these faux sugars confuses our bodies and leads to increased cravings for the real thing because certain hormones that signal satiety may not be triggered as they would if you had eaten real sugar. While the negative effects of regular sugar will have a worse effect on your health (i.e. increasing blood sugar and risk for diabetes) than the risk of craving an extra piece of chocolate, the overall consensus is that any “sugars” have pros and cons. So if you are going to be more satisfied and happy eating a cookie for dessert than munching on the impersonator sweets, go ahead! After all, one cookie never hurt anybody!

Tagged In: Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Nutrition, UNH

Food for Thought

Monday, April 4, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

When stress levels get out of control, some of us reach for that tub of chocolate ice cream in the freezer or dive into the bag of chips in the cupboard. While the chocolate bliss may drown out the millions of things on your to-do list, and munching on chips may help to ease the anxiety you feel as you tackle a project, both ultimately leave you with the same level of stress you had before you started snacking. However, some foods are healthy, nutritious, and de-stressing! Delish composed a list of 9 Foods That Reduce Stress Levels so you know just what to reach for to get you on track.

First on the list is oranges. Their surplus of vitamin C helps to lower stress levels by reducing blood pressure and cortisol back to normal levels following high stress situations. Many people crave carbohydrates when feeling under pressure, so bake a sweet potato to curb cravings and ease stress. Magnesium deficiencies can lead to fatigue and cause painful, work-halting migraines so eating apricots for a snack or having a large spinach salad for lunch will help you focus. Turkey raises the “feel good” chemical serotonin in the brain, letting you feel relaxed. Other foods on the list include nuts - such as almonds, pistachios and walnuts - salmon, avocados, and green vegetables. Feeling stressed? No worries, you now know foods that will lower stress levels and improve your health and well being.

Tagged In: Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, mental wellness, Stress, UNH

Cook Your Way through National Nutrition Month

Monday, March 28, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

Let’s face it, living on your own as a college student doesn’t exactly include homemade meals hot out of the oven, and Ramen and frozen pizza ends up on the menu more often than not. But why shouldn’t we be eating as well as we might if mom had cooked us dinner at home? As adults it is about time to learn how to cook delicious and healthy meals because it is an important skill that is used through out the rest of our lives. Cooking can be easy and fun, but if you’re especially scared of the oven, signing up for a free cooking class might be a good idea. While you might not have the money, time, or utensils needed to cook an elaborate dinner, you can cook a healthy, quick and inexpensive meal! Don’t give up and tie on your apron, UNH Health Services and Dining Services is here to help!

Why not practice what is preached from March’s National Nutrition Month by signing up for UNH Health Services “Good Eats Healthy Cooking Class”. This is a free four week cooking class that meets every Wednesday beginning March 23 to April 13 from 6:00pm-8:00pm. This hands-on class held in Stillings Dining Hall is a great way to learn new cooking skills, practice what you already know, and eat a healthy, nutritious meal. You can register here at the UNH Health Services website.

Tagged In: Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Nutrition, UNH

National Nutrition Month

Monday, March 21, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

March is National Nutrition Month so I figured this week’s nutrition blog would be a great way to honor it by sharing a little about campaign. The American Diet Association (ADA) sponsored this year’s educational operation in efforts to increase informed, healthy decision-making when it comes to food choices.  The theme this year is “Eat Right with Color.” What exactly does that mean? Well, you should aim to eat something healthy from each of the different colors each day. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple - there is an abundance of healthy and colorful power foods that you can eat everyday to make your meal nutritious. Most of these colorful foods include fresh fruits and vegetables to you avoid eating processed items that add unnecessary fat and sodium into your diet.

Going through the rainbow you can get nearly all your vitamins and minerals from each of the colors. Red fruits, such as strawberries, are a great source of antioxidants and fiber, while juicy tomatoes and red bell peppers have lycopene and vitamin C respectively. Orange carrots provide vitamin A, essential for maintaining healthy teeth, bones, and eyes, and sweet potatoes are a healthy alternative to a starchy white potato. Bananas provide potassium which can help keep your muscles from cramping before or after a tough workout. Green is probably the most abundant color you can put on your plate. When dealing with salads, the darker the green, the more nutritious. Spinach has more vitamin K, calcium and iron than iceberg lettuce. Blueberries are stocked with fiber and antioxidants and taste great over yogurt mixed with other ripe fruits. Purple grapes are a fiber filled snack, while using eggplant is a healthy and hearty substitute for meat in many vegetarian recipes.

There are many more foods that fall into each color category but the goal is to try and get as many colors into your meal as possible. This ensures not only a fresh, delicious meal, but also a healthy one. You can learn more about National Nutrition Month and get great tips including recipes every day! Look at Women’s Health Magazine’s article titled 23 Ways to Eat Better for a list of the healthiest, colorful fruits and veggies along with then their peak buying season is to ensure you are getting the most nutrition for your buck! Tips also include how to store and cook food items so before you know it you will be an artist painting with the colors of the produce isle! Happy cooking and happy National Nutrition Month!

Tagged In: Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Nutrition, UNH

Skip the Stretching

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

From the days of gym class in elementary school, we have all been taught that it is beneficial to stretch before any physical activity. But touching our toes and counting to ten before hopping on a treadmill may in fact hurt more than help. After reading The New York Times article titled Stretching:  The Truth, I learned that this form of static stretching actually weakens your muscle. According to a study done by the University of Nevada, “athletes generated less force from their leg muscles after static stretching than they did after not stretching at all.” Other studies have gone on to prove that muscle strength can decrease by as much as 30% as well as weaken the opposite leg. Straining the muscle in a static stretch causes the muscle to become less responsive and weakens it for up to 30 minutes.

Just realized you’re pre-workout routine has been wrong all along? Professionals say that the overall goal of stretching is to literally warm up the body. This loosens the muscles and tendons and increases their range of motion by increasing the blood flow they receive. The best way to do this is by light aerobic exercise - jogging at a pace of about 40% of your natural heart rate and increasing to about 60%. This 10 minute warm-up should be followed by a 5 minute “recovery.” 15 minutes total and you’re ready to start your workout. Dynamic stretching, as this warm-up is referred to, “increases power, flexibility, and range of motion.”  Planning on going for a long run? Add lunges and squats into your warm up to activate all necessary joints and connective tissues. Preparing for an intramural game of basketball? Your warm-up should include more parts of the body since that activity requires use of more limbs. Read the article to see exactly what stretches are the best to maximize your workout ability and minimize the risk of injury. Until then, avoid touching those toes!

Tagged In: Fitness, Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, physical fitness, UNH

Wrinkles or Weight Loss?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

We all know that if we want to effectively lose weight, exercise is a must. But there are some instances in which your workout routine may not give you the results you want. We’re talking wrinkles! Yes the perfect body would be well, perfect…but are we sacrificing our youthful stature for the sake of a flat stomach? In the Women’s Health Magazine article titled Your Fanny or Your Face?  we are forced to face the facts, as we get older we have to compromise between our figure and our features. As we age into our forties our face begins to lose the youthfulness it once endowed. Facial volume decreases which gives the eyes that sunken appeal, attributes to hollow cheeks and the skin begins to lose its elasticity revealing more wrinkles. What does exercise have to do with what appears to be the natural aging process? Well, when we spend hours at the gym, every meal counting calories, and constantly are trying to maintain a miniscule number on the scale, the fat in our faces is the first to go! Seems like a good thing, right? Wrong. We need the fat in our faces to give it the firm and plump look we all associate with being young. Collagen and elastin fibers that allow our skin to stretch and shrink back to normal weaken as we age, and losing too much fat from the faces results in sagging -  one word no one likes to hear.

So what are we to do? Sacrifice a bikini body if we want to look young? There is a way to be healthy and confident without having to worry about looking older than the number on the scale! The best tip dermatologist Dorris Day, M.D. from New York University Langone Medical Center can give is to maintain between 15-25 percent of your body fat. So, while you may want to do an extra 30 minutes of cardio at the gym after a tough workout class, it’s okay to take a break once and a while. Amp up on the squats and lunges to keep your fanny in place but take pride in the fat you carry on your face! In today’s media, being ultra thin has become the fad, whereas in history those who were more rotund were praised for their glowing beauty. There is such a thing as good fat, but I’m not sure we’ve all agreed there is such a thing as good wrinkles.

Tagged In: Fitness, Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Physical Activity, UNH

Relax with Reiki

Wednesday, February 23, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

We all have different techniques we use to relieve stress in our lives - working out, deep breathing, yoga…but I doubt many of you have heard of Reiki. This increasingly popular stress reduction technique is a Japanese practice that means “spiritually guided life force energy.” The idea behind the method is that there is an unseen energy that flows through our bodies. Low energy causes one to get sick or have a higher stress level where as a high energy allows one to live a happy, relaxed life. Reiki is a natural healing process that promotes peace and harmony within the mind and body.

A Reiki session is simple. A certified Reiki master performs this technique by playing their hands on certain energy points on your body - head, shoulders, hips, knees, feet…in an effort to extract the low energy from your body. This peaceful and relaxing session should leave you feeling calm and cleansed. By transforming the negative energy in your body into positive energy, your body’s internal harmony can flow freely. Reiki has been used to treat a variety of maladies and illnesses ranging from stress to a headache to cancer.

Anyone can be trained as a Reiki practitioner and as it is becoming more and more popular, sessions are being offered more. UNH Health Services offers a free Reiki session. I also recommend looking at the site for The International Center for Reiki Training for more information on Reiki, how it works, benefits, links and articles. The site also has a locator for Reiki practitioners in your area!

Tagged In: Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, mental wellness, Stress, UNH

Need Another Excuse to Eat Chocolate?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

I thought that since it is the month of chocolate’s most popular holiday, Valentine’s Day, it would be fitting to give you all some comfort and encouragement about just how delectible, rich, and even healthy  the candy can be! So before you’re kicking yourself over indulging in the luscious treat, relax, and pop another chocolate into your mouth or even use it to cook a delicious meal for you and a loved one!

I came across the article, Go Cocoa Loco, in the most recent issue of Women’s Health Magazine, where I read that chocolate can actually be good for you! Scientists have found that the cocoa bean, which is actually a fruit, has been found to have a variety of benefits. As some of you may or may not know, chocolate is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods on the planet and has more flavonols than berries and tea. Antioxidants and flavonols are important to your health because they rid the body of excess free radicals which have been linked to cancer, aging, and a number of other diseases. Along with diminishing radical levels, the article indicates that “studies have connected cocoa to lower blood pressure and decreased risk of heart attack and stroke” due to its ability to increase blood flow. The article also reports that the increased blood flow to your brain helps with memory and learning. The antioxidants in cocoa benefit your immune system and aid in the muscle recovery after a tough workout. Ever been seriously craving a chocolate fix after a tough day at work or before a stressful test? Grab a piece because studies have also shown that cocoa can improve your mood due to the serotonin raising stimulants theobromine, and phenylthyamine.

As long as you are eating chocolate with at least 50 percent cocoa you will have access to the bountiful benefits. The higher the cocoa percentage that chocolate has the more antioxidants it has. But, the bitterness of higher cocoa chocolates may not be for everyone. Experiment with pairing chocolate with a variety of foods ranging from fruit to cakes to chicken! Check out a few of the recipes included in the article, including chocolate fruit bark and poached chicken with chocolate mole! Ask for chocolate for Valentine’s Day and enjoy every last bite of it! 

Tagged In: Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Nutrition, UNH

Sprinting to Your Weight Loss Goal?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

In a perfect world, losing weight would be as easy as snapping your right, hit the gym a few days and you’ve reached your ideal weight loss goal. Unfortunately, it is not that easy and sometimes it seems no that matter how many cookies we pass up in favor of carrots, and how many hours we log at the gym, the scale won’t budge! Weight loss professionals are claiming there is a solution - high intensity interval training has been shown to help those who have reached a plateau and need an extra push to reach their goal.

How can periods of sprinting and rest really help you shed fat and lose weight more than a workout that consists of running the entire time? Incorporating high intensity intervals into your workout requires your body to increase fat oxidation to fuel your body. According to a study reviewed by, “eight healthy weight women who engaged in 10 four-minute bursts on a stationary bicycle followed by two-minute rest periods” had a 36% increase in fat oxidation.

The Men’s Health article titled “All About Intervals” explains effectively just how helpful interval training can be. Aside from the physiological reasoning behind high intensity intervals, incorporating sprints into your workout fuels your metabolism more than walking or running at a regular pace. This helps keep your body burning calories for hours after a workout. Your body will have more recovering to do after the frequent contraction of muscles and depletion of energy that you will be burning more fat post-workout. Aside from helping you shed pounds, intervals have been shown to decrease cholesterol levels, improve heart health, and increase your oxygen capacity.

Professionals agree that you should not rush into intervals but start slow if you are not as active in order to avoid injury. Intervals can be incorporated into a workout whether it is running, cycling, swimming, or something else. Start slow by walking for a few minutes to warm up. Next, pick up the pace to where you are struggling or would not be able to hold a conversation during your exercise - this might be a full sprint for the super fit or even a jog for those who are beginners. This period of high intensity should last 1-2 minutes and then slow back down to a walk for about two minutes until you have caught your breath. Repeat this sequence 5-10 times and hopefully you will see weight loss just as fast your sprints!

Tagged In: Fitness, Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Physical Activity, UNH

The Good, the Bad, and the Gluten-Free

Thursday, February 3, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

Carb-free, fat-free...we’ve heard of just about every “free” diet out there, but how about gluten- free? You may have recently seen the newest diet craze in the media with celebrities claiming weight loss galore, or perhaps you know someone who eats form the gluten-free section that UNH dining services provides. 

First, lets talk about what gluten is. Women’s Health Magazine’s article titled “Is Gluten Bad for Your Body?” defines gluten as a protein found in the grains of wheat, barley and rye that makes our favorite carbohydrates such as pizza dough, stretchy, and thickens our favorite soups and sauces. For those suffering from celiac’s disease, gluten is extremely damaging to the intestines causing cramps, diarrhea, nausea and bloating. While celiac’s disease is not largely diagnosed in the United States, nonceliac gluten sensitivity affects almost 20 million Americans. This condition consists of the same side effects but does not harm the intestines. Does your morning toast leave your tummy feeling a little upset and have you running to the bathroom by the time you get to work? Ask your doctor about going gluten-free to ease your digestive woes. As gluten-free products have become more available for those in need, they have also gained a reputation “as a cure-all for many conditions aside from celiac, including migraines, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome” (Alessio Fasano, M.D., medical director of the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research in Baltimore).

So where does gluten-free come into the weight loss scheme of things? Well, there is no scientific evidence that a gluten-free diet has hip slimming effects. Eating gluten-free simply limits the number of food choices available which ultimately means you are less likely to overeat. Fat and sugar are added to gluten-free products to replace the binding agent found in the protein. When comparing a regular serving of pretzels with 110 calories and 1 gram of fat, gluten free pretzels have 140 calories and shockingly 6 grams of fat!

So do you want to make the trade off? Well, if you do have celiac’s disease or nonceliac gluten sensitivity, switching to gluten-free will make your dining experience easier on your body, but it has a price. Shopping gluten-free can be a hassle and be expensive. You are also risking nutritional deficiencies of iron, B vitamins, and fiber that are found in whole grain products. Ultimately if you are looking to go gluten-free for weight loss purposes, focus on eating low calorie, high fiber foods, such as fruits and veggies along with lean protein to keep you satisfied. 

Tagged In: Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Nutrition, UNH

Breathe Your Way to Stress Relief

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

Breathing exercises have long been considered a sacred and respected tool utilized by many cultures to achieve mental and physical balance within the body. More recently, physicians, therapists and trainers alike have encouraged deep breathing to help ease tension, cleanse the body, boost energy, and relieve stress. Essentially you can “exercise” anywhere at any time to provide relief and relaxation. Breathing exercises last from 5-10 minutes and just require two tools; your body and your mind. Most exercises can be done while sitting, so they are ideal for a stressful day at your desk or a frustrating drive in rush hour. 

Deep breathing is all about clearing the mind and focusing on breath. Focusing on your breath eases tension and calms the mind. It also stretches the lungs and muscles that are often stiff. The majority of us take shallow and rapid breaths, which can result in weak, stiff muscles along with poor posture. Sit up straight when you are practicing and turn off all external stimuli (i.e. the TV, radio). Think about what you are nervous, anxious, and upset about.  As you exhale, imagine all stressors being expelled from your body. As you deeply breathe in, your lungs re-expand and a burst of oxygen rushes through your body and to your brain providing fresh energy.

Below is an example of an easy breathing exercise that takes five minutes, so I encourage you to try it out several times. UNH Health Services also has meditation and breathing exercise tools online and at Health Services. Who would’ve thought something so mindless, that we do unconsciously to survive, could have such a powerful impact on our well-being? It's amazing what happens when we just breathe.

Breathing Exercise:

  1. Sit up straight. Exhale.
  2. Inhale, and at the same time, relax the belly muscles. Feel as though the belly is filling with air.
  3. After filling the belly, keep inhaling. Fill up the middle of your chest. Feel your chest and rib cage expand.
  4. Hold the breath in for a moment, then begin to exhale as slowly as possible.
  5. As the air is slowly let out, relax your chest and rib cage. Begin to pull your belly in to force out the remaining breath.
  6. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing.
  7. Relax your face and mind.
  8. Let everything go.
  9. Practice about 5 minutes.
Tagged In: Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, mental wellness, Stress, UNH

From Minutes to Years, Exercise Helps

Tuesday, January 11, 2011
By: Katrina Heisler

We all know exercise is good for you, but did you know you can start reaping the benefits within just minutes? Fitness Magazine published an article pointing out the pros of exercising from the minute you start to years after. Immediately, your body is going to start changing as you exercise, but as you continue your regimen your benefits build up. Check out the article yourself to get some great tips or continue to read on for some of the not so obvious advantages.

From the time you press START, your lungs are getting stronger, you are burning fat and increasing your motivation. Your lungs have to work extra hard to get enough oxygen to the muscles being used in the rest of your body, thus strengthening them as well. Fat is being used as your body’s main source of energy, helping to reduce flab, and signals are sent to your brain releasing endorphins that up your motivation to go the extra mile. Within an hour, you have lowered stress hormones (such as cortisol), which can lead to a suppressed immune system if too high, and you have increased your metabolism. “For ever 100 calories you burn while exercising, you burn an extra 15 calories after” according to Fitness, and you keep burning up to 38 hours after!

The day after you hit the gym you are building lean muscle mass as muscles begin repairing the microscopic tears you caused during your workout. It might be a good idea to sneak in a sweat session before your next doctor’s appointment or UNH Healthy Returns because exercising also decreases your blood pressure, increasing your heart health. Exercising can lower your blood pressure for up to 16 hours as well as lower your LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels. Along with helping your muscles and heart, post exercise benefits your brain too! You are more focused and alert due to the increased oxygen flow to your brain so hit the books after the gym, “it’s a great time to memorize a speech or tackle a project”.

Within a week of regular exercise you’re still feeling the benefits. Exercise increases your insulin resistance, lowering your blood glucose levels and decreasing your chances of getting Type 2 Diabetes. You can also drop one pound a week! 3,500 calories equals a pound, so burning an extra 500 a day, or even 250, if you cut another 250 from your diet can help you lower the number on the scale. In a few more weeks your body will show even more improvements as you get stronger and stronger. Start off lifting five pounds and find them getting less and less heavy? You’re building endurance and strength with each workout so increase the weight when you think it is getting too easy. You should be fatigued after 12-15 repetitions. If that’s too easy you can probably add a couple of pounds. As you are gaining muscle you are losing fat, especially abdominal flab, which has been linked to increased health consequences. Not only are your muscles getting stronger, so is your brain. Exercise has also been believed to activate “growth-stimulating proteins in the brain that may help form new cells." In the long run, exercise can increase your endurance, make you more efficient at fighting fat, reduce your risk for cancer, add years to your life, and improve how you feel. Just four months of exercise can improve mood and work just as well as some anti-depressant medications can. It can also decrease the need for blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering medications. Working out strengthens the telomeres on your DNA, slowing the overall aging process.

Still need a reason to exercise?! With all these amazing benefits, working out should become a priority in everyone’s lives. If it’s not a priority for you, make it one!

Tagged In: Fitness, Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Physical Activity, UNH

Setting Down the Drink to Save

Friday, December 10, 2010
By: Katrina Heisler

According to a study published by The Journal of the American Medical Association, the cost of drinking goes far beyond your bar tab or the price of a 12 pack each week. In 1999, the U.S. consumer expenditure was $116.2 billion. Underage drinkers contributed to $22.5 billion and consumers over 21 years of age were responsible for the remaining $34.4 billion. Being on a college campus, alcohol consumption is obviously going to be a popular trend for both of age and underaged students. Without a doubt our local stores and bars thrive off the college community, with a fair share of business from visiting parents and alumni as well. Besides the surplus of money that students, faculty, parents, and community members would save if they didn’t spend the weekly amount of cash at a convenience store or the grocery store buying alcohol, I was curious, just how much could you be saving yourself in medical expenses?

We know that drinking excessively, greater than two drinks a day for men and one drink for women, can lead to a number of health problems in the future including liver disease, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, increased incidences of violence and destructive decisions that may place you in danger. College is a point in one’s life in which many will participate in “excessive drinking” and may pick up drinking problems that follow them through the rest of their lives. So, are those who are partying and binging setting themselves up to spend more in future than those who casually drink during a Sunday afternoon football game or those who choose to abstain? Well, The Marin Institute reports that non drinkers and moderate drinkers have lower health care costs than those who have a history of excessive drinking. “Annual health care expenditures for alcohol-related problems amount to $22.5 billion. The total cost of alcohol problems is $175.9 billion a year” and the amount of health costs spent on alcohol related accidents for underage drinkers is $3.7 million. Approximately 25%-40% of patients being treated in U.S. hospitals are currently being treated for alcohol related problems.

So, its easy to conclude that those who are drinking more often are not only spending more money on alcohol as they fork over cash at the bar or the liquor store, but also are setting themselves up to potentially be spending more money on health-related issues in the future. The future may be closer than you would think, as a large number of alcohol related costs are due to medical expenses form car crashes, violent episodes or suicide attempts. The best way to avoid having to spend more time in the hospital and more money on health costs, drink in moderation and drink safely! Cheers!

Tagged In: Health, Health Care Consumerism, Health Cost, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, UNH

Sip to Relieve Stress

Wednesday, December 1, 2010
By: Katrina Heisler

Let me start by saying I am a huge tea drinker; I’m talking five or six cups a day. For all the coffee addicts out there whose java is more “their cup of tea”, I can sympathize with you, the day just isn’t the same without it! I love the taste, the smell, the feeling of tea as it warms up my whole body and I just feel relaxed. This sparked in my mind and made me wonder, does tea have any stress relieving affects? Turns out a study was conducted by the University College of London to test the claim and was published in the medical journal Psychopharmacology in October 2009. The study followed 75 men “who were considered regular tea drinkers” and split them into experimental and control groups. In the six week study the men were placed under stressful tests and situations, such as dealing with the threat of losing their jobs, while scientists “monitored changes in their cortisol, blood pressure, blood platelets, and self-rated levels of stress”. The experimental group was given black tea while the control group was given a placebo drink that appeared, tasted and smelt like tea but did not have active black tea ingredients.

What were the results? All participants expressed an increase in heart rate blood pressure, and perceived stress levels but their were differences in their cortisol levels. “Nearly an hour after performing the task, men belonging to the group drinking authentic black tea had levels of cortisol that were 20% lower than their counterparts in the placebo group”. Cortisol is a stress related hormone that is released by the body during stressful situations. It usually drops back to normal once the body has returned to a calm state, but constant increased levels of cortisol can cause harm to the body potentially. Studies have shown high cortisol levels lead to a suppressed immune system which may be why you are more susceptible to catching a cold when under dire stress. The regular tea drinkers reported lower stress levels during the recovery period and had lower levels of platelet activation which decreases their risks for blood clotting and heart attacks.

While this study alone is not enough to conclude that drinking tea can relieve stress, I don’t think it would hurt to add a cup to your day if you’re feeling stressed. Aside from possibly lowering your stress levels tea does have a number of other added benefits. Depending on the type of tea, the drink can help you fall asleep, increase metabolism, and provide you with healthy antioxidants. Keep sipping tea drinkers!

Tagged In: Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, mental wellness, Stress Management, UNH

What Would Our Ancestors Do? Run Barefoot!

Friday, November 19, 2010
By: Katrina Heisler

Everyone has their own gym attire, but most of the time you see the same work out gear; shorts, a t-shirt and sneakers, but while at the gym recently I noticed something a little more unusual. Instead of sneakers, a girl was wearing shoes that were so unlike sneakers they looked like toe socks. The thin fabric covering her feat outlined each toe and was being held on her foot by a Velcro strap. Is she really going to run in those? I thought to myself. Having learned and studied how to buy the right shoe for your activity and foot type, all I could imagine was how there was no cushion, no support, no stability! I decided to look into this new style shoe and discovered that its purpose is to mimic that of running barefoot.

Sure enough, I found a slew of new articles proclaiming running barefoot was the new trend and came along with multiple benefits. How could running barefoot really be better for you? Wouldn’t you be putting yourself at risk for straining your arch, over-pronating, and cutting you feet to name a few of the dangers? While reading an article written by one of my favorite running magazines Runner’s World titled “Should You Be Running Barefoot” I discovered that the weight of running shoes results in your running speed and time 5% less efficient than it would be if you were running barefoot. Now, this seems irrelevant to those of us gym-goers who are merely trying to stay in shape, not training for a world record but I did learn an interesting concept on how running barefoot affects the brain. When running barefoot “your body precisely engages your vision, your brain, the soles of your feet, and all the muscles, bones, tendons, and supporting structures of your feet and legs. They leap to red alert, and give you a high degree of protection from the varied pressures and forces of running.” Who would have thought that by lacing up each day before a run you are actually tricking your brain into thinking you are protecting yourself when in reality you are doing very little to minimize shock absorption and control stability. 

It is amazing that all we need is to put a little more trust in the ability of our bodies. It makes perfect sense, our ancestors had no sneakers when they were Neanderthals hunting for food, so why should it be any different for us. Trusting our bodies, our minds and muscles will move as one, protecting ourselves, making us stronger and more alert. NPR also posted a great article with a video that shows how different we run when we learn to exercise with shoes on versus without shoes. The shockwave of the person without shoes is significantly different that the way the person wearing sneakers has learned to run. 

Now, are you thinking about trying out running barefoot? I am, and imagine it would be remarkably different and free feeling so I decided to look for where the girl at the gym found her funky, barely-there shoes. I found one site called Vibram FiveFingers that sells a number of these shoes for different forms of physical activity ranging from running to yoga to trail hiking. Shoes will cost about as much as a regular pair of kicks depending on what style you choose but take a look…maybe this new trend of the past is the way of the future!

Tagged In: Fitness, Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Physical Activity, UNH

Grocery Shop to Save Money and Calories

Monday, November 8, 2010
By: Katrina Heisler

We all know that feeling when we open up the fridge at the end of the week and stand with the door open, staring aimlessly into the vast, empty appliance we depend on to supply us with food. Yes, it is that time of the week again; time to go grocery shopping. Most of us dread stepping foot into the crowded grocery store that may seem more like a maze as you squeeze down isles looking for the slew of items you want to add to your jumbled cart. Upon arriving in line to ring out, you search for the emptiest line but somehow still have to wait longer than you wanted, and as the cashier rings up your items you start doing math in you heard, frightened at how much you might be spending. The whole thing is enough to make many people steer clear of any grocery store and head towards the closest fast food place for a quick drive thru meal. Grocery shopping however doesn’t have to be a hassle, you can save money and improve your health by picking out the foods you eat and preparing nutritious and low cost meals.

 While watching the Today Show I saw a segment about how to shop economically and nutritiously and learned some great tips. First off, don’t go grocery shopping without making a list first. Sit down and plan out your meals for the next week or two, flip through the sale pages at what the best deals are and mark down what items you need and how much. This will help prevent any impulse buying that may lead to unnecessary purchases. Planning your meals also allows you to take advantage of eating healthy. Instead of buying a sub and fries at the local sub shop, take 20-30 minutes to cook up a nutritious and delicious meal that can even be eaten the rest of the week as leftovers. Another tip is to buy the store brands, they often are just as nutritious and cost much less. Shop around the outside of the store for the healthiest finds such as fresh produce, lean meats, and low fat dairy. Avoid the inside isles where you find the majority of processed foods. Surprisingly to me, I found out that the majority of people spend their money buying beverages. Ditch the soda, juices and endless water bottles and invest in a Brita and drink tap water. Don’t spend money buying expensive fruits and vegetables that are out of season, frozen is often cheaper and has just as much nutritional value. Finally, while buying individual servings and precut foods may be easier, it is a lot more expensive. Take the few extra minutes to slice up your veggies and sort snacks into individual sandwich bags without watching your wallet shrink.

Hopefully these tips can help ease your fear of grocery shopping and perhaps you may even begin to love it once you see how much money and how many calories you can save by ditching the drive thru and strolling the isles. Foods like rice, pasta, chicken breast and ground meat that can be frozen are all great staple foods that can last you a while and be used for many different meals. Check out Eating Well’s Magazine article about Healthy-Budget Friendly Recipes that are under $3 per serving for some extra ideas! Good luck!

Tagged In: Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Nutrition, UNH

Are Tests Always Needed?

Friday, October 29, 2010
By: Katrina Heisler

A review of the UNH Dialogue Series, Too Much Information: “Do I Really Need to Have That Test? Understanding risk and making medical decisions in the age of TMI” By Dr. Gene Harkless

 In the recent UNH Dialogue “TMI” discussion on “decision making in the age of information overload”, one of my own professors Dr. Gene Harkless took an in depth look at the medical perspective of “too much information”. Dr. Harkless asks “is treatment always needed” as she looked at a study revolving around PAP smears and young women. It has always been recommended for young women 21 and older to have an annual pap smear in order to screen for and possible prevent cervical cancer. Studies show however that of 2-3 million Pap tests interpreted as abnormal, less that 15% progress to invasive cervical cancer. Now, it is proposed that women under 21 not be screened and after 21 a screening should be done almost every three years. “This less aggressive approach prevents unnecessary interventions for mild abnormalities that will revert back to normal on their own while preserving the important benefits of cancer screening”. Under this new guideline you may be saving more than you realize. Besides the fact you no longer have to pay for a Pap smear every year, if abnormal cells were found, physicians may begin costly interventions, while the majority of abnormal findings either revert back to normal on their own or are false findings. Less than 25% of clinicians are following this new recommendation so speak to yours about what is best for you and your health. Depending on your age, sexual activity, whether you have the HPV vaccine and other factors, you may need to be screened more than others but its worth asking for the sake of your wallet.

You can read the whole essay by. Dr. Gene Harkless and other essays on the topic of TMI  at the UNH Dialogue site.

Tagged In: Health, Health Care Consumerism, Health Cost, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, UNH

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010
By: Katrina Heisler

A NPR interview done with UCLA professor Rita Effros, discussed the effect stress plays on the immune system and how a hormone can be too much of  a good thing. Effros states “it all starts with Cortisol, a hormone we produce when we’re stressed”. Cortisol is released during periods of acute stress, slowing down your parasympathetic nervous system(PNS) – “rest and digest” – and sends blood to the parts of the body that need it most.  The example given is if you were running from a lion, Cortisol would be released under this intense stress, blood would be shunted from systems controlled by the PNS, such as the digestive system, to your muscles. To escape a hungry lion your body isn’t concerned with digestion, it wants your muscles work harder, moving you faster. Cortisol is usually only released to relieve short term stress, but when it is in the blood for a long period of time the systems of the body that were slowed down stay that way. Sounds great right? Wrong. Too much Cortisol isn’t helpful, its harmful!

How does this eventually lead to increasing your susceptibility of catching a cold? Well, the immune system is also slowed down when Cortisol is released, that means the longer the hormone remains in your system the longer you are exposing yourself to harmful pathogens. Read the rest of the interview to learn some interesting science behind the immune dwindling effects of Cortisol.

Hormones aren’t the only thing to blame for a weakened immune system though. When stressed, we tend to pay less attention to our bodies; we are getting less sleep, eating poorly, and sometimes ignore the symptoms that we may be getting sick. Take care of yourself! I know it is hard when there are a million things running through your mind, but that paper is not most important, your health and wellbeing is! Take breaks when studying, make sure you’re staying hydrated and fueled, put down the pen and let yourself go to bed an hour or two earlier. You’re body will appreciate it and prevent you from an even bigger set-back, catching a cold later on!

Tagged In: Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, mental wellness, Stress, UNH

To Exercise, or Not to Exercise? That is The Question.

Friday, October 8, 2010
By: Katrina Heisler

For as long as I can remember I have always heard, “to lose weight- diet and exercise”, but a recent article written in TIME Magazine reports on some contraindicating news. Some of you may have heard the recent buzz surrounding exercise and weight loss, where researchers and weight loss gurus are claiming there is not always a positive correlation. Yes, exercise may not be helping you lose weight, it may in fact be causing you to gain weight!

We know that to lose weight you have to burn more calories than you consume, so obviously exercise would seem like the easiest way to go about achieving weight loss but there is some evidence going against that. The peer reviewed journal PLoS ONE (non-profit Public Library of Science) conducted a study in which four groups of overweight women were asked to workout, and one group to continue with their normal physical activity routine. While all women lost weight, those who exercised the most did not lose any more weight than those who exercised on a lower scale or not at all. When you exercise you are burning a greater number of calories but that in turn makes you more hungry and more likely to eat more later to compensate. Many people without proper education may think they are burning more than they actually are and let themselves splurge later by eating extra. This over times adds up.

I am in no way trying to down play the importance of physical activity. It plays a major role in health and wellness and is an important factor in living a healthy life. Losing 5 pounds of fat and replacing it with 5 pounds of muscle is a great accomplishment, not to mention muscle burns almost twice as many calories as fat! So keep up the good work and don’t stray from the treadmill in fear of gaining a few pounds, just be mindful of how many calories you are burning and what you are putting into your mouth when you are exercising.

Tagged In: Fitness, Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Physical Activity, UNH

Pass the Sea Salt, Please?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010
By: Katrina Heisler

TIME Magazine wrote an article in which they announced 9 out of 10 Americans are eating too much salt. That’s 90 percent! While current guidelines recommend the average serving to be 2,300 mg, just a teaspoon, per day, the CDC conducted a study where they found only 19% were actually meeting the standard. The amount of sodium drops even more to 1,500 mg for those who are at risk for heart disease. Why so much salt? Well, you may be surprised to hear that 80% of our salt intake comes not from the table top shaker but is already in our processed foods. Many companies are already pledging to their salt content like Sara Lee, Kraft and General Mills. The FDA is also planning on working with food companies to gradually lower the sodium levels of our diet.

What is UNH doing about all the salt? In case you hadn’t noticed, last year they replaced the table salt shakers with fewer, big, black sea salt grinders. While this may have been an inconvenience to those who were always reaching for the table salt, UNH Dining was actually doing you a favor. Most of our food is already seasoned with enough salt as is, but the purpose of sea salt was that you will need less. Because it is less processed, it is more flavorful, thus you can achieve the same salty taste with less sodium! Thanks UNH!

Tagged In: Health, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Nutrition

The Cost of Being Overweight

Tuesday, September 21, 2010
By: Katrina Heisler

Reported by CNN in February, 2010, the first lady, Michelle Obama spoke about the increasing costs the United States spends on treating obesity related issues and the economic effect. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study in 2009 stating “obese patients spent an average of $1,429 more for their medical care than did people within a normal weight range.” This figure had me thinking, being overweight is not only costly to our health, but costly to our wallets as well. With a nearly 42% higher health bill, obese and overweight people are hurting themselves financially. Obesity is often co-morbid, or co-occurring, with many other health issues, such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, and diabetes. It is not surprising that “America spends as much as $147 billion annually on the direct and indirect costs of obesity.” By lowering weight to a healthy level, patients can reduce other risks for diseases. Fewer diseases can mean spending less cash at doctor visits, possible surgeries, and costly medications. Embarking on a weight loss program by embracing better eating habits and increasing exercise could lead to lower health insurance bills, fewer trips to the doctors, and ultimately a happier, healthier life!

For more information about this article, please visit CNN.

Tagged In: Health, Health Care Consumerism, Health Cost, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, Obesity, UNH

A Stressful End to Summer?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010
By: Katrina Heisler

I’m sure I’m not the only one who is reluctantly bidding farewell to summer, but why does it always seem that as summer nears its end, the endless “to do” list begins to grow and what should have been a care-free, relaxing end starts slipping away. A stressful end to summer, that doesn’t sound right. Summer should be about spending time on the beach, catching up with friends, and eat ice cream on a hot afternoon, not running around getting your back-to-school essentials. Feeling under enough stress already with classes and work beginning, we could all use a little help trying to unwind.

Living a stress-free life, as if anyone even knows what that feels like, is all part of living a life of health and well-being. So, in an effort to make it through the fall season pleasantly unstressed, here are some tips the American Institute of Stress (AIS) offers to help you reach relaxation. AIS states that “the key to reducing stress is to prevent it”. This means, eating right, getting at least 8 hours of sleep, and exercising regularly. I feel organization is the key to avoiding stress. If you are able to complete your work effectively, this leaves time for fun and time to unwind. There are plenty of resources here at UNH that can help you to get organized with your work, offer help with studying, revise your resume if you are looking for jobs, a nutritionist to help you refocus poor eating habits and even personal trainers to help you boost endorphins and help you get back in shape. Combining these aspects of health and well being will make a happier you and make the end of summer and start of school not stressful, but stress-free!


Tagged In: Healthy, Healthy UNH, Katrina Heisler, mental wellness, Stress, UNH