Friday, April 29, 2011
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.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
With a busy lifestyle, who really has time to take a whole day at the spa - even though you wish you could? And who can afford to spend a small fortune on a spa trip? UNH Health Services can help! They offer a wonderful alternative to a spa day by offering 50 minute massages. Both traditional and hot stone massages are available by licensed massage therapists at Health Services right here on campus. Massages are available to ALL UNH Students, faculty, and staff members. The best part about the program? It’s extremely affordable. A traditional massage costs only $35 for students and $45 for faculty and staff members. That is only a fraction of the cost charged somewhere else and although $35 may seem costly for a college student, you can assure that your time and money will be well spent!
The massages are specific to you, benefiting areas of your body that may need the most attention. Potential benefits of a massage include muscle tension and stress relief, increased blood circulation, alleviation of pain, and an increased overall well being. As a busy college student, my roommate spends quite a bit of time hunched over her Spanish books and computer in the library. She recently got a traditional massage and couldn’t have felt better! The therapist worked directly on specific parts of her body where she holds her tension and stress. It gave her body total rejuvenation…as finals and end of the year course loads begin to pile up…this could be you!
Appointments can be made online or through calling health services at 603-862-3823.
Monday, April 25, 2011
I’ve recently reached a plateau in my workouts where I work out just as hard as I used to, but am no longer seeing the results. After getting quite discouraged and searching online for what to do, I discovered the best thing to do is to switch up my routine. To do so I’ve begun high intensity interval training, otherwise known as HIIT. Not only am I getting a workout of a lifetime, it’s making me more energized everyday and I’m actually beginning to see some results. So far it’s a win-win situation.
So what is HIIT you ask? HIIT is similar to interval training only it’s done at a higher level or faster pace and it involves a rest period between high intensity bouts. To perform high intensity interval training correctly, you begin with a 5-minute warm-up followed by intervals of high and low intensity activity. For my workout, I use minute-long intervals where I run/pedal as fast as I possibly can for one minute and run/pedal slowly for the next minute, and repeat. High intensity interval training usually doesn’t last very long – usually only 15-20 minutes in addition to the 5-minute warm-up and cool-down.
So why is HIIT great? The options are nearly endless when you’re considering HIIT. You can do HIIT on a stationary bike, a treadmill, the Stair Master, with weights, or my personal favorite, the arc trainer. Trainers believe HIIT is the best workout method for burning fat and retaining muscle, which is a great flaw of lengthy running routines. HIIT is also preferred by people who are on the go because you’re burning a large amount of calories in a short period of time. Including the warm-up and cool-down, the majority of HIIT routines do not exceed 30 minutes, which is great for people who don’t have a lot of time to workout.
What is important to remember about HIIT training is to do it only 3-4 days a week to give your body time to repair between workouts. Also important is to consider your current fitness level prior to beginning high intensity interval training. If you’re not in the best of shape, don’t start out full-tilt because you could end up injuring yourself. If you’re a beginner do a jog-walk routine and work your way up to a sprint-walk or even sprint-jog routine. Every 4-6 weeks try to mix up your routine to keep your body guessing and working hard. You never know, THIS could be your fat loss answer.
For more information on high intensity interval training, please click here.
Friday, April 22, 2011
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.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
New research on the favorite morning beverage demonstrated that 100% orange juice can have many more benefits than you may have thought. A recent study completed by the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) demonstrated that 100% orange juice can be linked to important roles in your diet. The study concluded that adults and children who consume orange juice:have a better overall diet quality and higher intake of key nutrients and show lower body mass index (BMI) measures.
Co-authors of the study stated that the survey showed clear results that better diets were linked to orange juice consumption. Additionally, there was a higher intake of important nutrients including Vitamin C, Folate, Magnesium, and Potassium. I found this point to be especially interesting and important because these are some vitamins that can be generally under-consumed, but provide a great deal of benefits. While several benefits of Vitamin C include improved absorption of iron and serving as an antioxidant, Potassium is an important vitamin for balancing electrolytes, maintaining body fluids, and as part of the bodies energy process. On the second half of the study, the linkage to lower BMI measurements is especially important with the increasing rates of overweight and obesity. In conjunction with the Dietary Guidelines for American 2010, typically people tend to believe that fruit juice is not associated with body weight, but these results craft perspective.
The data from this study was collected from 2003-2006, but most recently discussed at an Experimental Biology Conference this April. In addition to the two main benefits, several other benefits of drinking one hundred percent orange juice were justified at the event including reduced risk of certain cancers, less sugar consumption in children compared to those who drink soft drinks and flavored milk, and increased cardiovascular benefits (with no negative impact on weight) in men. The next time you’re in the grocery store, don’t forget to check out the juice aisle!
Monday, April 18, 2011
Were you severely disturbed by the tsunami in Japan? How about the incredible aftershocks that continuously debilitate the land? If you’re one of the thousands, who cannot stop thinking about these poor people or perhaps were a part of those awful days, you may need help. Traumatic events such as the tsunami and 9/11 have caused severe stress to individuals throughout the world and something must be done before it gets out of control.
Here are 6 ways to cope with stress and trauma before it’s too late:
Talk about It: The best way to deal with stress is to talk about what’s stressing you out - what you felt that day, how you feel now, and how it’s impacting your life. Talk about where you’ve been and plan to move forward past the trauma. Joining a therapy group with others who have had similar trauma in their life may provide a comfortable setting for you to talk.
Rest, Exercise and Eat Healthy: Though you may just want to reach for that giant cookie and tub of ice cream, it’s one of the greatest disservices you can do for yourself. By taking care of yourself physically, you will help with your emotional and mental healing process following bouts of trauma and high stress.
Allow Yourself to Grieve: Many people, especially men, don’t allow themselves to grieve. Whether it’s because they’re too tough, don’t have the time, or just don’t want to feel weak, they need to allow time to grieve so they can get past the situation altogether.
Use the Resources Available to You: Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to take advantages of support groups in your community. Even support chat groups online could be helpful for you to talk about the situation. When people work together to get better, they tend to build a sense of confidence and hope for the future, which helps greatly in the healthy process.
Manage Internal Stress and Anxiety: When you’re feeling worried or panicked, the best thing to do is to take a deep breath to calm yourself and to manage your anxiety. Keeping things in is never the answer, so be sure to let it out, breathe, and look to the future.
Ask Why: During trauma, especially natural disasters, people often question their faith in God or other spiritual beings and how they could allow such an incidence to occur. It IS ok to question your beliefs and to talk to spiritual leaders of counselors about how you’re feeling to make yourself feel better about the situation.
For more information and tips on dealing with trauma and stress, visit the Total Life Counseling website.
Friday, April 15, 2011
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?
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
A popular animated web video has been circulating the medical profession depicting an orthopedic surgeon trying to convince an anesthesiologist that he needs to operate on a person because “there is a fracture; [he] need[s] to fix it.” What the orthopedic surgeon doesn’t tell the anesthesiologist is that the fracture is on the femur of a 97-year old woman who already died. Though the scenario is a little far-fetched, it depicts the constant struggle of medical professionals to determine when surgery is truly needed and whether or not doctors are just performing surgeries for the glory and the paycheck associated with operation.
Americans are currently spending more than $2.3 trillion annually on health care. Clearly something needs to be done. If you were a doctor, would you give a hip replacement to an elderly person with terminal cancer? How about giving a pricey treatment to someone you know cannot afford it? There is no clear-cut answer to these questions, but the government has been trying to make a difference.
To assist doctors in making their treatment decisions, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was put into place in March of 2010. The Act essentially aims to deliver health care that respects both patient and family preferences while also controlling rising health care costs. The Act gives new rights and benefits to American people by allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s health insurance until age 26, to end lifetime and most annual limits on care, to help more children get health coverage, and to give patients access to recommended preventive services without cost. The government and American people alike hope The Act helps to reduce health care costs across the board. Only time will truly tell if it works.
Until that time we, as American citizens, need to work hard to keep our doctors honest as to which treatments are needed, which are optional, and which are just burning a hole in our pockets. Certainly it won’t be an easy task, considering the medical profession is the largest and biggest moneymaking industry in the world, but we must fight together. With time Americans will start spending less on medicine and more on what really matters in life: family, friends, and happiness.
Monday, April 11, 2011
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!
Friday, April 8, 2011
There’s recently been a lot of commotion surrounding organic goods. You walk down the grocery aisle and nearly every single item has an organic counterpart that is about twice the price of the non-organic option. Despite your good intentions, you probably cannot afford to buy everything organic. The question is, then, which goods are worth buying organic and which are not so important? Here is a list of the top five goods that you don’t necessarily need to buy the organic version of:
AVOCADOS - Since avocados have a thick skin that you don’t eat, they’re among the top choices of what NOT to purchase organic. Before cutting into an avocado just remember to wash the peel and you should be all set. Foods such as watermelons and cantaloupes would also fall under this “thick skinned” category.
EGGS – Though chicken eggs are among the most popular items to purchase organically, there is really no need. Chickens, as a rule, are not given growth hormones, meaning there is little difference between “normal” eggs and organic eggs. Research has also known that “normal” factory eggs have no fewer contaminants than organic eggs, so why waste the money?
FROZEN FOOD IN PLASTIC BAGS – Many people worry that chemicals will be leached into their fruits and vegetables from the bag. This, however, is nearly impossible. As long as you’re not planning on heating the contents of the bag, which increases the likelihood of chemicals being leached, you should be fine.
SPICES – Even though spices may be susceptible to absorbing chemical agents, you use such a small amount of spices in daily basis that they really should not harm your health in any way.
CLOTHING – Though purchasing organic clothing is much better for the environment, there is no real health benefit to the consumer. The cotton may be sprinkled with pesticides, but the likelihood that there will be enough pesticides to seep into your body is highly unlikely.
For more information on organic goods, please visit health.com.
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