February 2012

UNH’s Health Management and Policy Program

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Author: 
Ann Steeves
Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The United States spends 17.6% of our gross domestic product on Health Care— more than any other country in the world. Despite this staggering statistic, we have one of the sickest populations in the world. Does this concern you? Consider majoring in Health Management and Policy. Within the College of Health and Human Services, students may obtain a Bachelor of Science in Health Management and Policy (HMP). HMP graduates remain close to the department, and are often able to provide students with valuable perspectives of life in the health field. Recently, the Department held an Informational Public Health Panel, where Industry professionals told interested students of their roles in various health organizations. Graduates have many opportunities in the expanding field of Health Services—they may become Hospital Administrators, work in Public Health Departments, work for national organizations as health lobbyists, and more. Callie Souza, a junior HMP major in the public health option, explains why she chose to pursue her degree,

“I chose HMP—public health as I am passionate about the health of a population as a whole and recognize the need for more support around issues that are not at the forefront of political and “the average citizen’s” priority list. I also believe public health to be versatile and stable so that I can be confident in my ability to obtain a job and find my niche in the field.”

Callie is not alone in her passion. Most students in the Department seem to share an eagerness to help people by transforming the United States’ current broken Health Care System. The Industry needs help more than ever before. As the Department’s website explains,  “Existing trends, such as the aging population, increasing health care technology, rising costs, and the expansion of managed care, all suggest that the need (for Health Managers) will continue to expand in the years ahead.”

If interested in checking out the major, two recommended introductory courses would be HMP 401: US Healthcare Systems, and HMP 403: Introduction to Public Health. Both courses provide a key foundation in learning more about the field, and are offered each semester. If looking to support the major, consider helping the Department’s Student Organization for Health Leadership (SOHL) by participating in their 5k-trail race. The funds raised will go towards scholarships for HMP students. Registration is $15 and can be found here. The Department hopes to raise awareness of the Health Industry, and the versatile opportunities available after graduation.

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Target for Being Bullied

Monday, February 27, 2012

Author: 
Katrina Heisler
Monday, February 27, 2012

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

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Stretching the Truth

Friday, February 24, 2012

Author: 
Rebecca Lastra
Friday, February 24, 2012

During the past few years, there has been some controversy regarding the benefits we gain from stretching before and after exercise. Luckily, Laura Schwecher, a writer for the Huffington Post uses her findings from scientific based evidence to bust some of the famous myths that surround gyms and other fitness centers around the nation. So, the jury is out and if you’re anything like myself, prepare to be shocked by some of these new findings.

Firstly, stretching doesn’t prevent injury nor does it eliminate soreness. Injury is due to a combination of factors, including poor technique, muscle imbalances, and not warming up properly. Although it is a good idea to stretch before and after a workout, there is no evidence to suggest that it will decrease your risk of injury. Also, when our muscles feel sore after a tough work out, it’s actually due to microscopic tears in our muscles and stretching does not prevent these. However, some researchers do suggest elevating your legs within twenty minutes of a workout to prevent lactic acid build up which can lead to an increase of soreness.

Although stretching may not prevent injury or onset soreness, there are many positive characteristics of a good old-fashioned hamstring stretch. Regardless if you work out every day or just a few times a week, stretching should be done everyday. Consistent stretching is key to increasing flexibility, range of motion, and potentially reducing the risk of muscle strain. Also, many people are under the impression that a quick jog will suffice as a warm up however, in reality, it just isn’t enough. Along with an exercise to elevate your heart rate, dynamic stretching such as lunges, butt kicks, and power skips, should be performed to loosed the body up and prepare it for a safe and effective workout. In addition to a pre-workout stretch, it is just as important to finish your exercise with static stretching. Static stretching is different from dynamic stretching as it involves reaching forward to a point of tension and holding the stretch. Looking for pictures on how to stretch? This website is a great website that shows different types of stretching from this technique.

Stretching has been linked with many benefits such as increased flexibility and personally, I feel much better after doing it. My body feels lose and although it may not eliminate soreness completely, it definitely helps. So, before you catch yourself thinking “I’m already flexible, so I don’t need to stretch” or “I just don’t feel like doing it today”, think again. In the long run, a good stretch may minimize those pesky pains in your muscles you feel the next day. 

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4 Creative Ways to Get Your Veggies

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

Often vegetables have a stigma attached to them as being tasteless and unpleasant to eat.  Also, it can seem like a salad is the only way to get your greens for the day.  However, there are plenty of creative recipes that incorporate vegetables to provide the nutrients you need while still tasting delicious.  The first two include kale, one of the most nutrient rich greens, loaded with Vitamin K, Vitamin C, calcium and 5g of fiber.  Its antioxidant content provides some protection against cancer and its fiber content aids in lowering cholesterol.  These recipes are an easy way to deliciously incorporate kale into your diet. Try this pasta dish, Orecchiette With Tomato Sauce and Kale recipee.              

The Kale Tropical Smoothie is just one smoothie recipe with added kale.  However, you can try adding kale or spinach to any smoothie recipe. Also, one of my favorite vegetables to cook with is eggplant because it is so versatile and can absorb any flavor you put it with.  Also, eggplant not only contains good-for-you fiber, but also phytonutrients, which act as antioxidants.  This recipe includes eggplant, as well tomatoes and protein-rich chickpeas. Try the Sweet and Sour Eggplant, Tomatoes and Chickpeas recipee!

Who says vegetables have to be a side dish?  Try this delicious stuffed pepper recipe, Couscous and Chickpea Stuffed Peppers.

These recipes are just a few ideas.  Get creative in the kitchen and try some recipes of your own or look up other recipes online for inspiration.  One great place to start is on the Healthy UNH Video Resources webpage. The nutrition videos can give you recipes on how to make a smoothie, a healthy lunch and other great meals.

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Susan G. Komen Defunds, then Refunds Annual Support for Planned Parenthood

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Author: 
Ann Steeves
Thursday, February 16, 2012

With the rising costs of healthcare, many Americans turn to community health centers for important services at affordable prices. One of the nation’s leading centers for women’s health is Planned Parenthood, with nearly 800 health centers nationwide. Their outreach efforts help communities receive access to breast health education, breast screenings, and mammogram referrals, among other services. Their services reach disadvantaged women in underserved areas, often at whatever price the women can afford. As a result, the organization relies heavily on financial donations. Much upset occurred in the past weeks when the Susan B. Komen Foundation, a leading breast-cancer charity, announced their decision to defund grants to Planned Parenthood. Although this was determined in December, it was deferred to public announcement until Tuesday, January 31.

In a press release on the 31st, Planned Parenthood announced their disappointment in the Komen Foundation’s decision, and told of the Foundation’s impact over the past five years in funding, “nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams out of the more than four million clinical breast exams performed nationwide at Planned Parenthood health centers, as well as more than 6,400 mammogram referrals out of 70,000 mammogram referrals,”. They portrayed this decision as the Komen foundation “succumbing to political pressure”. Public support agreed with Planned Parenthood’s accusation, and brought up various Komen leaders’ histories and ties to anti-abortion groups. The issue gained much attention and strong public support for Planned Parenthood, which resulted in the establishment of Planned Parenthood’s Breast Health Emergency Fund. The organization received nearly $3 million in donations for its breast cancer programs in the days following Komen’s announcement. This strong show of support, and outcry from organizational leaders, government officials, and cancer survivors caused the Komen Foundation to rethink their decision—by Friday, February 3rd it was reversed. Nancy G. Brinker, who founded the Komen Foundation after her sister died of breast cancer, released a statement on behalf of the organization, apologizing to the American public for “recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives”.  The Komen Foundation hopes this decision does not stigmatize their organization, or cause their values to be questioned, and they insist that it had nothing to do with politics, or their view of Planned Parenthood’s role in birth control and abortion services. Some of the public may be satisfied with The Komen Foundation’s reversal, but many remain questioning Komen’s morals as an organization supposedly dedicated to health for all women.

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The Real Power Behind a Nap

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Author: 
Rebecca Lastra
Tuesday, February 14, 2012

For many years of my life, I have been taught that taking a nap during the day would cause negative effects on my ability to fall asleep later in the evening. However, I recently found an article on WebMD that counteracts this long time assumption and negative connotation that has been applied to the word “nap.” Many people, like myself, tend to feel their energy levels fall when two or three o’clock rolls around. Instead of reaching for that not so nutritious energy drink to send you from groggy to absolutely wired in a mere five minutes, Sara C. Mednick, a professor psychiatry at the University of California- San Diego, suggests taking a more natural route by taking a nap for anywhere between fifteen and ninety minutes.

In Jennifer Soong’s article, she outlines the multiple benefits associated with napping for different intervals of time. For instance, a quick cat nap of fifteen or twenty minutes can recharge your batteries by enhancing your alertness and motor skills like typing or playing the piano. If you decide you need a little longer rest, that’s totally okay too! Napping for thirty to sixty minutes has a dramatic effect on our memories and can help things such as memorizing vocabulary and remembering directions. Research also shows that a nap of ninety minutes helps making connections in the brain and solving creative problems.

As a stated before, our society has increasingly become dependent on energy drinks and coffee to help us complete our work and get through the day. As a college student myself, I’m surrounded by these drinks, however Mednick suggests choosing a nap over the caffeine as it has many more long term benefits. The caffeine and other ingredients in these drinks can make our bodies very jittery and in turn can reduce memory performance and cause us to make more mistakes. So next time you find yourself reaching for that caffeine packed drink, ask yourself if you have the time to just shut your eyes for a few minutes and relax. In the end, it might be the best decision you make all day.

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High Heels: High-Fashion or High-Risk?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Let’s face it: a great pair of high heels is stylish and they really do complete an outfit.  However, the reality is that the foot was not designed to be in permanent arched position while walking.  The effect that high heels have on the body was examined in a study done by researchers at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia.  Nine women were selected who had worn high heels for at least 40 hours a week for at least 2 years, as well as a control group of 10 women who rarely wore heels.  They were asked to walk along a walkway with pressure sensors that measured the forces exerted while walking. The control group walked barefoot and the test group walked once with heels on and again barefoot.  Also, probes were used to measure the length of their calf muscle fibers.  It was observed that the high-heel wearers walked with a different gait than the control group, even when walking barefoot.  Their leg strides were shorter and more forceful.  The result of this was shortened muscle fibers in their calves and increased strain on the muscles.  The difference between walking with high heels and walking flat footed is that wearing high heels engages mostly muscle, while barefoot walking engages more of the Achilles tendon. 

So, what’s the problem?  The main concern with frequent heel wearing is that your body will adapt to this position.  Your muscles and tendons have a different default position than when you walk in flat shoes.  So when you switch to flat sneakers to work out, for example, your risk of a strain injury is increased.  The bottom line: it’s your decision what kind of shoes you choose to wear.  However, in order to reduce your risk of injury, you may consider lowering the frequency that you wear high heels to maybe once or twice a week instead of everyday.  High heels are certainly stylish and there’s no need to eliminate them from your ensemble.  Maybe just alternate with a cute pair of flats.

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USDA Announces New Guidelines to Improve School Nutrition

Monday, February 6, 2012

Author: 
Ann Steeves
Monday, February 6, 2012

The days of mystery meat sandwiches should soon be over, and replaced by healthier options throughout our nation’s school lunch program. This past Wednesday, January 25, the USDA, in partnership with First Lady Michelle Obama, announced new guidelines for healthier school meal programs.  This announcement came in coordination with the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, signed in December 2010 by President Obama. According to the USDA press release, the new guidelines will increase offerings of fruits and vegetables in every meal, add more foods containing whole grains, offer only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties, and take more consideration of portion size and amounts of fat and sodium in meals. These are the first standards ever imposed to limit sodium, trans fat and whole grains. The new guidelines will be introduced to schools as early as next school year, and will have a three-year period to be entirely accepted.

These guidelines are a huge victory for nutritionists concerned with today’s diet and the growing number of overweight and obese children. However, some experts argue that they are simply not strong enough to combat current health disparities. Obesity and diabetes in children lead to many health problems later in life and are causing scientists to predict that this may be the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents. Doctors with the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine think stricter guidelines, restricting meat and dairy, are necessary to combat childhood obesity. Yet, proponents are satisfied with the guidelines and argue that eliminating meat and dairy altogether may be too drastic and unrealistic to enforce. Most agree that the guidelines will make school meals healthier than ever before. They also give credit back to the Federal government, after Congress’s infamous decision in November to continue to count the tomato sauce of pizza as a vegetable serving. Despite the politics associated with changing school meal programs, the future is optimistic for better nutrition for children across the nation.

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Ski Your Way to Fitness

Friday, February 3, 2012

Author: 
Rebecca Lastra
Friday, February 3, 2012

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution to work out more and lead a healthier life? Are you bored of doing the same old workout everyday? Well luckily, the UNH Outdoor Adventure Club can help! On February 14th, they will be hosting a Moonlight Cross Country Ski event across Medums Pond. It only costs five dollars and it includes transportation and ski gear. The event is from 6pm-9:30pm and you must sign up by February 13th at the front desk of the recreation center. The Outdoor Adventure Club holds many exciting events all throughout the semester and it’s a great way to get involved, meet new people, and get a great workout!

Cross country skiing is a fantastic total body workout as it requires virtually all muscles to be used. Some of the obvious muscle groups used are your arms and legs. You arms work by exerting you forward through the snow, and your calves and thighs are also required to keep you balanced and ski further through the snow. What some people may not know though is the many benefits skiing has on your heart and lungs. It has been researched that the combination of an upper and lower body workout places a greater workload on the heart-lung system than any other sport in the world. Since so many different muscle groups are demanding oxygen from the heart due to how hard they’re working, skier’s hearts are larger and move blood more efficiently. It also has been cited that if you usually exercise by running, cycling, or swimming that skiing is a terrific off season sport as skiing works some of the same muscles while not putting as much strain on others. For instance, when we run long distances, heavy pressure is placed on our knees. However, skiing can alleviate this pressure and allow you to ski longer distances than you’re used to running.

This club also has a table set up in the Hamel Recreation Center from time to time where you can find more information. So don’t let your boring workout let you break your resolution. Get involved and get fit!

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“The specialist will see you now”

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Author: 
Katrina Heisler
Thursday, February 2, 2012

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. 

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