Check your calendar, Groundhog!

USDA.gov

Jogging with tunes

Courtesy cksinfo.com

 February 2.  Your New Year’s resolution is officially 33 days old.  How are you doing?  Did you decide to

  • Eat healthier?
  • Stop smoking?
  • Get more exercise?
  • Party less?
  • Finally address your moodiness and depression?

One challenge of a New Year’s resolution is that it is so permanent.  If you stop smoking on January 1, only to catch yourself with a cigarette on the 3rd, all is lost.  So, how can you make this more productive and less discouraging? 

Well, if the universe can be committed to fair or foul weather for a few weeks by the emergence of a groundhog from its hole, what say you?  Can you set a short term goal for the next 6 weeks? 

Healthy eating – Can you add another fruit and vegetable to your daily diet each of the next 6 weeks? Remember, while fresh fruits and veggies have a lot of health benefits, you can also get some of these servings from microwave soups, packaged fruit bars, etc., that may be a bit easier to carry around campus.

Smokers – how about setting March 15 as your planned stop date?  Between now and then, look at your smoking habits, try to wean yourself down on the number of cigarettes used every day, and consider a visit to Student Wellness or the Health Center to talk to a professional about the health benefits. 

Exercise – Are you a couch potato?  Try starting with a twenty-minute walk tonight.  Over the next 6 weeks, see if you can progress to 30 minutes of activity that gets your heart beating a little faster, and do it at least 5 days of the week. 

Alcohol – We all know that alcohol should be used legally and in moderation.  If you occasionally cross the line, try this trick – when you go out, see if you can limit yourself to no more than one alcoholic drink each hour. If you meet your goal, then slip a five-dollar bill into your piggy bank when you get home.  At the end of six weeks, see how many “Abes” you have accumulated.

Depression – The National College Health Assessment reports that more than one in four college students is suffering from depression, but only of third of them have consulted a healthcare professional.  Did you know that in six weeks of treatment, either with medicines, counseling, or both, you can see significant improvements? 

6 weeks.  Enough time to get out there and let the sun shine on your new healthier lifestyle?  Or maybe you want to just stay in your dark, wet, wormy hole in the ground?  It’s your decision.  Will you risk seeing your shadow?

Happy Winter!

Roger Miller, MD (OSU Student Health Services)

Trouble losing weight? You might have a caloric handicap.

npr.org

I recently came across an interesting blog post on NPR called Losing Weight: A Battle Against Fat and Biology.  You should check it out – it brings up an interesting concept called a “caloric handicap” that helps explain why it so hard to lose weight and even harder to keep it off once you do.

Basically, the premise is that your body fights your attempt to lose weight.  Weight loss always comes down to taking in less calories than you expend.  The problem is that once you go into a state of less coming in than going out, your body takes that as a sign that starvation is on the way and starts sending out hormones to not only slow down your metabolism but increase your appetite.  (Unfortunately, these systems developed at a time when starvation was a real possibility – if our early ancestors had fast food drive throughs and 1400 calorie Frappa-lattes, we’d all be better off right now.)

So, to use NPR’s example, a person who weighs 230 pounds and loses 30 pounds cannot eat as much as someone who has always weighed 200 pounds.  The difference in the number of calories that the dieter can eat vs. the number that the naturally thinner person can is that dieter’s caloric handicap – and it can be up to 500 calories a day.

None of this information makes it easier to drop those pounds and keep them off, but at least it lets you know that it isn’t just a matter of will power – so give yourself a break.  The other take home point is that exercise is the key – no matter what type of diet you do, without a good 30-60 minutes of exercise per day, it most likely won’t last. 

So hit the RPAC, park farther away from your building, take the stairs, do whatever you can to burn those calories.  I know it’s a lot easier said than done, but you gotta keep trying.  If you ever need help, come in and talk to our nutritionists – they can give you some great advice.

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

The single best thing you can do for your health

I recently came across this YouTube video featuring Dr. Mike Evans, a family physician and professor in Toronto who answers the question, “What is the single best thing we can do for our health” in a new and very engaging way.  (Spoiler alert!  It’s exercise.)

One of the main reasons we have a hard time keeping our New Year’s resolutions is that they quickly seem too overwhelming to tackle.  With a simple little change in perspective, this video helps to bypass that roadblock.  Somehow, thinking “I just have to limit my sitting and sleeping to 23 1/2 hours a day” seems so much easier than saying, “I have to find 30 minutes to exercise every day.” 

Good luck!  

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Men suffering from “Doctoritis”

photo: getty images

steadyhealth.com

Don't get lost in the crowd!

June is Men’s Health Awareness Month.  So, who needs to be made aware of the important health issues facing men?  It looks like the men themselves.

The Columbus Dispatch recently ran an interesting story about how often men seek out health care, both when they are sick and when they aren’t.  In a 2007 survey, more than half of the men interviewed had not seen their doctor within the past year and almost a third said that they will endlessly delay going to the doctor when they have health concerns.  Ironically, nearly all of these men felt that they were in good to excellent health.  How would they know!?  Are men delusional, or just wimps when it comes to seeing a doctor?

In fact, it goes deeper than that.  Men can view illness or injury as a sign of weakness or a threat to their masculinity.  Many men thrive on the sense that others are dependent on them for security and protection, and refuse to allow their human frailty to get in the way.  Male college students often view themselves as invulnerable to the usual slings and arrows of life and fail to do simple things that can protect them, such as wear a coat in the winter or a condom in bed. 

Also, the last time most men were told they had to see a doctor was when they went out for the baseball team in high school.  On the other hand, women are encouraged to see their doctor regularly throughout their entire lives for pelvic exams, breast exams, pap smears, and later on, mammograms and bone density tests. 

There’s no need to avoid us, guys.  There are few simple and (relatively) painless things you can do to stay healthy, and we can help you out with some of them.

  • Get your blood pressure checked regularly
  • Make sure your immunizations are up-to-date
  • Get screened for depression, elevated cholesterol, and STD’s if you have risk factors
  • Don’t smoke
  • Exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Check out Men: Stay Healthy at Any Age for more details.  And remember – you’re only being weak if you DON’T take care of yourself!! 

Gretchen Koontz, RT
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Safe biking tips from Pelotonia

pelotonia.org

The Pelotonia folks posted a great article about how to beat the heat on your bike this summer on their blog The Rider on Monday.  You should check it out – lots of great advice. 

And while you’re there, take some time to look around the site and learn more about Pelotonia and all of the people here in Columbus and beyond who are raising money to help Ohio State researchers understand, prevent and treat cancer.  You can join the fight or donate to the cause while you’re at it!

Go Bucks!

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Getting Healthy for Spring!

Now that spring has finally shown up (knock on wood… this is Columbus, after all, so it could be snowing tomorrow), it’s a great time to re-commit to getting fit! The best ways to improve your overall health and wellness are by exercising and eating a healthy diet – which is really easy to say and really hard to do.  But there are some great resources at Ohio State that will hopefully make it a little easier for you.  
 
If you are in need of a workout program or are just not comfortable with the gym, the RPAC has personal trainers that can help you get started and provide that extra bit of motivation you might need. Information can be found on the RPAC website

Joining an intramural team is a fun way to get exercise and make friends. Ohio State has tons of intramural sports for all skill levels. Check out the Rec Sports website for more info.

Exercising outdoors is a great way to improve your cardiovascular health. Fred Beekman Park is located on Kenny Rd. between Lane Ave. and Woody Hayes. The track is a mile loop, so it is easy to monitor your progress.  The rec sports website also has cool maps of different walking loops around campus that vary by distance and location; you’re already covering a lot of this ground when you walk to class so you might as well see how much good cardiovascular work you’re doing.  You don’t have to run a marathon your first day out.  Make it safe and fun – walk with a group of friends and work on gradually increasing your pace and distance.
 
Following a healthy diet is another way to maintain good health.  While that is often easy to say and hard to when you don’t have time to cook or money to buy healthy foods, there are resources on campus to help you.  We have two fantastic registered dieticians here at the Student Health Center who are dedicated to helping you achieve your optimal nutritional health.

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

What to do on a sunny day in Columbus… if we ever get one

www.examiner.com

Itching to get out from the library, classroom, dorm, conference room and get some exercise in the company of Mother Nature? If it ever stops raining, the City of Columbus makes it easy for you to explore the multitude of great parks here in the Central Ohio area. Get out and shake your groove thing surrounded by lush foliage and the proverbial silver lining of all those rainclouds. 

Explore the City Park system at the Columbus Parks and Recreation Website.

Or check out “getActive Columbus”.

Last, but definitely not least, the glorious Metro Parks in and around Franklin County have lots to offer!

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

As easy as riding a bike?

bicycleparts-22.com

Your old childhood friend the bicycle is suddenly hip again!  It’s a healthier, greener, cheaper and more fun way to get around than that gas-guzzling car.  But things have changed since your grade school Huffy-banana seat-riding days, so we thought it was time to test your bike safety knowledge with a little True or False quiz. 

  1. You are more likely to get hit by a car when riding on the sidewalk than in the street.
  2. When riding in the street you should always hug the shoulder as close as possible to allow cars to pass you. 
  3. When riding in a bike lane, you don’t have to follow the rules of traffic. So if the light turns red and there’s no cross traffic, you can blow on through!
  4. Riding a bike home is a safe way to avoid a DUI if you’re too drunk to drive.

 

  1. TRUE Cyclists who ride on the sidewalk are 2-9 times more likely to get hit by a car! This is because cars aren’t expecting bicycles to be riding on the sidewalks and may not look for them at crosswalks. You run the risk of getting hit at every intersection!!
  2. FALSE This is a tricky one because it depends on the road you’re riding on. If there is a wide shoulder with plenty of room for cars to pass, then by all means ride on the side. But if there is a small shoulder or narrow lanes that would cause a passing car to have to “squeeze” by you, then don’t feel bad about taking up the whole lane. This prevents you and the driver from getting into a risky situation.
  3. FALSE Even when riding in the bike lane, you are still considered to be a “vehicle” on the road and are subject to the same rules as cars (and can get the same tickets). That means no running red lights, blowing stops signs, or making illegal turns.
  4. FALSE If you aren’t able to drive, you aren’t able to ride. Both modes of transportation require that you have the coordination, awareness and alertness to follow the rules of the road. And you can get a ticket for DUI while riding a bike, so just call a cab!

As spring approaches, it’s important to take your bike into a local shop to make sure it’s safe for you to ride.  But it’s equally important to make sure that you are safe to ride it!  Always wear your helmet and check out the links below.  Happy riding!

Cheryl Czapla, Med IV
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/

http://bicyclesafe.com/

http://cycle-safety.com/

http://dps.osu.edu/police/bike_safety/

Shake Your Groove Thing

theletter.co.uk

Recent item of interest in The Gray Lady to anyone who spends most of their day sitting in chairs and staring at computers.  I’m talking to you, engineering and liberal arts students, artists, bench scientists, graduate students en masse; anybody writing papers, sitting in class, studying for tests, counting beans, watching a lot of TV or playing a lot of video games.

Turns out if your buns are being warmed by a chair for the majority of your day – at school, work, home, on planes, trains or automobiles-your heart is probably suffering.   Even if you exercise regularly.

Animal models suggest that as you withdraw the regular isometric contractions and active muscle activity from walking, bending, lifting, etc. on a daily basis, muscle cells experience deleterious microscopic changes like those associated with Type 2 Diabetes as well as insulin resistance and elevated levels of free fatty acids in the blood. 

Research has shown that males who are sedentary for 23 hours a week (that’s only a little more than 3 hours a day!) have a much greater chance of dying of heart disease (67%) than males who are sedentary less than 11 hours a week.   What is striking about this is that the risk is greater in the more sedentary group even when they exercised regularly.  So all those hours of studying, prepping, working, researching and vegging out in front of the boob tube can take their toll on your muscles even if you hit the gym afterwards.  And remember, your heart is the most important muscle you got.

I’m not suggesting you stop heading over to the RPAC to hit the elliptical machine and weight room – just make sure you’re moving around the rest of the day too.  Use the restroom on another floor; take the stairs instead of the elevator; walk out of your way at lunch; do a few push-ups or crunches in your cubicle if you can; deliver a message on foot, in person with a smiling face, rather than a bland email.  

And then go hit the gym.

Victoria Rentel, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

The Real Big O

About one third of students here at Ohio State are Overweight or Obese.    The good news is that we’re no worse off than other universities across the country.  The bad news is that things may get a lot worse after graduation – almost twice that many people (63.4% to be exact) are overweight or obese in the general population!  Wow!  Why?

It’s a simple answer to a very complicated problem: too many calories and not enough activity.

In a recent survey, only about 60% of Ohio States students reported eating the minimal recommendation of 5 or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day.  And only 40% said they took part in intense cardio or aerobic activity in the last week.  We’ve got to correct this balance between calorie intake and expenditure if we’re going to keep Buckeye Nation fit, and luckily we are surrounded by resources right here on campus to help us! 

Campus Dining Services lets you see the nutritional content of food served at Ohio State here.  Take a few minutes to see how many calories you’re actually taking in – you might be surprised.

If you need help coming up with a healthy eating plan, you can consult with registered dieticians here at Student Health or with our friends at Student Wellness.

And while the RPAC is the crown jewel of campus physical fitness, there are many other awesome facilities and programs here at Ohio State: 5 indoor facilities, 20 outdoor facilities, more than 60 organized clubs dedicated to fitness, 15 intramural leagues each quarter, and more than 50 PE classes per quarter.  You can learn more about them here

As great as these facilities are, we know that they can be intimidating – you don’t know where to go, how to use the equipment, or you feel like the super-buff regulars might give you a dirty look.  If that’s the case, then start off with something you already do every day – go for a walk! 

Rec Sports has some great maps for walking/jogging trails on campus that range in distance from 1.0 to 4.6 miles.  Grab your iPod or a friend and hit the road!

College is a watershed time in your life, so try to shed (pun intended) those old habits and gain new healthy ones.  What you learn during your time at Ohio State will shape the rest of your life and we want you to make the Big “O” at Ohio State mean “Outstanding” in every way.

Jo Hanna Friend D’Epiro, PA-C, MPH (OSU SHS)