Health and wellness tips from Indiana University
EDITORS: This monthly tip sheet is based on Indiana University faculty research, teaching and service. "Living Well Through Healthy Lifestyles" is the guiding philosophy of IU Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. In keeping with that philosophy, this tip sheet offers information related to both physical and mental well-being. Faculty in other IU schools and departments also contribute their expertise in this area.
December's tips offer information on quitting smoking, returning to school as an adult, eating before exercise, and accessing local health care information online.
How to quit. Quitting smoking isn't easy, but a number of strategies have proven effective, said Jon Macy, project director of the Indiana University Smoking Survey in the Department of Psychology. For individuals who want to quit, he recommends counseling and nicotine replacement therapy. Families and communities can help by creating supportive home and work environments. Macy's tips on kicking the habit:
- Tell your doctor you want to quit. "People who talk with their doctors about quitting are more likely to follow through with trying to make a change. But unfortunately, many doctors will not bring up the topic on their own during a five-minute visit. If you seek out your doctor's advice, you have the chance to benefit from their expertise and resources," Macy said.
- Utilize nicotine replacement therapy. Products delivering nicotine through a patch, gum or lozenge can help smokers change their habits without the intense withdrawal symptoms associated with nicotine dependence. "These products are available over the counter and are safe to use. Your doctor may also prescribe a course of anti-depressants along with nicotine replacement products," Macy said.
- Seek counseling in a group or individual format. "Smokers who get help through counseling are more successful at quitting than those who go it alone," Macy said. Smoking cessation counseling is often available through hospitals, clinics, community centers or faith-based organizations. "Another great resource is the 'Quitline,' which is a 24-hour telephone line that is available in most states. You can get anonymous help and advice whenever you need it." Call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 for help finding a Quitline and other resources in your area.
- Support smoke-free ordinances. "Tobacco-free work environments not only reduce exposure to second-hand smoke, they also help smokers who want to cut back or quit smoking. Living in a community that has a comprehensive tobacco prevention program makes people more likely to quit, more likely to reduce the amount that they smoke, and less likely to begin in the first place. Taxes are another strategy that has proven effective in reducing smoking at the community level. Younger smokers in particular can be dissuaded by price increases," Macy said.
- Get the support of your family and friends. "Friends and family members can be more helpful when they understand how hard it is to quit. This is a horrible addiction. Help them understand that quitting 100 percent all at once is unrealistic, and they can support you by encouraging small steps. Share your quit plan with them so they know how much you want to reduce and by when. They should also know that it's a lifelong process and there will always be times when you want a cigarette. It's not surprising if you do slip up at some point, but they can help you get back to your plan by understanding what you are going through," Macy said.
Resolve to finish school. If going back to school tops your list of resolutions for 2006, "You are in very good company," said Judith Wertheim, interim dean of the Indiana University School of Continuing Studies. College enrollment by students aged 25 to 34 is projected to increase steadily over the next 10 years. Many returning students, however, struggle with doubts about whether they can balance school with work, family and other commitments. Wertheim offers these tips on overcoming personal barriers to pursuing continuing education.
- "I don't have time." "Technology, and the increasing options it provides students who may not be able to attend on-campus classes, is making a huge difference in continuing education, providing returning students with unprecedented flexibility and convenience," Wertheim said. Nationwide, more than 2.6 million students were studying online in December 2004. "Most colleges or universities offer at least one of many distance education options: correspondence courses, online courses, video courses, interactive video courses, streaming audio or video courses, courses on CD, pod-cast lectures -- and the options keep growing."
- "I can't afford it." Many scholarship and financial aid opportunities are available for returning students. "Check with your employer to see if they can offer tuition assistance. Talk with the financial aid office at your school about any federal, state, or private scholarships or loans. Individual departments may offer a variety of scholarships. The Web, too, can be an invaluable resource," Wertheim said. Obscure scholarships are out there. Wertheim once found, for example, a scholarship for Hungarian descendants of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She said it's important to remember that going back to school is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Some students take courses for several semesters and then take a break to earn extra funds.
- "I won't fit in." "Adult students need to remember that everyone in their class is there for the same reason. In a sense, they're all ignorant about the subject at hand and want to learn about it. In reality, most adults, once they get started in courses, quickly fall into the academic groove and find themselves talking with their younger counterparts about this or that professor or class, assignments, grades or how the basketball team is doing," Wertheim said. Returning students may also have some academic advantages over traditional students. "Returning students learn that their professors love having them in class because of their life experiences and perspectives. Whatever returning students may lack in terms of particular knowledge or skills is offset by their persistence, determination, clear sense of what they want to achieve, self-motivation and appreciation of higher learning."
- "I don't know how to get started." University bureaucracy can be intimidating for returning students, but staff personnel are available to demystify the process. "Students can always start with their admissions office or the continuing studies office, describing what their goals are and the kind of education they need to meet them," Wertheim said. "Some campuses have returning student centers, where students can find information, study, use computers, and meet other returning students and learn from their experiences." She suggested that students consider taking one or two courses before applying to a degree program. "This will give them an idea of what to expect."
Media may contact J.R. Schellhammer at 812-855-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Indiana residents interested in pursuing continuing education should visit http://scs.indiana.edu/campusdiv.html for regional information and contact listings. Students interested in an SCS distance education degree should call 800-334-1011, write to email@example.com or visit the Web at http://scs.indiana.edu.
To eat, or not to eat? Eating before exercise is a subject of contention among fitness enthusiasts, according to Bryan Stednitz, assistant director for strength and conditioning at Indiana University Bloomington's Division of Recreational Sports. Is it better to have a snack and risk an upset stomach, or work out before eating and face lightheadedness and fatigue? There are no easy answers, Stednitz said. "The answer to whether to eat before exercise is specific to the individual and the intensity of the activity. Some people have gastric distress if they eat even two hours before exercise. We've had several incidents of people getting sick after eating a large meal before a workout. On the other hand, I have seen a number of exercisers lose consciousness because they hadn't eaten anything prior to working out." Although individuals react to eating and exercise in different ways, Stednitz said eating right before vigorous activity is likely to cause discomfort in most people. Less intense activities may not interfere as much with digestion. "Also, generally speaking, cardiovascular exercise is more likely to cause problems after eating than lifting weights. This could be due to the jarring of the digestive organs, particularly the stomach, during cardio." However, Stednitz said that any type of activity requires fuel, so "if it's been hours since your last meal, it is definitely safer to eat something small than to eat nothing at all. Most of our issues with participants losing consciousness occur in the morning. This is one important reason for breakfast." Stednitz recommended leaving at least 30 to 60 minutes between your snack and your workout. Another option: "Drink a sports drink before or during your workout. That can give you some carbohydrates that are easier to digest."
The Division of Recreational Sports is part of the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Indiana University Bloomington. Stednitz can be reached at 812-855-7772 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
County-by-county health-care information available online in Indiana. Hoosiers can access a wealth of information about local health-care services by using INHealthConnect, a new Web site and database created by the librarians at the Indiana University School of Medicine's Ruth Lilly Medical Library. The Web site can be found at http://medlineplus.gov/inhealthconnect. Local resources for clinical trials, medical specialists, health-screening programs, health-care educators and home health equipment are some of the services that can be found on INHealthConnect, which was created to provide organized, quality-filtered information on a wide range of health topics. It also provides links to community-based services. The Web site provides a link with IU School of Medicine librarians who will continuously update the information with new resources. INHealthConnect is part of MedlinePlus Go Local, a service that will eventually provide local health-care-related information for all 50 states. INHealthConnect can be accessed from a topic search on the MedlinePlus Web site, found at http://medlineplus.gov. Individuals researching a topic such as diabetes on MedlinePlus, for instance, can click on the Go Local menu, select Indiana, and then choose the desired county or city to obtain information on diabetes resources in that area. For more information, contact Mary Hardin, 317-274-7722 and email@example.com.