Category: Health Articles Articles
January 16, 2014
With the New Year, I wanted to create a healthy lifestyle I could maintain throughout the year. It is important to set yourself up for success with a clear mind and body. With that said, I developed 5 easy ways to create a healthy lifestyle.
1. Exercise Daily
If you want to live well and live longer, you must exercise! Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Whether it’s going to a gym class on campus or going on a jog at your local park, there are plenty of ways to incorporate exercise in our daily routines. Try walking to class instead of taking the bus, or joining an intramural sport team. Studies show that just 10 minutes of exercise makes a difference—so do something!
2. Be a picky eater!
Set yourself up for success! Think about planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps rather than one big drastic change.
Focus on finding foods you love and easy recipes that incorporate a few fresh ingredients.
Eat in moderation. Moderation means eating less than we do now. It doesn’t mean you eliminate the things that you love. Just try to eat more healthy things than unhealthy ones. Also think smaller portions. For example, when dining out, choose a starter instead of an entree, split a dish with a friend, and don’t supersize anything. When at home, use smaller plates, think about serving sizes and start small.
Eat breakfast! Eating fruits and whole grains in the morning can help jumpstart your metabolism and energy for the day.
Avoid eating at night! Try to set a time where don’t eat after. Eating late at during a time when you are less active, can cause weight gain and create unhealthy habits. Studies show that after-dinner snacks tend to be high in fat and calories. So avoid them!
3. Get a good night’s sleep
Keep a regular sleep schedule. Set a regular bedtime and wake up at the same time every day. Nap to make up for lost sleep, but make sure to be smart about napping. While napping can help you recharge, it can also create bad habits when it comes to your sleep cycles. Lastly, create a relaxing sleep environment. Make your room more sleep friendly. Keep the noise down, keep your room cool, and make sure that your bed is comfortable!
4. Keep Healthy Relationships
The healthiest people are those who have relationships with other healthy people. Healthy relationships reduce stress, unhealthy habits, and help motivate you to succeed and do better. Surround yourself with people who are going to uplift you and make you feel better about yourself. Having a strong foundation is essential to life.
5. Give yourself a break!
Find fun activities for you to do to relieve stress! Go to the movies or go shopping. Create new hobbies. Hang out with your friends. Do anything that makes you feel happy. It’s important for you to take a break from life’s stresses and create awesome memories.
October 21, 2013
Health Literacy is defined as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. It requires a complex group of reading, listening, analytical, and decision-making skills, and the ability to apply these skills to health situations. For example, it includes the ability to understand instructions on prescription drug bottles, appointment slips, medical education brochures, doctor's directions and consent forms, and the ability to negotiate complex health care systems. When patients are faced with complex information and treatment decisions, there are specific tasks that should be carried out to ensure that one is getting the best treatment possible. Those tasks include:
• Evaluating information for credibility and quality
• Analyzing relative risks and benefits
• Calculating dosages
• Interpreting test results
• Locating health information.
In order to accomplish these tasks, individuals may need to be:
• Visually literate
• Computer literate
• Information literate
• Numerically or computationally literate
• Oral language skills are important as well.
In addition to that, it is important for patients to articulate their health concerns and describe their symptoms accurately. They need to ask pertinent questions, and they need to understand spoken medical advice or treatment directions. In an age of shared responsibility between physician and patient for health care, patients need strong decision-making skills.
Next time you visit your local physician, make sure you are practicing and carrying out these tasks. It is important for patients to receive the best care possible, as well as, know how to make accurate decisions when it comes to healthcare.
July 14, 2013
The prevalence of chronic disease for African Americans is substantially higher than their white counterparts. According the National Health Statistics African Americans had higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, and obesity (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS], 2010). In addition to having a greater risk for chronic disease African Americans experience more complications and endure greater rates of mortality. Although current data indicates that there have been improvements in mortality rates, life expectancy, and disease prevalence, disparities between the races are still substantial.
In the United States data on health disparities is rarely presented in an intersectional manner, edifying race, class, and gender (Kawachi, Daniels, and Robinson, 2005). It is through the use of controlling black female images that the interpellation occurs and health disparities are perpetuated. When individuals connect with images and do not engage them critically we allow dominant hegemonic representations to colonize our minds, shaping our assumptions about ourselves and others (Gauntlett, 2002). The connection between how black women were viewed and the implications it might have on health policy, health education, and individual interaction with the healthcare system has never been directly addressed in health disparity literature. Researchers tend to focus on issues of access emphasizing availability of adequate health insurance, culturally competent healthcare providers, and medical centers (Smedley, 2003). While, addressing issues of access is an important component in reducing health disparities controlling for these factors health disparities still remain.
Controlling for variables such as income, health insurance, and access provides minimal impact on the health of African Americans when matched to white counterparts, so the question must be asked, “why do black women have so many health problems relating to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease?” What part does racist and classist ideological beliefs have on health outcomes? Focusing on the short-comings of health education in regards to enacting positive change in minority communities brings one to the study of black female images. It is through these images that black female identity is viewed and formed, shaping intra-personal and interpersonal development and interaction. The intrapersonal deals with the psychology of the individual delving into how identity and self concept is conceived, and this is important for understanding of how the individual may view self, which provides insight into potential motivations for self-care.
The construction and perpetual use of misrepresentations of black womanhood has left an indelible mark on the American healthcare system. As an African American female the relegation to subservient and deviant roles is assured; for the female staring as the jezebel or the mammy is the best that can be expected. Reiterations of these representations play out on the news, television shows, magazine covers, and movies. Visual, auditory, and social text displaying these controlling images almost seem inescapable. Text provides a specific discourse about race, class, gender, and sexuality, and while the viewer is able to pick and choose the text that he are she interacts with the process of mediating the messages that are received is not entirely possible. Living in a perpetuate world of performance due to the white gaze African Americans loss ‘self’ taking on the embodiment of the oppressor’s image of other. This internalization of mammy or jezebel requires the African American woman to perform her ascribed role. The role of the mammy as it relates to self-care does not allow space for the black woman to acknowledge her mental or physical health. The role of the mammy is to care for the needs of others and sacrifice herself for the good of others. The jezebel on the other hand has no real regard for her health or that of anyone else. Her function is to seek pleasure and satisfy her temporal desires. Both images construct identities disconnected from self in the sense that one is unable to be attuned with what is needed to become and remain well. Likewise, many of the other representations of black womanhood suffer from this lack of attunement due to being conflations of old representations of slavery, reclaimed oppressive images, or images constructed in binary opposition to hegemonic representations of white superiority.
Resolving health disparities becomes far more than simply providing education and access, it hinges on identifying racism and acknowledging the cultural and political power that racist images and narratives have in our social ecological spheres (Shavers, 2006; Sanders-Phillips et. al.). Understanding the intentions and motivations behind health behaviors of the marginalized comes with deep exploration of those oppressing acts and representations that serve to colonize and recolonize (Speight, 2007). A stripping away of oppressor hegemonic cultural narratives must be undertaken and empowered counternarratives constructed from more authentic afrocentric spaces must occur.
April 20, 2013
By the time I was 16, I was already aware of what condoms were, how they were used and who used them. As a 20 -year-old graduating college senior, I look back on all I know about HIV. In order to address the discussion of HIV among teens, we must also talk about the sex discussion first because they are related. For one thing, I know that my parents had little to do with the discussion about sexually transmitted diseases. A curious kid at 16, I was also an avid ‘TV-watcher”. Like most of my African-American peers, we always discussed how tv shows like Flavor-of-Love, the Real World and Desperate Housewives influenced us on our view of sex. Because HIV is a sexually transmitted disease, there is much to be said about the virus. My peers and I also know that TV, as a form of mass media sends messages to teens all across the world. Positive messages. Negative messages, perpetuating stereotypes and false information are what is shown to people everyday. Mass media, as defined by sociology dictionary is forms of communication designed to reach a vast audience without any personal contact between the senders and receivers. Examples would include newspapers, magazines, video recordings, radio and television.
As a broadcast journalism major, I was taught that journalism, in lieu of mass media is the fourth estate. The first three estates being the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branch of the government. We are the gatekeepers of information. When I think of a gatekeeper of information, I think of a safeguard. A safeguard is someone who guards, protects and sensors something in a positive or negative way. During my teenage years, the only time I saw HIV awareness or discussion about HIV on TV was during World Aids Day and on December 1st, which is national HIV testing day. The media has more messages of free sex, sex with multiple sex partners and having sex with the absence of love, commitment or respect. There are more reality shows and sitcoms about those topics than shows that address safe sex, monogamy or abstinence. This poses as a threat to the teenage discussion of HIV because they are receive mixed messages that can lead to ignorance. For instance, some teens believe AIDS is the same as HIV, which is false. I’ve also witnessed a discussion at the university level where a student said, “ I need to take an AIDS test”, which is highly inaccurate. Where does the inaccuracy come from, one might add? I am reminded of the huge responsibility TV plays in the discussion of HIV among teenagers. To me, there is no discussion of HIV. I do not feel that the TV industry does a good job of informing the public of the causes and symptoms of HIV/AIDS. For one, I believe that many teens do not know the difference between HIV and AIDS, and that discussion is where the media, as a fourth estate should start.
February 21, 2013
At the top of every New Year, there seems to be a fitness trend that propagates through families, colleges, and churches, alike. The notion that this year is the perfect time to get into the best shape of your life is evident on social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. Hash tags like #teamGetFit, #trainHard, and #bodyProud are a select few that are seen everywhere and even appended to statuses and tweets posted around the world. A lot of the time, the motivation behind this burst in healthy behavior corresponds with New Year's resolutions or the mere fact that some over indulged during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays! However, as the months past by and the year gets old, fitness clubs and sport gyms see a constant decline in membership and weekly attendance. Whatever the reason may be, I set out to find if this year was any different than in year's past.
In comes CES 2013, the Consumer Electronics Trade Show where the biggest tech news is announced for those of us who have a deep affinity for smart devices and innovative gadgets. Originally seen as the place where power hitters, such as Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, and Amazon, have unveiled new products, its recently transformed into the "IT" place where the little guys bring us the most joy. Welcome to the future, where your body is technology's new frontier. The mobile applications and computing power we've become accustomed to in our smartphones are starting to migrate into wearable devices. Whether it is the Nike+ Fuelband from our favorite sneaker brand, fitbit, the same company that added style to Bluetooth earpieces or the Fitbit Ultra by an upcoming start-up company focusing on health and fitness devices; the ability to upload and analyze your personal training sessions can now be done on the fly without the need of paper and pencil. Figures 1 and 2 show a quick glance of each company's wearable devices and corresponding mobile applications.
POLL: Does being able to track your fitness activity and sleep patterns, interest those committed to fulfilling their New Year's resolution? Does mobile health “fit” into your commitment to your personal health and wellbeing?
Figures 1 and 2 - FashioningTech
February 12, 2013
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago found that only 60% of OBGYN’s ask questions about their patient’s sexual activities sex during medical visits. They also found that many OBGYN’s knew very little about their patients’ sexual behavior, sexual satisfaction and even sexual orientation.
Why are women not discussing their sexual lives with their physicians? According to the researchers, the reasons may be that 1) physicians do not ask and 2) patients do not bring their sexual activities up as points of concern.
Discussing sexual health with your physician is important, because changes in sexual functioning or behaviors can help the doctor identify other health problems that could escalate if left diagnosed and untreated. For example. HIV/ AIDS tests are also not always routinely given to all women and when a doctor knows about your sexual health, they may know when to recommend you take one. This is particularly important as rates of HIV infection among African American and Hispanics women are much higher than those found in white women. Sixty-four percent of women with HIV are Black. And HIV infection is among the top 10 leading causes of death for Black females.
Some tips to help you have discussions about your sex life with your doctor are.
- Find a doctor you can trust. Many women settle for the provider that is given to them by their insurance company, but finding a good doctor is sometimes like dating. You must think of what characteristics and work practices you need in a provider that will compliment your needs. If you cannot trust you doctor, you might not feel comfortable discussing everything with your doctor and you may be putting your health at risk. If one relationship is not working, find a new one.
- Do not limit your discussions of sexual behavior to your OBGYN, you might find that you are more comfortable talking about your sex life with your primary care doctor. You might also feel more comfortable discussing some concerns with a therapist or psychological professional. For example, concerns such as coping with sexual abuse, suspecting that your long-term partner is unfaithful, becoming dissatisfied with sex or having multiple simultaneous sexual partners can all affect your health. For each of the above concerns, your health care provider or team can provide support and recommend appropriate treatments.
- Keep track of your sexual behavior, functioning and questions. Bringing a record of concerns related to your sexual health to your physician can help start the conversation and may help your diagnosis better treat you. Remember, it is OK to ask that certain types of information remain conversational and not become parts of the medical record.
- Seek care and stay up to date with routine care activities. If you have a long-term relationship with the same care provider, it will be easier to discuss your sex life and it will be easier for that provider to identify changes in your sexual behavior and find solutions to help you.
Sobecki JN, Curlin FA, Rasinski KA, Lindau ST. What We Don't Talk about When We Don't Talk about Sex1: Results of a National Survey of U.S. Obstetrician/Gynecologists. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2012;9(5):1285-94.
Dr. Heather Watts, a liaison member to ACOG's Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women
Most women are infected with HIV through heterosexual sex. Some women become infected because they may be unaware of a male partner’s risk factors for HIV infection or have a lack of HIV knowledge and lower perception of risk. Relationship dynamics also play a role. For example, some women may not insist on condom use because they fear that their partner will physically abuse or leave them. (source: http://www.cdc.gov)
February 11, 2013
“What has the world come to?” is often a question that floats through my mind as I read the news. Being an African American woman in a predominately Caucasian class is unsettling when the teacher reveals a chart of health statistics and African Americans are highest at risk for practically every sexually transmitted disease. Black women were second in comparison to black men in terms of early death rate; however, African American women are the highest ethnic/ gender group overall to contract sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Why is this so? One reason that comes to my mind is that females are more likely to go get tested than males. Furthermore, why is the percentage rate of these diseases high in the black community particularly?
Unfortunately, most STDs are contracted and spread by our young people (teenagers & young adults). In my hometown, Philadelphia, STDs are spreading rapidly, especially in the public school system. The mayor, Michael Nutter, noticed the dangerous trend amongst these students and came to a controversial conclusion to disseminate condoms at public schools without parental consent. The majority of public high schools have condom dispensers located in a nurse facility to supply all students with free condom protection. When I was in high school, condoms then were available to students, but we had to have parental consent. This new policy may help solve the problem of the spread of STDs, but created another. Parents are now questioning why their children’s school is “giving them the right to engage in sexual activities”. For more information on this new policy, see http://sexetc.org/
I perfectly understand both sides of the argument. However, I believe that students will choose to have sex regardless of whether or not condoms are free or not (personal decisions). The school system is just educating kids to have safer sex if they are going to have sex at all. The choice to abstain from sexual activity is still available. However, sexually active teens and young adults in the Philadelphia area can http://takecontrolphilly.org/ to find where to go to get free condoms.
Share your thoughts with us. Let us hear from you via a blog comment or on Twitter @myhealthimpact.
September 10, 2012
On Thursday, August 30th, Dr. Payton gave a presentation on campus titled ‘You Ain’t Crazy: It’s Your Mental Health’ where she discussed mental health issues in the African-American community. What stuck out to me the most was the video she showed featuring Terrie Williams where she talks about her book “Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting”. Williams talks about how people think they are the only one who is going through something so they keep things bottled in and suffer from depression, hyper tension, and heart disease; or it will come out through self-medicating, gambling, sex, risk behaviors, etc. Risk behaviors can only increase the chance of being exposed to HIV.
For some strange reason, in our community, when we are suffering from something such as depression, we don’t go and get help. Instead, we turn to a friend who ends up giving us bad advice or just decide to seek a spiritual source to resolve our problems. While I am not knocking the latter, sometimes it is good to keep mental and spiritual health issues separate. Unfortunately, I am speaking from experience.
Last semester I had things going on with my family that I had never experienced before and I didn’t have time to react properly. I used my school and extra-curricular activities as a way to block everything out until one day it caught up with me. I literally woke up crying. I didn’t go to class that morning (which added to my stress) and I reached out to one of my sorority sisters who I am close with. Having experienced depression before, she forced me to go to the University Health Center to seek counseling. I was skeptical at first, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to talk to someone who was a professional. I went to the Health Center and was told that I needed to set up an appointment. I was upset because I didn’t want to wait to talk to someone in seven days; I needed someone at that moment. I was afraid that my natural habit of pushing things away would hinder me from receiving proper help. In any case, I set the appointment and returned a week later. Unfortunately, the counselor was not helpful, but I was proud of myself for taking the initial step.
When I told certain people in my family that I went to see a counselor their response was ‘what do you need to do that for?’. I responded ‘to make sure I don’t go crazy!’. I also told them that I wanted to find another counselor and begin seeing them regularly, again they asked ‘what do you need to do that for?’. I believe that counseling can help you receive an unbiased opinion on how you should move forward. A counselor does not give you advice based on experience. They give you advice based on clinical research that can help you control your reaction to events that you can’t control. Can you control risk behaviors?
If you’re reading this and you have something that you are dealing with, seek help. More than likely you are not alone in the matter. If you need motivation, watch the video below featuring Terry Williams who also gives her personal testimony about battling with depression.
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In Partnership with: Poole College of Management, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Science Foundation, Penn State
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