Category Archives: Lifestyle

Turn It Down

Music now seems to be a necessity for walks to class or exercising. Just pop in some earphones and you are good to go! It is important to make sure music is kept at a decent level in order to protect your ears! Sound is measured in decibels; most MP3 players can play music as loud as 120 decibels, which would be a similar noise level as being at a rock concert. Listening to music this loud for an hour and fifteen minutes could potentially lead to hearing loss. Severe hearing loss is often not sudden; it is a slow and gradual process with little to no warning signs. A rule of thumb is to use is if music is loud to the point that you cannot hear anything around you, then it is too loud. Another helpful tip is the 60/60 rule: listen to music at 60% of maximal volume for an hour each day. If you increase the volume, begin to decrease the duration you are listening to music. If at any point you hearing ringing or buzzing, having difficulty hearing people, or having to listen to the TV at higher levels than previously, consult a doctor immediately. Hearing loss is an irreversible condition; hearing aids can be used as a compensation to increase the sounds coming in the ear but cannot fix the condition.  Another useful tip is to choose earphones that are placed on the outside of the ear; ear buds that fit inside the ear can cause more damage. This is not a message that should go in one ear and out the other. One out of every five teenagers has a hearing loss problem. Listen to your music safely and enjoy!

Hearing Loss and Headphones – Is Anyone Listening?. (n.d.). Hearing Loss and Headphones – Is Anyone Listening?. Retrieved April 26, 2014, from

Sun Safety

With summer quickly approaching, sun exposure is an issue that everyone is going to be dealing with in the coming months. Being burned can greatly increase the risk of getting skin cancer later in life and can cause other health issues in the future. This means that extra precautions should be taken in order to reduce the likelihood of being burned.

The first questions that can be asked is who should use sunscreen? The answer to the first question is anyone over the age of 6 months. Almost everyone is exposed to sunlight at points throughout their day and are susceptible to the damage to their skin that can occur from this. For this reason, any individual over the age of 6 months should wear sunscreen when exposed to sunlight, while children under the age of 6 should not be exposed to sunlight at all due to the sensitivity of a child’s skin at that age (Skin Cancer Foundation, 2014).

The next question that is commonly asked about sunscreen is what type should I use and how often should I apply it? The answer to this depends on how much time you spend in the sun. If you are in the sun more often, for instance if you work outside or commonly do activities outdoors. If you are an individual who is spends a lot of time outdoors then you would want to apply a more potent sunscreen, greater than SPF 15, and you would want to apply it more frequently, approximately every two hours (AAD, 2014). This will help to prevent your skin from being burned and further damage from being done to your skin.

The last question you might want to ask yourself is how do i treat a sunburn if i do get burned? There are several ways in which you can reduce the swelling and dryness associated with a sunburn. Generally you would want to make sure you keep your skin moisturized with a common skin lotion to help to treat the dryness hat can be associated with burned skin. Another common problem that is associated with sunburns are heat loss. This means that you must stay very hydrated to help make up for the loss of water through the skin. Cool baths can help to prevent the loss of heat through the skin as well (AAD, 2014).

There are many problems than can come from sunburns and preventing them can be as simple as applying sunscreen a few times a day. So before you spend too much time out in the sun and get burned, put on some sunscreen and prevent yourself from the irritation of being burned and prevent future problems with your skin from occurring.

American Academy of Dermatology (2014). Sunscreen FAQs. Retrieved April 8, 2014 from

Skin Cancer Foundation (2014). Sunscreens Explained. Retrieved April 8, 2014 from


Study Tips!

As Physical Therapy students, we have, in a sense, mastered the art of marathon study sessions, all-nighters, and cramming. But how effective are these methods?  Check out these study tips!

Effective Study Skills

  1. Take different routes to understanding the subject being studied; this will allow the brain to utilize different pathways to comprehend the material. For example, summarizing material in your own words, then reading it out loud, then pretending you are teaching it to someone else all involve different brain pathways to strengthen your understanding of the subject (“Tooling and Studying: Effective Study Breaks”, n.d.).
  2. Break up studying in an hour block: allow 50 minutes for studying and 10 minutes to take a break. This will allow your brain time to refresh so the 50 minutes of studying can be effective and focused (“Tooling and Studying: Effective Study Breaks”, n.d.).
  3. Turn off the phone during homework/study time. Constantly texting and checking social media may seem like only minor distractions, but it can cause work to take 2-3x longer than usual, and the quality of your work will most likely not be as great (“Tooling and Studying: Effective Breaks, n.d.).
  4. Group study and have each friend come up with potential exam questions. This will push group members to think in a way that the teacher thinks and will help members understand the key points of the information (“How to Develop Good Study Skills, n.d.).
  5. Difficult skills take time. Focus on understanding the material as opposed to the time it takes to understand it. The more difficult a skill, the longer time it will take to master it, so be patient (“How to Develop Good Study Skills”, n.d.).
  6. Write questions on flashcards and carry them around with you in your purse or pocket. That way, when you find yourself waiting or have free time, you can pull them out and practice without having to lug out a heavy book or binder (“How to Develop Good Study Skills, n.d.).
  7. When memorizing, repeatedly reading something over and over takes longer and has decreased retention levels as compared to active memorization. Active memorization is using visualization or association to remember information. For visualization, imagine a clear picture in your head that goes with the material you are trying to learn. For association, make a relationship between the material and something you are interested in/people you know (“10 Steps to Improving Your Study Skills, n.d.).
  8. Use color-coding when studying; highlight difficult information so your eyes are automatically drawn to that highlighted sentences, which will increase your exposure to it. Highlighting different parts of the information: dates, percentages, people, etc. can also help you organize the information better in your hand (“10 Steps to Improving Your Study Skills, n.d.).

How to develop good study skills | | eCampus. (n.d.). How to develop good study skills | | eCampus. Retrieved March 29, 2014, from

Tooling and Studying: Effective Breaks. (n.d.). MIT Center for Academic Excellence: Tooling and Studying. Retrieved March 29, 2014, from

10 Steps to Improving Your Study Skills. (n.d.). –Math Study Skills–Academic Support. Retrieved March 29, 2014, from

Don’t wait until the last minute!

As college students it is safe to say the majority of us have procrastinated on a project, paper, or studying at some point. Procrastination involves knowing that something needs to be done in a certain time frame, but the individual fails to complete the task due to lack of motivation or other factors such as behavior, cognition, and affect (Ackerman and Gross, 2007). Most of us can admit that we find ourselves with the, “I can finish it tomorrow or next week” thought when having difficulty to find the motivation. Unfortunately, procrastinating is typically followed by the late night in the library scenario scrambling to complete an assignment due the next morning. Consequently, procrastinating is also associated with stress, frustration, and feelings of guilt (Ackerman and Gross, 2007). A study researching a group of college students found that those who procrastinated ultimately reported a lower grade average, and higher levels of stress and illness (Jaffe, 2013).

The next area to address would be how to decrease the act of procrastinating. (Ariely and Wertenbroch, 2002) explain that setting self-imposed deadlines are effective in improving task performance and limiting procrastination. I personally have found this to be effective by making daily check-lists and breaking larger projects and papers up into smaller pieces. I find that this consistently opens up more time to study for exams and have a life outside of grad school. In addition, plan a daily structured routine which will help with time management. A good way to start would be to fill out a weekly schedule based around classes and other school commitments. After those are filled out, start adding in study, homework, exercise, and free times into the schedule. If you are an undergraduate student or know someone in their first couple semesters or school, address the issue of procrastinating quickly because it will catch up to you. A question to ask yourself is what are the activities in your life that are consuming the majority of your time? Common responses from college students are: working, sleeping, watching TV, videogames, hanging out with friends, internet (Pychyl et al., 2000).

Ariely, D., & Wertenbroch, K. (2002). Procrastination, deadlines, and performance: Self-control by precommitment. Psychological Science, 13, 219–224.

Pychyl, T. A., Lee, J. M., Thibodeau, R., & Blunt, A. (2000). Five days of emotion: An experience sampling study of undergraduate student procrastination. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 15, 239–254.

Ackerman. D., Gross., B. (2007). I Can Start That JME Manuscript Next Week, Can’t I? The Task Characteristics Behind Why Faculty Procrastinate
Journal of Marketing Education 29: 97-110, doi:10.1177/0273475307302012

Jaffe, E. (2013). Why wait? the science behind procrastination after a long delay, psychological science is beginning to understand the complexities of procrastination. Observer, 26(4), Retrieved from

Strategies to Increase Sleep

The amount of sleep that a person gets is very important to cognitive and physical functioning. There are many reasons that a person does not get enough sleep, with insomnia being one of them. This can become a major issue among college students due to increased work loads as well as an increase in stress that can be associated with school in general. Lack of sleep becomes a major issue among college students due to an increased need for high cognitive functioning and other activities.

There are many ways, aside from pharmaceutical methods, in which an individual can increase the amount of sleep they get each night. One method of increasing the amount of sleep that an individual is able to get in a night is to manipulate what types of food you eat during the day or before bed. To increase sleep you should avoid any large meals within several hours of trying to sleep. Although having a small snack before bed is okay, a heavy meal will make it difficult to get to sleep (NIH, 2012). Caffeine and other stimulants (such as nicotine) should also be avoided (NIH, 2012). Having these in your system when you are trying to go to sleep will make it far more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Other ways in which you can increase the amount of sleep you are able to get each night includes making changes to the area in which you sleep. Keeping your bedroom dark and quiet can aid in falling asleep (NIH, 2012). It allows for you to relax better and will help to fall asleep. Relaxing before falling asleep in vital in being able to fall asleep, thus relaxation techniques can be used, such as taking a hot bath or other types of relaxation techniques (NIH, 2012). This also includes using the time before you go to sleep for relaxation. Avoiding exercise and other strenuous activities right before bed will help you to relax and aid in sleep (NIH, 2012).

The final group of ways in which you can increase the amount of sleep you get each night is making changes to your schedule in order to increase the amount of sleep you get each night. This first is to keep the same sleep and wake times everyday (NIH, 2012). This will help to keep the body on a similar rhythm and increase the body’s ability to sleep. This must also be extended to the weekend in order to minimize changes in your sleep-wake cycle and allow the body to stay in a similar rhythm, making it easier to sleep at those times (NIH, 2012).

Sleep is very important in maintaining cognitive and physical functioning and allowing yourself to get enough sleep is important to functioning properly. In college this is very important, so giving these methods a try may be a good way increase the amount of sleep you can get and help you to be more productive and function at a higher level.

National Institutes of Health (2012, Ferbruary 22). “Strategies for Getting Enough Sleep”. Retrieved March 22, 2014 from


Deep Vein Thrombosis on Airplanes

It is officially spring break season! Are you travelling anywhere fun? Possibly taking a flight to somewhere warm? Read up on this useful information before stepping aboard the plane!

A dangerous condition that can occur from sitting still on long term flights is called a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism starts off as a blood clot (blood that thickens and congregates together) within a vein, most commonly in the thigh or lower leg. This condition is called deep vein thrombosis. The deep vein thrombosis can travel in the bloodstream up to an artery in the lungs. This can cause blood flow to be blocked to the lungs, leading to lung and/or organ damage, possibly leading to death (What Is Deep Vein Thrombosis?, n.d.).

Blood flow that is lethargic and slow-moving can cause deep vein thrombosis to occur (What Causes Deep Vein Thrombosis?, n.d.). Sitting on an airplane for hours at a time in the same position can definitely cause the blood flow to circulate very slowly, due to the lack of leg movement. Though the risk of a pulmonary embolism to form on a flight is relatively low, it is still imperative to be informed for safety purposes and to educate family and friends. If you are travelling for more than four hours on a plane, it is recommended to walk up and down the aisles, every so often to increase blood flow in your legs (granted the seatbelt sign is off!). While sitting, wiggle your feet and legs as another way to increase blood flow. Raising your toes or heels up and down is a simple exercise to get the blood pumping. Stretching, as well as raising and lowering your legs are simple exercises that can make a difference. Try to wear loose and comfortable clothing to avoid restricting blood flow (How Can Deep Vein Thrombosis Be Prevented?, n.d.).

Have a safe flight and enjoy spring break!


How Can Deep Vein Thrombosis Be Prevented?. (n.d.). – NHLBI, NIH. Retrieved March 15, 2014, from

What Causes Deep Vein Thrombosis?. (n.d.). – NHLBI, NIH. Retrieved March 15, 2014, from

What Is Deep Vein Thrombosis?. (n.d.). – NHLBI, NIH. Retrieved March 13, 2014, from   

Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer Vision Syndrome is a growing problem with the increase in use of technology throughout the world. This syndrome has come to be an issue because many professions as well as schooling have become almost entirely computer based. This reliance on computers has caused unusual strain on the eyes which will create issues in many people after prolonged use.

This disorder is caused by many different factors that are associated with computer use. One of the primary ones is the constant refocusing of the eyes that occurs when using computers or looking at other kinds of screens. This refocusing can be due to either looking away and back at the screen repeatedly or adjusting to glare or changing images on the screen (WebMD, 2012). The contrast of the images as well as the quality of lighting in the area where you are working on the computer can also play a role in how much strain is put on the eyes and the effects that can be seen in vision due to this.

There are several symptoms that are associated with this disorder such as blurred vision, double vision, dry/ red eyes, eye irritation, headaches, and neck or back pain (WebMD, 2012). These symptoms although not serious individually can cause problems when it comes to being able to do a job and can being very uncomfortable for the individual experiencing them. Also, when experiencing several of these symptoms in conjunction, it can make using a computer or doing a similar task very difficult, which can be a major issue in some professions.

There are several ways in which the onset of these symptoms can be prevented and managed. The first way to prevent these issues from happening to you is to take breaks form looking at a screen. It is suggested that every 20 minutes you take a short break from looking at a screen in order to rest your eyes and the muscles that are associated with refocusing (WebMD, 2012). This will help to prevent the muscles from being overworked and prevent excesses strain on them. A second was to prevent these symptoms is to changed the positioning of your computer so that there is as little glare from other lights as possible (WebMD, 2012). The reduction in glare will help prevent your eyes from having to constantly refocus and adjust to the glare on the screen and again help the muscles associated with this to no become overworked.

With the use of computers as high as it has ever been it is important to understand how to protect your eyes from the excess strain associated with their use. Making sure that your computer is position optimally and taking regular breaks will help to ensure that your vision is unaffected and that your computer use will be comfortable and pain free.

WebMD (2013). Computer Vision Syndrome. Retrieved February 23, 2014 from


Texting & Driving

How many of you rolled your eyes while reading the title of this topic? The dangers of texting and driving seem to be more pushed more and more; is this campaign trying to be a little too overprotective of our generation?

“Well, I’m good at texting and driving…”

About 77% of young adults feel confident in their texting and driving skills; 55% of young adults believe that texting while driving is a simple task (“Texting and Driving Statistics,” 2014). This “confidence” is also present in the adult populations; 27% of adults text and drive (“Texting and Driving Statistics,” 2014). An astonishing fact is that 48% of children ages 12-17 have witnessed their parents texting and driving while riding in the car (“Texting and Driving Statistics,” 2014).

“So what’s the big deal?”

The minimal amount of time that a driver’s attention is taken away from the road due to texting and driving is five seconds (“Texting and Driving Statistics,” 2014). This might seem like a small, insignificant amount of time. “Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving length of an entire football field, blind” (“Distracted Driving | Facts and Stats | Texting and Driving,” 2014). How insignificant does five seconds seem now?
A driver who dials a number on a cell phone while driving is 2.8x more likely to crash, a person who is just talking or listening on the phone while driving is 1.3x more likely to crash, and a person who just reaches for a cell phone is 1.4x more likely to crash (“Texting and Driving Statistics,” 2014). Surfing the web while driving could distract the driver for potentially a very long time; this is scary because one out of every five drivers surf the web and drive simultaneously (“Texting and Driving Statistics,” 2014).

“Does texting and driving really cause that many accidents?”

A person who texts and drives is 23x more likely to get in a car accident (“Texting and Driving Statistics,” 2014).Texting and driving is the cause of 25% of all car accidents (“Texting and Driving Statistics,” 2014). About 1,600,000 accidents and 330,000 injuries are caused by texting and driving each year, reported by the National Safety Council and Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Study, respectively (“Texting and Driving Statistics,” 2014). The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration found that texting while driving is the equivalent danger of driving after drinking 4 beers (“Texting and Driving Statistics,” 2014). In fact, a person who is texting and driving is 6x more likely to cause a car crash than a drunk driver (“Texting and Driving Statistics,” 2014).
With this growing problem, the state governments have started taking action.
Texting and driving is illegal in 39 states, new drivers touching a cell phone while driving is illegal in 32 states, and touching a cell phone while driving, regardless of age, is illegal in 10 states (“Texting and Driving Statistics,” 2014). Cars are now being created with hand-free built in phone systems, and there are a variety of driving cameras and anti-texting apps to keep drivers more focused (“Texting and Driving Statistics,” 2014).

Moral of the story: texting can always wait. If the temptation is too much, turn off your phone, put it in the backseat, or have a passenger text for you. Your life and the lives of those around you on the road are worth more than any text message ever will!

Drive Safely!

“Distracted Driving | Facts and Stats | Texting and Driving.” Distracted Driving | Facts and Stats | Texting and Driving. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2014. .

“Texting and Driving Statistics.” Texting and Driving Statistics. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2014. .

Picture: young woman driving on highway while reading / writing text on smart phone.

Stand Up Straight!

Odds are you have heard this saying at some point in your life, and you likely have more than once.  So, why do parents and teachers always repeat this demand?  Is sitting and standing up straight really that important?  It may not seem like it, but maintaining good posture is in fact important for overall health.  Using proper posture keeps your body in its correct alignment, which reduces the stress and strain experienced at the joints and the muscles around them.  Over time, the constant use of poor posture tends to result in aches and pains that are felt on a daily basis.  This is due to the regularly increased stress that is put on the body which wears down the joint surfaces quicker and strains the muscles to the point that they become weaker (American Fitness, 2009).The most common areas that develop chronic pain from poor posture are the back and neck, but hip and knee problems can occur too (Consumer reports on Health, 2006).  These aches and pains often result in further problems such as trouble sleeping, a lack of energy and irritability.

The issues associated with improper posture become especially problematic as you age because it puts you at a greater risk of falling and suffering serious injury.  The reason for this is people who live with chronic pain usually move awkwardly, such as leaning to one side or hunching over when walking; in an attempt to avoid or reduce their pain.  Walking with these body positions is unnatural and it makes the body less stable, and if these problems continue being ignored, the level of mobility and independence will quickly decline.

To determine if you use correct posture, get in front of a mirror and stand the way you normally would.  If you have proper posture you should see your head centered on your neck without any tilt or lean, your shoulders level, your chest out and your stomach slightly tucked in.  When you are sitting you should have almost all of your back against the back of the chair, feet flat on the floor with your knees around the same level as your hips and your head in the same position as it should be while standing.  The noticeable signs of poor posture are a forward tilted head, rounded shoulders and a sagging back (Consumer reports on Health, 2006).

Here are some tips and exercises that can help you improve your posture:

-Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time.  Try to get up to stretch out your back and walk around at least once every 45 minutes or so.

-If you use a chair that does not provide adequate back support, put a rolled up towel or a pillow between your lower back and the chair for some extra support.

-Avoid carrying backpacks that are more than 20 pounds.

-Take plenty of breaks when repeatedly lifting heavy objects and be sure to use good technique.

-Wear shoes that provide a good amount of support, unlike high heels and flip flops.

Standing practice: Stand with your back against a wall. Feet should be shoulder-width apart, 3 to 6 inches from the wall.  Arms should be by your sides. Press your head, shoulders, and back against the wall. Draw in your lower abdomen, pushing your belly button toward your spine to take the arch out of your back.  Keeping your back as straight as possible, use your elbows to push away from the wall.standing

Neck stretch: Stand in a normal, relaxed position, shoulders relaxed and arms by your side. Keeping shoulders still, pretend that a string is pulling you straight up from the top of your head.  Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Relax.


Shoulder strengthener: Stand erect, feet shoulder-width apart. Place your arms in a “W” position, as shown, keeping shoulders relaxed. Bring elbows back as far as you can, pinching shoulder blades together. Hold for a count of 3. Release.


Pelvic tilt: Lie on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms behind your head.  Gently press the small of your back toward the floor. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds. Release.



Get in Straight: Simple Steps to Improve Your Posture. (2009). American Fitness, 27(5), 47.

Position yourself to stay well. (2006). Consumer Reports on Health, 18(2), 8-9.

Prevent Sickness with Clean Hands

As the cold and flu season is now upon us, more people are looking for ways to fend off sickness.  There are many ways to do this.  Some ways include: getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods, exercising and staying hydrated.  But there’s another prevention method people often forget which is really quite simple….

Washing your hands frequently and properly (Rodriguez, 2012).

Here’s the evidence:

One study was performed at a military recruit training center in Illinois (Johnson, 2012).  The researchers had the recruits wash their hands at least 5 times per day (Johnson, 2012).  After two years, the hand washing group had 45% fewer cases of respiratory ailments compared to the year prior to starting the program (Johnson, 2012).  Another study involving college students found that the students who washed their hands frequently had fewer cold and flu symptoms (Rodriguez, 2012).

How exactly does hand washing prevent sickness?

Sickness is spread through respiratory droplets when someone coughs or sneezes (Johnson, 2012).  These droplets often fall on surfaces like cafeteria tables, keyboards and doorknobs (Johnson, 2012).  Then, when you unknowingly touch your face, these germs enter your body through your eyes, nose or mouth (Johnson, 2012).

What is the proper way to wash your hands?

  1. Wet hands with water.
  2. Apply soap.
  3. Rub hands together vigorously for 20 seconds.  (Include wrists, between fingers and under finger nails)
  4. Rings hands thoroughly and dry with a paper towel or air dryer
  5. In a public restroom, shut the faucet off with a paper towel and don’t touch the door handle when leaving.

(Johnson, 2012)

It sounds simple, yet many people do not wash their hands properly and end up missing places on their hands.  Here is a picture depicting commonly missed areas.


How much hand washing do I have to do?

There’s no exact number on how much is enough.  It’s important to remember to wash your hands frequently throughout the day (Johnson, 2012).  It is especially important to wash your hands before and after you eat, after using the bathroom, coming home from a public place, handing raw meat, and blowing your nose (Johnson, 2012).  You should also wash after touching unwashed vegetables, taking out the garbage, touching your pet and changing diapers (Johnson, 2012).

Can I substitute with hand sanitizer?

Yes, an alcohol-based sanitizer can be used throughout the day if you are not near a sink (Johnson, 2012).  It should be at least 60% alcohol to clean hands (Johnson, 2012).  Rub the entire surface of the hands, wrists, and fingers until dry (Johnson, 2012).  You should follow up with a thorough hand scrub when you are near a sink to prevent the build-up of sanitizer (Johnson, 2012).

80% of infectious diseases are transmitted by touch (Johnson, 2012). The CDC estimates that up to 49,000 people die from the flu or flu-like illness each year, and another 5,000 people die from food borne illness each year (Johnson, 2012).  Washing your hands is a healthy habit that can prevent the spread of sickness and even death in higher risk populations, such as the elderly.  Keep a bottle of sanitizer on your desk and use it frequently.  Or better yet, do a thorough hand washing at a sink.  You will be able to rest assured that you’re not the one spreading germs around your work or school.



Johnson, K. (2012). Prevent colds with hand washing. Retrieved from


Rodriguez, D. (2012). Protect yourself to prevent colds and flu. Retrieved from