WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: Tips for a Healthy Hike

This blog post was written by Ben Smart and is published as part of our blog exchange with Tar Heel Tone-Up.

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Sedona, Arizona

Fresh air, breathtaking views, and space to explore – these are just a few of the tangible reasons to enjoy an outdoor hike. Engaging your mind and body with a short excursion could also yield health benefits extending beyond physical exercise. Research with nearly 2,000 participants in England found that walking outdoors in a group delivered a significant mood boost as well as lower perceived stress and depression, especially for those experiencing stress from a traumatic life event.

Before lacing up your boots and heading to the trail, take the time to pack and prepare the right way. We’ve compiled a few tips to make your next hike the healthiest to date.

Let’s start with your pack. If your filled backpack weighs more than a few pounds, it’s a good idea to select an ergonomic pack with waist strap capabilities, which will take the bulk of the weight off of your back and distribute it to your torso. When wearing the backpack, adjust the shoulder straps first so that the backpack fits comfortably on your shoulders, and then fasten the waist strap.

Now that your backpack is up to par, let’s examine the contents. Take everything out of your backpack and lay in on a table. Are you bringing any unnecessary items? Think twice before packing the second tube of toothpaste or the heavy binoculars. Ensure that you’ve packed a conservative first aid kit, and one or two plastic bags; these can really come in handy.

The most important part (and my favorite aspect) of hiking is food and hydration. Fill a stainless steel bottle (or two) full of water for the trek. Metal is preferred over plastic, as many plastic bottles can leach small amount of toxic BPA or other chemicals into your water, which means you’ll be drinking those chemicals.

As for snacks, aim for balanced portions. If you’re only hiking 1-3 miles, high protein and low carbohydrate food can be sufficient fuel. Three ideas:

  • Turkey sandwich with spinach and cheese, accompanied with a side of almonds
  • Tuna and high-fiber crackers, completed with an apple and peanut butter
  • Salmon and a whole grain tortilla, topped off with a banana and cheese

Once you’re hiking, remember to make smart choices. Take your trash to go, don’t litter. Watch your step, and adopt a wide stance when scaling steep trails. Finally, look up from the cell phone and enjoy the view! If you keep your eyes peeled, you’re sure to find some wildlife.

Ready to take a weekend hike? Check out UNC Campus Recreation’s outdoor expedition schedule here for events this summer.

Follow UNC Campus Recreation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and be the FIRST to know what’s happening here at UNC Campus Rec!

Measles: What You Need To Know

There has been an outbreak of measles occurring at various locations around the country, largely attributed to a higher percentage of unvaccinated individuals.  Although there have been no cases to date in North Carolina, you can protect yourself and the UNC community by making sure you are up to date with your vaccinations and proper self-care.
Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that can easily spread from one person to the other – even by being in the same room with an infected individual, as it is spread by airborne droplets. The majority of the individuals who catch measles are unvaccinated, but rarely people can get it after vaccination.  Symptoms begin with a fever, runny nose, cough, sore throat, and red eyes, followed by a red rash that spreads all over the body.
So how should you protect yourself?

1. Make sure you have received two doses of the Measles vaccine. Typically this is given as a combined vaccine called the  measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Most everyone received this vaccine in childhood so check your immunization records.
If not, students can get vaccinated at CHS, for a small fee. Call 919-966-22181 to make an appointment. Faculty and staff should visit their private health care provider or pharmacy.

2. Keep yourself healthy. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water; sneeze and cough into a tissue or your elbow; and avoid sharing drinks, food, and utensils. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.  The virus can live up to two hours on a surface where an infected person coughed or sneezed and is still capable of infecting others in that time frame.

3. Watch for symptoms of a high fever, cough, runny nose, red, watery eyes followed by a red, raised rash.  Contact CHS 919-966-2281 if you experience them and ask to speak with a nurse.  

4.  Be a good citizen and stay at home if you are sick. Don’t go to class or work,  the dining hall, social or public events, or use public transportation. Use good respiratory hygiene and cover your cough and sneeze and wash your hands frequently.  Treatment is symptomatic with lots of bed rest, increased fluids, and over the counter pain medicines like Tylenol or ibuprofen.
More information available at the CDC website


The Chapel Hill in UNC-Chapel Hill

UNC Historical Marker
“UNC Historical Marker” by Will McInerney
UNC Old Well
“UNC Old Well” by Will McInerney

The history of UNC runs deep. Very deep. Established in 1789, UNC is the oldest public university in the nation. Our beautiful and historic campus stretches from the bustling shops and restaurants of Franklin Street to the hallowed steps of South Building, from the Bell Tower to the Old Well, and from Morehead Planetarium to the open green pastures of the quad. UNC’s campus has much to offer our students, faculty, staff, and visitors. But, the UNC community does not stop at our storied and stonewalled perimeter. Part of what makes UNC so special is the city we call home, Chapel Hill.

UNC and Chapel Hill are hard to separate, and in fact the two were created together. At the same time the original UNC Board of Trustees was dreaming up our campus, they organized a group to build an adjacent community, Chapel Hill.

Despite the deep connection between the town and our university, sometimes UNC can feel like a bubble. College life keeps us very busy, but it’s important to take time and to learn about the beautiful, vibrant, and important history and culture that literally surrounds our campus. By learning about this history and culture we will be better students and better community members.

Franklin Street
“Franklin Street” by Will McInerney

Below are a couple of organizations and resources that can help you learn more about the place UNC calls home, Chapel Hill.

The Center for the Study of the American South

Located at the Love House on Franklin Street, The Center for Study of the American South is an amazing campus resource for learning about the history of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the American South as a whole. The Center offers a range of resources in print and digital formats that paint a vivid picture of Chapel Hill’s history. Check out the Center’s Southern Oral History Program to find a vast collection of powerful and insightful stories that document the history and culture of Chapel Hill.

The Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History

The Jackson Center is located next to St. Josephs’ CME Church on Rosemary Street, at the gateway to the historic Northside community in Chapel Hill. The Jackson Center is a public history and community development non-profit that works in the historically African American Northside and Pine Knolls neighborhoods of Chapel Hill. Their aim is “to listen, to hear, and to preserve the life stories of residents, neighbors, and friends.” All too often these stories are forgotten, undervalued, and placed aside. The Jackson Center, in collaboration with the community, brings these valuable stories to the spotlight and advocates for community based leadership, growth, and vision in our town. Check out some oral histories from long-time Chapel Hill residents on their website and consider volunteering if you want to help out.

The Chapel Hill Historical Society

Located on Franklin Street just past the Love House and the Center for the Study of the American South, The Chapel Hill Historical Society is a local institution dedicated to researching, documenting, and sharing Chapel Hill’s history. Programs and publications offered by the Historical Society cover a range of issues spanning from the Civil Rights Movement in our town to the array of famous local cuisine. Check out the videos from the Historical Society’s recent event where they helped Merritt’s Store and Grill celebrate its 85th anniversary by detailing the history and culture of this local foodie legend.

Preservation Chapel Hill

Preservation Chapel Hill is located in the famous Horace Williams House on Franklin Street and is dedicated to “protecting the character and heritage of the town of Chapel Hill, and the surrounding community, through the preservation and conservation of its historical building and cultural landscapes.” Preservation Chapel Hill does this through a combination of educational programs, advocacy work, and physical preservation of buildings. Check out the organizations huge collection of historical documents and records available for public viewing and research purposes at their offices.

UNC Sign
“UNC Sign” by Will McInerney

P.S. The history of Chapel Hill evolves everyday! In addition to The Daily Tar Heel, be sure to stay informed with local news by checking out ChapelBoro and The Chapel Hill News.



How to get around campus and beyond…

UNC is a big place, but luckily there are a myriad of resources to help students get around campus and Chapel Hill. Here are just a few suggestions for typical transportation troubles:


  1. I live on South campus and I overslept. Must get to class in 15 minutes!

You are in luck! Chapel Hill transit runs 2 main bus lines around campus, the U and the RU. See a map here. Both routes pick up every 15 minutes at each stop, so chances are, you’ll be able to catch a bus and get to class on time (hopefully!).


  1. At the library ‘til 2:30am studying for that Chem final and now I need to get back to my residence hall, but I don’t want to walk…


The P2P is a shuttle that runs around campus 7 nights a week from 7pm until 3am. Check out schedule info here. Part of the P2P service is a Library Safe Ride Shuttle that runs from the Union to housing locations, including fraternities and sororities on campus.


  1. I have a disability and I need a ride from Memorial Hall back to my residence hall.


The P2P also runs a Disability Services shuttle, 24 hours a day Monday through Friday and 9am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday. Call P2P dispatch if you need a ride at (919) 962-P-TO-P (7867). You can also call them for a ride to Campus Health Services or the UNC Emergency Room in the event of an illness or injury.


Chapel Hill Transit also runs an EZ Rider program for qualified individuals. The service provides origin-to-destination transport within Chapel Hill to those unable to use the fixed route system because of a disability.


  1. I wanna go grocery shopping. How do I get to the nearest grocery store?


Chapel Hill Transit runs FREE buses around Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Check out all routes and schedules here. To get to Weaver Street Market, a co-op grocery store and prepared foods market, or Harris Teeter in Carrboro, take the F route, the J route or the CW. All of them stop in front of Weaver Street. You can catch the F outside the Varsity Theater on Franklin Street. You can catch the J or the CW on campus in front of the Nursing School or across from Fraternity Court in front of Abernathy Hall.


Chapel Hill Transit buses typically run from Monday-Friday from 6:30am until 7pm, with some routes, like the J route, running until 11pm. A few routes also run on the weekend. If you have a smart phone, you can download one of these apps that tell you what bus stops are in your area and when to expect the next bus to come.

CH transit

  1. I am flying home to New Jersey for Fall Break. How do I get to the airport?


UNC P2P has a free airport shuttle service the day before Fall, Thanksgiving, and Spring breaks! You must sign up in advance, starting 2 weeks prior to the break. The shuttle picks up at the P2P lot on Manning Drive (behind Morrison) and the SRC lot on South Road, and drops off at RDU. There is also a return shuttle service that runs the last day of the break (usually Sunday) from RDU back to campus.

Redefining Drug Overdose

Everyone knows that only hardcore drug addicts overdose, right? Pills_Pic

Actually, this statement may be one of the most dangerous misconceptions driving the overdose epidemic in our country. In the United States, accidental overdose, which includes overdose due to alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription drugs, has now overtaken motor vehicle crashes as the number one cause of injury death (i.e. non-disease-related death, like falling or homicide). Opioid pain relievers, like Oxycodone and Hydrocodone currently account for more overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin combined. Prescribed for acute or chronic pain, these drugs provide relief for thousands of people. But, as with any drug, they carry the potential for abuse and overdose. In order to fight the growing overdose epidemic, we must challenge misconceptions about overdose victims.

As a Health Educator at UNC Campus Health, I have worked with college students who have experienced accidental overdose due to a combination of alcohol and prescription drugs. Many are smart, studious high achievers. Often they are taking prescription medicines as prescribed, unaware of the toxic effects of mixing their drugs with alcohol. They wake up in the hospital shocked and confused: “How could I have been so near death from just one pill?” one student asked me after taking a prescribed opioid and drinking a few beers.

But accidental overdose is not limited to young people. In fact, the mean age of overdose victims is 39, suggesting that older adults are overdosing just as much as younger populations.  I experienced this firsthand when I worked on a research project investigating falls in older adults. I encountered seniors who had accidentally taken too much of their medicines and ended up in the hospital from an overdose. Many were reluctant to talk about their experience out of shame or embarrassment, not realizing that many drug overdoses happen in this way.

Another group at higher risk for overdose is veterans. Soldiers suffer disproportionately from chronic pain, PTSD, and mental illness, and the medicines prescribed for these illnesses place them at higher risk for an overdose. Opioid pain reliever prescriptions among soldiers have increased from 30,000 to 50,000 since the Iraq war began, so it is no wonder our troops suffer four times more overdose deaths than their civilian counterparts.

So what can be done? Opioid pain relievers contribute disproportionately to the problem. A drug called naloxone can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, but because of naloxone’s prescription drug status, it must be administered by a doctor or self-administered. One option currently under discussion is expanding the law to allow overdose bystanders (i.e. friends and family) to administer the drug. Another way to reduce overdose deaths is through a 911 Good Samaritan Law, which would grant amnesty from any drug or alcohol related charges to a person calling 911 on behalf of an overdose victim. For the UNC students I work with, this could be a lifesaver, since so many of them avoid calling 911 for fear of getting in trouble.

These two efforts are part of an overdose prevention bill currently underway in the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA). On February 5th, a policy summit will be held at the NCGA in Raleigh where these issues will be discussed more in depth. Drug overdose is not simply about addicts using illegal drugs (although this is an important population to consider). The prevalence of prescription drug use means that we must redefine what an overdose victim looks like: from the studious UNC student to the soldiers who risk their lives for our country.

It’s easy to feel powerless about these issues, especially from a policy standpoint. But, if you want to learn more about overdose or NC state politics, come to the FREE Policy Summit on February 5th in Raleigh. This is your chance to see politics in action and meet legislators and other folks who are working hard to prevent overdose in NC. The event is free, but you still need to register at


With exam season on the way and the end-of-semester paper crunch coming, students will be turning to caffeine to help them make it through the long days (and nights) of work. It’s important to know that caffeine cannot replace sleep, and that your brain works best when you have time to sleep before taking an exam. So plan ahead, prioritize, and get some sleep! Your GPA will thank you. Also, learn more about caffeine by checking out the cool info-graphic below. Click to enlarge. Happy Studying!

Is Pre-Gaming a Good Idea?

College students, if they choose to drink, pre-game at higher rates than other populations. But is pre-gaming a good idea, or does it lead to more negative consequences than good?

College students tell us they pre-game for a variety of reasons: to avoid underage drinking tickets at a bar or dance club, to spend less money on alcohol, or because they attend a party ahead of time where drinking occurs.

While avoiding legal trouble and spending less on alcohol are admirable goals, does pre-gaming help? According to the research, pre-gaming actually results in a higher likelihood of heavy drinking, spending more money, hangovers, blackouts, and risky behaviors like vandalism.

This is because pre-gaming lowers your inhibitions and impairs your ability to make good decisions later in the night, like alternating alcoholic drinks with water, or knowing to stop drinking when you’ve reached your limit. The research, by author Florian Labhart of the Addiction Switzerland Institute in Lausanne, indicates that on nights that don’t involve pre-gaming people drink less on average, and are less likely to experience the negative effects associated with having too much alcohol.

Here at Campus Health we have harm-reduction approach, which means that we are not making any judgments with regards to alcohol or drugs. We focus on helping students identify ways they can reduce their risks for alcohol and other drug related harm, and we help students put in place strategies that they find useful to avoid the negative consequences that they identify.

So if you choose to drink, make sure that you are aware of the risks involved, and make sure you know that pre-gaming is not always as good of an idea as it sounds.

As always, stay safe, and stay healthy!

Inspired by this post in Men’s Health

4 Things You Need to Know on Halloween

Ahh, Halloween. As a kid, it was a time to prepare a costume, carve a pumpkin, gather with friends and family, and have a wholesome night of fun dedicated to obtaining and consuming too much candy. For adults, Halloween is still about consuming too much. But for some, it’s alcohol causing the tummy aches.

There are many ways to celebrate Halloween without alcohol present: Have a costume competition with some friends, bake up some tasty Halloween-themed treats, have a scary movie marathon, or plot an elaborate way to scare the crap out of your roommate. But if you choose to have an adult beverage to celebrate Halloween this evening, make sure you do these 4 easy things to stay safe and avoid tummy aches.

  1. Eat a meal before you start drinking, and make sure you have plenty of water before and during drinking. Eating a meal beforehand helps slow down the effects of alcohol and will allow you to make safer decisions all night. And alcohol is a diuretic, which means it dehydrates you, so it is important to drink water all night. Also, switching between non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages is a good way to make sure things don’t get out of hand.
  2. Know how much you are drinking. Don’t drink from communal punch bowls, trashcans, etc. as you have no way of knowing how much alcohol is in there and how it will affect you. Also, the taste of the alcohol is easily masked, so don’t rely on how strong the punch tastes. Taking back control over how much alcohol you are consuming by making your own drinks.
  3. Use the buddy system. Don’t be afraid to speak up or take action if there is something going on that you or your friends are uncomfortable with. Everyone is entitled to having a good time on Halloween, and that starts with feeling safe. Keeping an eye on each other can help get you there.
  4. Have an exit strategy. Some of the most dangerous situations arise late in the night, when people have had too much alcohol to make good decisions. Set a limit for yourself ahead of time, because it’s hard to know when to stop once you have started. So decide ahead of time when you are heading home, and have plans in place to get home safe. Obviously, don’t get into a car when the driver has been drinking. Have a way to get a cab, take a bus, or call a sober friend as a backup.

With these things in mind, have a happy, healthy, safe Halloween!

Your Guide to Alcohol and the Law

Getting an alcohol citation can be expensive, embarrassing, and very frustrating.   Many students can minimize their risk of getting a drinking ticket by becoming informed.   So, before you make any decisions about purchasing or drinking alcohol, make sure you know the law; know the consequences; and know your rights.

Know the Law:  

It is ILLEGAL to….

  • Purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol if you are under 21.  This includes attempting to order a drink at a bar or purchasing beer at a grocery store
  • Possess alcohol if you are under 21.  This includes alcohol found in your vehicle or in your hands as you walk down the street, even if it is unopened.   An underage person suspected to be under the influence of alcohol (smells like alcohol, holding an empty Solocup that smells like alcohol, visibly intoxicated, etc) can be charged with underage possession.
  • Use a Fake ID to purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol or to enter an over 21 drinking establishment.  Using a Fake ID to get into a bar can still result in a citation even if no alcoholic drinks are purchased or consumed.
  • Purchase alcohol for an underage friend.
  • Drink and Drive.  If you are 21 and over, this means having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.08. It is also illegal to consume alcohol while driving or to have any alcohol in your system when there is an unsealed alcohol container in the passenger seat.   If you are under 21, you can get a DUI for having any alcohol in your system.
  • Possess an open container of alcohol in any publicly owned area, such as streets, sidewalks, municipal parking lots, public parks, playgrounds, recreational fields, tennis courts, athletic fields, and in any buildings owned by the town.  This law applies to people 21 and over.  If you are under 21, you will be charged with underage possession.  

Know the consequences

Typical consequences for the above offenses include a misdemeanor charge, fines, and court costs.  Additionally, many students are required to complete an 6-week alcohol education class as well as a 1-on-1 alcohol assessment.  A DUI results in a 1-year revocation of your Driver’s License for the first offense.  Depending on the situation, a student may also face imprisonment.   UNC Dean of Students has their own set of consequences for students that may include academic and/or housing probation.

Know your rights

If you are stopped by the police, here’s some helpful advice from UNC Legal Services…..

  1. You are not required to answer questions. You can choose to remain silent. Think “UNC”: “Uh, No Comment.”
  2. If police request to search your person or belongings, and you do not wish to be searched, you may say, “I do not consent to a search.”
  3. If the officer proceeds to search you or your belongings, such as your wallet, backpack, or car, do not resist.  If you do not consent to the search, simply say, “I do not consent to a search.” (If the search is unlawful, it can be suppressed in court.)
  4. If an officer asks for your identification, do not present a fake ID.  If you present proper identification and an officer asks to see your wallet to check if you have a fake ID, you can refuse.  After refusing, you may then ask, “Officer, am I free to go?”
  5. You are not required to submit to a breathalyzer unless you are driving a car.  If you are a passenger in a vehicle, you may refuse a breathalyzer without legal consequences unless you are underage and visibly intoxicated.  If you are approached on the street (e.g. walking home or outside a party), you may refuse a breathalyzer without legal consequences.  After refusing, you may then ask, “Officer, am I free to go?”
  6. NEVER physically resist a police officer.  Simply remain silent and remain calm.
  7. If you are arrested, state clearly for the officer, “I am going to remain silent.” Then remain silent.

Some additional things to keep in mind if you are stopped while driving….

  1. YOU MUST display your driver’s license upon an officer’s request.
  2. YOU MUST write your name (for the purpose of identification) upon an officer’s request and provide your name and address (and the name and address of the auto’s owner).
  3. If the officer pulls you over while driving, you must submit to a breathalyzer test or your license will be revoked. You do have the right to contact an attorney for advice.
  4. You may be asked to perform dexterity tests, but you are not required to do so.  There are no formal legal penalties for refusing to do so.

For more information:

UNC Legal Services

Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE),000005,000272,000274


Are you a self-proclaimed “foodie”? If so, today is a special day for you. Today is National Food Day, a day dedicated to celebrating healthy, affordable and sustainable food.
The typical fast-food driven American diet has severe health implications such as increased risk for disease and premature death. Acknowledging these consequences, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) created the Food Day campaign just one year ago as a movement toward a better food system.

In only one year’s time Food Day has become viral, engaging all Americans to “eat real”! Food Day supporters believe that Americans of all ages, races, incomes and geographic locations should have the opportunity to select healthy dietary choices.
Learn more about this movement by watching the food day video here:

Want to get involved?