Workout Wednesday: Fitness Designed for YOUR Personality

Walk into any college career guidance center, and you’ll quickly be directed to take a personality test. The line of thinking is that each person behaves in a different way with “The Big 5” – openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism – and therefore are matched better to certain careers. But why stop there? With the huge variety of ways to exercise, there’s bound to be a certain type that corresponds best with who YOU are. Be it group Zumba, solo marathons, or team sports, the perfect workout for your personality is within reach. If you enjoy an exercise regimen, you are much more likely to stick with it and reach your fitness goals!

In addition to considering your innate personality when selecting an exercise regimen, consider your other personal preferences. For example, are you a night owl or a morning dove? If you prefer to get moving in the morning, consider squeezing in your workout before breakfast. On the other hand you like to stay up late, try a workout after school or work and see if it’s any more enjoyable. The options are nearly unlimited – all you need to do is try, try, and try again.

Ready to get started? Take the following quiz created by fitness consultant Suzanne Brue to learn more about your fitness personality!

Take the quiz here

One you take the quiz, you will be shown your results. It’s so useful to see what exercises will work best for your personality.  For example, my fitness personality is “tried blue: tried and true.” According to the quiz results, this means that the best exercises for me are steady, methodical, and proven effective. The results also expound by saying that I’m guided by fitness goals and objectives. Sounds right to me!

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 4.24.07 PM

Image retrieved from the8colorsoffitness.com

Workout Wednesday blog posts are written by UNC Campus Recreation. Each Wednesday we swap blog posts with the Tar Heel Tone Up blog so that readers can view more diverse post topics that will benefit their health and wellness. Workout Wednesday blog posts can be found both here and on tarheeltoneup.com.

Do I Really Need To Wipe Down At The Gym?

On any given day, those dumbbells and machines could be used by 100 or more people – and you know most of those people didn’t wipe down after they’ve used them. Not only is it kind of gross to not wipe down gym equipment after you’ve used it (no one wants to touch your sweat!), but it could put you and others at risk for catching what that person left on that dumbbell and make you sick.

germs, gym, wipe down
Image courtesy of Pascal on Flickr

A recent study at a university gym found that 10% of gym equipment had staph on it! Another study found that 63% of gym equipment had rhinovirus, the virus that causes the common cold. All it takes for you to get sick is to use an infected piece of equipment and then touch your eye, mouth, or nose. Some other germs that you might find at the gym may cause urinary tract infections, athlete’s foot, and warts.

Gyms present an ideal breeding grounds for germs – it’s warm, it’s moist, and there’s a lot of people coming through. Things like yoga mats and work benches may put you at a higher risk. Bacteria thrive on porous materials that get warm and damp. Medicine balls are also hotbeds for these germs.

Many of you may think that you’ve never gotten sick from the gym. However, it’s good to remember that many people may be carriers of illnesses without getting sick themselves.

While the reported cases of getting sick from the gym is not very common, there are enough reasons why wiping down is the golden rule at the gym.

Here are some tips to help prevent you from getting sick from the gym:

  • Wash your hands. Wash your hands using soap for 20 seconds before and after workouts, according to CDC guidelines. Make sure to also dry your hands.
  • Sanitize if you can’t wash. No soap and water? Then try alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Apply and rub all over all surfaces of the hands and fingers until hands are completely dry.
  • Disinfect your gym equipment. They’re at the gym for a reason. Use disinfectant sprays and wipe down equipment and mats before and after you work out.
  • Shower after working out. Your sweaty clothes are also ideal for bacteria to grow. Showering can help prevent this.
  • Protect your feet. If you’re going to use the gym showers, wear some kind of footwear, like flip flops. Wash your feet and dry them to prevent athlete’s foot.
  • Wash your clothes. Avoid re-wearing gym clothes if you haven’t washed them. This includes socks and swimwear.
  • Cover your skin. If you have an open wound, cover them with a waterproof bandage. You should also want to avoid pools.
  • Don’t share personal care items. If it comes into contact with someone else’s skin, avoid sharing. This includes towels, water bottles, soap, razor, combs, brushes, or make-up.

Next time you’re at the gym, don’t be caught being that person who leaves a trail of sweat everywhere.

Justin Chu is the Information and Communications Program Assistant at UNC Student Wellness and a Master of Public Health graduate student with a focus in Health Behavior at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. He previously worked as a nutritionist in the clinical, community, and commercial settings after earning his bachelor’s in Clinical Nutrition at the University of California at Davis.

Workout Wednesday: 3 Things To Remember About Fitness

by Ben Smart

3 Things To Remember About Fitness
Peathegee Inc/Getty Images

1. A healthy lifestyle is a journey, not a destination

It’s about how you drive the car, not where you’re going. Confused? Think of your body like a vehicle. These vehicles come in all shapes, sizes, ages, builds, and colors. How well your vehicle performs depends a lot on how you drive and care for it. Do you change your oil every 10,000 miles? Do you invest in high quality fuel? Are you careful to not constantly strain the engine? Applied to your body, there’s actually much less variation in body types than vehicle variety.

According to a 2011 study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, your quality of life depends greatly on your lifestyle choices. This means the small decisions you make on a daily basis add up. Check out this article from the Huffington Post on 100 ways to live to 100.

2. Sleep is your golden life force energy

Sounds silly, doesn’t it? I phrased it this way to highlight the dire importance of a good night’s rest. And the occasional nap is highly welcomed as well. When you sleep, your body repairs itself – restoring damaged tissues. The amount of sleep you get has a profound effect on your weight and your overall health. The CDC recommends that teens get 9-10 hours of sleep per day, and adults get 7-8 hours. Wow! That may sound like a long time in bed for those of us who push ourselves to the limit. Some people say that they get by just fine on 4-5 hours of sleep (this could be you!). Chances are, they probably don’t. Don’t take my word for it – check out this video on sleep by neurosurgeon and CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta.

3. Exercise is about more than losing weight

Losing weight seems the be the sole reason that many people exercise in the first place. However, it’s definitely not the only benefit that you’re getting from a consistent exercise program. Many fitness experts warn against focusing only on the result of weight loss, as this outcome can take many weeks to manifest. This delayed gratification can prove too much for some people – who could become easily discouraged. Instead, focus on the energy and increased functioning that you get from being active. To achieve your healthiest life, make exercise a priority, not an afterthought.

Make 2015 your healthiest year.

Workout Wednesday blog posts are written by UNC Campus Recreation staff members. Each Wednesday we swap blog posts with the Tar Heel Tone Up blog so that readers can view more diverse post topics that will benefit their health and wellness. Workout Wednesday blog posts can be found both here and on tarheeltoneup.com.

News Roundup: what’s more important – exercise or sleep?

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

alarm-clock

Today we are tackling an important – and probably relevant – question raised by some of our readers. We have 24 hours in a day, but for those of use who want to pack in as much as possible, it may not be possible to do it all. In some situations, we have to forgo study time, sleep hours, or a night out with friends to make it all work.

If it comes down to it– what’s more crucial: an hour of exercise, or an extra hour of sleep?

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/20/ask-well-sleep-or-exercise/

The New York Times polled two physicians and learned that sleep and exercise share a “bi-directional relationship.” They write that exercise can actually lead to deeper, more restorative sleep. But they warn that sleeping for less than seven hours is a risky path to go down, possibly resulting in next-day drowsiness and lower motivation.

http://www.shape.com/celebrities/star-trainers/ask-celebrity-trainer-should-you-skip-sleep-fit-workout

A Shape.com article emphasized the absolute necessity of getting enough sleep at night, particularly if your goal is to maintain a healthy weight. The trainer featured in the article said that her opinion is that sleep is more important the exercise.

http://greatist.com/fitness/dear-greatist-which-more-important-sleep-or-exercise

Greatist.com makes a key point that not everyone needs the same amount of sleep. Not to mention – if you exercise more during a given day, your body might need more sleep time to repair and recover. They write that a key factor in workouts is their duration, and to aim for anywhere between 20 minutes and an hour, depending on your personal goals.

Sleep well and be active, my friends 🙂

image from theeffect.net

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: 8 Dimensions of Wellness Portrayed by Animals!

UNC Student Wellness believes that student and community health choices involve the integration of eight dimensions of wellness. To illustrate these dimensions, the staff at Student Wellness looked to our pets to bring you examples of how they embody each dimension of wellness.

 

  1. Cultural wellness. Pictured: Mary’s cats Buffy and Giles helping to create a safe, inclusive space for LGBTQ beings of all species.
    Cultural Wellness
  2. Emotional wellness. Pictured: Diana’s dog Bea liking (and licking) what she sees in the mirror, demonstrating her fabulous body image and self-acceptance.
    Emotional Wellness
  3. Physical wellness. Pictured: Kate’s dog CJ getting her jump/fly/swim on at Uwharrie National Forest. Pictured: two litters of puppies napping together for their physical wellness.
    Physical Wellness Physical Wellness 2
  4. Environmental wellness. Pictured: Diana’s dog Bea out for a fun day of sailing on Jordan Lake. Here, she’s taking in the splendor of the lake and thinking very thoughtfully about air quality. Pictured: Kelli’s former foster dog Kori rolling around in the grass to scratch her back.
    animals5 animals6
  5. Intellectual wellness. Pictured: Kate’s dog CJ demonstrating an important part of intellectual wellness: sometimes you need a study break! Pictured: Mary’s cat Giles learning how to play a new game and demonstrating that intellectual wellness can be fun and social!  Pictured: Kate’s dog CJ catching up on this week’s biggest news stories.
    animals7 animals8 animals9
  6. Financial wellness. Pictured: Diana’s dog Bea managing her personal finances; setting finance goals for the upcoming year.
    animals10
  7. Social wellness. Pictured: Part of social wellness is also knowing when not to be social by finding time for yourself. Here is Brittany’s cat Noble in a box, finding some time and space to be alone. Or nap. Both are important for maintaining social wellness. Pictured: Mary’s cats Buffy and Giles spending time together and bonding over looking at some birds outside. Pictured: Natalie’s adopted kittens demonstrating some solid peer support — an essential component of social wellness.
    animals12 animals11 animals13 Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 5.35.36 PM
  8. Spiritual wellness. Pictured: This is Brittany’s cat Barnes. He like to take time for self reflection every day.  Usually while using his tail as a pillow.  Pictured: Pedro, a recently adopted dog with Triangle Beagle Rescue, looks up at the heavens and smiles.
    animals15 animals16

This blog was originally posted on November 18, 2014, and was written by the Student Wellness staff! 

 

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!

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Condom effectiveness: What’s brand name got to do with it?

This blog was originally posted on April 25, 2012 and was written by Diana Sanchez.

Condoms are one of the most commonly used contraceptive/STD prevention products used worldwide. The United Nations Population Fund estimated that over 10 billion condoms were used in 2005.  Here on campus, Campus Health Services provides thousands of condoms to students each year.

As a sexual health counselor, I have noticed that many people’s preferences for certain condom brands are based (almost entirely) on their perception of that condom brand’s effectiveness. We offer a variety of condom brands for free to students through Campus Health Services. Occasionally, when people check out the condoms we have available, they’ll ask: “are those safe to use?”, and “don’t those break more than [other condom brand]?”.

So, do some condoms in fact perform better than others in terms of STD/pregnancy prevention?

The answer is no, not really. Condoms are regarded by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as “Class II medical devices”, a designation that includes pregnancy tests and powered wheelchairs.  Products in this category have to meet special labeling requirements and performance standards. For condoms, the FDA standards include systematic “water leak” tests to ensure that no fluid can leak out of the condoms. To meet standards, all condoms must have at least 996 out of 1,000 condoms, on average, pass this test. This means that FDA-approved condoms must be at least 99.6% effective in laboratory tests to be available to consumers.

In a 2004 publication, Walsh and colleagues used condom use data from trials of three bands of condoms, including Trojan, LifeStyles and Ramses – all of which are FDA-approved condom brands. Out of 3,677 condom-protected sex acts analyzed in the study, the authors found that 55 condom acts failed, either due to breaking (16 condoms broke; break rate = 0.04%) or slipping (39 condoms slipped; slip rate = 1%). The likelihood of condoms breaking during sex was not statistically associated with condom brand.

FDA-approved condoms are all quite effective at preventing pregnancy and STD, and performance is probably not related to brand type. You might be wondering if the condoms you’re using are FDA-approved. With the exception of novelty condoms (which are pretty uncommon), just about all of the condoms you’ll come across in the United States are approved by the FDA.  All the condoms we provide through Campus Health Services are FDA-approved, and same goes for places like Planned Parenthood and local STD/HIV clinics. If you’d like to be certain, you can check the condom packet to look for wording about STD and pregnancy prevention. If it’s on the packet, those condoms meet federal regulations for quality and safety.

Check out the following pictures to see how we’ve looked for this language on some condoms we provide at Campus Health Services:

If you can’t find language about STD/HIV prevention on condom packaging, then it’s not FDA approved.
If you can’t find language about STD/HIV prevention on condom packaging, then it’s not FDA approved for STD/HIV and pregnancy prevention.

All of this said, although condoms must be at least 99.6% effective in safety trials, testing conditions do not necessarily mean 99.6% real-life effectiveness for any condom brand. But here’s the good news:  there’s a lot you can do to increase the effectiveness of condoms. One of the biggest challenges to condom effectiveness is correct use.  Some of the most common errors with condom use are: using the wrong lubricant (water-based, NOT oil-based, lubricants should be used with condoms); incorrect storage (ie, storing a condom in a hot place, like a glove compartment, or in a place with lots of friction, like a wallet or pocket); and not checking the expiration date.

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: What Does the SPF Number on Your Sunscreen Actually Mean?

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

This week, we’ve seen three 80º F days in a row and one incredible thunderstorm early Thursday morning! You know what that means: North Carolina is racing through spring into our unpredictable, hot, and randomly stormy summer weather!

With the reemergence of plenty of beautiful sun, it’s time to start stocking up on sunscreen again! When you’re standing there in an aisle of literally over a hundred different types of sunscreen, it’s difficult to know what all of the different claims on all of the different bottles actually means! Here are a few tips on how to understand what different sunscreen lingo means so that you’ll have an easier time deciding!

sunburned

“Sunburned” by Erin Stevenson O’Connor of Flickr Creative Commons

  • SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. Theoretically, this number is supposed to mean that the sunscreen will protect your from burning that many times longer than you can normally stay out in the sun without protection before you begin to burn. Example: If I can only stay outside for 10 minutes without burning, SPF 30 sunscreen is theoretically supposed to keep me from burning for 300 minutes. I say theoretically because this would happen under perfect conditions. In real life conditions, if you’re sweating, swimming, or just moving around a lot in a way that might cause any friction against your skin from clothes, you’re losing sunscreen protection and it might not last for the entire 300 minutes. A good rule of thumb is to reapply every 2 hours no matter what the SPF says! SPF is not a measure of how well the sunscreen will protect you, but rather how long the protection will last under ideal conditions.

Fun fact: SPF ratings were introduced in 1962. Apparently, they were determined in the lab by gathering up 20 people with sensitive skin, measuring the amount of UV rays it took for them to burn without sunscreen, and then repeating the test with them wearing sunscreen. If that was really the case, there is no way that this process continues today because it would be considered unethical since even a single sunburn is known to increase your risk of skin cancer over your lifetime.

  • “Broad spectrum” indicates that the sunscreen is protective against both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays cause the visible red sunburns, so all sunscreens contain UVB protection. However, UVA rays can cause dangerous skin damage that can lead to cancer and wrinkles, so you’ll want a sunscreen that protects against both! If the bottle doesn’t specifically say “broad spectrum” or UVA/UVB protection, you can probably assume that it only contains UVB protection and they don’t want you to notice.
  • Even if they do not specifically mention UVA or broad-spectrum protection, look for zinc oxide and titanium dioxide on the “active ingredients” list. These also indicate protection against UVA rays! These ingredients are also included in many “sensitive skin” sunscreens, yet they still cause skin reactions in some people. However, they are approved for safe use and sometimes it just takes multiple brand attempts to find a sunscreen that works best with your skin.
  • Most lab tests of sunscreen use a much greater amount than the typical sunscreen-wearing beach-goer wears! You should be using about an entire ounce of sunscreen every time you reapply, which could be up to 4 or more ounces a day! Don’t skimp and buy a single 8 oz. bottle of sunscreen and then head to the beach for a week; sunscreen is cheaper than cancer treatment!
  • If you have a family history of skin cancer or you take medications containing retinol (a form of vitamin A often used in acne medications), you are at an increased risk for skin cancer and adverse effects to sun exposure, such as excessive burning even with sunscreen use. Talk to your prescribing doctor about safe sun exposure and try to take advantage of trees and umbrellas for shade! (And of course, be especially obsessive about your sunscreen use and reapplication).
  • Ladies: don’t want to mess up your makeup by applying sunscreen over it at the beach? You can (1) apply sunscreen to your face and let it dry before you put on makeup, (2) choose a foundation, liquid or powder, that contains at least a 15 SPF sunscreen because many brands make these now, (3) buy a tinted sunscreen that essentially works like makeup when you put it on! These would be found in the make-up aisle rather than the sunscreen aisle and are sold under various brand names.
  • While you’re in that sunscreen aisle, don’t forget that your lips count as skin, too! Buy a tube of lip balm with sunscreen (such as Carmex) to protect your lips to keep them from getting irritated, peeling and cracking, and encouraging the appearance of fever blisters if you already get them occasionally.
  • Finally, don’t forget that your scalp counts as skin, as well! For men with short hair or women with part lines in their hair, you’ll need to protect your scalp from burning with a sprayable liquid scalp sunscreen (called “scalp-screen”) or a hat!
  • So you’re not planning on going to the beach? What about biking, walking outside, or sitting on the quad? If you’re going to be outside for more than ten minutes, you need sunscreen!

My family and friends always shake their heads or chuckle at me when I’ve spent a lot of time outside one day and I look down at the end of the day and say “Oh no! I’m getting tan lines!” In the U.S. today, media has encouraged the notion that tanned, bronze skin is beautiful skin, and many people see their tan lines as a small victory that has fulfilled their purpose of a day at the beach. I, on the other hand, see tanned skin as damaged skin (and the CDC and majority of dermatologists seem to agree with me these days.) I’ll continue to slather my high SPF sunscreen onto my fair, freckled skin every couple of hours because I like my skin the way it is and I would rather be fair-skinned and skin-cancer-and-wrinkle-free than tan and worried about the consequences that might come from my sun exposure later in life.

1966 Ad, Solarcaine Spray,

You know what else stops sunburn pain? Not getting sunburned.

Also, it’s important to remember that even if you have dark skin and you don’t feel like you have to worry about tan lines or sunburn, the UVA/UVB rays still have the same damaging effects on your skin over time as they do on people with lighter skin! This means that you should be wearing sunscreen no matter what your skin looks like!

My favorite is Neutrogena Ultra Sheer® Dry-Touch Broad Spectrum sunscreen; it doesn’t smell like much and it dries on your skin and doesn’t leave you feeling so icky and greasy! I also like the Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Lotion Sunscreen to prevent clogged pores and breakouts and the Neutrogena Pure & Free® Baby Faces Ultra Gentle Broad Spectrum sunscreen because typically any brand of baby sunscreen tends to have a higher SPF and is well-suited for sensitive skin that might react to other types of sunscreen. (I’m not advertising, but as you may have already assumed, I’ve tried many different types of sunscreen and I’ve stuck with the Neutrogena line for a couple of years now because it’s always worked great for me!)

Sunscreen

“Sunscreen” by Joe Shlabotnik of Flickr Creative Commons

Disclaimer: Some sunscreens work great on some people’s skin and really irritate other people’s skin! What works for me might not work for you, so I suggest that you do what I did and buy small bottle of several different brands next time you go to the beach so that you can try them all out and decide which is your favorite! Once you decide, then you go to Sam’s, Costco, or Wal-Mart and stock up on that bulk sized discount! J

Sources:

Jeffries, Melissa.  “What do SPF numbers mean?”  16 August 2007.  HowStuffWorks.com.http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/beauty/sun-care/spf.htm  09 April, 2015.

Tachibana, Chris. “Probing Question: What does the SPF rating of sunscreen mean?” 1 June 2010. Penn State News. http://news.psu.edu/story/141338/2010/06/01/research/probing-question-what-does-spf-rating-sunscreen-mean 09 April, 2015.

The Best Sun Protection Plan for Rain or Shine. 5 April 2011. One Life, Make it Count: Aging Well. http://www.onemedical.com/blog/live-well/spring-has-sprung-the-best-spf-protection-plan-for-rain-or-shine/ 09 April 2015.

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: 10 Day Challenge – It’s Time to UNPLUG!

This blog post was originally published on November 22, 2013 and was written by Jani Radhakrishnan.

A 2013 Mobile Consumer Habit survey reported that 72% of U.S. adults that own smartphones keep it within five feet of them the majority of the time. [Mine is currently about 8 inches away from my computer!] That same study reported that out of 1102 respondents, 55% USED their smartphone while driving, 33% while on a date, 12% in the shower, and 20% of adults ages 18-34….during sex. O2 released a study that indicated that the ‘phone’ function on a smartphone is the fifth most frequently used function. In fact, the study reports that smartphones now replace alarm clocks, cameras, televisions, and physical books.

https://i0.wp.com/cdn.physorg.com/newman/gfx/news/hires/thenumberofm.jpg
Image from cdn.physorg.com

Have you seen this creative video representing our addiction to phones?

Or read this news article about a San Francisco train shooting where “passengers were too distracted by phones to notice the shooter’s gun in plain sight”? With all this new ‘connectivity,’ we are not actually connecting to the world and the people around us. In fact, surveys indicate that 13% of cell phone owners pretend to use their phone to avoid interacting with people around them.

https://i0.wp.com/images.teamsugar.com/files/upl1/0/3362/14_2008/cell.jpg
Image from teamsugar.com

The other day, my phone died while waiting for the bus [It was horrible!]. So, rather than staring mindlessly in to space, I made some small-talk with a guy heading to Carrboro and told him he could take the J and not wait 45 minutes for the CW. It felt good. It got me thinking….

It’s time to UNPLUG! I have come up with a 10 day challenge, and I invite you to try it with me. Since we all have work, school, and social lives, I have fairly realistic expectations. Still, I think we can semi-unplug from the world more often than we think. So, here it is:

Jani’s 10 day Challenge of Unplugging

  • Day 1 Friday: When you’re out with a partner or friend, make a deal to keep your phones in your pockets, bags, etc.
  • Day 2 Saturday: It’s the weekend! Do not check your work or school email accounts. Not even once.
  • Day 3 Sunday: Invest in a watch! Since it is Sunday, maybe you have some time to go find one. This way, you can check your watch for the time instead of your phone.
  • Day 4 Monday: Read the DTH or a hardcopy of some magazine or newspaper to check out any local events happening this week.
  • Day 5 Tuesday: Do not spend all day at a computer. Time yourself so that every hour, you get up and walk around for about 5 minutes. During that time, say hi to a colleague, another student, or a friend. Whatever you do, do not take your phone with you.
  • Day 6 Wednesday: While eating meals, keep your phone in a separate room, on silent.
  • Day 7 Thursday: At work, your room, or the library, open your email only twice per hour. [Coming from someone who permanently keeps the email tab open while on my computer, I know this will be my biggest challenge]
  • Day 8 Friday: When you are watching television, and a commercial comes on, do anything other than pulling out your phone.  Maybe even jumping jacks!
  • Day 9 Saturday: If the weather is nice, enjoy the outdoors! Go for a hike or to the park, and leave your phone at home or in the car. [If you do not feel safe, keep your phone with you but do not look at it!] If it is rainy or cold outside, enjoy a hot beverage of your choice and a movie in the comfort of your own home, and turn your phone completely off during this time.
  • Day 10 Sunday: It is the last day of the challenge and I am hoping that tomorrow we can return to work or school feeling completely rejuvenated and ready to take on the world. What are we going to do to celebrate? Find a moment to answer a text with a phone call or Skype date instead of another text.

[TIPS for Success: Hey iPhone users, did you know there is a function on your phone called “Do Not Disturb” that will save incoming calls, messages, and alerts for later until you unlock your phone?]

My hope is that together, we can all unplug from this world and be in the moment for at least 10 days and continue some of these habits for our minds’ sake. You will be happier, your friends will be happier, and your mental health and boss or professor may be happier, too!

~JR

Sunscreen. Who needs it anyway?: Sun safety for people of color

(“Splash” by The Eye of Vox, Flickr, Creative Commons)
(“Splash” by The Eye of Vox, Flickr, Creative Commons)

The summer is finally upon us. The closer we get to the end of the summer, the hotter it feels outside. No longer is it in-between jacket weather; it is undeniably sunny summer weather. During this time of year, it is very common to hear phrases like, “Don’t forget your sunscreen.” But what does that sentence mean for a person of color? Growing up as a Black woman, this bit of sun advice was almost always met with skepticism and regarded as sometimes irrelevant due to my beliefs about sun safety and the Black community.

During this time of year it is also common to hear statements like “You’ll be okay” if you don’t remember your sunscreen, or there simply isn’t even a conversation about buying or using sunscreen. Statements like the former or lack thereof are partially due to the myths surrounding this topic, such as the myth that people of color don’t need to use sunscreen or that people of color don’t get sunburned. Actually, the amount of melanin or dark pigmentation in skin serves as an inherent protector against the sun’s rays. However, instead of turning red, darker skinned people tend to turn darker brown.

Below are some fast facts about sun safety and people of color:
                                                                 

                                                                 Risk of Skin Cancer

• African American skin has been found to have an inherent sun protective factor (SPF) of about 13.4 in comparison to 3.4 in white skin. This factor contributes to the fact that skin cancer is diagnosed less often in African Americans, as well as in Asians and Latinos, than in whites. However, when skin cancer is diagnosed in people of color it tends to be within the later stages of skin cancer, which makes mortality rates disproportionately higher.

• Melanoma is often found in places of the skin that are less often exposed and have less pigmentation. For African Americans, Asians, Filipinos, Indonesians, and native Hawaiians, 60-75 percent of tumors related to melanoma have been found on the palms, soles, mucous membranes and nail regions.

Risk factors in minorities for melanoma other than the sun include: burn scars, albinism, trauma, preexisting moles, radiation therapy and immunosuppression.

                                                             SPF Recommendations

• The FDA has suggested that brands that promise very high SPF levels such as 50+ have been found to be misleading and the high level of SPF is not necessary.

Vitamin A in sunscreen can lead to development of tumors when in the sun. Instead, look for sunscreens that contain zinc, titanium dioxide, avobenzone or Mexoryl S.

• Choosing an SPF level can be difficult. Darker skin does not require the highest level of SPF. Regardless of skin tone, an SPF of 15 at minimum is suggested, reapplying every 2 hours when in direct sun.

• Be sure to check out the 2015 Guide to Sunscreens for info about different sunscreen brands and sunscreen recommendations for people of color.

So before basking in the sun’s glory, be sure to grab your sunscreen — regardless of your skin tone!