Get Outside!

By Lucy Emery

As the days get colder and shorter you may find that you aren’t spending as much time outside as you did in the beginning of the semester. Back in the days when finals were far away and there was nothing better to do than lie on the lawn in the sunshine. Even with the cold weather and the shortened days it is still important to your mental and physical health to get outside!

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Many studies have shown that spending time outside can have multiple beneficial health effects. Spending time outside has been proven to:

  • Improve short term memory
  • Restore mental energy
  • Relieve stress
  • Improve concentration

And much, much more!

Here are some fun and easy ways to spend more time outside in the upcoming winter months!

1. Walk to class!

Honestly this is one of the easiest ways to get exercise outside at UVA! It’s a great time to call your mom, chat with a friend, listen to music, or just enjoy some fresh air.

**Remember when walking at night it’s always safer to walk with friends!

2. Go ski or snowboard!

skiSkiing and snowboarding are both amazing ways to get outside in the winter, and it may be one of the few chances to see snow. Whether you are a beginner or advanced, the local ski resort Wintergreen has great slopes for every level of proficiency. Wintergreen is located 45 minutes outside of Charlottesville and offers great student discounts.

Click here for more information: www.wintergreenresort.com/passes-and-deals/

3. Go on a hike!

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As many students know Charlottesville is nestled within the Blue Ridge Mountains and because of this there are many fantastic hiking places within an hour of Charlottesville. The top of Humpback in the fall is a must see! The leaves are gorgeous and the cool weather makes the hike feel a lot less difficult.

4. Have a snowball fight!

snowball fightYou would be shocked at how much exercise a full-fledged snowball fight actually is. In the past when it has snowed at UVA there has been a huge snowball fight on Mad Bowl and the Lawn. It is a super fun event you don’t want to miss out on!

 

5. Walk to Monticello Trail!

Everyone should go visit Monticello when studying at UVA. Thomas Jefferson’s house is an important part of both UVA and Charlottesville’s history. If you visit between November and February you get a discount! If you want to go visit consider walking the Monticello Trail. It’s a beautiful relatively flat 2 mile trail that brings you right to the doors of Monticello. And after walking you can treat yourself to one of the delish locally made snacks in the gift shop

For more information: https://www.monticello.org/site/tickets-tours?_ga=2.245911364.1547197914.1511034775-1631171470.1511034775

5 Ways to Destress in November

By Aazrin Mir

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November is a beautiful month full of amazing colors, scents, and flavors. The colder weather brings an excitement for the upcoming holidays, as well as a great chance to rejuvenate and destress. So take a deep breath and read on to see how you can incorporate these techniques into your fall routine.

 

1.     Drink Tea

Nothing is more soothing than a hot cup of tea on a cold day. Teas come in many forms and have healing properties due to high levels of antioxidants and vitamins. Many teas work to calm nerves and relax your muscles, all while providing comfort and reducing anxiety. It’s also possible to mix and match ingredients to get unique flavors and effects.

Tea is fairly simple to make, as all you need is a source of hot water and your desired ingredients.

Fall In A Cup recipe:

  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • ½ tsp pink peppercorn
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • Black or Green Tea

 Combine all the ingredients in a filter bag or tea infuser, add boiling water, and enjoy!

Visit this website to find more tea recipes that will help relax you.

2.     Exercise outdoors

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Physical activity is important year-round for overall health, and November brings the perfect opportunity to enjoy nature while doing it. The colder weather provides a comfortable environment for walks, runs, and hikes, and the scenery makes you forget that you’re exercising at all.

Exercise works to destress you by reducing the amount of stress hormones present in your bloodstream, and instead causes the release of endorphins that act as natural painkillers. There are also long term physical effects, such as improved cardiovascular and pulmonary health that comes with 30 minutes of daily exercise. Simply put on some running shoes and grab a friend to destress outdoors!

Read more about the benefits of exercise for stress and anxiety here.

3.     Aromatherapy

Fall is full of wonderful smells that actually have healing and destressing properties. These warm scents cause the release of dopamine in the brain, which helps improve mood, and this also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you relax.

Aromatherapy can be done using candles or essential oils. Many stores will sell fall-themed candles that smell like apples, pumpkins, cinnamon, and even fall desserts like pie.

Essential oils allow for more individual scents because they can be combined for personal taste. All you need is an essential oil diffuser. Some popular fall scents include: apple, cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg, cedarwood, and sandalwood.

Read more about how else aromatherapy can benefit you here.

4.     Cooking

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Many vegetables come out of the “fall harvest” and can be used to make many healthy autumn dishes. Cooking can soothe nerves, cure boredom, insomnia, and anxiety. This is because cooking is a creative outlet and can make you feel good because you are taking care of yourself and others. On top of that, cooking your own meals can be beneficial for your health because you know exactly what you are putting in your food, avoiding the risk of hidden additives that can compromise how healthy something is.

Visit this website to find easy and healthy recipes that are perfect for November, and even for Thanksgiving.

5.     Take up a creative hobby

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November is defined by cozy sweaters and warm hats. A creative hobby such as knitting or crafting is a great way to destress because the fine motor skills used actually calm nerves and reduce anxiety. These activities also help you to get off your phone or laptop for a while, which can calm your brain and destress you even more. Most importantly, the feeling of achievement you will get after completing a project will aid in attaining long term happiness. Plus, who wouldn’t want a few more sweaters in their fall wardrobe?!

Visit this website to read about how creativity can destress you an boost your overall health.

Let’s hike!

By Yasaman Vahdat

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What are your plans for the weekend? Are you thinking of going out? Getting food with a couple of friends? These are typical ideas that I think the majority of us quickly jump to when trying to plan a fun weekend. But, what if you could do something that is fun, healthy and different once in a while?

Let’s be honest. This nice weather with all its beauty will not last long. Soon we will have to layer up and stay indoors as much as possible. Therefore, if you are okay with spending a few hours outdoors, I think you should definitely consider hiking as an activity with health benefits along with social fun.

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According to the American Hiking society,Walking is one of the lowest impact sports around. This means that while you derive all the cardiovascular benefits of other aerobic activities, you do so with a minimum of stress, strain and pounding to your body”. Since many of us are not into hard core sweating at the gym, we might enjoy hiking with friends as a way to prevent many chronic diseases.

Charlottesville is a beautiful city that along with downtown and the corner also gives us many avenues to spend some time in nature. Here are a few hiking locations that are given in order of distance from grounds. All of these locations are under 30 minutes away from grounds so get up and start exploring. You could use them as a study break to just get away and free your thoughts or as a fun weekend getaway with a few of your pals.

  1. Greenbrier Park: Rivanna Trail, Charlottesville, VA 22901.
  • About a 7 minute drive from grounds
  • Walking/biking trails along Meadow Creek
  • Open 6 am to 9 pm
  1. Kemper Park: 931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy, Charlottesville, VA 22902.
  • About a 10 minute drive from grounds
  • The Saunders-Monticello Trail and other, rustic hiking trails in the woods
  • A two-acre pond planted with native wetland species
  1. Ivy Creek Foundation: 1780 Earlysville Rd, Charlottesville, VA 22903.
  • About a 11 minute drive from grounds
  • 6 miles of trails traversing a mix of upland woods, pine stands, fields, streams, and shorelines.
  1. Walnut Creek Park: 4250 Walnut Creek Park Road, North Garden, VA 22959.
  • About a 20 minute drive from grounds
  • 15 miles of trails for biking, hiking, or running
  • 45 acres of lake

If you are still not convinced that it doesn’t take much time or planning to go on a quick hike, try it! Take my word for it:

ivy creek

One weekend as my friends and I were stressing out within the closed walls of our very own Alderman Library, we decided to be spontaneous and go on a simple hike. At first we kept debating on whether it was worth it or not, but once we stepped outside and saw what beautiful weather we were missing out on we were 100% sure we wanted to do this. We placed an order for 3 small pizzas at our favorite pizza place, Mellow Mushroom, and drove over to pick them up. We drove and jammed to a great playlist for about 10 minutes and arrived at Ivy Creek Foundation. While munching on our pizzas we enjoyed the beautiful view of the old barn along with green scenery and the melody of the birds. Then we went on a 20 minute hike through the windy path that took us over small wooden bridges and finally arrived at a lake where we sat for a few minutes and enjoyed the view before heading back. This not only helped us distress, it also helped us regain our mental capacity to go back to studying!

The Lazy Student’s Guide to Exercise

By Beth Cashin

We all know that exercising is important, but when you have three tests, two papers, time to hang out with your friends, and getting enough sleep to think about, a gym run with Stacy does not sound very enticing.

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We’ve all been there. But luckily, if you don’t have time to hit that gym grind every day, or master some crazy yoga position, then this guide is for you. By modifying your everyday routine just a little bit, you’ll find yourself getting in that previously time consuming exercise throughout your day (and you may even have fun doing it!).

Walking!

When you’re on a college campus, walking is nothing new to you and if you’re like me and get shin splints from speed walking everywhere, you’re already ahead of the game. Walking is an easy an effective way of getting your body moving without having to change your schedule that much. Instead of taking that early morning bus to class, set your alarm a little earlier and walk! Have a long phone call with your mom and she’s asking you lots of questions about your future and kind of stressing you out? Walk while on the phone! The possibilities are endless, but by walking more you can help reach that goal of 150 minutes of exercise per week that the CDC recommends.

Take the stairs!

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Skip the stair climbing machine at the AFC and instead choose to take stairs when you would normally take an elevator or escalator. By taking the stairs, you will use 8-11kcal of energy per minute aka getting in more of that moderate-level exercise into your week. So next time you see an escalator next to a flight of stairs, resist the urge and take those stairs knowing you are getting your exercise in (and also getting some #swole calves)!

Commercial Break Push-ups!

Taking a nice Netflix break? Catching up on Bachelor in Paradise? Do not fret! You can still exercise while doing these things! Whenever a commercial comes on or in that 20 seconds Netflix gives you between episodes, crank out 10 push-ups (or any exercise of your choosing).

It will help add to that 150 minutes of exercise you need each week and you won’t even have to leave your room! Win-win!

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Use a 20-minute workout routine!

It’s 9pm and you decide you want to take a quick study break. Normally, you would mindlessly stare at your phone or maybe google search some sick memes, but not anymore! Because here is a quick 20-minute workout routine that will whip you right into shape:

  1. 10 pushups
  2. 10 burpees
  3. 20 mountain climbers per leg
  4. 10 jump squats
  5. 45 second plank

Repeat as many times as possible in 10 minutes, then take a one minute break and repeat as many times until the 20 minutes are up! You may look at this and go, psshhhh sounds easy, but this workout will get you moving and grooving and by the end of the 20 minutes you will be feeling ready to conquer the world (and the rest of your homework).

Join an IM Rec team!

The beauty of sports is that you can work out without realizing you’re working out (amazing!). Playing soccer for just 30 minutes burns 210-311 calories depending on your weight, so while you’re having fun with your pals scoring game-winning goals, you’re also burning calories!

By following this guide and tweaking a few parts of your daily routine, you’ll be ready to fit exercise into your busy schedule with ease! So get out there and try it, you got this!

Walking

Modern Methods of HIV Prevention: PrEP

By Tyler Gaedecke

 

HIV is an incurable, yet treatable virus… Quality of life for HIV/AIDS patients has increased dramatically over the years (at least, for patients in developed countries with proper access to medical care). But has anything been done in research to prevent HIV infection?

 

YES! And it is NOT just a condom!

 

Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a prescription medication that can actually prevent HIV infection even upon exposure. With daily use, the risk of contracting HIV was up to 92% lower!

 

You may have heard about this from the dashing Connor Walsh from ABC’s hit show How to Get Away with Murder who begins taking PrEP when his boyfriend tests positive for HIV. 

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Gorgeous. But they only gave so much information. Naturally, only about a million questions arise about a medicine like this. And of course, your doctor will have more answers for you, but here is some of the basic info:

 

Who even needs or wants this kind of protection?

         PrEP has been recommended for anyone who is at a high risk for HIV infection. This ranges from intravenous drug users to those who are in an “ongoing sexual relationship with an HIV-positive partner” as it is stated in federal guidelines for use.

         Your personal risk is something that you can evaluate with your doctor. On that note, many people feel that they are at risk simply because of their sexual activity which might be frequent, include riskier practices like anal sex (protected or not), or with partners who they feel are more likely to be infected (i.e. disputed statistics about men who choose men as sexual partners and the relative rates of HIV infection ever since the American AIDS crisis/scare of the 80s). Because of this, PrEP has seen enthusiastic responses from many men in the LGTBQ community. Individuals who are not in mutually monogamous relationships with people of unknown HIV status also may feel or be at risk.

         The CDC’s HIV Risk Reduction tool can be a valuable resource when finding the best resources for you: https://wwwn.cdc.gov/hivrisk/

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Very understandable, Oliver. Good thing there are other options. 

 

Does PrEP protect against other STIs?

         NO! This medicine is to protect you from HIV taking hold in your body. People and doctors may also evaluate risk for HIV infection based on whether or not an individual has recently or previously contracted any other STIs, but this is unrelated to the function of pre-exposure prophylaxis as a preventative measure solely against HIV.

 

Does this eliminate the need for Condoms?

         Again – NO! Condoms are still incredibly important and effective in preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections like HIV. Truly, theintention is that PrEP be used in conjunction with condoms for high-risk individuals. Together, they make HIV infection highly, highly unlikely – even when having sex with an HIV positive partner!

 

Aside from that, this website has a great video explaining the medicine: http://www.whatisprep.org/

One of the biggest benefits that I see with PrEP is the power it has in reducing stigmas just as much as it reduces risk. With proper education about possible preventative measures, the stigmas that HIV positive individuals face will decrease greatly – people won’t fear them as “untouchables” – HIV positive people deserve all the same respect as HIV negative people, and PrEP paints a hopeful picture for a world where HIV is less prevalent and less stigmatized (and a happier relationship for cute TV couples like Connor and Oliver). 

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