4 Facts About College Health Literacy

By: Gabriella Villacis ’15, University Health Center, HEALTH Works Peer Educator

October is a pretty awesome month, right? Autumn is upon us, Halloween is coming up, and of course tons of football. But, did you know October is also Health Literacy Month?

Okay, so that might not sound super exciting, but let me tell you how this can be really important to us as college students.

First, I’ll get that boring definition out of the way.  Health Literacy is defined as, “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions” (Institute of Medicine).

So, what does that mean to you and me?

It means that we are bombarded every day with information about how to live a healthy life. We often have to try and interpret what this information means and it might even be inaccurate.

Sometimes it can be a little overwhelming and certainly confusing.

Here’s what UMD students had to say about health literacy …

I’m here to help you improve your health literacy today by going over some college health issues that we might be uncertain about. There are often a lot of myths and misinformation out there. I’m going to go over the facts, so you can better understand the health information out there.

  • Sleep. We are all well aware that midterms are underway. This does not mean it is time to start pulling all-nighters! College students should be getting about 7- 9 hours of sleep every night. Trust me, you will be feeling much less stressed and alert enough to do well on your exam.
  • Exercise. Who doesn’t love to feel fit? Am I right? Increasing your physical activity can improve your mood and help fight chronic disease. You don’t have to be out at Ritchie pumping iron 7 days a week, but at least 2 and half hours a week of some physical activity is what we need. Campus Recreation Services definitely has something for everyone, so check out what they have to offer.
  • Eat healthy. I think we can all agree that this isn’t the easiest of tasks on campus. One way you can improve your eating habits is learning portion control. You may also want to check out the free diet analysis service right here on campus!
  • Getting Vaccinated. GO GET A FLU SHOT! We are living in close proximity with one another, and when one person gets sick, we all get sick. It’s quick and easy and covered by the Student Health Insurance Plan. Being sick at school is the worst. Make an appointment for the flu shot (or intranasal spray if needles aren’t your thing) at the University Health Center today. You can thank me later.

If you ever have questions about your health or decisions regarding it, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor, counselor, or other health professional. They are there to help.

Learn more about health literacy with the Herschel S. Horowitz Center for Health Literacy right here at the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

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