Nurse practitioner shares health tips on campus walk

In an effort to promote student well-being, the Health Services Office (HSO) hosted an event titled “Walk With a Nurse Practitioner.” Students and staff engaged in a productive discussion on ways to improve the health of members of Ramapo College while taking a walk around campus. The event was also co-sponsored by the Nursing Student Organization and MadHealthy.

On Thursday, Oct. 27, acting associate director of the HSO and family nurse practitioner Kara Maxsimic met students outside the HSO. This starting point was chosen to raise awareness of the office’s location since it is far from the other major buildings on campus.

“I figured we would start here by Health Services because not a lot of people know where it is,” said Maxsimic. Located adjacent to the commuter parking lot, the office is located on the corner of Rhodora Road and Hornbeam Road. Maxsimic then went on to say that the event got its inspiration from a popular nationwide event called “Walk With a Doc.” These events are an effective way to get steps in as well as promote good habits.

The first topic that dominated the majority of the walk was sleep hygiene. The first point that was brought up was about how to properly wake up.

“You want to try to keep a consistent wake-up time so your body can create a schedule,” said Maxsimic. She then went on to talk about how a person should sleep in a completely dark environment. “Your bedroom should be like a cave,” said Maxsimic. “It should be cool and dim.”

When people wake up, they should open blinds in order to get some natural Vitamin D. This vitamin helps regulate melatonin levels in the body, which creates a deeper and more effective sleep.

The next piece of advice Maxsimic had is that uninterrupted sleep is one of the most important factors for a good night’s sleep. Reasons for sleep being interrupted can range from having to use the bathroom to waking up hungry. For this, she recommends not to drink anything two hours before bedtime. To fix hunger, you can have a protein-heavy snack that will keep you sustained until morning.

As the route wound up the hill on Mansion Road and through the Arch, Maxsimic highlighted an easily avoidable reason for bad sleep that almost everyone does. “Blue light from screens can keep your body up later than it should be,” she said. She noted that the “night mode” feature on most phones limits the amount of blue light emitted, which helps with sleep.

All of these factors put together can greatly improve the quality and length of sleep people experience.

The latter section of the event consisted of a discussion about diet. As the group strolled past Kameron Pond, Maxsimic brought up some facts that go deeper than what people are told from childhood about vegetables.

“The biggest thing most people miss out on is protein,” said Maxsimic. “It’s so easy to get but most people still have trouble meeting their needs.” Protein is essential for muscle use and strength, and without sufficient protein people tend to feel weaker. She then went on to tackle a common misconception about health regarding carbohydrates.

“We need carbohydrates in our diet,” she said. “They give us energy. There is not one thing we don’t need. There is no such thing as a bad food.”

One way to get good carbohydrates into your diet is through ancient grains. A few common types of ancient grains that can be found at most grocery stores are barley, quinoa and bulgur.

The “Walk With a Nurse Practitioner” event was successful in its goal. The HSO plans on having more of these walks covering various topics, potentially even before the end of the fall semester.

Photo by Brian Schmid.