Wellness Library

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March Madness is in full swing, with an exciting week of bracket busting games under our belts, and plenty of exciting hoops ahead, including the “Final Four,” and the big Championship game! While many of us enjoy watching the games and filling out our brackets, let's not forget that basketball also provides a fun way to stay active and social.

Basketball is a great way to get your heart rate up and burn some calories. It's also a fun way to spend time with family, friends, and colleagues. Whether you're playing a pickup game or participating in a local league, basketball can help improve your physical health and mental well-being.

If you're new to basketball or haven't played for a while, don't worry! There are plenty of resources available to help you get started. You can find instructional videos online, join a local recreational league, or even just shoot some hoops at one of our many great local parks. And don’t forget, there are plenty of basketball-style games you can play with as few as two people:

Five in a Row

The object of “Five in a Row” is to move as far away from the basket as possible. Begin three feet away from the basket. You must make five shots in a row at that spot before you can move one step further from the basket. Continue moving one step back from the basket with every five shots made.


Knockout traditionally begins at the free throw line, but really, you can choose to begin anywhere on the court. Everyone lines up single-file, then the first person in line takes a shot to start the game. As soon as that person releases their shot, the next person in line can take their shot. The object of the game is for the person taking the second shot to make the basket before the person in front of them. If the first person taking the shot makes their shot, they pass the ball back to the next person in line, move to the very back of the line and the game continues. If the first person misses their shot, they have to rebound their shot and make a basket before they can pass it to the next player in line. However, if the person immediately behind them makes the shot before the first player can make a shot, the first player is out of the game. This pattern follows until all but one player is eliminated. The last player standing is the winner.

Around the World

The goal of this game is to “go around the world” with consecutive shots around the court. Typically, the game starts with a layup. The players then must shoot from a spot between a lay-up and the free throw line. Once the player makes the first two shots, they progress to the free throw line. Finally, if the player makes the first three shots, they will make a final shot from the three-point line. Players can decide before the game whether they must make each shot consecutively, or if the play will happen in rounds (i.e. lay-up round, free throw round, three-point line round).


H-O-R-S-E is always a fan-favorite, go-to shooting game. In this game, each player takes turn shooting from anywhere they choose, until someone makes a shot. When that happens, the following players will have to try to make their shot from the same spot. If they miss the shot the original player made, then they will get a letter. Once a player collects all letters to spell out the word (horse), they are out of the game. This repeats until all the players but one runs out of letters.

Sharks and Minnows – Great for Kids

Sharks and minnows is fun basketball game that doesn’t even require you to have a hoop. You will want four or more players and enough basketballs for at least half the number of players you have. This game works best on a court with a half court marking, but can be played anywhere. You’ll start with one or two players as sharks. The sharks stand at half court without a basketball, while the rest of the players start at one end of the court and have to dribble a basketball to the other end; they are the minnows. The sharks will try to steal a basketball or knock it out of bounds. If a minnow loses their basketball before crossing the court, they will be sharks in the next round. Once all the minnows became sharks or made it to the other end of the court, the next round will begin

As we continue to enjoy the excitement of watching March Madness, let's also take some time to focus on our own health by getting outside and having some fun with our family and friends. 

Most people know the importance of an annual checkup with their healthcare provider. However, there often needs to be more clarity about the preventative healthcare services women should get each year. A comprehensive well-woman exam, often called an annual gynecological exam, screens and evaluates sexual, menstrual and reproductive health, physical health, and mental health. Family planning and sexually transmitted disease screening and testing are often also addressed during these examinations.   Additionally, as a woman ages, it evaluates for irregular bleeding and menopausal symptoms that may occur.  The visit may include a pelvic exam, a Pap test, and a breast exam.

If you have no problems or issues, the first well-woman exam should be done when you become sexually active or by age 21. You should schedule an exam regardless of age or sexual activity if you have persistently irregular periods, periods that cause you to miss work or school, or pelvic pain. A Pap smear is not necessarily done at every visit, but should be done at age 21.  The Pap smear is the screening test for cervical cancer.  Screening is based on age and risk factors for cervical cancer which include age at onset of intercourse, number of sexual partners, history of Human Papilloma Virus infection, history of abnormal Paps in the past, history of sexually transmitted illness. 

At your visit, you will also be evaluated for the need for other preventative health services such as mammography, colonoscopy or other colon cancer screening tests, and bone density (DEXA) scans for evaluation for osteoporosis.  It is important to know your family history of certain cancers such as breast and colon cancer to know at what age to start, and how often to perform, these screening tests.

A well-woman exam should also address your overall physical health and any changes that have occurred since last seen. It should include discussing your lifestyle, weight, blood pressure and risks for chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.  We will review your current medications and allergies, so bring your list of medications with you.  A well-woman exam should not replace an annual exam with your primary care physician.  They test and screen for other things that the gynecologist does not.

Your well-woman visit should also include a discussion about your mental health. If you feel anxious or depressed, you should feel comfortable telling your healthcare provider. They can give you feedback and recommend a licensed counselor. If you live in an unsafe situation, your healthcare provider can advise resources to change or exit this dynamic.

Mount Nittany Health’s OB/GYN specialists provide routine well-woman exams, reproductive healthcare, fertility services, and pregnancy and maternity care, as well as menopause care. Call 814.237.3470 to schedule an appointment with a specialist.


Although Mount Nittany Health operates 24/7/365, next week is Spring Break for many of the schools in our area. For some families, that presents the opportunity for a much-needed vacation with plenty of sun and fun. For others, it means a trip to the mountains, cozying up in a cabin, or visits with family. Regardless of your family’s plans, it’s best to be prepared when traveling with children or alone—or to remind your college students to take some precautions. Here are some spring break travel tips to help ensure your week is as stress-free and as relaxing as possible.

  • Be sun safe – If you are visiting an area that gets a lot of sun, be well prepared! Pack clothing with UV protectant and wear sunscreen on the areas of your body that are exposed. Don’t be fooled, this tip applies to those taking trips to mountain destinations as well. For families engaging in water sports or activities in warmer climates, apply sunscreen frequently and liberally after swimming or sweating.
  • Think about safety gear – Do not automatically assume your destination will have safety gear to meet your family’s needs. Car seat safety still applies on vacation, so make sure to bring appropriate child restraints and car seats along with you. If you are trying out a new sport on vacation, make sure to use appropriate safety gear like helmets, padding and life vests.
  • Protect your home and travel location – Sharing too much information about your location or time away from your home may endanger your family’s safety. Be cautious about revealing personal information and your location through status updates on social media. It may also be a good idea to have a trusted neighbor keep an eye on your house to make sure there’s no suspicious activity while you’re away.
  • Stay hydrated – Whether you’re traveling to an amusement park, relaxing on the beach, or hitting the slopes, make sure you drink plenty of water and stay properly hydrated.
  • Discuss swimming safety – Talk to your children about the safest way to swim and create a communication plan that ensures rapid responses to a sudden crisis. Never allow your children to swim alone, even if they are skilled swimmers.
  • Be mindful of the weather – Storms can move in quickly, so seek shelter and make sure you are in a safe place if you see lightning, hear thunder, or experience strong winds.
  • Keep in touch – It is a good practice to report yourself to a family member or friend each morning and evening. A brief text letting them know you and your family are safe can go a long way! It is also important to carry an extra phone battery or portable recharge device in case of an emergency.

If you take time to appropriately plan for your trip, you’ll be more likely to enjoy rest, relaxation, and well-earned time away. The most important tip is to have fun and make great memories!


The Importance of Fluoride for Children 

At Mount Nittany Health Pediatrics, we understand the importance of providing children with the best possible care and prevention for dental health. A crucial component of this is fluoride, one of the most powerful tools to prevent tooth decay. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends fluoride supplements for all children up to age 16 who do not have it in their water supply.


What is Fluoride? 

Fluoride is a mineral that helps teeth become stronger and more resistant to cavities and decay. It does this by changing the structure of teeth at a molecular level, making them better able to withstand acid attacks from plaque bacteria in the mouth. Fluoride also helps repair weakened enamel, an essential part of maintaining good dental health for children and adults. 


Why Is Fluoride Important for Children? 

Fluoride can often make the difference between having healthy teeth or severely decaying ones. Children are particularly vulnerable to tooth decay because their teeth are still forming and growing, making them weaker and more prone to cavities than adult teeth. To fight tooth decay in children, it's essential they receive adequate amounts of fluoride during their formative years – typically between the ages of six months to eighteen years old. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children receive a professional topical application (fluoride varnish) every three to six months, beginning at age three. Children should also be given appropriate concentrations of fluoride-containing products such as fluoridated water, toothpaste, or prescription products as recommended by pediatricians or dentists by age two or three. 


How Does Mount Nittany Health Provide Fluoride Treatment?

Mount Nittany Health Pediatrics offers prescription fluoride to help protect children's teeth. Fluoride prescriptions are available as liquid, chewable, or non-chewable, based on the age and capacity of the patient. Our experienced medical staff will advise on which type would be best suited for your child based on their needs. 

It’s important for children's overall dental health to get enough fluoride protection throughout childhood to grow up with strong, healthy smiles! It's also essential that parents help ensure their children get enough fluoride protection over time. Regular visits with our pediatrics team can identify potential issues and address them early. Our team will always take extra measures, such as talking parents through proper brushing techniques and discussing strategies for preventing cavities through diet and lifestyle changes, if needed.

Mount Nittany Health Pediatrics has two convenient locations in State College and Bellefonte. For more information, visit MountNittany.org/Pediatrics, or call 814.355.3626 to schedule an appointment.

Physical therapy

By Rebecca Seligson, Mount Nittany Health Fit for Play PTA

Technology has revolutionized our lives in many ways, but it has also brought its own set of problems.

One of the most common of these is called “tech neck,” which describes a feeling of pain or strain in the back of the neck and upper back caused by prolonged use of electronics such as smartphones and laptops. This condition is becoming increasingly common and affects people of all ages. It's important to take steps to prevent and decrease the amount of people affected by “tech neck.”

The first step in reducing symptoms of “tech neck” is to pay attention to your posture while using electronics. Keep electronics at eye level, ensure you aren’t looking down for prolonged periods of time, and keep your shoulders in a relaxed position. You can reduce the strain on your neck and upper back by avoiding bad posture, such as slouching, hunching forwards, or interacting with devices below natural eye level.

Another important factor is taking regular breaks from using your device. This can mean taking a few minutes to stretch or walk around every hour or setting an alarm to remind yourself to take a break. This will give your neck and upper back a chance to rest, reducing the possibility of “tech neck.”

Exercise is also an effective way to reduce “tech neck.” Strengthening your neck and upper back muscles can help to reduce strain caused by prolonged device use. You can also try yoga or Pilates, which can help improve posture and flexibility, reducing the risk of "tech neck."

In addition to exercise, it's important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating a well-balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and managing your stress. Stress can lead to tension in the neck and upper back, so it's essential to find ways to manage it, such as practicing mindfulness or meditation.

Finally, it's important to choose the right setup. Investing in a comfortable chair, a desk or table that is the right height, and a device stand or holder that allows you to use your device at eye level can help reduce the strain on your neck and upper back.

If "tech neck" affects your daily activities, you should contact your doctor or consider an appointment with a physical therapist to be evaluated.


Mount Nittany Health and the American Heart Association are pleased to recognize February as American Heart Month. Annually, American Heart Month is a time dedicated to raising awareness about heart disease and its impact on our health and well-being. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, impacting millions of people each year, but it can often be prevented through simple lifestyle changes. Jeffrey Elias, DO, FACEP, Emergency Medicine, Mount Nittany Medical Center, shares some helpful tips to improve your heart health this February:

1. Eat a healthy diet rich in vegetables and fruits, and avoid foods high in salt and saturated fats like butter, coconut oil, sausage and bacon.

2. Exercise regularly, and try to engage in cardiovascular and aerobic activity like cycling, jogging and brisk walking, if possible.

3. Monitor and maintain a healthy weight, following guidelines suggested by your provider. Be sure to keep an open dialogue with your provider and ask for dietary recommendations to meet your goals.

4. Avoid all forms of tobacco. Quit smoking and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.

5. Take a daily vitamin and/or fish oil to improve your heart health.

6. Schedule regular check-ups with blood pressure and cholesterol screenings. Follow your provider’s recommendations for high blood pressure and high cholesterol management.

7. If you have prediabetes or suffer from Type 2 diabetes, monitor your blood cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight.

8. Manage stress and anxiety through activities such as meditation and exercise.

Mount Nittany Medical Center was recently recognized by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association with the Stroke Gold Plus Award and Stroke Elite, and it was recognized for Cardiovascular Excellence. By working together, we can help reduce the impact of heart disease and contribute to our mission of “Healthier people, stronger community.”


A heart healthy diet has numerous benefits for overall health and well-being. By eating nutrient-rich foods that are low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and added sugars, people can reduce their risk of developing heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Heart-healthy eating habits can also lead to a decrease in inflammation, which is a risk factor for a variety of health problems, including heart disease and certain types of cancer.

One of the best ways to improve your heart health is to reduce your sodium intake. Nina Campbell, MSN, RN, Stroke and Sepsis Coordinator, Mount Nittany Health discusses the risks of consuming too much sodium: “Too much salt can lead to a risk for having high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Limiting salt is essential to eating a heart healthy diet. The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults have no more than 2,300 mg of sodium each day, which is equivalent to about a teaspoon of salt. Most adults ideally have no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day.”

Reducing salt while cooking is a great first step to achieving the recommended daily intake. It is also important to avoid or limit canned or processed foods when possible. Eating more fresh goods and finding alternatives to flavoring your food is also beneficial for keeping your heart healthy.

Consider some of the American Heart Association’s recommended sodium-free seasonings and flavorings when cooking your next meal:

Sodium Free Seasoning Options

We also encourage you to try these scrumptious and satisfying heart-healthy recipes. 

Grilled Salmon with Fresh Herbs:


4 salmon fillets (6 oz. each)

1 lemon, sliced

2 tablespoons of fresh herbs (such as basil, parsley, and thyme)

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Black pepper


1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2. Place lemon slices on a piece of aluminum foil.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the herbs, olive oil, and black pepper.

4. Brush the mixture onto both sides of the salmon fillets.

5. Place the salmon on the lemon slices on the grill and cook for 4 – 6 minutes on each side or until fully cooked.

Baked Sweet Potato Tacos:


2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced

½ sweet onion, peeled and diced

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon of chili powder

8 corn or flour tortillas

1 avocado, sliced

1/2 cup of salsa


1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, bell pepper, onion, cumin and chili powder.

3. Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.

4. To assemble the tacos, place a spoonful of the sweet potato mixture onto each tortilla.

5. Top with sliced avocado and salsa. Serve hot.

By making healthy food choices, you can take control of your heart health this month, and every month, and enjoy a longer, more vibrant life.


To our team, you're more than just a number. We see you. And we're committed to you. Our experienced providers are here and ready to get you the care you need.