Seven Health Habits for Spring
Quick tips to do your body good
Spring is epitome of new beginnings. Migrating birds return to their warm-weather roosts, the trees and flowers leaf out and begin to bloom, and the days grow longer and brighter. And, of course, if you’re like most people, you start to tackle all those spring cleaning projects that have piled up.
But spring cleaning doesn’t have to mean decluttering the garage or dusting off your windows’ insect screens (but here are some tips on how to do that!)…why not take this season of starting fresh and make some new healthy habits?
Here are 7 quick and easy ways to help you spring into health this 2018!
Live. Love. Laugh.
Laughing and smiling are good for the soul…and research suggests laughter may actually be on par to eating well and engaging in daily activity in terms of efficacy on keeping you healthy and preventing disease. And good strong relationships also benefit health and happiness, and can help reduce stress.
So put down the devices, unplug from the TV, and get out of the house to take some time to connect with your friends and family. Spend the day with people you love and who make you laugh!
Get to the Great Outdoors
Whether you’re a seriously seasoned fitness buff or more of a crinkle-fry couch potato, there are outdoor activities suitable for everyone to get outside and catch some rays (but don't forget your sunscreen!).
Alanis Morissette was on to something when she said she "wanted to soak up the sun." Sunshine boosts your mood and stimulates blood circulation. It also stimulates the production of vitamin D—which is plays an important part in increasing calcium and phosphorus absorption from food and helps with skeletal development, immune function, and blood cell formation.
So go for a walk at lunch, do some gardening, play with your kids, pack a picnic lunch and go for a hike in the park. Take advantage of the longer, warmer days—your body and mind will thank you!
Let’s Get (a) Physical
Regular wellness exams are a great habit to get into. Even if you are feeling fine, they are an opportunity to pick up beneficial health tips, learn about community support services, and establish and monitor baselines for key health metrics. Your doctor can also advise you on how often you should have screenings for things like high blood pressure, diabetes, other diseases, and cancer.
In general, plan on a colonoscopy around age 50, a PAP test every three years (women), mammograms every two years (women over 40), prostate screening after age 50 (men), and dental exams every year. Medline reviews some of the other general recommendations for all age groups here. (Always consult with your doctor about your individual needs)
Freshest is Best-est!
Making gradual changes to your eating habits is a more achievable goal than the nebulous “I’m going to eat better.” A wholesale, 180-degree revamp is not only difficult to carry out, it is extremely difficult to stick with. For spring, why not take advantage of the variety of vegetables available during spring and commit to incorporating fresh, local produce into your diet by signing up for a CSA (community supported agriculture).
CSA users pay a set fee to a farm which covers produce throughout a given period—what is selected is dependent on what’s available in that time period. Not only does it support local farmers, it’s also environmentally friendly as it eliminates long-distance delivery systems. Plus, since subscribers don’t know what they’ll receive each week, they often end up finding creative uses for new items that they may have never tried before. Check out localharvest.org/csa/ to find the CSA program closest to you.
Put Your Best Face Forward
Food isn’t the only thing with an expiration date—your makeup and cosmetics also have a finite lifespan.
Consider products like lipstick—formulas change as they age and may foster bacteria that could cause infection. Others, like foundation, for example, could develop streakiness and changes in color or texture as the liquid formula breaks down and the pigment separates from the rest of the product. After a longer time, germs could build up as the preservatives become less effective.
Sunscreen, too, can destabilize and lose SPF or cause spotty coverage as the active ingredients separate and become less evenly distributed.
The best advice? Remember the golden rule: when in doubt, toss it out—discard any of it if you notice changes in the product, such as an odor or separation of ingredients.
The Future’s So Bright, You Gotta Wear…
Shades, sure…but even more importantly, sunscreen! The weather is warmer, the days are longer, and all that spring sunshine is just begging to be soaked up (see Tip #2!).
When you’re gearing up to go outside, don’t forget to use a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher that protects against those harmful UVA and UVB rays. The general rule of thumb is to use about 1 ounce (roughly the size of a golf ball, or enough to fill a shot glass), and apply an even covering over all of your exposed skin at least 30 minutes before you head outside.
And don’t forget to reapply often—even the highest SPF sunscreen isn’t doing you any good if it has worn off after two hours of sweat, swimming, and sand.
Catch Some Rays…then Catch Some ZZZs
When we’re searching for ways to balance our busy schedules and get everything done in a day, we often come up with solutions that include going to bed later and getting up earlier. But poor sleep habits can contribute to many health issues, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and stroke, poor mental health, and even early death.
On top of that, being sleep-deprived (even if it’s only from one night) makes you more likely to be in a bad mood, be less productive at work, and to be involved in a motor vehicle crash.
The CDC offers these healthy habits for improving sleep quality and quantity:
• Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends.
• Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature.
• Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom.
• Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.
• Avoid tobacco/nicotine.
• Get some exercise. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.