Are you feeling like it’s time to (spring) clean your health?
Ah, spring. It’s our season of hope, holding a promise that change is coming – for the better. The river will “flow again after it was frozen,” Ernest Hemingway wrote of the season in “A Moveable Feast.”
A new season typically brings changes, challenges and rewards. Usually, this is the time of the year people are motivated to clean things up. We challenge you this spring to try cleaning up parts of your health care.
Here are 5 strategies to help you on your way…
Move More, Sit Less
You may be surprised to know that on average, adults sit for nine hours a day, while school children spend over half of their day sitting.
How much is ‘too much’ sitting? Everyone from toddlers to older adults can improve their heart health by breaking up the length of time they sit during the day. Even if you’re meeting the recommended activity levels of 30 minutes on five or more days a week, you may still be sitting too much.
Here are some ways to increase your movements:
- When watching TV, take some breaks during commercials to walk around the house or do some housework
- Replace watching TV in the evening with taking a walk
- Try standing while you read a newspaper or check messages on your mobile phone
- Take a break every 30 minutes to stand and stretch – set an alarm on your phone or watch to remind you
- Stand to do easy tasks at work, such as a stand-up meeting or phone call
- Consider using a sit-stand workstation
- Choose to do manual tasks where you can, such as washing your car by hand instead of using a drive-through car wash
- Take regular breaks during long car trips.
- Limit your time on social media, TV, and phone – there are apps available to help, such as Offtime and Moment
Eat Healthy Foods
A healthy diet has many benefits, including maintaining your desired weight. It also can lower your cholesterol and prevent certain health conditions. A healthy diet fuels your body and gives you energy.
Perhaps it’s time to purge the processed and sugary foods in your fridge and cupboards? Try to eat whole foods as much as possible. Local and in-season fruit and vegetables are always a good choice.
Protein is a vital nutrient for building and repairing muscles, bones, skin, and other tissues. Be sure to look for protein rich options.
Choose your drinks wisely.
Sugar sweetened beverages like soda, teas, energy drinks, and coffee drinks have been shown to be associated with higher rates of obesity. Added sugars are called empty calories because they can tack on additional calories without the nutrients. The extra sugar from drinks can also contribute to cavities and poor oral health.
Make sure you are getting enough water throughout the day. Recommendations are about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men, about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women. Drink up!
Get Enough Sleep
The amount of sleep you need depends on various factors — especially your age. While sleep needs vary significantly among individuals, consider these general guidelines for different age groups:
Infants 4 months to 12 months – 12 to 16 hours, including naps
1 to 5 years – 11 to 14 hours, including naps
6 to 12 years – 9 to 12 hours
13 to 18 years – 8 to 10 hours
Adults – 7 or more hours a night
For kids, getting the recommended amount of sleep on a regular basis is linked with better health, including improved attention, behaviour, learning, memory, the ability to control emotions, quality of life, and mental and physical health.
For adults, getting less than seven hours of sleep a night on a regular basis has been linked with poor health, including weight gain, having a body mass index of 30 or higher, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and depression.
Be Sun Safe
From increasing your vitamin D levels to boosting your mood, sunlight can improve your health in numerous ways. But unprotected exposure to the sun can be unhealthy. The sun produces harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can cause problems like sunburn or sun poisoning. It can also have other adverse effects, such as premature skin aging, skin cancer, and eye damage. And it’s not just the sun. Artificial sources of UV radiation, like tanning beds, are also harmful.
Daily sunscreen goes a long way toward shielding you from UV rays. But there are several other ways you can protect yourself.
- Cover yourself with clothing and a hat
- Wear sunglasses to protect your face and eyes
- Use an umbrella or parasol when going outdoors
- Avoid UV lights
- Eat foods that are rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids provide sun protection
We hope these strategies inspire and motivate you to look at your health and habits to see what you can do to improve yourself. Remember to have fun! Spring is such a beautiful time of year. Enjoy the trees budding, flowers blooming, rivers flowing, and the warm weather coming 🙂