Posted May 11, 2023 by Michael Tan, Medical Director, Health Services Management
After a cold winter season, warmer spring temperatures and sunshine are a breath of fresh air. It’s a season of fresh starts and of course, catching up on some much-needed spring cleaning.
Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be reserved only for your home—your health can benefit too. This season of renewal is a great time to pause and rethink your diet, physical activity, sleep habits and more.
SummaCare offers seven tips for spring cleaning your health. After all, your physical and mental well-being need a good spring cleaning just as much as your home does!
Spruce up your diet
Reaching for healthier food choices like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats and low-fat dairy products are a great way to spruce up your diet. These type of choices will always be better for your health than sugary and salty snacks (chips, cookies, donuts), saturated fats (butter, high-fat meats and dairy products) and trans fats (prepackaged foods, margarines and fried fast foods).
Spring is also great time to incorporate more fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables. Visit your local farmer’s market to take advantage of home-grown options and make it your goal to fill half of your plate with delicious farm-to-table produce.
Maintaining a healthy diet can help lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.
Get active outdoors
Now is the time to reap the benefits of better weather. Get outside and choose an activity that moves your muscles and bones. Take a walk, garden, ride your bike, join a golf league. There are infinite ways to have fun, while exercising outdoors.
Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week, plus muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week.
Regular exercise is the best way to improve your heart health, maintain weight, as well as increase muscle strength, flexibility and balance. Exercising outdoors is even better because light exposure can boost your mood and vitamin D levels—it’s a win-win.
Reset your sleep schedule
When we spring forward for Daylight Savings Time, it can wreak havoc on our sleep schedules. Get back to the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night by practicing healthy sleep habits.
Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up around the same time every morning. Avoid alcohol four hours before bed, turn off electronics about 30 minutes before bedtime and keep your bedroom dark, cool and quiet.
Getting a good night’s rest contributes to a healthy heart, better weight control, balanced blood sugar, improved mood, decreased stress and much more.
Overhaul your beverage routine
It’s time to swap out those highly caffeinated, sugary and alcoholic beverages for water. Water is the best way to hydrate because it’s void of sugar, calories and artificial additives. If you’re craving flavor, however, try adding natural ingredients, such as lemons, cucumber, mint or berries.
Hydration is important to keep our bodies functioning properly. It’s recommended men aim for about 125 ounces and women about 91 ounces daily from all food sources—both liquid and solid foods.
Clean up bad habits
Take stock of bad habits and clean ‘em up! Limit your alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women. While alcohol adds extra calories and sugar to your diet, it also increases your risk for heart and liver disease and some types of cancer.
If you smoke, it’s never too late to quit. Helplines, such as 1.800.Quit.Now, can help you get started. Smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). It also increases your risk for heart disease.
Spring is a great time for positive change and finding new ways to keep your stress in check. Try incorporating breathing exercises, meditation or yoga into your daily routine. Getting plenty of sleep, regular exercise and talk therapy also are great forms of stress reduction.
High stress can affect blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and can lead to unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking or overeating.
Check in with your PCP
Now is a good time to ensure you’re up to date on recommended health screenings and immunizations. It’s also a good opportunity to go through your medication list with your primary care provider and discuss any health concerns you may have.
Start off this season of warmer weather with a cleaner, leaner and healthier you.
To get started on spring cleaning your health, contact your primary care physician today.