Healthy Things to Do This Spring
Shake off those winter blues.
According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, March 20 is the official date for the start of Spring 2013 ("First Day"). But who needs a calendar?
When it begins to look, feel and smell like spring, you know it. It's time to begin again, to try new things, to have some fun and shake off the winter blues. And there's no better way to get started than with these five quintessentially Spring Things.
FIVE QUINTESSENTIALLY SPRING THINGS
This spring, play ball ...
... or do whatever it is that
you've always wanted to do.
1. Indulge in a do over.
Remember playing wiffle ball as a kid? Sometimes you'd swing too hard and too low, and the plastic bat would just barely nick the bottom of the ball.
Even before you landed on your backside, you were shouting—"Do over! Do over!"—and springing to your feet, ready to argue.
"Do overs are for boardgames, stoo-pid, not ballgames," Too-Tall Paul would mutter.
But nobody put up much of a fight. It was spring, and Tony, Petie and the rest of the gang were just glad to be outside again, getting their shoes dirty.
"Big baby!" somebody would shout halfheartedly from outfield.
Then Tony would say, "Aw, go ahead and let her" or "Sure, okay" or something like that. And Paul would roll the white plastic ball back to the pitcher's mound.
And you'd start again.
Those were good days. Instructive days. Days when it was easy to see that no matter how badly or how often you mess up, it's never too late to try again.
So what if you haven't crossed a single item off your bucket list? So what if you haven't lived up to your New Year's resolutions? Spring is a time for new beginnings. In fact, it's one of the greatest do overs of all time.
Every year, undaunted by the sureness of winter, dormancy and death, roots quicken; eggs hatch; trees bud; seeds germinate; and seedlings push their way through damp earth, lifting their immature leaves to the sun. You can almost hear the earth shout: "Do over!"
So why not get in on the fun? You'll feel better for it. And you just might accomplish that failed dream you can't stop thinking about. What was it—going back to college? learning a foreign language? losing 10 lbs.? opening your heart up to a new romance?
Whatever your dream, it's okay that you didn't make it come true the first time. It's spring; it's a time to try again. So just do it (over).
And if you swing and miss and fall on your ass this time? You guessed it.
There's a LOT to care about.
You are not alone.
Lots of people care about the same things that you do. Why not celebrate the fact by observing one or more of the many religious and secular holidays of spring?
Whether you're attending church on Palm Sunday (April 1), volunteering at a recycling center on Earth Day (April 22) or celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation at a picnic on June 19 (Juneteenth), you'll be able to look around and say, "Hey! I'm not the only one who loves God/nature/freedom/stained glass/tin cans/hot dogs!"
Or you might just say, "Hi!"
And meet a new friend.
Whatever happens, celebrating with like-minded people will assure you of at least one thing: You do have a place in the world--and it's in the company of others.
It's spring. Are you sneezing?
3. Put your house in order.
If you suffer from allergies, giving your home a good spring cleaning is a great idea.
Thoroughly cleaning your house can rid it of dust, mildew, dust mites and other allergens that trigger sneezing, watery eyes, headaches and similar adverse reactions.
WebMD's Dr. Sandra Fryhofer recommends a whole battery of cleaning tasks, which I've made into the list below.
(There's nothing like checking items off a list to make you feel as if you've accomplished something. Tip: Add "Make a list" to your list. That'll to give you something to check off right away! :)
Spring Housecleaning To-Do List
- Dry clean or wash (in temps of at least 130 degrees F) all bedding and window treatments.
- Vacuum all upholstered furniture.
- Vacuum under and around all furniture, moving it as needed.
- Dust all books, china and knickknacks.
- Change all household air filters.
- Removed debris from heating/air conditions units.
- Scrape, clean and repaint areas (indoors and out) that have chipped paint, which may harbor mold.
- Clear rotting materials (such as leaves) from garden beds.
- Vacuum, throw out or (my recommendation) recycle old magazines.
Goodbye, Dusty Magazines!
Of course, you don't have to finish the entire list in one day.
You could work on removing decaying matter from your flowerbeds and HVAC unit one weekend, and the next weekend tackle all the bedding and window treatments. Week three? Vacuum and dust.
By the time week four rolls around, you'll only need a couple of hours to sort through old magazines and books--saving some, taking clippings from the rest and then carting the remains to the local recycling center.
See? Wasn't that easy?
By tackling the list a little at a time, your home will be virtually allergen free long before summer. And your respiratory system will thank you.
4. Join a food revolution.
With its abundance of delectable in-season vegetables, spring is the perfect time to join the fresh food revolution.
If you’re ready for a diet that’s completely plant based, jump on the Forks Over Knives bandwagon ("The FOK Diet").
Still want a little meat occasionally? Then consider becoming part of the Slow Food Movement. Although it’s not as recent as Forks Over Knives, Slow Food is almost as radical. More of a culinary trend than a diet revolution, it began in the 1970s at Chef Alice Waters’ famed California restaurant Chez Panisse, where the fare of the day is fresh, organically grown and in season--three traits that are the hallmark of Slow Food (Waters 3-7).
Doesn't that sound delicious?
5. Put some spring in your step.
They can track your speed and distance, calculate the calories you've burned and tell you your heart rate. Some will even show you the imaginary trail you're trodding on--an alpine wilderness, a stark desert, a verdant park.
But no matter how many fancy bells and whistles they have, treadmills can't compete with the pleasure of a brisk walk outside, and spring is the perfect time to take one.
Walking will make you feel better, look better, and who knows? It just might make you live longer, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), which recommends walking three times a day for 10 minutes to increase your chance of a longer lifespan ("National Walking Day").
What's a good day to start walking? National Walking Day, of course!
Created by the AHA to increase awareness of the importance of regular exercise to good health, National Walking Day is the first Wednesday of every April. (That's right--spring!) This year, it falls on April 4, but just about any clear spring day is a good day to take a walk.
Recommended & Top Rated
You don't need fancy duds or expensive equipment to get in a good brisk walk, but you should wear appropriate shoes to prevent pain and injury.
The AHA recommends lightweight walking shoes made of breathable material. They should be flexible enough to bend easily in your hands, and they should have well-cushioned heels ("Sneaker Savvy").
For the most comfort, wear either cross trainers or shoes made specially for walking. Although running shoes will do, their soles are thicker than the soles of walking shoes, and that could trip you up.
Below are five walking shoes recommended by the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine’s Footwear Committee:
- Asics Gel Cardio Walker (Neutral/Cushioned Motor Control)
- Asics Gel 4 to 8 Walker (Max. MC)
- New Balance 811 (Neutral/Cushioned MC)
- New Balance 965 Trail (Moderate MC)
- New Balance 659 / W / SC (Moderate MC)
("Footwear: Walking Shoes")
Self magazine readers gave the Ryka Devotion walking shoe for women top marks also ("Best-Rated Athletic Shoes").
And if sunshine and fresh air and comfy shoes aren't enough to put a spring in your step, add some music to the mix. That will really get you moving!
"Best-Rated Athletic Shoes." Yahoo! Shopping. 1 April 2012. Web.
"First Day of Spring 2013: Vernal Equinox." The Old Farmer's Almanac. 24 April 2013. Web.
"Footwear: Walking Shoes." American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine. 15 March 2012. Web.
"The FOK Diet." Forks Over Knives. 17 March 2012. Web.
Fryhofer, Sandra, M.D. "Allergy Free Spring Cleaning." WebMD. 16 March 2012. Web Video.
"National Walking Day." American Heart Association. 15 March 2012. Web.
"Sneaker Savvy." American Heart Association. 15 March 2012. Web.
Waters, Alice. The Art of Simple Food. New York: Clarkson Potter, 2007. Print.