University of Pennsylvania Health System

Penn Health and Wellness

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spring into Good Health

Spring is here - at last! The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining and people seem to have just a little extra hop in their step. But if you're still finding it difficult to get out of hibernation mode, Penn Medicine offers some spring wellness suggestions to help:

Get Up, Get Out and Get Active

It can be hard to get back into the swing of things, especially after the harsh winter many of us just endured. Your body, though, will thank you once you get out into the fresh air. Go for a jog, hike, walk the dog, do some yard work, anything that gets your body moving.

Ever think about trying a 5k or 10k run/walk? Now is the perfect time to sign up and give it a shot. Check out a few upcoming runs sponsored by Penn Medicine.

Set goals for yourself in terms of the amount of activities you want to do in a week and have fun reaching them.

Eat Healthier

We know, it's easier said than done. But here's really why: with the additional outdoor activities you’ll be enjoying in the nice weather, your body needs more vitamins and nutrients. Spring is when many different fruits and vegetables come into season, which means your grocery store will be stocked with all kinds of produce. Take advantage of these fresh foods by integrating them into your diet. Not only are they good for you, but they will give you extra energy.

Be Prepared for Allergy Season

We all know the saying, “April showers bring May flowers”. For those that are prone to sniffles and sneezes as the weather warms, now is the time to prepare a plan of defense.

Although the thought is to open windows and allow some fresh air to come in, this can have consequences to those suffering from allergies. By keeping windows closed during this time of year, you can reduce the amount of pollen entering the house. It is also recommended that you change filters in air conditioning units and vents frequently throughout springtime.

When venturing outside, wear sunglasses and a hat to block pollen from landing on your head or entering your eyes. After being outside for an extended period of time, be sure to shower to remove any pollen from your hair and skin.

Finally, talk to your doctor about a seasonal allergy drug that may be appropriate for your symptoms. Or, just schedule an appointment before the season really kicks in.

Get Ready for Spring Cleaning

Did you know there are health benefits to spring cleaning? Not only can spring cleaning help reduce sneezing and sniffling by removing dust buildup, it can also help your mental health. By living in a clutter-free environment, you can reduce stress and anxiety. Remember that spring cleaning needs to be an ongoing activity because of the additional foot traffic, pollen, etc.

A few tips to guide your cleaning:
  • In an attempt to control pollen, wash bedding every week in hot water.
  • Wash throw rugs every couple weeks to reduce mold.
  • Change filters in air conditioning units and vents every 30-60 days.

Work Out With Your Dog

Work out with your dog
Taking long walks or runs with your dog can help both of you stay in shape! The recommended time per day for walking your dog is 30 minutes. Just think, you can burn calories and enjoy time with your pup. In fact, a 140-pound woman walking at a leisurely pace for a half an hour can burn up to 100 calories! Of course your pet benefits as well.

Benefits of getting fit with your dog include:
  • Motivation to exercise – there's nothing like an workout partner who's waiting by the door with a wagging tail to keep you motivated!
  • Helps digestive system – a brisk walk can help aid digestion after a big meal.
  • Increased cardiovascular fitness – steady movement can get your heart rate up and can help lower blood pressure.
  •  Improve balance and coordination.
All the above benefits go for your dog as well. In addition, this time together strengthens the bond between you and your pet, and leads to a strong, trusting relationship.

Spring brings many opportunities, so say goodbye to snow shovels and warmer jackets and say hello to extended days and new outdoor adventures. Like all good things, this time of year is fleeting. So be sure to make the best of it!

For more helpful tips and information, check out Patient Resources section.

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