In just a short couple of weeks, the celestial phenomenon known as the vernal equinox will occur in the Northern Hemisphere. The vernal equinox is one of only two days during the year when the sun is exactly above the equator. It’s also the time when the number of daylight hours is almost exactly equal to the number of nighttime hours. On our Gregorian calendar, the vernal equinox marks the first official day of spring (although, as a new Chicagoan, I am eager to see if it really starts to feel like spring here in March).
Apart from the joy that many of us feel when the days are longer than the nights, the air warms up and flowers and trees begin to bloom, we often feel a general sense of renewal and awakening when spring comes. We dust off our running shoes, put air in the bicycle tires and start to think about focusing on adopting healthy habits. There are many ways to use the start of spring as a launching pad to good health. Just a few of them include:
- Start an Exercise Routine—The warmer weather and longer days make it a perfect combination of conditions to get active outside. The American Heart Association recommends that individuals do moderate exercise for at least 150 minutes per week, or vigorous exercise for 75 minutes per week.
- Revamp Your Diet with Fresh Fruits and Vegetables—Take advantage of the variety of fruits and vegetables available during spring. A healthy diet includes adding vegetables and fruit every day. It goes without saying that it is OK to indulge in the occasional ice cream cone. Although, frozen yogurt would be a healthier alternative.
- Drink More Water—As the heat kicks into high gear it is harder to stay hydrated and more important to drink more water. Even when you’re inside, drinking lots of water is part of a healthy lifestyle, so continue to drink water throughout the day.
- Reduce Alcohol Consumption—If one of your habits is having a drink before bed, or having a few at dinner, you may want to reconsider that next glass of Merlot. Alcohol not only causes dehydration, but it’s also associated with sleep disorders, high blood pressure and certain types of cancer.
- Check In for a Check-Up—You may have chalked up some symptoms and illnesses to the winter blues, but now that it is spring, it’s time to get back to the doctor for a head-to-toe check-up! A periodic wellness-exam for all ages is not just about good medical care, but it also gives you the opportunity to learn more about beneficial health habits.
- Protect Your Skin—It is going to get hot, the sun will be shining and your skin always needs protection. Not only do men and women need to regularly moisturize their skin, but they should also protect it from the harsh rays of the sun. If you’re outside, make sure to use a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher that protects against UVA and UVB rays. It doesn’t hurt to throw on a pair of sunglasses and a hat as well!
- Renew Relationships—It’s time to get out of the house and visit with your friends and family. Research has shown that good, strong relationships benefit your overall health and happiness. Spend the day with people you love, and schedule regular outings to enjoy the great spring weather.
As Mark Twain once said, “It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”
It’s time to figure out what you want for your health and wellbeing this spring, and start making your plans to go get it!