Eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise can help prevent chronic illnesses such as heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Summit Health registered dietitian Madalyn Vasquez explains several strategies that can keep you healthy all year round.
It’s never too late to start learning new healthy habits. But it’s important to choose a change that fits comfortably into your lifestyle.
Spring is the perfect time to give your health a fresh start a healthy lifestyle. The longer days and warmer weather provide plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities and exercise, which can boost energy levels, improve mood, strengthen the immune system, and help you shed any extra pounds gained over winter.
The sun also provides an opportunity to get your vitamin D, which supports bone health and reduces the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Make sure to wear sunscreen and follow other sun safety guidelines when spending time outdoors.
Another important aspect of a healthy lifestyle is getting enough sleep, which can improve your memory and mood. The long, dark winter months can cause many people to struggle with sleep problems, but establishing a regular bedtime and eliminating unhealthy sleep habits can lead to improved quality of life.
Lastly, eating a diet full of whole foods is an essential component of good health. Spring is the season for fresh, seasonal produce, so stock up on fruits and vegetables like strawberries, rhubarb, asparagus, artichokes, and leafy greens. Incorporate these into your meals and avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and high-calorie snacks.
Finally, springtime is an excellent time to schedule your yearly doctor visits. Whether you have existing health issues or are just trying to maintain your health, regular checkups can help you identify potential problems early and take preventive measures.
This season is a great time to build on existing healthy lifestyle habits, especially those related to diet and exercise. The warmer weather encourages outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and swimming, which can help boost your mood, promote a healthy weight, and lower the risk for chronic diseases and obesity. It’s also an ideal time to start a new fitness routine, such as jogging outdoors instead of at the gym or increasing your daily walking distance.
Summer also offers a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables, making it easy to reach your recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals. Eating more fresh produce may even improve your immune system.
During the summer, try to avoid sugary or salty snacks that can lead to dehydration and can contribute to summer health issues like heat exhaustion, sunburns, and low energy levels. Instead, keep a stash of snacks on hand that are healthy and satisfying, such as unsalted nuts, fruit, or granola bars.
If you can, try to exercise outdoors during the cooler times of the day (before sunrise or after sunset). The increased exposure to sunlight can improve your mood and regulate sleep patterns, which will support overall wellness. In addition, longer days can provide an opportunity to engage in fun outdoor activities, such as hiking or camping, that allow you and your family to spend quality time together and enjoy nature.
The changing seasons provide the perfect opportunity to make positive lifestyle changes. Summit Health registered dietitian Madalyn Vasquez recommends starting small. “Even a small change, like replacing your soda with water or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, can add up,” she says.
Autumn brings a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables that are fresher and more nutrient-dense than out-of-season options. Adding them to your diet can boost your intake of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Fall is also a great time to focus on immune system support. Adding Vitamin C to your diet can help strengthen white blood cells, while Zinc—which is important for immune function—can be found in foods such as seafood and nuts.
As temperatures drop, it’s easy to fall into a sleep slump, making it even more important to get enough rest. Getting enough sleep helps support normal immune function, as well as mental and physical performance.
Another way to stay healthy during the fall is by focusing on regular exercise. There are many fun activities that can be done outdoors, such as raking leaves or hiking on a local trail. Even more simple things, such as walking to the grocery store or a bus stop instead of driving, can burn calories and build strength. Remember, it’s important to talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian before trying new fitness programs.
In the winter, you can make a big difference in your health by prioritizing sleep, exercise, a healthy diet, and hygiene. These actions will boost your immune system, helping you to fight against the cold and keep yourself strong and energetic throughout the season.
Incorporating a wide variety of seasonal produce into your diet this time of year will help ensure that you get plenty of nutrients to support good health during the winter. This is also a great time to enjoy heartier meals, such as stews and soups made with nutrient-dense ingredients like dark leafy greens, beans, sweet potatoes, and squash.
Drinking adequate amounts of water is an important step to take to stay hydrated. It helps the body to eliminate toxins, maintains blood pressure, carries vital nutrients to the body’s cells, and regulates body temperature.
With the holidays and other festivities in winter, it is easy to fall off the wagon with healthy habits. However, staying true to your health goals can be very rewarding and will give you a sense of accomplishment that will carry over into spring. To increase your chances of success, it’s important to find a supportive network and engage in healthy behaviors that can be replicated over time. Setting health goals, using healthy lifestyle tools, and celebrating short-term successes are all great ways to keep you on track with your healthy habits during the winter months.