Weight gain over winter is more common than you think, with nearly 40% of women and 50% of men gaining up to 5kg over the cold season.
Now that September has arrived, we’re being greeted with longer days, warmer temperatures and a greater availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, making this time of the year the perfect time to “spring clean” our health and lifestyle habits.
If you’re looking to get your health back on track but don’t know where to start, here are our top 5 ideas:
1 – Clean up your diet –Good nutrition is important to help you reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.
Eating the recommended 2 servings of fruit and 5 servings of vegetables daily is easier, cheaper and more nutritious when you eat foods that are in season. Some examples spring seasonal foods you can buy include bananas, kiwifruit, watermelon, strawberries, avocados, capsicum, eggplants and zucchini.
A good diet not only includes eating the right foods but also staying well hydrated. Water is vital to the functioning of every cell, organ and muscle in the body. As a general rule women need to drink 2-2.7L water and men 2.5-3.7L of water a day to avoid the effects of dehydration.
2- Clear your mind – You may have heard the old saying; a cluttered space makes for a cluttered mind. Spring is the time most of us clean the house so everything starts to feel fresh and new, but going one step further to declutter our home can actually help us to feel more calm and focused. So take some inspiration from Marie Kondo and unpack any boxes you have lying around, throw away the clothes you don’t wear or books you don’t read and place any items gathering dust in your garage out for hard rubbish.
Spring is also a time of growth and regeneration, making it a great time to clean our mind of stress. We know that long-term stress is bad for our health, having been linked to impaired memory, a weakened immune system, poor sleep and various diseases. Practicing meditation, breathing exercises or even daily gratitude’s are all effective ways to help de-stress.
3 – Spring into shape – Keeping active in winter can be a challenge, but now that the dark and cold mornings are on the way out, it’s the perfect time to get outside and into a good exercise routine.
We all know that completing the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity each day helps to prevent disease, improves mood, reduces stress and helps sleep, but did you know exercising outdoors has been shown to have greater health benefits than exercising indoors? Research has shown that running outdoors exerts more energy than running on a treadmill and people report feeling more enthusiastic, greater self esteem levels, less tension and were less tired after being outdoors. Outdoor activity is also free and more accessible than a gym.
4 – Sleep – Getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night is just as important for our health as a nutritious diet and regular exercise.
Keeping your bedroom environment clean can affect how fast we fall asleep and how soundly we sleep. 7/10 people believe they have a more comfortable night sleep on freshly washed sheets, so ensure you’re washing your bedding regularly.
It’s also important for our circadian rhythm (body’s internal clock) that we to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Having a different sleep pattern on a day-to-day basis can alter our melatonin levels, which changes when the body signals that it’s time to go to sleep. Try choosing a bedtime when you normally start to feel tired and you’ll find it easier to fall asleep. If you’re getting enough sleep you should also naturally wake up without needing an alarm.
Melatonin levels can also be affected by the blue light emitted from our Tv’s, Ipads and phones. So if you feel more alert at nighttime and find it hard to fall asleep, avoid using technology 1-2 hours before bed.
5 – Look after your body – No matter your age or family history, general health checkups should be undertaken at least once a year. If you haven’t already, book in to see your Doctor for a full health check, especially if you’re feeling inspired to make any changes to your diet and lifestyle. This will ensure your making changes that are specific to your body’s needs.
Now is also a great time to address how your body is feeling. The colder weather of winter causes muscles to lose heat and contract, making us feel more tension, tightness and pain than in the warmer months. If you’re still feeling tight in the neck and shoulders or stiff in the low back, book in to your local Chiropractor for an assessment so you can start to feel and function better before getting back into shape.