Spring has sprung. The sun is shining, the temps have risen, and new life is blooming all around us. Spring is the perfect time to recharge your health battery and start focusing on living a Better Health lifestyle. There are several ways you can take advantage of the change in season to improve your health and wellness. Here’s how older adults can stay healthy this spring.
Get in the Garden
Playing in the dirt reaps a wide range of health benefits. It’s good for your entire body, head to toe. It’s a low-impact physical activity that provides not only moderate aerobic exercise but also helps to lubricate joints and strengthen mobility, which can reduce the risk of falls.
“Gardening is an excellent way to get in some exercise for older adults,” said VIPcare provider Dr. Fara Castillo. “Fresh air and sunshine, along with a wide range of movement from walking to bending, adds to a healthy lifestyle for everyone. Whether it’s cutting flowers or growing vegetables, watering or potting plants, gardening is filled with benefits.”
In addition to being a form of exercise for the body, gardening also provides great exercise for the mind. Research has found that it increases our happy hormones – serotonin and dopamine – and decreases our stress hormone – cortisol.
“Being outside in nature and gardening improves your mood and encourages positive mental well-being,” said Dr. Castillo. “Spending time in nature lets us share in the beauty of creation, ignites our creativity, and gives us food to eat and lots of fresh air and sunshine.”
When gardening, seniors should be careful to use the right tools. Long-handled or curved tools and knee pads can help ensure safety and comfort.
“From a stroll in a park admiring nature to tending a few potted plants indoors or filling a patio with plants to tending an in-ground garden, there are many easy ways to incorporate gardening into your lifestyle,” said Dr. Castillo.
Eat Seasonal Foods
One of the best things about having seasons is all the seasonal foods they bring. Sure, you can get most fruits and vegetables year-round, but the best time to eat them is when they’re in season. When foods are growing in their peak season, such as spring, they’re fresh, taste their best, and offer the most nutritional value.
Apples, bananas, avocados, asparagus, and kale are all spring produce. It’s important to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and what better way to do so than to add these foods that are at their best? For example, apples have been linked to a lower risk of diabetes and help to fight asthma symptoms, which is perfect during allergy season. It’s a win-win. Kale also provides a mighty nutritional punch as one of the most nutrient-dense foods. Eating seasonally is just another way older adults can have a little fun this spring.
Control Your Allergies
Spring is a beautiful time of the year with everything blooming, but it also can be a real nightmare for those suffering from allergies. However, even if you’re sensitive to pollen, grass, mold, or other allergens, you can still enjoy all spring has to offer. You just have to take a little precaution.
If you’re going outdoors, plan accordingly. Pollen counts are usually highest in the early morning, so try to avoid those times if possible. After it rains is the best time to enjoy outdoor activities as rain washes pollen away. Also, it’s a good idea to take a shower and wash your clothes right after being outside to limit the number of allergens sneaking inside your home. And, of course, if you take allergy medicine, be sure you always have it on hand to combat the pesky symptoms like itchy eyes and runny nose.
Take a Walk in Nature
Nature truly has healing properties and is one of the best ways to stay healthy this spring. In fact, a recent study found that spending time in nature may actually help reduce the number of medications you take. Spring is a wonderful time to get outdoors and soak up all nature has to offer. New life is all around, from budding flowers to baby wildlife exploring their surroundings.
Nature provides you with fresh air, sunshine, and possibly a new positive perspective. Nature can help to lift your mood and fight depression. Exercising outside is a great way to add a little piece of nature into your life. Try taking a stroll through a park or a hike along a riverfront. You’ll be surprised by all the benefits nature will provide you.
Soak Up the Sunshine
Safely basking in the sun for 30 minutes or so can do wonders for your health and overall mood. The warm spring weather and the sun’s rays provide you with a nice dose of vitamin D, which is a vital nutrient needed to maintain healthy and strong bones. Vitamin D has also been shown to help ease symptoms of stress and depression. It doesn’t take long to get your Vitamin D shot from the sun. Even just 10 minutes can do your health some good and help you stay healthy this spring.
Sunshine is the best way to naturally get vitamin D, but you must be safe when outdoors. You should always wear sunblock to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays, in addition to wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes.
About Dr. Fara Castillo
Dr. Fara Castillo is a highly experienced physician with a deep passion for medicine. She earned her medical degree from the University of Medical Science in Havana, Cuba, and completed three years of an Anesthesiology residency program before switching to Family Medicine. In addition, she completed an internship at the Hospital HIMA in Caguas, Puerto Rico.