IT'S THAT time of year again. While you're giving your home its traditional spring clean, don't forget to spring clean your health and lifestyle, too.
Longer days and warmer weather are an ideal time to make some small adjustments to your daily routine that will boost your energy, lift your mood and improve your fitness, women's health organisation Jean Hailes for Women's Health says.
"As you come out of winter hibernation and the days get longer and warmer, you have more energy to look at your health and lifestyle and to make some changes," Jean Hailes dietitian Terrill Bruere said.
"Check out how you have gone over winter.
"Have you gained some extra weight? Have you stopped being as physically active, or have you not eaten as much fruit and vegies?
"This is the chance to build your health and fitness again before the summer season and the heat arrive."
Jean Hailes gynaecologist and founding board member Dr Elizabeth Farrell added: "Make sure you are up to date with your routine health checks this spring - such as a Pap test, mammogram and a general health check.
"A good way to remember when these checks are due is to link them to your birthday or to get them done every year in spring - it's easier to undress in warmer weather after all.
"If you have a smart phone, you can also set yourself a reminder when you are due for a check next spring or next birthday."
Your smart phone also can be used to track gynaecological issues, such as period problems.
"Download a period tracker app and use this to chart frequency, heaviness and length of periods," Dr Farrell said. "It's a useful record that you can take to your doctor and discuss."
Jean Hailes endocrinologist Dr Sonia Davison said spring was a time to take advantage of increased daylight hours to enjoy some outdoor exercise - with a friend to keep you motivated.
"Try walking, jogging, cycling, tennis, tai chi or swimming," she said.
"Try on some of the summer items in your wardrobe, including your bathers, and if they seem a little tighter. Make a plan to shape up in time for summer. Involve a friend so you can get in shape together and motivate each other."
Other ideas include bike rides and walks in local parks where you can enjoy the wattle, blossoms and blooming plants.
Or you could try to fit in the last bit of spring skiing before the snow melts totally.
Switch to a spring diet that includes new-season fruits and vegetables.
Dr Bruere said the average Australian packed on two to three kilos during winter, and spring was the best time to lose that excess winter weight.
"Keep a food and exercise diary for a few days to double-check your lifestyle and pay attention to your serving sizes," she said.
"Have they have crept up over the past few months?
"Try the local farmers' markets for fresh spring produce and find some new recipes.
"Swap warming winter porridge for some fresher tasting, lighter Bircher or other types of muesli and add some fresh berries to breakfast.
"Swap a winter muffin for an orange for afternoon tea, too."
If you've been drinking more tea and coffee than usual to keep warm during colder months, make the switch to water.
Overall, the message is clear: take advantage of the longer, warmer days by enjoying the sunshine, with a friend if you like, and try some of the new-season produce to help your energy levels, mood and all-round fitness.
Top spring health tips
- Aim to make small changes - they can have a big effect on your health
- Change just one thing - then it's not so overwhelming
- Book in for a health check - make it seasonal so you don't forget
- Find an enjoyable way to get active and spend time outdoors
- Get active with a friend
- Try on your summer clothes and see if they still fit - a good test to see if you've gained any weight over winter
- Eat fresh and seasonal fruit and vegies - go for lots of bright colours
- Keep a food diary for a few days - check your serving sizes
- Swap heavier winter snacks for freshly cut fruit
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