With the lingering idea of longer days, filled with warm sunshine and fresh air, many of us are getting excited for what lies ahead! We have been patiently waiting to hear those magic words that instantly raise our spirits, and remind us that winter has finally come to an end. Those three simple, yet wonderful words; SPRING HAS ARRIVED!
Interestingly, one of the most common thoughts many of us have at the start of each spring season, is this concept of spring cleaning. Out with the old and in with the new. As a child, I remember my mother being a very avid spring cleaner. It started with the windows, then the backyard, the garage and finally a complete overhaul of everyone’s bedroom. She was on a mission and did not stop until she was satisfied that every molecule of dirt was forever gone. When I look back at the concept itself, I see some relevance to her madness. But, as a health professional, my thoughts about spring cleaning shifts slightly, and I ask myself; What about spring cleaning me?? As we are getting ready to welcome the new season, this is a perfect time to think about "cleaning" ourselves, re-invigorating our physical and mental health, in preparation for a summer that is certain to be filled with family, friends and fun.
With the brilliant spring weather we are blessed with in the Okanagan, this is our first opportunity to get outside and take advantage of some great physical activities on offer. Walking, hiking and golfing are just a few of the most popular activities here in the Okanagan, and are some of the best options for kick starting our physical activity plans. Just 30 minutes a day of moderate level walking (working up a bit of a sweat but still able to carry on a conversation) can burn up to 160 calories, while hiking with some uphill efforts can burn an additional 100 calories per 30 minute session. Golfing, one of the most popular activities in the Okanagan region, can burn up to 1000 calories for 18 holes of play (minus the golf cart of course).
In addition to physical activity, practicing healthy eating behaviours will also help with your spring cleaning. Most importantly, think fresh, clean, non-processed foods. Often times during the winter months our fruit and vegetable selection can sometimes be limited, and we find ourselves buying canned vegetables and other processed foods, all of which contain excess sugar, sodium, other additives and preservatives. With greater access to fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats, all year round, eating "cleaner" is not such a challenge anymore. Dr. Willis-Stewart, Director of the Nutrition Education Center at the University of British Columbia, stresses the importance of minimizing processed food intake and increasing our fresh fruit and vegetable intake. Eating fresh and clean is essential for a healthy digestive tract. The fibre consumed by eating lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans and seeds helps maintain the strength and integrity of your colon while also helping to eliminate waste products. It is essential in increase your water intake as well as you increase consumption of these foods. Your liver enzymes also work better at detoxifying when one is well fed and nourished. Eating foods high in fiber and protein also supplies your body with slower releasing energy so we feel satisfied for longer periods of time, thus making us feel more energetic......it puts a little "spring" in your step.
Undertaking our own spring cleaning will not only provide us with physical health benefits but it will also have a positive effect on our mental health, helping to strip away our "winter blues" and providing us with an opportunity for renewed energy and a positive mood change. With our bodies and minds fresh and clean we will most certainly be ready for something even more exciting.......SUMMER!
Spring Into Action
Story by Dr. Cristina Caperchione, BHK, MHK, PHD.