After a long and sometimes dark winter, you might feel inspired to make changes to enhance your health. If that is the case, read on to find out how you can rejuvenate your life this spring. Whether you're living in a senior community already, living independently, living with a family member, or caring for one, these spring health tips are worth taking into account.
Take Yourself in for a Tune Up
To keep your body running at peak performance, it needs regular maintenance: a spring tune-up, so to speak. Get your weight, blood pressure, and glucose and cholesterol levels checked out by your primary-care physician, who can also book you for other relevant tests.
In addition, if it’s been a year since your eyes were tested, schedule an appointment with your optometrist, and see your dentist if you haven’t been examined for at least six to nine months.
Finally, if you are finding it difficult to catch what people are saying, especially in a crowd of people, it’s probably time to get your hearing tested.
Put on Your Walking Shoes
If you’re no fan of ice and snow, your whole world may expand once the spring sun settles in and thaws out the land. And there’s no better way to explore the season then by walking. Health-wise, it’s one of the best physical activities for seniors – its considerable benefits include controlling blood sugar, supporting bone and heart health and improving sleep.
Not only that, walking in a park or forest is a great way to connect with nature, and, if you join a walking club or hiking group, it can be an easy way to meet new friends.
Remember to make sure that you choose terrain that is suitable for your current level of activity and balance, and that you wear supportive and comfortable shoes, as these can help reduce the risk of falls.
Take an Exercise Class
In addition to walking, get your endorphins flowing by signing up for a low-impact aerobics or other type of exercise class. Consider Yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi, all of which can improve balance and flexibility and decrease your chances of falling. Aquafit is another fun and social way to increase physical fitness, one that can be especially suitable if you have arthritis or chronic pain.
Get Outside and Garden
In springtime, a highlight of many seniors’ lives is gardening, which brings a multitude of health benefits. For starters, tending to a garden can boost your level of Vitamin D, which can, in turn, help reduce the risk of bone problems and fractures.
On an emotional level, getting outside and breathing fresh air, listening to birds chirp, and watching worms crawl through the dirt can be as calming and relaxing as an hour of meditation. On a physical level, digging, planting and weeding can improve strength, flexibility and agility.
Lighten Up Your Diet
Many healthy fruits and veggies, like asparagus, peas, lettuce, and strawberries come into season in the spring, making it the perfect time to replace heavier winter meals with salads, light soups or other lightly cooked fare. In fact, cut down your chances of developing conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and arthritis, by making a complete dietary overhaul.
Consider cutting down on red meat and processed foods, replacing white flour with whole grain flour, and increasing your intake of produce as well as healthy fats such as olive oil and avocados.
Remember that you should never undertake a new diet or exercise plan without consulting your doctor about what will be safe for your current level of health.
Drink Lots of Water
As you age, your ability to notice thirst may decrease, so it’s important to keep an eye on water intake, especially when you’ve been exercising outdoors in the sun. Dehydration can adversely affect memory and concentration and increase fatigue; it can also lead to serious complications such as increased risk of falls.
As a rule of thumb, aim for at least eight cups of water per day, and be conscious about the type of fluid that you ingest, choosing water, herbal tea and fresh vegetable juices over coffee, fruit juices or sugary sweet soft drinks.
Dress for the Weather
Spring is one of those in-between seasons -- some days are weather-perfect, while others are a little too hot or a little too brisk. When the sun is shining brightly, always wear sunglasses or a wide-brimmed hat to protect yourself from ultraviolet rays that can adversely affect your skin and eyes, while on cooler or windier days, insulate yourself from the cold by topping off your outfit with a sweater or jacket and a scarf.
Watch for Allergies
Springtime can mean the beginning of allergies for people who react badly to grass and pollen. Keep an eye on the weather. Many weather reporters and websites now offer allergy predictions as well. Untreated allergies aren’t just uncomfortable--they can lead to breathing problems, sinus infections, and colds.
A doctor can recommend or prescribe a good allergy treatment. Taking it regularly can help prevent more serious respiratory problems.
Do you have any seasonal health tips that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below!