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Spring Clean Your Health and Spring into Action

Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013 11:35 a.m. CDT

Spring is here, and the winter blues are behind us. It’s time to come out of hibernation and renew your healthy lifestyle plans.

Days are getting longer, and the temperatures are starting to rise. Warmer weather gives us a chance to get out of the house more, enjoy the benefits of physical activity and refresh our get-healthy menus.

With an eating plan that is balanced, exercise is important both for losing weight and maintaining overall health.

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults exercise a minimum of 2 ½ hours (150 minutes) each week. This is for moderate-intensity aerobic activity. A minimum of 75 minutes per week is recommended for vigorous-intensity activity.

It is possible, with a little planning, to easily fit 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity into your routine most days of the week.

Moderate-intensity activities:

• Walking (3 mph)

• Water aerobics

• Bicycling (less than 10 mph)

• Tennis (doubles)

• Ballroom dancing

Vigorous-intensity activities:

• Jogging, running, race-walking

• Swimming laps

• Bicycling (more than 10 mph)

• Tennis (singles)

• Aerobic dancing

To increase your level of physical activity, first find activities you enjoy and then plan to fit this into your daily schedule. If you have not been exercising regularly, begin with 5 to 10 minutes per day.

Gradually increase this by 10-minute increments every week until you are up to 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week.

Try to include all your aerobic activity at one time for maximum cardiovascular benefits. However, if your schedule does not allow this, breaking up the physical activity throughout the day still has benefits.

Additionally, don’t forget to incorporate as much “lifestyle activity” into your day as well. Examples of this include taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further away from the door at work or at the store and walking to a co-worker’s office, or the neighbor’s house next door, instead of emailing or calling.

As you work at developing your physical activity plan, remember that nutrition is important for your peak physical performance. Return the fruit bowl to the counter and fill it with fresh fruits for snacking like strawberries, blueberries and papaya.

Set aside 20 to 30 minutes each week to plan your meals and write out your shopping list. Clear out your pantry of packages past their use-by dates. Stock up on plenty of fresh items including whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and smart snacks such as nuts.

While cleaning out the pantry, re-assess the size of your dishes. Try using narrow drinking glasses, smaller plates and shallow bowls to help manage portion sizes.

Start your “spring cleaning” for health now to make sure you feel fit and fabulous in time for summer.

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