Spring Is Season for Renewal

By: Katie Richard, MA, BSN, RN, Director of Sports & Wellness

Each day you create yourself anew through choices. Along with the beauty of nature in full bloom and a calendar of festivals, springtime in south Louisiana presents unending choices to enjoy. It's also a perfect time for renewing healthy eating, fitness and other lifestyle choices.

Live a longer, healthier life by choosing to:

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables and less red meat and sugar
  • Exercise more
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Get more sleep
  • Stay hydrated and limit alcohol consumption

Choosing to Eat Healthy

Remember the food pyramid with fruits and vegetables stacked along the bottom, while foods high in sugar, salt and fat cap the top shelf. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends replacing the pyramid with MyPlate, an easier-to-follow dietary guideline.

According to the USDA's plan, healthy eating starts by filling half a plate with fruits and vegetables. Whole grains and protein fill the other half. Vary protein choices with seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans, peas or lentils. Dairy moves to a smaller portion on the side and includes low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese.

Also, monitor your diet to ensure you're getting the necessary daily amounts of vitamins and nutrients. In particular, B vitamins are essential for brain health, metabolism and red blood cell production. Vitamin D promotes strong bones and teeth, as well as boosts the immune system. Routine wellness visits can detect deficiencies that need to be addressed.

Exercising More

What you need most is often what you try most to avoid. Despite knowing the benefits of exercise, you may try to avoid the effort. Regular exercise improves physical health, as well as mental health and overall well-being.

Whether walking on a treadmill or in the park, riding a bike, practicing yoga or swimming—an hour of movement lifts your spirits and lowers the risk of depression.

Along with benefiting cardiovascular health, research also shows exercise is good for brain health. An hour of moderate exercise three times a week can improve memory, energy levels and sleep patterns. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise.

Thibodaux Regional Fitness Center offers a number of options to get moving and with so many choices, it is easy to find a multitude of activities you will enjoy - and as a result will be more likely to take part on a regular basis. To learn more: https://www.fitnesscenterofthibodauxregional.com/.

Reducing Stress

Stress impacts the entire body. The mind-body connection affects our two most vital organs—the heart and brain. Managing stress helps lower blood pressure, decrease depression and anxiety, and reduce inflammation.

As April is recognized as Stress Awareness Month, renewing goals to manage stress is crucial. Chronic stress, depression and anxiety contribute to heart disease, the leading cause of death in this country.

Meditation offers a good option for relieving stress. Start with a 15-minute meditation. Find a quiet place and sit comfortably on a cushion or favorite chair. Close your eyes and try to shut out and shut off. Soothing music or nature sounds help ease you into a calm state.

Walking meditations can also be beneficial. Try leaving your desk at lunch and head outdoors to enjoy the beauty of azaleas and bulbs in bloom. Before long, you might discover that you've walked several blocks and cleared your mind.

Getting More Sleep

Research shows that that less than seven to eight hours of sleep a night is linked to memory loss and cognitive decline. A good night's sleep allows the body to repair and restore itself. Optimal sleep balances moods, improves memory and boosts immune systems. Sleep also helps control the heart rate and blood pressure.

Among the biggest obstacles to sleep are screens. Turn off all devices—television included—30 minutes to an hour before going to bed. If you have trouble falling asleep, read a book or magazine until becoming drowsy.

If even after taking all of the right steps towards better sleep, but you still aren’t getting quality rest, talk with the experts at Thibodaux Regional Sleep Disorders Center. They offer both at-home and in-office sleep testing to evaluate the cause. Learn more here: https://www.thibodaux.com/centers-services/sleep-disorders-center/.

Staying Hydrated

While water consumption varies depending on lifestyle, climate and a person's age, eight 8-ounce glasses a day remains the standard. As the weather warms and humidity climbs, drink more water or eat foods with high water content. Cantaloupe, strawberries, watermelon, lettuce, celery and spinach are all at least 90% water.

A recent study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicates that adults who don't sufficiently hydrate may age faster, have a higher risk of chronic diseases and die younger than those who stay well hydrated.

Along with drinking more water, drink less alcohol. Excessive consumption increases risks for high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, liver disease and other illnesses. Most medical professionals agree on no more than one glass of wine per day for women and two for men.

Spring is here, the flowers are in bloom, the grass is green, isn’t it time to we do a refresh on ourselves too?

For more information on health and wellness, contact Thibodaux Regional Wellness Education Center, 985.493.4765.