At a glance
The Time Is Now: Spring is a great time to refocus on our health.
Spring is the season of new beginnings — the chill in the air is slowly disappearing, the last of the snow has melted away, and the flowers have begun to bloom. The rising temperatures mean we no longer need to don our heavy winter coats; a light jacket will do just fine.
For some, the spring serves as the perfect opportunity tend to our gardens or try our hands at a new outdoor activity. Others may view the springtime as a way to further our focus on our health and wellbeing. And since the weather is neither too hot nor too cold, many of us prefer to engage in our favorite outdoor workouts during this time of year. But be sure to remember to check out some of the beautiful views that spring has to offer!
Springtime allows us to spend more time outside doing the things we love without being stuck in the confines of our homes. And since the spring is the season of new beginnings, there is no better time to pick up some new habits to support your health.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at some top exercises, fresh in-season fruits and vegetables, and key nutrients to support your health as the flowers go into full bloom.
Spring Into The Sunshine With These Top Exercises
We all know that gardening is a leisure activity typically enjoyed in the warmer months. However, did you know that it is also considered a form of exercise? That’s right — the benefits of gardening go beyond connecting with nature and creating a beautiful bounty of fruits and vegetables.
Why Gardening Is Considered Exercise:
- The CDC considers gardening a moderate-intensity level activity. In context, an activity that falls under moderate intensity is usually made up of exercises that increase your heart rate by up to 50% to 60% higher than its resting rate. According to Cleveland Clinic, this level of exercise falls in line with actives such as washing your car for 45 minutes, raking leaves for 30 minutes, and even dancing for 30 minutes.
- According to the New Jersey Agricultural Station at Rutgers University, gardening requires low to moderate intense activity. This is similar to your standard workout at the gym, where some people prefer to stick with lighter exercises, while others indulge in heavy weights and push themselves to the limit. A similar concept holds true for gardening. For example, raking requires moderate levels of bending and stretching, which increases flexibility and strengthens your joints. More strenuous examples of gardening include digging, lifting, and planting — all of which work your upper and lower body. Note: when lifting objects, be sure to bend at your knees and hips into a squatting position and lift with your legs instead of your back.
So, as you prepare to cultivate your garden and reap the fruits of your labor, you’ll be happy to know that you’re supporting your physical heath as well!
Aside from gardening, there are other multifaceted activities to support your health and provide additional benefits. In this case, hiking is proven to have many benefits for your body, while also allowing you to experience some incredible views during your workout.
Here’s How Hiking Supports Your Physical Health:
- According to the National Park Service, hiking benefits multiple pieces of the puzzle that is your physical health. Hiking helps strengthen your bones and muscles, improve your sense of balance, improve your heart health, and even decrease the risk of certain respiratory issuess.
- Although hiking is viewed as an intense activity, there’s no need to pack up the family and drive for hours to find a long and windy trail. Harvard Medical Center states that any slightly uneven surfaces on a trail can provide a natural way to exercise your core muscles and work on your balance. That said, if you’re looking for a more intense experience, check out this list of the some of the best trails in the country.
Similar to hiking, this next springtime activity allows you to support your physical health in multiple ways, all while giving you the chance to enjoy nature as well.
Support Your Physical Health – And Capture Some Great Views – With A Scenic Jog:
- Although running is a great way to support your physical health, jogging will do just fine. According to the Better Health Channel, jogging is a form of aerobic exercise. In other words, jogging is a physical activity that produces energy by combining oxygen with blood glucose or body fat. This particular exercise is a great way to ease into other exercises while supporting your health.
- Since jogging is a weight-bearing exercise, one of the main benefits of this workout is that it helps build strong bones. Furthermore, jogging can help strengthen your muscles, improve your cardiovascular fitness, and help maintain a healthy weight.
- But let’s face it: jogging may not be the most enjoyable workout. That is why it is important map out a route that contains some eye-appealing landscapes that help turn your jog into a more enjoyable experience.
Top In-Season Fruits & Vegetables
We all know that out body needs fruits and vegetables to power us through each day. We need to nourish our bodies with plenty of healthy spring foods — think avocado, pineapple, and spinach, to name a few — to give us the energy needed to carry out tasks and participate in all the activities we love.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some great-tasting and nutritious fruits and vegetables that are ripe for the picking during springtime.
- Avocados are a great source of Vitamins C, E, K, and B6, and nutrients such as folate, magnesium, and potassium. They’re also chock-full of healthy fat that help keep you feeling full.
- According to the Medical Center at UT Southwestern, avocado consumption has skyrocketed in the last 20 years. The average annual consumption in 1998 was a mere 1.5 pounds of avocado per person. In 2017, that number grew to a whopping 7.5 pounds per person. In all, 2020 saw the United States import a record 2.1 billion pounds of avocado! One reason for this record-breaking number is that fewer restaurants were open for business in 2020. As a result, grocery stores were able to sell avocados at a cheaper price than usual.
The avocado has experienced an uptick in popularity, and the health benefits it brings to the table has a lot to do with it. This bright-green fruit has been the subject of multiple studies in the past two decades, many of which have yielded positive results. For example, a 2013 study published in Nutrition Journal found that participants who consumed significantly higher intakes of vegetables, fruit, Vitamins E, K, Magnesium, Potassium had lower intakes of added sugar. In short, the study found that the participants who eat things like avocados tend to lead healthier lives.
Pineapples may seem like the perfect food to enjoy on a hot summer afternoon. After all, they are a tropical fruit. But believe it or not, the pineapple is in season in the spring, not summer. In fact, this fruit is in-season in the fall and winter as well. And like avocados, the pineapple is rich in nutrients that can help support your health all season long.
- Pineapple is sweet in flavor but rich in vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants, as well as manganese and thiamin. One cup of pineapple contains Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Potassium, and more.
- An interesting tidbit on pineapple lies within its signature spiky crown. This specific area contains bromelain — a proteolytic enzyme that can act as an antioxidant. A 2019 study examined the antioxidant activity of the crown of pineapple and found that crude bromelain has medium antioxidant activity. In other words, the crown of the pineapple in its natural state (before processing) contains antioxidants. Bromelain from pineapple is often used in digestion support supplements due to its ability to help the body digest protein.
The last, but certainly not least, healthy food choice for spring is spinach. This leafy-green vegetable is fresh in the spring and fall, though it is available all-year long. However, it is at its best when purchased between March and June. When buying, make sure your spinach leaves are bright green in color and are free of yellow tint or odd scents.
- Spinach is an excellent source of Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Magnesium, Iron, Calcium, Manganese, Folate, and Potassium. It is also an excellent source of dietary fiber and zinc as well.
- According to MedicineNet, spinach helps reduce the risks of high blood sugar and high blood pressure.
- The antioxidant action of spinach can help protect our skin from ultraviolet radiation from the sun. (Though it does not act as a sunscreen, so make sure you are applying a high-SPF sunscreen even in the spring.)
Key Nutrients to Support Your Health All Season Long
As previously stated, we must nourish our bodies with healthy food such as avocado, pineapple, and spinach. But it is important to know what’s inside these fruits and veggies. For instance, all three healthy food options contain Vitamin C, while avocado and spinach contain Vitamin K. We’ll dive into this, as well as some other top nutrients to support your health all season long.
According to Mayo Clinic, CoQ10 may help with a variety of heart conditions. Although findings are mixed, this nutrient has been shown to improve symptoms of congestive heart failure. Some findings suggest that CoQ10 may help manage blood pressure as well.
- CoQ10 is essential for the health of most of our tissues and organs, and it is considered a vital antioxidant. CoQ10’s antioxidant activity helps prevent the generation of free radicals and changes in proteins, lipids, and even DNA.
- Our bodies naturally produce CoQ10, but levels of this particular nutrient decline with age. And since our cells use CoQ10 for growth and maintenance, it is important to seek out food sources that contain this essential nutrient — and to consider supplementation when your food alone does not provide enough.
- CoQ10 is most abundant in the heart, liver, kidneys, and pancreas. It is found in a variety of food sources. For starters, foods highest in this nutrient include pork, grass-fed beef, chicken, sardines, tuna, mackerel, and rainbow trout. It is also found in fruits, vegetables and other foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, organic strawberries, oranges, olive oil, peanuts, pistachios, walnuts, and sesame seeds.
Next up on the list is a nutrient has been a mainstay in herbal medical practices throughout the world for centuries — Schisandra. Although this bright-red berry may look appetizing, you probably won’t find it mixed into food. Instead, the Schisandra berry is added to dietary supplements where it goes to work to fight against fatigue, support energy and vitality, and provide antioxidants. No wonder this botanical is often called the “ultimate super berry!”
So, as you begin to navigate through the busy weeks of spring, be sure to look out for this legendary botanical to help you fight fatigue, manage stress, and more.
We all know that it is important to support our immune system during the cold winter months. But your immune system works hard all year round to defend your body. So, why not look to support this complex network of cells in the spring as well?
- Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid, is touted for its contributions to immune defense, and how it supports multiple cellular functions. A 2017 review titled “Vitamin C and Immune Function” lists Vitamin C as an essential nutrient, stating that it has a number of activities that may contribute to its immune-modulation effects.
- This essential dietary component is found in all kinds of food. The National Institutes of Health, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, states that fruits and vegetables are the best sources of Vitamin C. For example, one-half cup of sweet red pepper provides 95 mg of Vitamin C per serving, while the same helping of strawberries yields 49 mg per serving.
The last nutrient to keep your eyes on during the springtime is Vitamin K. This final vitamin is not as popular as others but is still needed to carry out multiple functions throughout your body. After all, Vitamin K is known as the “Blood Clotting Vitamin.”
- According to the School of Public Health at Harvard University, Vitamin K helps make four of the thirteen proteins needed for blood clotting. This is important to know if you take a blood thinner, as Vitamin K has the potential to counteract the effects. So, if you are taking anticoagulant medication, confer with your doctor before supplementing with Vitamin K.
- Although Vitamin K is perhaps most known for its contributions to blood clotting, it is also an important nutrient for bone health and other functions throughout your body. This unheralded vitamin is actually involved in the production of proteins in our bones, including osteocalcin. We need osteocalcin to prevent our bones from becoming weak. Studies show that Vitamin K is significantly associated with a reduced risk of fractures.
- Vitamin K also acts as a “traffic officer” in your blood stream, where it helps Calcium find its way to your bones instead of staying in your arteries.
- Food sources of Vitamin K include dark, leafy-green vegetables such as spinach, green leaf lettuce, as a well as broccoli, eggs, and pork chops.
Set The Stage For A Healthy Spring
There’s no better season to pick up on new healthy habits than the spring. Fun activities such gardening, hiking, and even scenic jogging are all multifaceted activities that support your health and provide an enjoyable experience as well. But in order to carry out these activities, we must continue to nourish our bodies with fruits, vegetables, and other healthy nutrients throughout the spring and beyond. Now get outside and enjoy nature!