As the seasons change, it’s easy to lose sight of our healthy goals. We choose the couch over the treadmill. Maybe there are a few more pizza deliveries when it becomes much harder to get fresh, local, fruit and vegetables. While that approach is certainly easier, it won’t lead to great health outcomes over time. It’s time to start thinking about healthy habits that last throughout the seasons.
Nutrition –Depending on where you live, it is typically easier to find delicious, nutritious fruits, vegetables and protein through spring, summer, and fall. Let’s face it though; it is hard to get good food in winter. Even with a prolific global fruits and vegetable trade, a watermelon in January just tastes…sad. What many people don’t know is that some local farmers have fresh, vibrant food available year-round. You just have to ask. For example, farmers who have “high tunnels” in some regions are able to grow fresh kale, carrots, and other root vegetables even in snow. In addition, they may have storage crops, such as potatoes, onions, garlic, and squashes. These types of vegetables are able to last over winter in a root cellar and keep nutritional integrity. The key with this tip is to shop small; a large conventional farmer will move inventory each season, but a small farmer has more professional leeway to participate in traditional farming.
Switch things up – Adults (and increasingly, children) are “specializing” in a sport from an early age. While there are some benefits to choosing a sport and sticking with it exclusively, there are also dramatic downsides. Doctors (including the American Academy of Pediatrics) are reporting an alarming increase in sports-related injuries. The increase, they believe, is due to using the same muscles over and over again. They recommend trying different sports to give muscle groups time for a break. This advice applies to both young and ahem, older athletes. If you’re a runner in the fall, try soccer in the spring. Throw in some swimming in the summer (or in the winter if you have an indoor pool nearby).
Switching sports also increases our social network. Club leagues are great places to meet people and have fun. As another layer of incentive, some companies sponsor teams or give participants credit toward their health insurance costs if they participate in preventative healthy activities. It’s sort of like making the NFL, right?
Sports for All Seasons – We just talked about the reasons to switch sports through the seasons, but there are also benefits to choosing a sport you can do year-round. The main qualifier of an all-season sport should be: “is it low impact and does it benefit my overall health?” High impact sports such as baseball(softball), basketball, and football rank among the highest sports-related injuries, and are perfect examples of sports to rotate through your fitness regimen. On the other hand, swimming is an overall health-inducing, low-impact sport with the lowest recorded injuries reported. Many community pools offer lanes and classes year-round for all fitness and experience levels. These days, water aerobics is not just for old ladies. Younger folks around the country are trying classes in Aqua yoga, Aqua Kickbox, or even Aqua Zumba. In addition, some pools have removable roofs so you can enjoy the weather when it’s great, and stay protected when it is not. Compound that with the many health benefits of working out in the water and it’s a no brainer. Yoga is another healthy activity that can produce benefits all year. Yoga can be a stand-alone practice or a wonderful supplement to other sports.
It may seem unconventional to plan your health by the seasons. However, by working your nutrition and fitness needs around the seasons, you are sure to keep healthy year-round and keep you from feeling the need to partake in unhealthy habits.