Ask Jill
04.02.2019

How Can I Spring Into Better Health?

As Spring arrives and the snow melts, it is a wonderful time to rejuvenate our own healthy habits. Making healthier choices can boost our energy levels and help prevent chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and depression. Our RiseVT team has gathered tips and tricks to embrace a healthier lifestyle. I am happy to share those with you!

Get out and move. Simple enjoyable activities like brisk walking, biking, and even yard work can bring physical activity into your day. Thirty minutes a day, five days a week is optimal. Consider parking a bit farther away from your destination, taking a walk at lunch, or being active as soon as you get home or after dinner. Take a family member, co-worker, or friend with you and use the time to connect. And once you are used to being more active, build in some muscle-strengthening activities for even more benefit.

Choose more fresh local foods. Eating fruits and vegetables makes such a difference in your health. To start, make at least half your plate be fruits and vegetables. We are fortunate to live in an agricultural area with great access to fresh produce during growing seasons. Make it a point to enjoy the local farmers’ markets and farm stands. These are great opportunities to buy healthy food, support our local economy, and enjoy being out in our community all at once!

Swap in water as your beverage. In a recent column, I discussed the benefit of moving away from sugary drinks. Choosing water over soda or other sugary drinks can significantly reduced the calories you consume, putting you a step ahead on your health journey.

Sleep matters.  Adults need seven or more hours of sleep at night to function at their best (and children need even more).  Studies show at least 1 in 3 adults fall short of that target. Be mindful of your sleep patterns and invest this time in your health. You are worth it!

Turn down tobacco. Cigarettes and vaping cause significant health problems and quitting makes a tremendous difference.  For help, including access to free nicotine replacement, reach out through www.802quits.org

Use sunscreen. As enjoyable as the warm sunshine will be as Spring arrives, we need to be mindful of the effects of the sun’s rays on our skin.  As you are out enjoying the sun, experts recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF factor of at least 15.

Brush and floss twice a day.  Dental health is important all on its own and also ties to other health conditions.

Screenings and checkups. Having an ongoing relationship with a trusted physician or advance practice provider and having regular check ups with preventive screenings is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Talk to them about your health history, any concerns you have, and your hopes for a healthier lifestyle. They can help you stay healthy and avoid future health concerns as well as better managing any health conditions you currently have. If you need help finding a provider, please call NMC’s Community Relations office at 524-1280.

Health coaching. We can all use encouragement and support in our efforts to be healthier and a health coach is a great option. NMC Lifestyle Medicine has specially-trained health coaches on staff who can help.  Call our Lifestyle team at 524-1227 for more information.

We are fortunate to live in a community that is rising to better health. Visit RiseVT.org to connect into our RiseVT movement. You will find more health tips in our blog as well as a calendar of upcoming events, a map of local resources, and more! Please join in on all that our community offers that supports embracing a healthier lifestyle. Your health will be so much better as a result. I hope to see you out on your bike, on a walk, at a farmers’ market, or at a RiseVT show up event soon!

— Jill Berry Bowen, RN, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer