Perhaps the New Year should begin sometime late in March rather than on January 1! Why do we say that? Because spring starts in late March, and spring equates to warmer temperatures and new beginnings. January 1 is usually cold, and represents the last day before the end of the holiday season.  But it’s spring – so let your personal rejuvenation begin and continue reading for tips on senior wellness!

Tips for a Healthy Spring

Get Physical

The days are getting longer and warmer. No excuses left for not taking a walk, even if it’s a leisurely 15-minute walk. Walk with your spouse, a friend, a family member or the dog. Don’t think of it as I-have-to-exercise drudgery. It’s an opportunity, especially if you throw in a little variety. For example:

  • Walk through a park or a botanical garden
  • Take a pair of binoculars and mix in some bird watching
  • Take a camera and do some nature photography
  • Walk around an outdoor craft show, a farmer’s market or the community zoo
  • If you are able, hike and have a picnic

Seniors and their family members should be able to go online to review a community’s calendar of events, which may include some outdoor activities.

Another option is a senior hiking club. These group hikes provide opportunities for socialization that is geared towards senior wellness, as well as exercise. You may also visit some places that you’ve never been before on your hikes.

Strength training is another important component for optimal health. It is recommended that seniors strength train a couple of days per week. Weight equipment is not necessary. Body-weight exercises like planks, pushups, squats and core exercises work.

Gardening also counts as exercise in two ways. Your heart beats faster while you are squatting, walking, weeding, carrying potting soil, etc., which means you are getting both a cardio workout and a strength-training session.

Take care of seasonal allergies

Beautiful plants bloom in the spring. Unfortunately, trees, grasses and weeds release pollen into the air. Your body may react with the release of histamines and other chemicals into your bloodstream, which is what triggers the runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing and coughing associated with an allergy.

Several factors can make your allergy symptoms worse, including air quality, a changing immune system, and your level of pollen exposure. Perhaps you’ve successfully dealt with seasonal allergies for years using over-the-counter medications. However, it might be a good idea to see your physician or allergy specialist to make sure your symptoms don’t keep you indoors and inactive.

If you see your physician, take advantage of the appointment to schedule your routine checkups.

Drink more water 

As the weather warms and your physical activity increases, you will need to consume more fluids. However, seniors don’t always know when they are becoming dehydrated. Plain water is the best hydration solution, but if plain water doesn’t appeal to you, you can add some fruit or lemon juice to give it more flavor. Eating water-rich foods such as cucumbers, tomatoes and watermelon will help keep you hydrated as well. Also, keep a water bottle or cup nearby to remind you to keep drinking throughout the day.

How much you need to drink depends upon a number of factors. Your daily amount depends on your body weight, age, medication use, and fitness and activity levels. This would be another great question to ask your physician when you visit him or her this spring.

Lighten your diet with seasonal spring foods 

Spring opens up the availability of some wonderfully fresh, tasty, nutritious foods. Seasonal food recipes can be found on the web, and here are a couple of recipes to get you started:

Strawberry Spinach Salad 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 cups of packed baby spinach (5 oz.)
  • 2 rotisserie chicken breasts, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 cups thinly sliced strawberries
  • 3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 oz. feta, crumbled

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the mustard. While whisking, slowly pour in the oil until the dressing is combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add spinach, chicken, strawberries, ½ cup pecans, and onion to the bowl with the dressing and toss to combine.
  3. Pile salad onto plates and top with the remaining pecans and a generous crumbling of feta.

One-Pan Salmon and Vegetables 

This recipe is versatile! Replace salmon with another flaky fish like tilapia or trout if you wish. Swap out the veggies for whatever’s in your fridge, or add potatoes for a heartier meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 squash or zucchini, sliced into rounds
  • ½ onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning or your favorite fish-seasoning blend
  • 2-3 salmon fillets, about 4 ounces each
  • 1 lemon, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil (not wax paper).
  2. In a large bowl, toss all veggies with 2 tablespoons of oil and seasoning, then spread them into a single layer on the baking sheet.
  3. Nestle your fish, skin side down, between the vegetables. Brush with remaining olive oil, and top with 2 thin lemon slices each.
  4. Roast for 12-15 minutes, until fish is flaky and mostly opaque
  5. Add 1 salmon fillet and a heaping serving of roasted veggies to each plate for a healthy and satisfying meal. Enjoy!

Family Members and Caregiver Support

Senior wellness is important and your loved ones need the support and encouragement of those around them. The best encouragement you can provide this spring is to take an enthusiastic part in these activities and seek out other ideas for senior wellness.

For more senior health tips, please visit Bethesda’s Health & Wellness blog.