Five Ways for Your Loved One to Enjoy Spring
Is your loved one cooped up in their house or living facility all day? Spring is here and it’s time to get active. Take a weekend or afternoon and spend time with them being active and enjoy the springtime. Here are five ideas to keep in mind for your loved one can stay active and promote brain health.
Go to the Farmers’ Market
Going to your local farmer’s market can help your loved ones socially and mentally. Farmer’s markets are full of fresh produce, fresh flowers, etc. The perfect combination to get your loved one active and feeling fresh.
Eat fresh. Processed foods have tons of added salt and sugar. In a pinch, reach for frozen fruit or vegetables over canned produce, which often has added salt and/or sugar. If canned items are needed, consider vegetables with no salt added or fruit packed in water (or juice, as the next best option). Fruit in syrup has large amounts of added sugar. Fresh is best.
Reducing salt intake is one of the best ways to prevent or reduce high blood pressure – a major risk factor for stroke. A diet low in sugar lowers the risk of developing diabetes mellitus (“mellitus” come from the Greek word for “sweet”) and can help treat pre-existing diabetes.
Therefore, going to a Farmers’ Market, gardening, and eating fresh fruits and vegetables can prevent a stroke by lowering blood pressure, reducing risk of diabetes mellitus, and increasing activity.
Drink infused water
Or just plain water. As mentioned above, decreasing sugar intake can help prevent diabetes and therefore stroke. So avoid juice, soda, and the like. Keep a pitcher of water with slices of cucumber and/or mint. Even water with slices of fruit like oranges or lemons has much less sugar and fewer calories than a soda, glass of juice, or a smoothie.
Speaking of which, don’t buy the health hype/myths about smoothies. Remember, fresh is best. A smoothie is processed food. Pulverization removes some of the best part of the fruit—the fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar levels, and concentrates the sweetness (and sometimes sugar is added to commercial products).
A 12-oz can of soda has about 140 calories and 10 teaspoons worth of sugar. A similar portion of fruit juice or a smoothie has the same or more. Cutting out one regular 12-oz can of soda, glass of juice, or a smoothie each day could lead to a weight loss of as much as ten pounds over one year. Drink lemon water, not lemonade.
Get out and enjoy the fresh air
For better health and fresher air, walk or bike instead of driving. Most importantly, quit smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor for stroke. A daily pack of cigarettes has been calculated to have the same health burden as being 70 pounds overweight. Studies have shown that if you can quit for two weeks, you can quit forever. Try stopping for two weeks. And then longer. You can do it. (If anyone succeeds in smoking cessation after reading this article, I’d love to hear from you.)
Take a hike or ride a bike
Aerobic exercise lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of developing diabetes or having a stroke. The current recommendations for adults are 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity (e.g., brisk walking) or 75 minutes of intense aerobic activity (e.g., dancing) per week.
Many of us become more sedentary and gain weight in the winter months. So get out this spring, have fun, and eat delicious. Don’t let bad winter habits make you an April Fool. Be a-May-zing!
By: Anne Lipton, M.D., Ph.D.