Spring clean your winter habits for a better you

This article is part of a series in collaboration with ParticipACTION. Discover how "Everything gets better when you get active!"


Spring is the perfect season to tune up those sedentary winter habits with a little energizing zing. It’s likely you won’t be the only one using the start of a new season to kickstart some new routines - researchers call our collective tendency to choose a specific temporal period to embark on a lifestyle change the “fresh start effect.” It’s one of the reasons why we make New Year’s Resolutions rather than, say, Friday-at-Five-PM Resolutions.

Here are 7 small changes you can make that are guaranteed to refresh, renew and reinvigorate your routines.

Get moving

Regular physical activity is essential to health and wellbeing, making us stronger, less prone to illness, happier and more resilient. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each week or about 20 minutes a day.

Here are some ways to strengthen your commitment to meeting those recommendations:

• Get a pedometer or download an app that tracks your steps. It’s surprisingly fun to document how much you move in day, and a pedometer is an easy way to chart your progress.

• Try something new. Take a golf or tennis lesson. Sign up for yoga in the park. Download a free fitness app. Once you start looking around you, you’ll realize how much there is to enjoy.

Lose the winter layers

Decluttering feels good at any time of year, but there’s something particularly satisfying about putting away all those heavy winter clothes. From sweaters to coats to boots to hats and mittens, shedding all that bulky gear is renewing. Removing your cold weather clothes from your closet or chest of drawers will also free up space for you to store your lighter temperate weather favourites.

Prep your bike for riding

Bring the bike out of storage, pump the tires, and oil the chain. If your bike needs a tune-up, take it to your local bike shop. If you want to get more use of out of your bike this year, think about adding a basket to the front. Not keen on a bike but still want to get more mobile? Think about getting a wagon. It makes errands and grocery store runs less cumbersome and more active.

Clean up your outdoor space

If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard or a small terrace, you’ll get outside more if the outdoor space you do have is clean, comfortable and relaxing. Sweep away any leaves or debris, wipe down all surfaces, wash any outdoor furniture, and splash out on one or two potted plants and outdoor lights. With just a little elbow grease, you’ll get an outdoor space perfect for reading, sipping or simply relaxing.

If you don’t have any outdoor space, wash your windows instead. Clear, clean windows will let the sunshine in and entice you to get outside more, too.

Place limits on your screen time

One way to wean yourself from sedentary indoor habits is to set limits on your screen time. Limit yourself to one or two hours of TV each night and create a nightly cut-off time for looking at your tablet, phone or other devices. You can reduce the risk of temptation by putting your phone or tablet in a space that’s physically distant from you. Mix up your evenings by going out for a walk after dinner or signing up for a fitness class.

Revamp your nutrition

Soups and stews are some of the best things about the cold weather months. But as the days get longer and brighter, think about indulging in lighter seasonal produce. Find out where the nearest farmer’s market is or sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) food box. Want to reduce your intake of red meat? Start by instituting a meat-free meal each week.

Make time for nature

Greenspaces are good for us. So good that there’s evidence to suggest that all you need to do is sit in a park or greenspace for a few minutes to see your blood pressure go down. Make a point of looking into local trails and hiking spots near you as well as conservation areas. Check out the websites of any botanical gardens nearby, too, they often have themed floral displays that are a delight to wander through.

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