Mind & Spirit

Your health: 10 things to do in June

By: Kat Tancock

Author: Canadian Living

Mind & Spirit

Your health: 10 things to do in June

By: Kat Tancock

June is here, which means gardening season's in full swing, school's out for summer and we've got the most daylight hours we'll have all year. Take advantage by taking time to pay attention to your health. Here are 10 ideas to focus on this month.

1. Eat a healthy breakfast
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, and for good reason. It gives you the energy to get going in the morning – real energy, rather than caffeine-induced alertness. "After a night's sleep, our bodies have just about used up their glucose store," notes Jill Fullerton-Smith, author of The Truth About Food (Bloomsbury, 2007). "Our brain functions exclusively on glucose, so breakfast helps us top up our brain fuel." For the best brain food, Fullerton-Smith recommends foods low on the glycemic index, such as whole grains. To make the meal even healthier, add other power foods such as berries or nuts and seeds. Not hungry first thing in the morning? Pack a healthy homemade muffin and some yogurt to eat when you get to work.

2. Go for a morning walk
With the sun rising so early these days, it's not surprising that many of us find ourselves waking up before the alarm. Make the most of those extra minutes by going for a quick power walk. Even 10 or 15 minutes will help wake you up, get your metabolism going and burn a few extra prebreakfast calories. If you're up for it, turn your morning walk into a run.

3. Celebrate Clean Air Day
June 3, 2009, is Clean Air Day, a day on which Canadians focus their attention on air quality and climate change. Get involved by making a difference in your community, whether that be supporting the Commuter Challenge, organizing a walking school bus with your kids and neighbours or encouraging your workplace to support employee efforts to combat air pollution.

4. Make a weekly meal plan
Whether you're sticking to a food budget, a special diet or a weight loss program, all good eating intentions fall apart when there is a lack of planning.

CanadianLiving.com's free online Meal Planner will keep you on track and help you map out your week or your whole month of eating.

With our online Meal Planner you can:
• plan your meals and recipes in advance for the whole family
• create printable grocery lists,
• add special notes to yourself
• even print your individual Meal Planner to stick on the fridge

Need more incentive? In a recent study of overweight women, researchers found women who were given a meal plan and a grocery list lost as much weight as those given meals already prepared from a menu.

Get started today! Log in to your free My CL account and click on My Meal Planner.

5. Sip on red wine
It's no secret that red wine is packed with antioxidants – and for many of us, it's an excellent stress reliever as well. But did you know that moderate alcohol consumption can lower your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes and help keep your brain in tip-top shape, according to Liz Pearson and Mairlyn Smith, authors of Ultimate Foods for Ultimate Health (Whitecap Books, 2007)? So go ahead and enjoy that glass of wine with dinner, and know that it's more likely to help than harm, so long as it really is just one – more than that and the risks will outweigh the benefits.

Page 1 of 2 – Discover 5 more small things you can do to improve your health this June on page 2.

6. Run or walk for charity
If you're the type of person who needs a goal to get motivated, consider signing up for a walk or run for charity this month. There are a number to choose from throughout the summer and fall across the country, and you'll be getting fit, having fun and helping a good cause at the same time. Find one that works for you, and get training! Some national events include:

Weekend to End Breast Cancer (various dates from June through September)
SuperWalk for Parkinson's (September)
Terry Fox Run (September)

7. Go strawberry picking
It's finally strawberry season – forget the lack of flavour of imports by taking a trip to the berry farm and picking your own. Not only are they a delicious harbinger of early summer, but they're extremely healthy, too, especially when freshly picked. To jazz them up, try a recipe from our collection of strawberry dishes, from classics like Strawberry Shortcake to more creative fare such as Strawberry-Glazed Brie.

8. Check your heart and stroke risk
June is Stroke Awareness Month in Canada, which means it's time to check up on the health of your cardiovascular system. Many risk factors for stroke are avoidable – you really can make a difference by paying attention to your lifestyle habits. Visit the Heart & Stroke Foundation to find out how your lifestyle affects your risk of heart disease and stroke. You'll find information on lowering your risk and making your heart even healthier.

9. Get a new lawnmower
Want cleaner air, a more peaceful home and a bit more exercise in your life? Trade in your gas or electric model for a push mower. It might take a bit longer to do your lawn, but the experience will be so much more peaceful, you won't even notice – consider it a kind of walking meditation. And modern models are much easier to use than the older ones you may remember. (Click here for more earth-friendly gardening habits.)

10. Go shopping at your farmer's market
For the freshest produce, go straight to the source – the person who grew it. Your local farmer's market is a fabulous resource for fresh, healthy and interesting produce, and by purchasing from local producers, you're helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and supporting your local economy. To make the most of the experience, check out these 13 lucky farmer's market tips from 100milediet.org.

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Mind & Spirit

Your health: 10 things to do in June