Mind & Spirit

Your health: 10 things to do in March

By: Kat Tancock

Author: Canadian Living

Mind & Spirit

Your health: 10 things to do in March

By: Kat Tancock

Spring is almost here! Celebrate the warmer, longer days by taking care of your health this month. Here are 10 tips to get you started.

1. Get a free custom food plan
Canada's Food Guide is full of helpful suggestions for maintaining a healthy diet. The best part? You can get a customized food guide online. Enter your gender and age and the system will give you a precise number of recommended servings per day of each category of food. Then, go through the guide section by section and choose serving examples that fit your lifestyle. You'll end up with a printable guide that'll look great on your fridge and it'll serve as a handy reminder of healthy food choices.

2. Have fish for dinner
Canada's Food Guide recommends eating two servings of fish per week, and suggests options such as char, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines and trout. For the healthiest picks -- both for you and for the planet -- make sure to choose sustainable options that are low in mercury and high in nutrition.

3. Air out your house
It's been cold out, so it's understandable that we've all been keeping our houses locked up tight. But now that spring is approaching, pick a warm afternoon to open up windows and let in fresh air.

4. Get your eyes checked
The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends that adults get eye exams every year or two -- annually for those over 65 -- to maintain optimal ocular health. Even if you have to pay for the exam, it's a worthwhile investment -- it's the only pair of eyes you've got, after all. Make sure to save any receipts to claim as health-care expenses on your income tax return.

5. Pick up a hobby
If you're looking for a new challenge or a way to give your mind a break from daily stress, maybe it's time you picked up a new hobby. Whether it's running, knitting or online genealogy research, devoting yourself to a pastime is a great way to build confidence, meet new people and exercise your brain.

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6. Try a new grain

Variety is key when it comes to healthy eating. Not only should you be focusing on whole grains, but eating a number of different grains is the best way to take in a wide range of nutrients. Stuck on wheat, oats and rice? Try adding other grains to your diet: barley, wild rice, quinoa and spelt are some delicious options. Here are some recipes to try:

Two-Mushroom Barley Soup
Curried Lentil, Wild Rice and Orzo Salad
Greek Quinoa Salad
Apple Spelt Cake

7. Watch your posture
Are you slouching in front of your computer, head jutted forward and shoulders rounded? Well, sit up! Hours spent in front of the computer take their toll on your back and neck. If you must spend your days glued to your chair (and many of us, sadly, must), make sure to get up regularly to stretch and give your body a break.

8. Laugh out loud
Laughter isn't just for fun anymore -- turns out it's good for your heart, too. According to one study, from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, daily laughter improves blood flow and has much the same effect on your body as exercise (which, researchers add, is no excuse to hang up your sneakers).

9. Cut the trans fats
It's official: Trans fatty acids are one of the nastiest things in the typical Canadian diet. They've been implicated in increasing your risk of heart disease, and research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine shows that they cause you not only to gain more weight than eating other foods with the same amount of calories, but also to gain that weight in your abdominal area -- and who needs that? Instead, make a choice to be healthy and cut trans fats from your diet as best you can.

10. Get your numbers and know your risk factors
One of the keys to taking care of your health is knowing where you stand. Make sure to know your family history and the diseases you may be at risk for -- perhaps your parents and grandparents all had high cholesterol, for instance. Then discuss this information with your physician, and get any tests that will help you keep track of how you're doing. (For more on staying on top of your well-being, read homemakers.com's Whole Health Report Card.)

Read more:
Top 25 healthy fruits
The 6 worst pieces of weight-loss advice
5 kitchen tools that will help you lose weight

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Mind & Spirit

Your health: 10 things to do in March