So much for tradition! People always start their health "resolutions" on Jan. 1, but spring and summer might be a better time to make positive changes for your health. Some habits are more likely to stick when you start them in the warm months. It also takes some of the pressure off when you quietly start a new health regimen on your own, instead of joining the hordes who are almost expecting their New Year's resolutions to fail. (And they do fail, with only 8 percent of people making a lasting change that begins Jan. 1, and just 25 percent making it through the first month, according to Forbes.)
Where to start when you're not starting with a New Year? Here are four healthy habits that are easier to begin when the days are long and the weather's warm:
Wake up earlier. According to Women's Health, early risers are less likely to blow off their workouts and more likely to be cheerful and have a positive outlook. If you want to join their numbers, it's much better to get going in the warm months. That way you won't have to fight dark mornings and cold weather to make it to your workout. And by the time the cold sets in (hello, January), the habit will be automatic .
Get social. The benefits of friendships are widespread. Having pals can increase your energy, help you avoid unhealthy habits and build your capacity to fight stress, for example. The warm months offer advantages if you have a tough time socializing so you can make friends, romantic or platonic. For one thing, you have a lot more daylight to burn, so it will be easier to follow through on plans after work. For another, there are many outdoor activities that are more convenient in the spring and summer. From walking your dog to taking that kayaking class, summer activities are accessible and convenient.
Bonus health benefit: when the weather gets cold, you'll be more likely to stick with energizing activities with friends you made in warm weather to support you.
Say "ah, yes" to fresh air. Fresh air is ultra-beneficial. As physician Douglas Kirsch, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, told the Wall Street Journal, "if the weather is right and a bedroom window is available to open, that can be great for circulation of air, pleasant sounds of nature stirring in the morning and sunlight at dawn to align with one's circadian rhythms." Face it, the weather is much more likely to be "right" in the warm months, as long as you don't pop the window lock on sweltering afternoons.
Belgium's Energuide concurred with this idea that fresh air can work wonders. "Properly airing your house is absolutely essential," it said. It recommended leaving a window open for at least 15 minutes per day, preferably before 10 a.m. or after 9 p.m., when the outdoor air is less polluted. "Do not worry too much about pollution though: studies have shown that indoor air in offices and homes is, on average, more polluted than outdoor air!" Energuide added.
Drink water. While the experts now say you don't necessarily need to drink eight cups of water per day, you're not off the hook. You still need to stay hydrated to reap health benefits like increased cognitive function and heart health. Yes, all that sun and sweating will dehydrate you in the warm months. But it's also a lot easier to get in the habit of carrying your water bottle when all the activities are centered outdoors or at the pool. And infusing even tap water with summer fruit, mint sprigs or cucumber slices can really rev up the taste. Lots of local businesses are on to this idea, too, so you'll be able to find appealing water combinations at coffee shops, local boutiques and ethnic restaurants along with creating your own.
This is the ultimate example of working with the warm weather to start a healthy habit. By the time everyone starts quaffing those calorie-laden pumpkin spice lattes in October (okay, September), you'll be enjoying all the health benefits of drinking water. And you may have saved enough money not buying lattes or sodas the rest of the year to plan an expensive New Year's Eve. You might have even more fun Dec. 31 knowing that you won't be making a resolution the next day. No, that can wait until the spring thaw.
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