Renew your health vows this spring

For millions of people across the country, this has been an exceedingly long winter.

Between frequent bouts of snow, biting cold and the overriding sense of malaise, spring can’t come soon enough. Luckily, it starts Wednesday (on the calendar if not outside your front door), and there’s no better time to leap into the season of renewal than by renewing your vows to your body.

Get moving: There is literally no better time to kick off an exercise routine – or kick it into high gear. The days are getting longer, and chances are it’s still light outside when you get home from work.

It’s the perfect opportunity to start running outdoors, in your neighborhood or at a local track. Not only can running improve your cardiovascular health, strengthen your bones and muscles, and boost your energy levels, but it also has psychological benefits: A study out of the University of Glasgow last year showed that running in a natural environment – like a park, the beach, or the woods – lowers your odds of experiencing mild depression, helps you sleep, and keeps stress in check. If you can’t run, walk or ride your bike – anything to enjoy that sweet springtime air. And don’t forget to take your pup along – they’ve been cooped up all winter, too.

Greens: Clean, healthy eating should be a priority all year round, but spring is a preview into the delicious growing season ahead, full of fruits and vegetables that will delight your palate through fall. Seize the opportunity to try something new, like a salad made not with plain old iceberg lettuce, but with delectable greens like arugula, dandelion, watercress, or purslane. Never heard of purslane? It has a mild, peppery flavor, and is rich in potassium, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. Give it a whirl.

Beans: For those days when winter just won’t quit and the chill in your bones remains, forget the old standby soups like chicken and split pea, and make yourself a green mung bean soup. Typically used in Asian cooking, mung beans are incredibly versatile and uncannily nutritious. They contain copious amounts of fiber, protein, magnesium and folate. Unlike some beans, they are easily digestible. Check out Susan Ciminelli's recipe from her book: the Ciminelli Solution, Mung Bean Vegetable Soup.

Purify: Not only is spring’s arrival the perfect time to dust those cobwebs off your shelves, but it’s also a great excuse to purify the water and air in your home – two essential systems that sustain us, but which we don’t often clean with the same rigor as our toilet seats. Install water purification systems in your sinks and showers to remove potentially harmful contaminants like lead and chlorine. Air purifiers remove germs, mold, bacteria and dust from the air you breathe, which is particularly important during allergy season, when at least one person in your house is probably sneezing up a storm.

Take stock: Out with the old, in with the green. Now’s the perfect time to peek into your storage closet, under your sink, or in the garage to get rid of old, toxic cleaning products and other agents used around the home, and replace them with greener counterparts. Not only will your home be as clean as a whistle, but you won’t experience any of the negative health symptoms – like headaches – that conventional cleaners can inflict. What’s more, you’ll greatly diminish the odds that a child will ingest a poisonous substance, and require medical attention. Spring cleaning is an arduous task – don’t make it harder on your body by inhaling noxious fumes as you work!

Like many eagerly anticipated events, spring will be over before you know it. Get a jump on detoxifying your home and your body by starting early, and you'll have time to enjoy spring's bounty well before summer arrives.

Note: Information provided herein is not intended to treat or diagnose any health condition. As always, consult your health care provider with any questions or health concerns.