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To Your Health: Give Your Health a Spring Cleaning

by on May 03, 2015 6:00 AM

You may worry about keeping your house in good order, but your health is even more important.

Just like you need to defrost the freezer and steam clean the drapes to spruce up your house, spring cleaning your health can be beneficial, too.

If you haven't done some regularly scheduled maintenance in a while, it's time to get started.

Here are 10 ways to give your body a thorough spring cleaning:

1) Sweep out the cobwebs. Too much couch time over the winter? It's time to revitalize your body's most important organ: the brain. Ways to keep your thinking sharp include eating brain-healthy foods such as salmon and spinach, challenging yourself mentally by reading and solving puzzles, and getting plenty of exercise.

2) Clear out the cupboards. Spring is a great time to detox from highly-processed snacks. Hit the farmer's market and replace those expensive, unhealthy packaged foods with fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables.

3) Let in the fresh air. When you smoke, you breathe in more than 7,000 deadly chemicals. These tips can help you kick the habit: Write down the reasons you want to quit, create a personal goal for being smoke-free, get support from the PA Free Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW, avoid triggers, chew gum to beat cravings, and join a support group. Not only will quitting help prevent cancer, but it has a fringe benefit -- your house will smell nicer.

4) Dust off your track shoes. Spring is the perfect time to get rid of those unwelcome pounds that may have crept in over the winter months, and regular exercise also helps relieve stress, promotes better sleep, reduces your risk of heart disease, and boosts your mood.

5) Flush out your system. Not only is water a go-to household cleaner, but it does wonders for flushing out toxins in your body. Drinking water also maintains your body fluids, controls calories, clears up skin, and boosts productivity. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers these tips to help you drink the recommended 64 daily ounces: Take a drink every time you walk past a water fountain, keep a bottle of water at your desk, and eat foods that are high in water, like lettuce and watermelon.

6) Polish to a shine. Facials and treatments will make your skin glow and relax your whole body. Consult with a doctor to help assess your needs.

7) Shake out your muscles. After a winter of hunching over your computer, you need a stretching regimen. Strong, flexible abdominal, hip and leg muscles reduce back strain and are important for overall fitness. Stretching can also keep you injury-free, which will help you stick to your fitness goals.

8) Deep clean your teeth. Visit your dentist every six months for a thorough cleaning. Your practitioner screens for oral cancers, evaluates bleeding, gum recession, and tooth decay, takes x-rays, cleans below the gum line, and provides cosmetic polishing.

9) Examine nooks and crannies. Just as you'd scrub behind the refrigerator or dust the top of the light fixture, you need to see a professional dermatologist to see if that mole on your back has changed. Your doctor will check for any moles with asymmetry, border irregularity, color variation or a diameter larger than a pencil eraser.

10) Tidy up your checkup habits. Looking good on the surface is not enough. Every year, you should look deeply into your health with a checkup that includes cholesterol and triglyceride tests, Pap smear, breast exam, and mammogram if you're over a certain age.

Your body needs regular maintenance just like your house. After all, you live there, too! So give your health the spring cleaning it needs. You'll feel great afterwards, and your body will thank you.

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Dr. Cara Dellegrotti obtained her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed her residency in family medicine at Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, Pa., where she was selected as chief resident. Dellegrotti provides family medicine care at Mount Nittany Physician Group Family Medicine.
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