More sunlight and warmer temps are great motivators to get you digging through the drawers for shorts and being more active outdoors. But how ready are you--really? Here are some tips to help you ease into spring!
"Lose" the tissue box.
You don't have to be trapped indoors with allergies all spring, according to Jeffrey Stokes, M.D., Alegent Creighton Clinic allergist and immunologist.
Dr. Stokes said the first thing to do when you start sneezing and sniffling is take antihistamines or nasal corticosteroids. His over-the-counter suggestions: loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), fexofenadine (Allegra) and recently approved nasacort. The nasal steroid generally takes a few days until you feel its benefits while antihistamines work in one to two hours.
Knowing the pollen count can help if they're pollens that relate to your allergy symptoms, he said (for example, you may only be allergic to trees and not grasses or weeds). If they are relevant, the pollen count will help you know when to start your meds and when to avoid working in the yard.
Dr. Stokes said to consider seeing your physician when: you want to know what you're allergic to, if the medications aren't working or you're having side effects, you don't want to take meds or you're having chest or breathing issues with your seasonal symptoms.
And he said to be patient—soon there will be an alternative to the weekly-monthly allergy shots that some of us have to get for three to five years—they're sublingual (under the tongue) tablets for grass allergy and will be available in the very near future!
Ease into your workout.
In a hurry to get outside and play a round of golf or go for a long run? Slow down, said Sean Mullendore, M.D., family medicine and sports medicine physician at Alegent Creighton Clinic in Bellevue. Your body needs time to remember how to exercise.
Dr. Mullendore said if you used the minus-zero temperatures as an excuse to be inactive this winter, you don't want to run 10 miles your first time outdoors. According to Dr. Mullendore, it can take weeks or months to make gains in strengt h and endurance, but "just a couple of weeks" to lose them.
He sees a lot of muscle and tendon injuries in the spring when people head outdoors for physical activity. His suggestion: Start with a slow exercise program--say a walking regimen--and try to improve mileage or speed about 10 percent a week. Don't do too much too soon. If you overdo, think RICE—Rest, Ice, Compression (with a bandage) and Elevation.
And don't jeopardize your workout by not wearing a helmet when you bike and sunscreen when your skin's exposed, he said.
Asparagus, greens, broccoli, berries and chives are among the foods that are in season. "Aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables daily," said Alegent Creighton Health Clinical Dietitian Kellie Westbrook. "Benefits include cancer risk prevention and a happy pocketbook."
Spring is the time to be adventurous, she said. "Try a new food or recipe or garnish a favorite, making it more colorful and flavorful."
Plant a vegetable garden and nurture it. "The rewards last for months," Westbrook said. She also suggested brown bagging your lunch or packing a picnic basket with whole grains, colorful fruits and vegetables and lean meats. "Breathe, relax and enjoy being outdoors!"