Daylight Saving Hacks: Ways to Supercharge Your Health Goals
By Benjamin Voss, MD
On November 5, daylight saving time ends and clocks roll back an hour to standard time, and with that additional 60 minutes comes an opportunity: Using the time to achieve your health goals.
Here are 10 ways to focus your extra time and energy on your health habits.
Sleep disorders — including narcolepsy, insomnia, restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea — affect about 40 million Americans, and inadequate sleep is associated with mood swings, stress, high blood pressure and weight gain. Although the time change in the spring is typically harder to adjust to, the switch back to standard time can be the motivation for working on getting not only more Zs but also more restful sleep. Start with these three tips:
- Close the kitchen. For many of us, it’s unrealistic to eat a light meal before bed — and family dinnertime can be filled with joy. Instead, try to limit bedtime snacks and caffeine just before lights out.
- Kick Fido out of the bedroom. As cuddly as they can be, pets can also disrupt your rest, so have them sleep in their own beds.
- Put the phone away. Screens that emit light can prevent you from achieving deep sleep, so avoid scrolling or streaming in bed.
Plus: If you struggle getting your child to sleep, make this the fall you finally conquer bedtime. Check out BJC HealthCare’s tips on creating healthy sleep habits in children.
The return to standard time in the fall is the perfect moment to assess your diet before the sometimes-gluttonous winter holiday season arrives. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and cereals, and beans containing phytochemicals may decrease the risk of developing cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. For a nutrition tune-up, try these tips:
- Evaluate your produce situation. Fruits and veggies displayed in a pretty bowl or on a nice platter on your kitchen counter will look more appealing and might entice you to eat more of them. Follow the same logic with the produce you store in your refrigerator. Don’t bury it in the crisper drawer; rather, place it in the middle of the shelf where you can see it.
- Don’t skip a meal. Especially breakfast. Take the time to eat in the morning, even if it must be on the go, and aim for more protein and fewer carbohydrates with foods such as eggs, a protein bar or granola.
- Keep a food diary. Logging what you eat in a day can help keep you accountable. You’re less likely to eat that slice of cake if you have to write it down or plug it into an app.
- Try a healthy new recipe. Like this twist on fruit salad with a ginger-yogurt sauce. (Plus: Find more recipes from BJC HealthCare here.)
The CDC recommends that adults get about 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity a week to stay healthy. Regular exercise can help keep your heart in working order, help you maintain a healthy body weight and keep your joints flexible. If you’re not quite hitting the 2½-hour mark each week, now is your chance to work on it, and because it will be getting lighter earlier it’s the perfect time to use your extra hour to walk, bike or jog. Here are some tips:
- Make exercise a part of your everyday life. Try walking or biking around town instead of driving, or take an activity break during the day instead of eating a snack. Listening to music or podcasts or watching TV while exercising can help you keep yourself entertained if you get bored while working out.
- Work with a trainer. A coach who can give you that extra push will help jumpstart you back into a proper routine. While it's not quite as individualized as a personal trainer, a quality group exercise instructor can help keep you safe and give you modifications to be successful.
- Log your efforts. If you’re already in a good groove with exercise, but you’re looking to push yourself, consider keeping a training log. In addition to logging distance, time and intensity, track details such as what you eat before a workout and how much sleep you got the night before. You’ll start to notice what conditions you perform best under.
- Make time to learn to stretch properly. This will keep your body flexible and can help reduce injuries. Here are seven stretches to complete before you exercise.
Plus: Move by BJC, BJC HealthCare's Central West End campus gym with personal trainers and fitness classes, can help you achieve your goals.
Whether you work in a high-pressure situation, such as an emergency department, or your email notifications make your blood pressure spike, many of us encounter some sort of stress on the job. But you can choose how you respond to stress, and because long-term stress can increase the risk of conditions like heart disease, a weakened immune system and depression, you might want to evaluate your coping strategies. Taking a walk works well to relieve stress, or try a relaxation exercise like this one:
Sit or lie down, if you can, and close your eyes.
Starting at your head, tense your face by clenching your teeth and furrowing your brow. Hold the tension for 5 seconds. Then release it.
Next, tense your shoulders by bringing them up to your ears. Hold for 5 seconds. Then release.
Next, tense your arm muscles. Hold for 5 seconds. Then release.
Continue to tighten and release each group of muscles in your body until you reach your toes.
Focus on the warmth and heaviness of your body as you relax. Breathe gently for a few moments. Then open your eyes.
Plus: Find more ideas for managing work-related stress here.
Benjamin Voss, MD, is the chief of medicine at Missouri Baptist Medical Center (MBMC) and an internal medicine physician with BJC Medical Group Primary Care at MBMC
ABOUT PRIMARY CARE
A BJC primary care provider is your partner in health. Your primary care team is here to handle routine health needs and treat illnesses, injuries and chronic conditions. A primary care provider can help you reach your wellness goals.
Need primary care? Use our easy online search to find a provider near you who is taking new patients.