Spring into action for better health

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Spring offers new possibilities and, when it comes to health and wellbeing, many important advantages. The longer days and the better weather make this the ideal time to “spring clean” health habits and NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group is offering top tips to help everyone spring into action and give their health a seasonal boost.

Gardening is a relaxing activity with many health benefits. Just being outside in sunlight will boost our vitamin D levels, depleted after winter. Spring is in the air, and there’s no better time to start planning and planting colourful displays to enjoy over the months ahead. Gently stretching and bending while planting and weeding helps keep gardeners fit and flexible. More active gardening like digging, clearing, raking, sweeping and lawn mowing will also raise the heart rate, and burn off more calories too. Just an hour of active gardening could use around 250 - 500 calories.

Meet friends for an evening walk, or join a walking group to meet new people. Ramblers is a charity that offers hundreds of walking routes each week on their website for free. Search in or around your area by visiting http://www.ramblers.org.uk/ and simply putting in your postcode and choosing a route depending on how long, short or difficult you want your walk to be. The association also runs a Get Walking Keep Walking programme for people who want to become more active.

For those who prefer jogging, there are free park runs that are ideal for a family friendly jog to start the weekend. For more details visit http://www.parkrun.org.uk/

Aerobic activity such as cycling is good for the heart. There are local cycling routes available at cyclemaps.org.uk and cycle-route.com. The National Cycle Network is used by 4.4 million people a year. Over half of the UK population lives within a mile of their nearest route, giving them the choice to walk and ride to work, school, the shops and local park, or just for leisure. For more information visit https://bit.ly/2GbmbB6

Giving up smoking is the single best way for smokers to improve their health this Spring, but so many find this difficult on their own. However, with expert help the chance of successfully quitting increases fourfold. Free help and advice on quitting smoking is available by calling the Smokefree National Helpline on 0300 123 1044.