Ah, spring. Even if your doorstep is still under a foot of snow, more pleasant weather is on the way and there’s no better time to spring into shape and adopt a new, active lifestyle.

It doesn’t really matter where you live, what your age is, or whether you’re single and uncommitted or married with kids, most – if not all – of these tips are achievable for everyone. Just think how much better you could feel by the time summer rolls around if you’ve found the courage to jump into completely different pursuits that will lead to a healthier, happier life.

1. Find Fitness That’s Fun

Bored with your current exercise routine? Can’t find enough time, or perhaps motivation, to get in shape? Don’t work out at all? The solution could be trying something completely different, from boxercise or military-style fitness classes to hot yoga, aqua-fitness or even ping pong. Is there a new fitness activity you could try with your partner or children, such as learning to sail as a family? Or perhaps finding a running club or getting a friend to join you in training for a long-distance biking event? The more people you rope in, the better your chances of sticking with an exercise regime you actually enjoy.

2. Try A New Hobby

Sure, you could take up tennis, return to a childhood love of dance or join a team sport, but hobbies don’t have to involve physical fitness to benefit your health. The mental stimulation of taking a writing class, learning a new skill such as needlework or even just doing a daily crossword puzzle could improve your cognitive agility and generally boost your mood. The social benefits of interacting with new people also shouldn’t be overlooked, whether you do this through a workshop or volunteering with a local charity.

3. Get A Pet

The positive effects of having a pet are well documented. If you get a dog in particular, you’ll be forced to get out and exercise even if you otherwise would find an excuse not to. Plus, pets can encourage owners in other unexpected ways: once you are responsible for feeding another creature, you realize how important a healthy diet is – for people and for pets. Caring for someone else can hold up a mirror on your behavior: pets and people should have preventative health checks and treatments, if necessary. If nothing else, dogs make an excellent, non-judgmental companion when you just need some company.

4. Walk!

Dog or no, going for a walk is the perfect tonic for anything that ails you. A walk can clear your head, focus your thoughts, aid creativity and wake you up, all while burning calories as a low-impact cardiovascular workout. Walking is environmentally friendly, too, and puts you in touch with nature and the changes in the seasons, even if you never leave pavement. You might be surprised how far you can stroll once you get the hang of it. Soon you’ll be looking for new walking routes everywhere you go, and you might even encourage a friend (either the two- or four-legged variety).

5. Get Growing

Spring is all about new starts and new life, so why not get in the vibe by planting something? Flowers or herbs in a windowsill or window box, or something more ambitious, such as a fruit tree, a pot of tomatoes or even a whole vegetable patch. Don’t worry if you’re a novice: there are countless websites to help everyone from green-fingered experts to the first-time gardener. Anyway, what’s the worst that can happen? You don’t need to make a huge investment – seeds and small plants are cheap, as is soil (if you even need to buy it) and many household items can be used as starter pots (such as egg boxes) and other supplies (freezer bags for covering seedlings on a window sill, for instance). Best case scenario, you have a wholesome new hobby that feeds you, too.

6. Investigate Your Food

Have you ever visited a farmers’ market or shop, garden center, orchard or pick-your-own fruit farm? Nothing tastes better than produce fresh from the tree or field, especially if you can find out more about how it’s been grown and if it has any particular health benefits. The grower might not always know these things, but it’s still good to talk to the folks who produce what we eat, not least because it enhances our understanding of where and how our food is made. You might also try something new or pick up recipe ideas that will help you stick to a well-balanced diet.

7. Appreciate What’s Around You

Is there a nearby park you’re vaguely aware of but have never actually set foot in? A wildlife reserve where you or your children can go along to learn about migrating birds, bats’ feeding patterns, the importance of bees or the life cycle of amphibians? Or just a lovely lake, woods or field that’s open to the public? Spring is possibly the best time to get outdoors and explore, or rekindle a love of nature. Do a little investigating to find out what green spaces could help you rejuvenate after a long, tiresome winter.

Featured photo credit: Clemens v. Vogelsang via Flickr Creative Commons

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