This Spring Provides New Perspective on Annual Rebirth

Healthy diet and exercise take on heightened importance as people adjust to new circumstances.

It sure looks like spring out there with the trees blooming, the dandelions popping up and baseballs being tossed around.

But there is a difference.

Because much of that natural beauty (yes, even the dandelions if they aren't on your lawn), continues to be seen from home offices and virtual schools, while we've come to instinctively notice that playing catch has a natural social distancing built in.

It is spring with an asterisk.

But also with an exclamation point, because this year finds us – for the first time - coming out of not one, but two, hibernations. We enter the traditional season of renewal with a new, decidedly non-traditional perspective on health, nutrition and activity. It is a great time to examine how best to safely re-enter a world that we haven't seen in its entirety for a while.

You Are What You've Eaten
There is no time like this spring to get a handle on any bad food choices you may have made when quarantine's only benefits were delivered foods, elastic waists and Zoom framing. Much has been written about the "Quarantine 15 (pounds)" that resulted from many of our favorite activities being shut down and replaced by our favorite streaming packages.

That, combined with winter weather that limited outdoor activities, sidelined those who are now eager to hit the spring running. Literally. The rise in pandemic-related home exercise and food apps and the desire to start up new health regimens has sparked a resurgence in eating healthier and tackling a more active lifestyle. Regardless of whether such a path is your passion or a slight interest, there is some information that may help your efforts.

Ensure Your Body is Getting the Fuel it Needs
Starting an exercise program without considering your nutritional needs is like starting a cross-country drive without filling the gas tank. "Extended periods of relative inactivity can result in loss of endurance, strength and muscle," said Steven Hertzler, an Abbott senior scientist and clinical researcher. "One simple, easy way to be certain that you have adequate protein is to supplement your diet. People who gained weight during the pandemic and now want to gain muscle and lose fat, may want to include Ensure Max Protein, which has 30 grams of protein and 150 calories per serving, to their nutrition and exercise program."

Hertzler, who has a Ph.D. in Nutrition, also recognizes that the pandemic could have had the opposite effect. "Many people may have become ill over the past many months and suffered a wide array of consequences, ranging from loss of taste and smell to reduced appetite to long-lasting flu-like symptoms and more. All of these can lead to unwanted loss of body weight, muscle, and strength.

"For these people, our new nutritional product, Ensure Complete has the same 30g of protein, but also provides 350 calories in each serving to help them gain weight and regain strength and energy," said Hertzler.

Exercise Enhances Life …
"We know that exercise provides many benefits to all ages and fitness levels. If the pandemic has limited your opportunities to work out at a gym, there are other ways to increase physical activity, like walking the dog more often, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or even parking further from the store. But it's important to remember not to do too much, too soon. If it took you 10 months to add 20 pounds, don't try to work it off in a week," said Hertzler.

"Listen to your body. If you are getting winded early on, spread your work out over more time, focus more on your form or take it down a level. Slowly increase time and intensity and if your leg is giving you problems, change up your workout to work your arms or an area that isn't vulnerable to injury. But don't give up. Make a promise to yourself or get a workout partner so you are always accountable to someone for keeping a routine."

… And Hydration Enhances Exercise
Staying adequately hydrated helps your body adapt as you increase your physical activity, especially when the weather gets warmer. Drink water throughout the day and even more if you are exercising. Another choice is to add a hydration option like Pedialyte Sport, which will give you three times the electrolytes and only a quarter of the sugar of the leading sport drinks.1

"An especially important consideration as we come out of the pandemic may be to get an adequate supply of nutrients that support immune system health. A product such as Pedialyte with Immune Support offers the dual benefits of providing rehydration along with nutrients that are important for immune function," said Hertzler.

The Value of Real Food
Coming out of the double hibernation gives us an opportunity to return to the basics of healthy living. Like eating the right foods. "Eating healthy doesn't have to be complicated," said Hertzler. "The U.S. MyPlate program is a great guide for deciding what is a good mix of foods every day. The key is balance between different types of real, whole foods throughout the day. If one meal has no fruits or vegetables, make up for it at the next meal. Something as simple as a chicken and veggie quesadilla can provide you with nutrients from multiple food groups shown in the MyPlate graphic."

Just like spring is the season for renewal, make certain to give yourself a break if you don't always stay on the food wagon.

"No one's perfect. We all make mistakes when we eat," Hertzler said. "But imagine yourself driving a car. If your tire starts to go off the edge of the road, you don't want to let the car keep going into the ditch. You also don't want to overcorrect and wind up in the opposite lane of traffic. Instead, you should gently steer back to the middle of your lane."

Keeping a steady course is wise advice whether eating and exercising or managing one's way through a global pandemic. However, there is no need to return to whatever status quo you may have been operating in before your world was radically changed.

It's spring.

It's a time for rebirth and reexamination. Looking at how we have been living and where we want to go. No matter which direction you take, keep in mind what condition you want your body and spirit to be in while moving forward. Consider the options that will help you live longer, happier and healthier.

This spring is different. Coming out of two hibernations, there are twice the opportunities to make this season one to remember.


1Pedialyte Sport has 1380mg sodium and no more than 14g sugar per liter; leading sports drinks have ~460mg sodium and ~58g sugar per liter