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Spring clean your health habits

March 20, 2023
Spring clean your health habits
March 20, 2023

Spring is in the air, apparently. But whatever the weather may be doing right now, the clocks will soon go forward, the days will get longer, lighter and warmer and we can finally find the energy for some long-awaited spring cleaning. But as well as sorting out your home, don’t forget about your health. ‘This time of year is a great time to look at some of those bad health habits we can easily fall into, or start the ones we haven’t got round to yet,’ says ZoomDoc Chief Medical Officer, Dr Kenny Livingstone. Here are some health habits to tidy up this season and who knows, you could be happier and healthier by the time it’s summer.


Be ready for hay fever


Hay fever is usually worse between late March and September



If last year’s spring, summer or even autumn were spoiled by hay fever, now’s a great time to start taking your medication. ‘Pre-empting hay fever season means your immune system will be in a better position to battle pollen when it enters your system, so aim to take your medicine a couple of weeks before your particular pollen takes hold,’ says Dr Kenny


If you don’t know which medication is best, or struggled through last year without any, speak to your doctor now to get the right treatment plan for you, as well as advice for when to start it. If you find it hard to get an appointment with your doctor, talk to a ZoomDoc GP for advice and prescriptions (if required) at a time that suits you. Download the app to book your appointment.


Check your medicine cabinet


Medicines have expiry dates so you know when to use them by.



Speaking of medication, if your medicine cabinet or bathroom cupboard is stashed full of cold remedies, painkillers, cough syrups and other products you’ve either used once or forgotten about over the years, it could be time to check their expiry dates. And as well as checking the dates on any kids’ medicines, make sure that they’re for the right age group – you may need Calpol Six-Plus for older children, rather than Calpol Infant from when they were babies. 


While you’re there, double check any cough syrup you own isn’t on the government’s recent recall list. Products containing an ingredient called pholcodine are being withdrawn from the UK as a safety precaution. This is due to evidence of an increased risk of anaphylaxis (a sudden, severe and life-threatening allergic reaction) in patients needing an anaesthetic for surgery. ‘It’s a very rare situation that this would happen but if you do have any of these medicines, throw them away while you’re checking the rest, just to be on the safe side,’ says Dr Kenny.

Here’s more on how to help a hacking cough


Give blood


Many people would not be alive today if it weren’t for the generosity of blood donors



If you’ve never given blood, make this the year to make a difference and save a life. Last year, blood supplies ran worryingly low and NHS Blood and Transplant appealed for more people to sign up and give blood. Figures now show that of the 325,000 people who registered, only around 91,000 went on to take the next step and attend an appointment – meaning almost three in four are yet to do so. 


Blood is still needed to help the NHS treat patients with cancer, blood disorders and those suffering medical trauma or undergoing surgery, and O negative blood is mostly used for emergency care. Each donation can save or improve up to three lives so if you can give blood, register now or book an appointment online or by calling 0300 123 23 23.


Move more


To stay healthy, adults aged 19 to 64 should try to be physically active every day.



The clocks go forward at the end of the month so what better use for that extra hour of light every evening than to do some exercise. ‘Use the longer spring days to go for a walk or jump on your bike and you’ll get into good habits for the rest of the year,’ says Dr Kenny. The NHS recommends doing 150 minutes of exercise at a ‘moderate intensity’ per week, which works out at about 22 minutes per day, or 50 minutes three times a week. Or you can do 75 minutes of ‘vigorous’ activity per week. Remember that exercise isn’t just recommended so that you lose weight. ‘Staying active and getting your heart rate up protects you against heart disease, stroke and other diseases,’ says Dr Kenny.


Be ‘fit to fly’ 


Most women can travel safely well into their pregnancy, providing they take precautions.



If you’re expecting a baby and have a holiday booked, you’ve probably checked your passport’s expiry date and thought about what to pack but what about getting a ‘fit to fly’ letter? Once you’re in your second or third trimester (from 28 weeks onwards) you’ll need to be able to prove to the airline that you’re in good health and aren’t flying too close to your due date. Current guidelines say it’s safe to fly until 37 weeks (earlier if you’re expecting twins or multiple babies). 


Make life easy for yourself by arranging this online via ZoomDoc. Simply select the Pregnancy Fit To Fly medical letter option and for just £40 you’ll get one the same day, no appointment needed. ‘Although you can get medical letters via your NHS GP they’ll still charge for it and you’ll need to make an appointment to request it and to collect it. ZoomDoc saves any unnecessary stress, which is always a good thing during pregnancy!’ says Dr Kenny.


Know how to quit


Quitting smoking improves your physical, mental health and wellbeing.



We all know that quitting smoking has a whole host of health benefits but it can be easier said than done to give up . If January’s good intentions to stop smoking or reduce your alcohol intake came and went, don’t give up. ‘Many people don’t succeed because they try to quit alone and there’s so much support out there,’ says Dr Kenny.

For help with quitting smoking try the NHS Quit Smoking app, which is full of advice, motivation and tips. For added support find your nearest Stop Smoking Support group here.


Find 12 minutes a day to chat


Check in with your elderly relatives on a regular basis.



Making a daily phone call could help keep the doctor away. That’s according to new research that shows the health benefits of staying connected, particularly with older relatives.  Psychologist Jo Hemmings says making daily phone calls, ideally for 12 minutes each time (long enough to properly chat about something rather than just quickly checking in) can help produce and increase bonding and feel-good hormones, making us feel happier, less stressed and emotionally more stable. Jo even says it’s ‘as important as your daily intake of fruit and veg. Everybody has become so used to remembering their 5-a-day, now we really should be considering the ’12-a-day’ of minutes we need to spend speaking to loved ones. Another great health habit to start this spring, don’t you think?

Want to know more?

Our team of Doctors are available via the ZoomDoc App for any medical questions or queries.