5 Healthy Ways to Spend the Extra Daylight Hours

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Two friends cook in a kitchen.

Ever since we turned the clocks back on March 13, I’ve been a happy camper. Something about having more daylight makes me more productive. Unlike the dark winter nights – when it takes all my strength not to crawl up on my couch, throw on a pair of sweatpants, turn on the television and start binge watching – it’s now so much easier to get more accomplished. I find myself taking the time to work more (which, admittedly, isn’t always a good thing), food shop (rather than order in) and take my dog, Henry, for longer walks. Of course, don’t get me wrong – the urge to meet friends for happy hour still exists.

But there are plenty of healthier ways to take advantage of the extra sunlight. Here are some ideas:

1. Go food shopping.

For me, daylight and grocery store runs go hand in hand. Instead of rushing home to order takeout, planning a dinner meal somehow becomes more doable as the weather warms and the sunlight lingers. And, while you’re at the market, who knows? You might also be inspired to pick up healthy ingredients for the next day’s breakfast, lunch and snacks. Totally empowering!

2. Cook dinner.

Not only is shopping empowering, but so is actually cooking a meal. When it’s lighter out, most of us tend to eat later, which allows more time to cook a healthier meal. Now that’s a win-win.

3. Hit the gym (or running trail).

Instead of rushing home to lounge on your couch, it now might be a little easier to hit the gym, catch a yoga or spin class, or indulge in your latest workout de jour. A bonus? The warmer weather means fewer layers of clothing to take off and put back on. And, if you typically exercise outdoors, focus on how much luckier you are at this time of year. You may just be inspired to go the extra mile.

4. Make fitness social.

These days, it sure is tempting to leave work and make your way to an outdoor cafe for happy hour or an early dinner with friends. But what if you made your social time your fitness time? Invite friends to go for a bike ride, long walk or run. In other words: Use those muscles to do something good for your body – instead of simply lifting cocktails.

5. Seize the moment.

Find opportunities during the lighter, warmer nights to squeeze in physical activity. For example, walk home from work or get off the bus or subway one to two stops early. Instead of hopping in a cab after dinner, walk home. If you usually walk your dog around the block once, double it. Or, invite your family to go for a walk after dinner. The possibilities are endless.

Bottom line? What you do with extra time is up to you. I know I’m going to take advantage of the extra sunlight in healthy ways because, before we know it, it will start getting darker again. November 6 – I’m looking at you.

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