1. Get lost in a book
Grab an engrossing book, a garden chair and blanket (it still gets chilly before sunset!) and you have a recipe to prolong your life and your cognitive function.
Studies have shown that mentally stimulating activities like reading can slow the progress of, or even prevent, Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Just six minutes of reading can reduce stress by up to 68 per cent, according to a study from the University of Sussex. Not bad for an hour relaxing in the garden with the latest Maeve Binchy!
2. Catch forty winks
Sounds like a strange way to use extra daylight, I know. But consider this: humans are in the minority among animals for sleeping once per day – known as being a monophasic sleeper. Most mammals are polyphasic sleepers, meaning they snooze for short periods throughout the day.
There is even some debate as to whether it is natural or healthy for humans to sleep the way we do.
Conversely, napping for less than an hour per day has been shown to have some great health benefits. It restores alertness, enhances performance and reduces mistakes. A NASA study on pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved alertness by 100 per cent.
Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison are all known to have sneaked a sly snooze in the afternoon, so make like the greats and get some shut-eye after work.
3. Take a walk
With an extra hour of daylight in the evenings, you could enjoy a brisk three-mile walk every day, which adds up to almost 2,000 extra calories burned each week.
Walking regularly has also been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease, lower bad cholesterol and keep blood pressure in check. A study in the British Medical Journal has shown that walking often can war off type-2 diabetes, while charity organisation Walking for Health says that being active can lower the risk of colon, breast and uterus cancer by around 20 per cent. With up to 400 acres of woodland to enjoy, why not give it a go during a Center Parcs break this Easter?
4. Get cooking
Use your hour of sunshine to plan ahead and you could make the rest of your week much easier. Try out that new recipe you’ve been eyeing up, make tomorrow’s packed lunches or get ahead and make a big batch of the family’s favourite to freeze.
Plus, cooking while it’s still light will feel like less of a chore than when the sun has gone down and you want to be curled up on the sofa. Try whipping up a double batch of our Pasta and Cauliflower Cheese Bake at the start of the week – it reheats well and will make for hassle-free dinner times.
5. Play outdoors
Spending time outdoors when the nights are long, dark and cold can feel like a drag. But with the sun staying up until after 7.30pm from today, there is plenty of time to get outside with the children and get to grips with nature.
Take a look at our outdoor activities for curious children and time-strapped parents (although hopefully you won’t be playing in the snow any time soon!). If you have a Center Parcs break booked this spring, you can enjoy the extra afternoon sunshine with one of our nature activities – why not try a Wildlife Walk or hire a bicycle to explore our woodland trails?
6. Go al fresco
Families that eat together enjoy all sorts of health benefits, especially the children. According to a study carried out at Rutgers University, children who eat with their parents consume more fruits, vegetables, fibre, calcium and vitamins.
The same study also found that older children and teenagers felt their family was more supportive and were less likely to show signs of depression that those who did not regularly eat with their parents.
And it’s true that nothing spells the beginning of summer like eating outside in the sunshine, so why not soak up some Vitamin D in the garden over a family feast? If you’re joining us on a Center Parcs break you can eat al fresco on our restaurants’ stylish terraces or back at your lodge on your own private patio. It’s a great way to connect as a family and catch up on each other’s busy lives.
How will you be spending the extra hour of daylight from Monday onwards? Let us know in the comments below.