Alas, summer is here. The air is getting warmer, the sun stays out longer, and you get the opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities such as bonfires and swimming with family and friends.
Summer is also a good time to focus on your health. With that thought at the forefront of your mind, here are six of the top summer health tips.
Summer Health Tip #1: DO Stay Hydrated
The warm summer air means that you are likely sweating more than you’re used to. Plus, if you’re busy outdoors, it can be easy to forget to drink. This puts you at risk of dehydration and can lead to headaches, fatigue, muscle cramps, and—if it gets too severe—may require you to get emergency medical attention. (1)
So, if you’re wondering how to stay healthy in the summer, one of the key things to remember is to stay hydrated. (If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated to a certain degree.) Water is the best drink for getting your fluids back up.
What should you not drink in the summer?
Sugary drinks or drinks with too much alcohol or caffeine should be avoided or, at a minimum, limited. Sugary drinks can mess with your blood sugar while both alcohol and caffeine can dehydrate you more.
Summer Health Tip #2: DON’T Skimp on Sunscreen
Spend too much time in the sun and you risk getting a painful sunburn. Do it regularly and you also increase your risk of skin cancer and premature aging. (2) So, this summer health tip involves applying sunscreen whenever you plan to be outdoors.
A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher is good unless you’re going to be outdoors for a while. Then you want a sunscreen with an SPF of 60 or higher. Also, choose one that is both water-resistant and broad-spectrum, the latter of which means that it will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays.
Summer Health Tip #3: DO Fill Your Plate with Fresh Produce
After fruits and vegetables get picked, they start to lose the nutrients they contain. (3) So, the sooner you can get them from the garden or field to your plate, the better. One of the easiest ways to do this is to make a weekly visit to your local farmer’s market.
The summer is also a great time to grow a garden of your own. Plant your favorite summer fruits and vegetables and use them to fill your plate.
The act of gardening is also good for your health. Physically, it can help reduce your blood pressure and muscle tension while its mental health benefits include reduced feelings of anger, fear, and sadness, along with a stress reduction. (4)
Summer Health Tip #4: DON’T Eat Fresh Produce Without Washing It First
When not buying your produce from a grocery store, you may think that this means you don’t have to wash it first. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), not taking this action puts you and any family members who also eat the unwashed produce at risk of getting sick from:
- E. coli
- and other harmful germs. (5)
The CDC explains that you should always wash your hands, food prep surfaces, and kitchen utensils before washing your produce.
Next, run the produce under running water and wash it gently (no soaps or detergents).
You want to do this even if you plan to peel it. Cut out any damaged parts, then dry it with a clean paper towel.
This promotes your health by protecting you from a food-borne illness.
Summer Health Tip #5: DO Enjoy Your Favorite Summer Treats in Moderation
For many, summer is synonymous with family picnics that include potato salad, cole slaw, and other mayonnaise-based side dishes. And let’s not forget about all of the handheld desserts. Certainly, these types of foods contain a lot of extra fat and calories, which isn’t good for your health. But as long as you eat them in moderation, you can enjoy some of your favorites without doing your body much harm.
What should you not eat in the summer?
- Processed meats (like hot dogs)
- fruit juices (instead of whole fruit)
- and a lot of high sodium foods (like chips and other snacks) can be not so good for your health.
These foods add a lot of fat, sugar, and salt to your diet. Bypass them when you can to keep your intake of these nutrients down.
Summer Health Tip #6: DON’T Forget to Have Fun
No list of summer health tips would be complete without a quick reminder to have fun. Summer is meant to be enjoyed. It’s an opportunity to leave all your worries and concerns indoors as you head outside and do something that makes you happy. This helps your health by boosting your mood and making it easier to cope with everyday stressors. (6)
Make it a point to do at least one fun thing a week during the summertime.
This might involve:
- taking a walk in your favorite park
- meeting a friend for an impromptu picnic
- or joining your family at the poolside or on their boat.
Do things that you can look back on when it gets colder and smile. You’ll be glad you did.