With its longer days and warmer weather, summer gives you the perfect opportunity to develop good habits that will carry you into the colder months.
1. Eat a Healthy Diet
Summer gifts us with a bountiful selection of fresh fruits and veggies. When they’re grown and eaten in season, fruits and veggies are richer in flavor and nutrients and less expensive to purchase. Take advantage of summertime abundance with berries, melons, peaches, nectarines, cherries, apricots, zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, corn, asparagus and more…the selection is endless! Just take a walk through your local farmer’s market or produce section of your supermarket and you can easily spot what’s in season.
2. Get Moving
Many people – myself included – feel more energetic and inspired in the summertime. It’s not even necessary to belong to a gym; just go outside to walk, bike or jog. Regular exercise has many benefits, among them lowering your risk for heart disease by keeping your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides at healthy levels Brisk walking for 30 minutes each day, five days a week, is an easy way to stay fit. And doing your workout outdoors offers an added benefit: Research finds that exercising in green spaces is associated with greater feelings of renewal, increased energy and lower levels of anger and depression.
3. Wear Sunglasses
It’s a good habit to get into – all year long. Sunglasses not only cut the glare from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun, they also serve to protect your eyes from things like dust, bugs, and wind. It’s important to know that the sun can damage your eyes even when you don’t see it – like on days when it’s hazy or cloudy. And it’s not just at the beach: UV rays can reflect off of concrete as well as snow. Look for glasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays; polarized glasses have the added advantage of cutting glare and are especially helpful when you’re driving or out doing sports.
4. Apply Sunscreen & Insect Repellant
No matter what type of skin you have, everyone needs sunscreen. Although lighter-skinned people have less melanin in their skin – which means their skin is less protected and more likely to burn – darker-skinned people can still suffer sunburns and sun damage. Anyone, regardless of race, can get skin cancer.
It’s not only about sunburns, either: The sun weakens your skin and leads to premature aging, sun spots and leathery skin. And like sunglasses, sunscreen is necessary even on cloudy days, when 80 percent of the sun’s harmful rays can penetrate your skin. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 every two hours. (Read more about sunscreen from the American Academy of Dermatology here.)
Tip: If you use both sunscreen and insect repellant, apply your sunscreen first.
5. Mind Your Beverages
It’s more likely you’ll be thirstier in the summer, since heat and sweating depletes water and electrolytes from your body, increasing the risk of dehydration. Staying well-hydrated also helps your heart pump blood through your blood vessels to your muscles more efficiently. But don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink – you may already be dehydrated by then!
The best bang for your buck is to stick with pure water, which is free of cost and calories; but remember that tea and coffee also count toward hydration, as do fruits and veggies that contain a high percentage of water (like watermelon, apples, cucumbers and celery). If you are a heavy exerciser and sweater, sports drinks with electrolytes might be helpful (but remember they’re also often high in sugar and calories).