5 Activities To Keep You Healthy This Summer

Bring on the sandals and beach towels, it’s time to soak up some sun! While the summer season officially starts June 20th, many in the U.S. kick off the season of sunshine with barbeques and pool parties over Memorial Day Weekend.

As you formulate vacation plans and strategize your summer fun, don’t forget to prioritize activities and excursions that can benefit your health too! Check out these 5 fresh and fun ideas for staying healthy this summer

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Practice Sun Safety

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Did you know that over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined? According to SkinCancer.org, about 90 percent of cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer are “associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.”

As UV radiation levels vary depending on the time of year and where you live, so does your risk of sunburn and cancer-causing sun exposure. In a high to very high exposure area, you could sunburn in as little as ten minutes.

Use the free UV index tool from EPA.gov to find out what UV radiation levels you should plan for when going out for extended periods of time, and be smart about sun protection. SPF30+ covers all your bases when it comes to sunblock, and remembering to wear shade-promoting accessories like hats, sunglasses, and bathing suit cover-ups will help as well.

Give Back To Your Community

Sure volunteering and helping others makes you feel good inside, but does it actually benefit your physical and mental health? Survey says . . . yes! Regular volunteering has been shown to relieve stress and anxiety, and encourage exercise - whether it’s lifting boxes at the food pantry or walking dogs for the local animal shelter.

Not only that, but when it comes to lowering blood pressure, one American Psychology Association study revealed that regular volunteering can help reduce risk for hypertension in adults over 50.

Want to volunteer but not sure where to start? Use free online tools like VolunteerMatch.org and CreatetheGood.org to find service opportunities based on your interests and location. Or coordinate your own volunteer project with friends, family or neighbors - like a community or river cleanup.

Try Yoga

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There’s never a better time to dip your toes into the yoga pool than summer. If yoga has you thinking it’s all about twisting into pretzel shapes and painful stretching, think again. The gentle, flowing movements and poses of yoga, combined with deep breathing techniques and mindful meditation foster a practice based on fundamental principles of peace, kindness, and self-actualization.

Yoga has been shown to relieve stress, boost blood flow, aid poor foot circulation, and even alleviate low back pain. The American College of Physicians updated clinical guidelines for treating low back pain to even include yoga and other mindfulness practices like tai chi because they reduce inflammation and loosen muscles and joints. Short of signing up for a beginner’s class at your local gym or YMCA, you might also check out free, instructional yoga videos on Youtube or at DoYogaWithMe.com.

Take A Hike

The (mostly) friendly weather summer offers means more windows of opportunity to get outdoors! Hiking, from moderate to more challenging trails, provides a powerful cardio workout that gets your blood pumping and your heart rate up. Not only that, but the typical incline of hiking trails offers muscle-building exercise that increases your foot, leg, and core strength as well as your sense of balance and flexibility.

Before you drop everything and run out the door, remember these hiking safety reminders:

  • Always have water on hand to stay hydrated
  • Familiarize yourself with the trail area and take a map (your phone may not have service) 
  • Hike with a friend to start - it’s fun and they can help navigate 
  • Wear proper hiking boots or sneakers to avoid ankle rolls and other injuries 
  • Start with shorter hikes near where you live and then gradually work up to more challenging trails 
  • Keep your water, snacks, map and other necessities in a backpack, and burn more calories as you hike

Jazz Up Your Diet

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The summer harvest is ripe with superfoods that can pack a majorly nutritious punch when it comes to your diet. Prioritize healthy and whole eating this summer by setting a goal to cook more for yourself and eat less packaged and processed foods. Did you know that the average adult should consume around 26g of sugar a day? That might seem like a lot until you learn that a 12 oz. soda can have upwards of 40 g of sugar in it.

Be smart about sugar and sodium consumption and embrace whole grains, veggies, fruits, lean meats and healthy fats. During the summer, keep an eye out for avocados and wild salmon, rich with brain-boosting and cholesterol-lowering Omega-3 fatty acids. And don’t miss cucumbers, zucchini, peaches, tomato, watermelon, broccoli, and corn for loads of vitamins and minerals too.

President John F. Kennedy once said, “The time to repair a roof is when the sun is shining.” Don’t wait until it’s too late to start doing the things that will benefit your body and mind the most. The sun is shining, so get to it!

Emily Brathen
 

Hi there! I'm Emily Brathen. I am a fitness and yoga instructor and a mom of one. Despite my hectic schedule, I still find time for doing the thing I love most - fitness and yoga. I love doing and teaching fitness and yoga because in my own little way, I am able to encourage people to take health and fitness back into their own hands.

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