Maybe you've always wanted to explore painting en plein air or writing poetry while looking out over the ocean's waves. Go for it without guilt that you aren't doing something constructive. A new hobby can lower blood pressure, improve physical ability, and give work performance a boost.
25 Healthy Ways to Start the Summer
Didn't get in bikini shape before summer? Don't worry — the summer offers a fresh start for creating a healthy lifestyle, and it's easier than you think to get ready for the season the right way. Take a walk, stock up on sunscreen, check out recipes featuring seasonal fruits and vegetables, and you'll be well on your way to success.
Nobody likes a visit to the doctor, but if your summer is going to include a stepped-up exercise regimen and perhaps travel to foreign soil, an overall check-up at the doctor's isn't a bad idea, Make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date, have any health issues checked, and make sure your weight and blood pressure are in healthy ranges.
If your winter couch-potato mode slipped into a spring malaise, maybe it's time to step things up with an increase in physical activity. Being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, and decreases unhealthy triglycerides, according to the Mayo Clinic. Your dose of exercise can be as simple as a daily walk around the neighborhood to a return to your neglected tennis game. Or maybe you want to shake up your routine and try one of the wacky summer workouts that are increasingly popular these days.
You don't have to shell out for designer duds, but do get some decent exercise clothing designed for summer weather. If heading out to your exercise session brings Oscar Madison to mind, then it's time for a revamp. New workout clothes can boost confidence and, in some cases, improve performance. Running shorts that don't chafe, built-in pockets for keys or money, supportive sports bras, breathable fabrics that increase comfort, and reflective fabrics that increase safety (it's cooler to exercise outside at night in summer) are all worthwhile investments.
This is a smart move for every day, but especially important when you're heading to the beach. Sunscreen not only helps prevent burns but provides protection against health issues such as skin cancer. While it's important to get some sunlight for vitamin D production, 10 minutes of exposure is all that's needed. Get water- or sweat-proof sunscreen when swimming or taking part in any other outdoor summer activity, and reapply often.
Make sure to keep a pair of good sunglasses – and yes, a hat with a good brim – within easy reach all summer long. Again, it's not only to keep the sun out of your eyes but to also protect you against health-related problems caused by sun, heat, and more. Exposing your eyes to UV rays can lead to cataracts and macular degeneration.
You should be drinking plenty of water every day of the year, but that becomes even more important during the summer months, when your body can easily overheat as you sweat out moisture. Limit your caffeine and soda intake, both of which can have a mild diuretic effect. To make hydration easy to remember, always have water on hand and to keep things interesting, try flavoring your water with summer produce and remember that there are plenty of foods that can help you hydrate as well.
If you're headed to the beach, town pool, or even your own backyard swimming spot, be sure to review the water-safety rules with family members and guests. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4, so keep eyes on little ones at all times. It's easy to get caught up in horseplay and forget that it's always safety first.
Though many people have a first aid kit in their car or at home, most people don't check it after they get it or remember to restock the kit after they've been used. Be sure all the necessities haven't expired, then replace what's needed and be sure to stock up on products to tend to summertime emergencies, including allergies, cuts and scrapes, insect bites, and poison ivy.
Commit to spending more time outdoors this summer. Sitting outside after a long day of work or shuttling the kids around can be that respite that keeps you sane – and lowers stress. The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries even came up with a word for the health benefits of spending time in the forest — shinrin-yoku — which roughly translates to forest bathing.
Suppose that you've had the worst day at work and want to "walk it off" at the local park — but you are still in your work clothes. And you know that if you head home you're more likely to collapse on the sofa instead of heading back out. To avoid the predicament, keep a change of clothes, including sneakers, in the car or at your desk. Invest in the sleek Limited Carbon Fiber Duffel ($33) from Gold's Gear to keep things ready, from shoes to water bottle to a place to store valuables.
Summer is the time when many people try to extend their days to fit in everything they want to do. While it's possible to say yes to more invitations and take advantage of the extra evening hours of light, do not scrimp on sleep. Lack of sleep can cause memory problems, high blood pressure, and even increase the risk of diabetes and obesity. Try to get to bed at a reasonable hour, even if that means turning down invitations.
Most people try to eat healthier when it's warm out, as comfort food like mashed potatoes and gravy or lasagna doesn't have the same appeal. Take advantage of that shift toward lighter meals to make some long-term changes in the way you think about food. Instead of high-calorie summer treats like fried dough and lobster rolls, opt for summer favorites like salads, corn on the cob, and grilled vegetables. For dessert, watermelon is over 90 percent water and has cancer-fighting lycopene, too.
No matter the time of year, it's easier to stick to a healthier eating regimen if the ingredients are readily available. Purchase good-for-you foods in bulk, such as fresh produce and fruits, and stock your pantry with healthy dry goods. With tasty eats close at hand, it's not as tempting to grab something that's fast but unhealthy.
Summer is a great time to try out recipes that feature fresh summer produce, sample new dishes, and maybe even prepare smart lunches from home instead of eating out so often during the work week. This time of year, the seasonal bounty is plentiful, so there's no excuse not to integrate more seasonal fruits and vegetables into an eating plan.
Always wanted to check out the local farmers' market? Now is the time. Each week it's possible to find the latest of what's in season, usually with selections and prices that leave the supermarkets behind. Don't be afraid to ask the farmers and vendors questions about possible preparations, and take advantage of cooking demonstrations, too.
If you plan to spend lots of time outdoors, do all you can to be sure you're safe from insects and other pests. Tick and mosquito-borne illnesses in the US have tripled since 2004 and many, such as Lyme disease and yellow fever, are serious. Lotions, sprays, and other repellants can keep bugs at bay.
If you're all about the mani-pedi, then sandal season is the time of year to show it off — but make sure to do it safely. If visiting a nail salon, take your own tool kit and nail polish, don't let a technician cut your cuticles (they act as a barrier against germs), and don't let your manicurist file your callouses with a credo knife. These simple steps can prevent infections.
Do a quick safety check of your grilling station. Ensure the gas/connection is secure, that the grill is clean – and be sure to routinely check and maintain it all throughout the season. You don't need your guest to go home with good memories quickly erased by food poisoning or worse the next day. The National Fire Protection Association also shares a wealth of grilling safety tips well worth reviewing.
Make sure your home's interior is ready for the busy season. Have places to store sports equipment, beach gear, and other items to prevent tripping. Check that the air-conditioning is running safely or purchase fans, extension cords, and any other appliances you may rely on when the weather gets warm and stores run out of fans and air conditioners. Today's Homeowner offers a useful checklist, including detailed maintenance tips for appliances.
Summer means public pools, parks, road trips, and sketchy restrooms, so have hand sanitizers for emergencies. However, remember that soap and water is more effective (and cheaper) and sanitizers do not kill all germs. Plus, sanitizers can lead to antibiotic resistance, so only use as a last option.
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