17 Ways to Have a Safe and Healthy Spring Break

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NO BAD TRIPS

Spring break is fast approaching, with the promise of trips to sunny destinations and the lure of serious partying. Instead of throwing caution to the wind and putting New Year's resolutions on the back burner, keep these 17 tips in mind as you head off on an exciting vacation.

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DON'T CRASH DIET BEFOREHAND

It's tempting to go on a crash diet before donning bathing suits for spring break, but this can lead to rapid weight gain once the diet is abandoned.

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EASE INTO ACTIVITIES

If you've been pretty sedentary over the past semester and don't exercise regularly, it might not be the best idea to jump into hardcore physical activity the second you hit the beach. Pace yourself, and turn down that offer to go on a massive hike if you're not up to it.

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AVOID BOOZE ON THE WATER

This can be a hard one, as spring break seems synonymous with alcohol consumption. However, drinking and swimming (or driving a boat) can be very hazardous. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that alcohol use is involved in up to 70 percent of deaths associated with water recreation among adolescents and adults.

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CURB DEHYDRATION

Spring break often means lots of time out in the sun. Keep water on hand, as dehydration is a risk -- even during a dip in the ocean or pool. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking about 17 ounces of water two hours before heading out to be physically active. Then keep it up the rest of the day.

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BUY YOUR OWN FOOD

Instead of relying on fast food when you're experiencing last-minute hunger pangs, visit a local grocery store and stock up on healthy snacks, such as almonds or dried fruit. Also avoid foods that have not been properly prepared or refrigerated.

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HEED LOCAL WARNINGS

In some developing parts of the world, ordinary tap water isn't safe to drink. This can be an issue when brushing your teeth, as water is often swallowed unintentionally. Instead, use sealed bottled water to avoid the unpleasantness of traveler's diarrhea.

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MAKE TIME FOR EXERCISE

While loafing around may sound ideal on vacay, make time every day for some physical activity. Whether it's a brisk walk, a visit to a hotel gym, or a round of volleyball, your heart and health will thank you.

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HAVE SAFE SEX

According to the CDC, about 20 percent of travelers say they have casual sex with a new partner in a foreign country. Whether your spring break is stateside or not, condoms are a must for casual hookups to help keep sexually transmitted diseases at bay.

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DON'T SKIP MEALS

Skipping meals can lead to binging later and send the body's endocrine system out of whack. Neither situation is desirable, so make time to eat at least three meals a day.

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GO EASY AT THE BUFFET

All-inclusive resorts with buffets are great, but they can lead to overconsumption of unhealthy foods. Instead, fill plates with fruits, veggies, and lean meats, and avoid buttery rolls and the dessert bar.

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SET A FOOD CURFEW

Late-night eating isn't the healthiest habit, especially if you've already reached your caloric limit during the day, so set a "food curfew," such as no eating after 8 or 10 p.m., and stick to it.

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DRINK IN MODERATION

According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, women should stick to one drink a day, while men should drink only two. Any more than that, and you're at risk of negative health effects.

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CHECK THE WEATHER

Keep a smartphone nearby to check on current conditions, and then plan the day's excursions accordingly. Also, be prepared to make a hasty exit if the weather suddenly takes a foul turn.

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MIND YOUR SLEEP

Missing a few hours of sleep every night during spring break can have poor health outcomes. If you're driving a car, it can double your crash risk, but even if you're staying put, lack of sleep can boost your appetite, encourage weight gain, and lower your immune system.

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WEAR SUNSCREEN

Sunscreen is a vital tool that can help reduce the chances of skin cancer, but studies have shown that 70 percent of women and 85 percent of men do not use it on a regular basis. Get in the habit of using sunscreen, especially when you're outside all day.

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BUDDY UP

Don't go off on an adventure alone -- always pair up with one or more pals, so you can monitor and assist one another in case something goes awry. Let others know where you're going and an approximate time you'll be back.

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PROTECT YOUR PEEPERS

Protection from the sun isn't just about skin; eyes need protection as well. Too much exposure can lead to serious problems, such as cataracts, growths, or cancer. Invest in a pair of UV-blocking sunnies and a big-brimmed hat.

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