Healthy Summer Tips
By Dr. Mark Wardle, DO
Summer has arrived and with it, the promise of warm days and memories in the making. Because summer naturally encourages healthy behavior, with a little conscious effort, you can make this summer your healthiest ever. All you have to do is remember a classic summertime footwear: S.A.N.D.A.L.S.
When you keep safety in mind, you can avoid a lot of problems and keep your summer memories filled with fun. Here are some things to remember:
- Sunblock. Lather it on (and repeat)! Keep your skin healthy for future years, and avoid sunburn.
- Seat belts. Buckling up is one of the easiest and best things to do for your health. Period.
- Helmets. If your sport or activity encourages helmet use, use it. Helmets save lives.
- Plan ahead. Know where you’re going and tell someone else. Watch the weather. Bring the proper gear and supplies.
- Be water wise. Water can be dangerous. Buddy up and always monitor little ones. Use life jackets when appropriate.
A: Active Activities
With extended daylight hours, there’s no better time to get outside and enjoy nature than summer! Here are some ideas and tips:
- Turn off the TV (and other electronics). Don’t miss out by being glued to the tube. Unplug and get out there!
- Sign up for a race or event. Need some motivation? Invest in your health by registering for something fun.
- Plan family activities. Great memories are made on hiking trips, campouts, and pool days. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but if you don’t plan it, it probably won’t happen.
- Yard work. Do you have a backyard project? You can do a lot in an hour or two a week, and it can also be great for family bonding.
While the occasional snow-cone or chocolate-dipped ice cream is almost synonymous with summer, the warm weather also provides a host of other healthy options like fresh fruits and veggies. Here are some ways to brighten up your diet:
- Grow a garden. Produce tastes better when it is literally the fruit of your labors.
- Visit a farmer’s market. Fruit and veggies are fresh, convenient, and delicious.
- Plan your meals and snacks. Avoid the fast food and snack shack temptations by packing carrots, berries, and homemade sandwiches. It’s healthier for your body and for your budget.
D: Drink (Water)
Sun and fun can lead to dehydration and heat illness. Here are some ideas to stay hydrated:
- Hydrate at meals. Drink a glass of water before each meal and with your meal. Drink with your snacks, as well. It keeps your tank full and helps control overeating.
- Hydrate with activity. Drink before and after activities (during the activity, if it is prolonged). Think drink!
- Bring water with you. Don’t assume water will be waiting. Bringing your own can be convenient and even lifesaving.
- Go green. Using reusable bottles helps our environment and makes filling up more convenient.
Don’t let the summer pass you by…or it will. Set goals and find ways to improve. Here are some ideas:
- Set a new fitness goal. Set a goal for miles to walk or minutes to exercise each day.
- Learn something new. Learn about the plants, birds, or history of where you are vacationing. Develop a new skill. Read a great book.
- Set a family goal. Do something fun once a week. Accomplish a family project.
While active adventures and plates full of fruits and veggies are great for the body, laughter can be just as nutritious for the soul. Don’t get so serious about plans and goals that you forget to have fun. Missing that last attraction so you can take silly pictures on a big rock may be the memory you treasure the most. Take time to have fun.
As tempting as movie marathons, late night card games, and (non)sleep-overs may sound to some, it does not change the body’s need for rest. Sleep rejuvenates, refreshes, and is essential for good health. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night—even more for children. Here are some tips for getting your ZZZs:
- Be consistent with bedtime. If you are consistent eighty to ninety percent of the time with your bedtime, one late night here or there will be less draining.
- Set a limit. If you know you are going to be up late at a party or during a campout, decide how late is okay, and stick with it.
Remembering safety, planning to be active, enjoying nutritious summer foods, drinking plenty of water, achieving goals, laughing, and getting enough sleep can help make this a healthy, fun summer. It may even springboard you into some great healthy habits that will last a lifetime! So wherever your summer takes you, don’t forget your S.A.N.D.A.L.S.