Five Healthy Habits to Incorporate this Summer
Summer sets the stage for creating healthy habits while having fun in the sun! Take advantage of these five tips to help you incorporate a healthier lifestyle that you may continue even beyond the summer months.
1. Get outdoors
It is no secret that spending time outdoors is good for many aspects of life, particularly for our mental health. There is no better time to get outdoors than during the beautiful summer months when the weather is warm and the days are long. Sun exposure is important for getting our daily dose of vitamin D, a vitamin that many of us are lacking. Vitamin D is essential for keeping bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. To get your daily dose of vitamin D, all it takes is 10 minutes of direct sun exposure to your arms and legs.
2. Be more active
In the summer months, the possibilities are endless: walking, hiking, swimming, playing Frisbee, or even outdoor yoga. The important thing is to choose something you like to do, you can and will do. When you choose an activity you enjoy, it is much easier to meet the physical activity guidelines for Americans. For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. If 150 minutes a week seems like a lot to fit in, consider breaking it up into smaller 10-15 minute bouts of exercise throughout the week.
3. Eat more fresh fruits and veggies
Produce is especially delicious in the summer months when most varieties are in season. Chances are fruits and veggies will be more locally sourced and more affordable during the summer months too. Eating more produces helps to lower your chances of developing chronic disease. Aim for 7-10 servings of fruits vegetables each day. Include at least one serving of dark leafy greens, reach for the real deal rather than juice and choose options prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt.
4. Drink more water
During the warm summer months, it is important to stay hydrated. Hydration is essential for supplying nutrients throughout the body, removing waste, blood circulation and maintaining body temperature. There is no one size fits all formula for daily water intake. The amount you should drink daily depends on your body, health conditions, medications and other factors like activity level. A good standard is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day.
5. Make time for sleep
Good quality sleep is more important than you may think and has many benefits beyond providing energy for the day. In the long term, getting enough sleep can help boost immunity, maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of developing chronic disease. For most people, enough sleep is approximately 7 hours but can range between 5-10 hours per night. Spending time outdoors during the day can promote better sleep quality as well as having a consistent bed/wake up time every day. To help you fall asleep faster, avoid strenuous activities, artificial light (electronics) and large meals an hour before bed.
The summer months set the stage for creating healthy habits such as increased physical activity, increased fruit and veggie intake, improved hydration and better quality of sleep. You will feel the benefits of improved mental, physical and emotional health. Get outside and enjoy all the fun that summer has to offer!
Alison Fenske, MS, RDN, CD