*Please refer to your county’s COVID-19 guidelines before taking part in any outdoor/public activities for your safety and the safety of others.
Summer’s long, sun-soaked days and extended weekends accompanied by warmer temperatures offer more opportunities to kick back, relax and enjoy the great outdoors.
Warmer weather and the beginning bounty of fresh, colorful and nutritious fruits and veggies can help us develop and instill better health habits instead of remaining in our home’s four walls, having a sedentary lifestyle and eating high-calorie comfort foods we tend toward when temperatures plummet outdoors.
Additionally, summer offers us a chance to reflect on our health, particularly our risks of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in U.S. women and men.
Nearly 50% of Americans have at least 1 heart disease risk factor, including:
- poor diet and nutrition
- and lack of physical activity.
Summertime offers you many great opportunities to improve your health and diet. By boosting your daily summer routine to incorporate healthy practices, you can transform these seasonal habits into becoming second nature by the time frost and cooler temperatures prevail.
Your Capital Women’s Care team wants to share with you some valuable summer habits you will want to keep practicing now, as well as throughout the rest of the year, to boost you and your family’s year-round health.
15 Healthy Summer Habits to Begin Now & Keep Going
1. Turn off screens and head outside. Studies prove spending time in nature lowers stress levels, heart rate and most importantly, blood pressure levels which, if elevated, increase heart disease risk.
Summer is the perfect time to venture outside and enjoy walking, swimming, biking, hiking and many types of sports with friends and/or family. Designate and schedule time for outdoor activities on your family’s calendar to instill it as part of your weekly routine.
The American Heart Association recommends adults get 150 minutes weekly of moderate aerobic exercise and two days per week of muscle strength training; kids and teens should get at least 1 hour of physical activity daily.
Look into summer camps and sports groups for kids and teens designed to encourage physical fitness and health practices.
2. Make a fitness goal and stick to it. Whether it’s a 5K or fitness obstacle course benefitting a local charity, make a goal and do it.
Enlist friends or family members to join in and encourage one another to participate and finish the event. It’s a fun way to boost your health and enjoy time spent with others while supporting a cause within your community.
3. Dig out your bicycle and ride to work. Bicycling offers a boon of benefits for your heart.
Those who bicycle to and from work reduce their heart disease risk by 50%.
If it’s not feasible to bike to work, be sure to get outside and ride around town or head to bike-friendly trails or parks to reap the heart-healthy benefits of low-impact cardio exercise. Always wear bright clothing, a helmet and use eye-catching lights to make yourself highly visible to vehicle drivers.
4. Don’t let bad weather lead to sedentary activities. Summer thunderstorms on the horizon? Try doing any of these activities to keep moving:
- Make plans to get out and explore via walking a favorite mall or museum.
- Go to the local ice- or roller- skating rink.
- Take a fitness class at a local gym.
- Clean the house with energizing music that entices dance and movement so you can head outdoors once pleasant weather returns without guilt from chores undone.
- Host a home fitness session of yoga, Pilates®, indoor cycling or strength training.
Greater amount of sedentary behavior can lead to greater, increased heart disease risk.
5. The key to heart health is to keep moving. All types of non-exercise related activities, from do-it-yourself home improvement projects like painting a room and building a fence to yardwork jobs including mowing the lawn, gardening, planting flowers and veggies all count toward burning calories.
Studies determine those having the highest amount of non-exercise physical activity have a 27% less likely chance of experiencing heart attack or stroke.
The key to incorporating non-exercise physical activity is to add it on while continuing your established exercise routine. Don’t substitute an afternoon of painting your family room for your next day’s kickboxing or yoga sessions.
6. Establish a morning workout routine. Exercising in the morning not only develops a routine schedule that becomes habit, it also beats the summer heat. Doing so also amps up metabolism, increases energy, and maximizes the advantage of pumping, feel-good endorphins. To develop routine, know what activity you’re doing, get your gear together the night before and prioritize 7 to 9 hours of good sleep.
7. Drink more water. Rising outdoor temperatures make it crucial to maintain your body’s hydration, especially if exercising outdoors.
Proper hydration allows muscles to work properly, nourishes skin and helps maintain satiety between meals.
Always carry a water bottle when venturing outside and drink enough to ward of dehydration, hyperthermia and heat stroke. To change it up, add some citrus, cucumber or mint to water for a refreshing twist. Maintain your water habit year-round to stay hydrated and cut calories.
8. Shop local farm markets. Diets rich in healthy fruits and veggies can help reduce heart disease risk, plus ward off obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Strive to fill half your plate with a rainbow of fresh or steamed fruits and veggies to maximize nutrients. For snacks, have easy to grab fruit and cut up veggies on hand.
55% of farm market shoppers feel more connected to their community. This sense of belonging and strong relationships has been linked to having a lower mortality risk from any cause.
9. Eat breakfast daily. Not only do you provide fuel for your body, but you also stave off hunger and maintain your body’s metabolism. Be sure to include a breakfast consisting of fiber-rich, protein filled foods like oatmeal, Greek yogurt, or whole-grain, low-sodium cereals.
10. Have lunch outdoors. You get a break from your office and the mindfulness of knowing and enjoying what you are eating. Working while at your computer takes your mind off your meal, so you’re less aware of what or how much you’re eating. Lunching outdoors provides a mental break, allows you to focus on eating and even provides opportunity to walk a bit before heading back to your office for the afternoon.
11. Pack your lunch. Having a packed lunch controls your calories and fat intake and your spending. Be sure to have plenty of low-fat, low-sodium and low-sugar healthy options on hand and get it ready the night before.
12. Fill your pantry with healthy options. Have healthy snack foods on hand: look for whole grain options, low-fat, low sodium, no added sugars, fresh fruits and veggies, and low-fat proteins like Greek yogurt or nuts. Avoid buying junk food – you can’t eat it if you don’t have it.
13. Grill year-round. Combine a marinade and your favorite low-fat protein (chicken, turkey or fish) with a side of fresh grilled veggies and salad for a great-tasting, healthy weeknight meal that takes the same amount of time to prepare as it would to get a take-out order of fast food. Avoid adding salt as too much sodium can increase blood pressure and too much red meat consumption. Combine ingredients to marinate in the refrigerator the night before to cut dinner prep time and stress which can lead to impulsive, unhealthy fast-food takeout meals.
14. Continue summer’s relaxed, laid back attitude. Keep your cool when fall arrives, especially as increased activities pack the calendar. Continue exercising, practicing meditation and creating time-saving plans for cooking meals and packing lunches to minimize stress.
Smile at co-workers and laugh more often throughout your day for heart healthy, stress reducing benefits.
Create a summer nest that continues beyond the season. Designate an area where you can escape for some “me time” a few minutes every day. Decorate it with comfy touches including blanket, throw pillows and special items like a coveted read, hobby items, or your favorite music.
15. Cover up and protect your skin. Institute the use of broad-spectrum sunscreen (against both UVA and UVB rays) that has an SPF of at least 15 (those with 30-plus SPF designations offer the most protection) for yourself and for all family members.
Over 1 million people in the U.S. get skin cancer each year, outnumbering at least the top 5 body system cancers combined.
In addition to sunscreen, wear protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses which block 99% of both UVA and UVB rays to protect skin against damage that can result in skin cancer.
Your local Capital Women’s Care team wishes you and your family a healthy, safe and restorative summer season. We’re here to keep you and your family’s health on track now and throughout the year.