Healthy Summer Tips

By Mark Wardle

Summer is quickly approaching 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.

I’ve recruited the help of friends, family and colleagues to bring you some healthy summer tips!  All you have to do is remember a classic summer-time footwear: S.A.N.D.A.L.S.!

S: Safety

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 that sunburn!

Safety Belts – It’s one of the easiest and best things to do for your health. Period.

Helmets – Helmets save lives.  If your sport or activity encourages helmet use, use it.

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 a 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 – Have a backyard project?  You can do a lot in an hour or two a week!  It can also be great for family bonding.

N: Nutrition

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 – It is amazing how much better things taste when they are literally the fruit of your labors!

Visit A Farmer’s Market – Fresh, convenient, and delicious!

Plan Your Meals And Snacks – Avoid the fast food and snack bag temptations by packing carrots, berries, homemade sandwiches, etc.  It’s healthier for your body and for your budget!

D: Drink (Water!)

Sun and fun can both bring the heat and 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 if the activity is prolonged).  Think: Drink!

Bring Water With You – Don’t assume water will be waiting.  Bringing your own can be convenient and even lifesaving!

Be Green - Using reusable bottles helps our environment and makes filling up more convenient.

Help Others Hydrate – monitor your friends, children, etc.  If someone looks hot or dry, help them hydrate. 

A: Achieve

Don’t just 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 – Miles walked, minutes exercised, etc.

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/twice a month/etc.  Accomplish a family project.

L: Laugh

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 with the above 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.

S: Sleep

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 and refreshes us and is essential for good health.  Aim for 7-8 hours a night, even more for children (yes, even in the summer!)  Here are some tips for getting your Zzz’s:

Be Consistent With Bedtime – If you are consistent 80-90% 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 ok and then 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 us make this a healthy and fun summer.  And who knows, 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.!