Tips for a healthy (and fun) summer
by: Kelly Fliller
Summer is in full swing and these are some of the most enjoyable and active months of the year. The days last longer but seem to go faster while we fill as much time as we can with family, friends and fun. Here are some tips to stay healthy while living it up this summer!
- Stay hydrated – it’s easy to let the hours get away from you, especially if you are swimming, laying on the beach, playing outside or reading in a hammock. Don’t forget to drink water, teas, juices and eat fruits and vegetables that are hydrating such as cucumbers and watermelon (delicious and refreshing, especially on a summer day). Wendi Cassidy, Network Engagement Team Manager of Fulfill said, “Be sure to stay hydrated this summer by drinking fluids and adding fruits and vegetables to your diet. Pep up plain water by flavoring with strawberries, cucumber, or lemon and focus on whole fruits and veggies such as melon, berries, citrus, tomatoes, cucumbers, which not only have a high water content but provide nutrients such as Vitamin C and fiber.”
- Take precautions against heat exhaustion/heat stroke – take frequent breaks from the heat! Whether you are working or playing outside, it’s important to listen to your body and don’t ignore important health warnings. A sudden stop in sweating, rapid heartbeat, headache and changes in behavior are just a few of the serious signs that it’s time to cool down. It’s also important to keep an eye on our loved ones as well. Lynette Whiteman, Executive Director of Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey said, “Have you ever noticed an older person wearing a sweater when everyone else is complaining of the extreme heat? Part of normal aging includes changes in circulation, inefficient sweat glands and changes in the skin. All this leads to not feeling the heat as much, but that only raises the risk of heat stroke. Make sure that the older person in your life is drinking enough fluids, has a place to go with air conditioning and is dressed appropriately.”
- Sunscreen – Apply and reapply, then reapply again! So many times I ignored that rule and paid the price years later. One of the best parts of summer is being outside in the sun and warm weather. And who doesn’t like being tan? But ignoring that sun protection now will only come back to haunt you in the long run. Stay safe and use sunscreen every time you are outside – even when the sun is behind the clouds. It is recommended to reapply sunscreen after a couple hours or after swimming and sweating. Don’t forget a lip balm with SPF in it as well. And CHECK THAT EXPIRATION DATE! It really does matter. Dr. Teri Kubiel, Vice President of Patient Experience and Community Outreach at Community Medical Center recommends utilizing the resources of the American Cancer Society for proper skin care advice and to learn the effects the sun has on our skin. You can read about how to have a sun-safe summer on the American Cancer Society’s website.
- Maintain a healthy diet – ice cream, hot dogs, hamburgers – I’m getting hungry just thinking about all the delicious foods that make an appearance at summer parties and BBQs. While I definitely indulge in these treats, I love how fresh the produce is during the summer. Now is the time to get those seasonal fruits (plums, cherries, nectarines, strawberries) and vegetables (zucchini, cucumber, corn). It’s also time to fire up the grill which you can use to make some creative and healthy recipes this summer. Do you love a good burger but want to keep your diet healthy? Blended burgers are becoming a very popular, healthy option and make a great summertime dinner. Lisa Wielgomas, Community Outreach Manager of Integrative Health and Medicine at Hackensack Meridian Health said, “I sautéed some diced Portobello mushrooms with organic garlic, Vidalia onions, then blended that and replaced about a quarter of a normal beef mixture for burgers with the Portobello mixture. I added a bit of nutritional yeast, Himalayan salt, ground pepper, mixed up and molded them into burgers. They were wonderful and healthier than having all red meat! I’m not a clinician, or a doctor, nutritionist, or a chef, but working for Hackensack Meridian’s Integrative Health and Medicine program as the Community Outreach Manager, I have been learning so much from all of our experts! I’m just a regular person who wants to be healthy and I’m learning that even tiny changes can make a huge difference. Anyone can be healthier! Try your own blended burger this summer!”
- Exercise – this is the perfect time of year to get that exercise into your routine without even realizing you are doing it. Swimming, walking, running around the yard, playing catch, running on the beach – there are endless ways you can keep your body moving in the summer. If you are looking to slow down the speed a bit, check out a beach yoga class. Combining exercise with beautiful scenery will keep you motivated and having fun.
- Plan a getaway – we tend to neglect our vacation time. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of life and forget that we need time to relax and recharge. Whether it’s a weekend beach getaway, a week-long cruise or a staycation in your home town, giving yourself some time away from the usual routine is good for the mind, body and soul.
- Disconnect – take some time to unplug from technology. Enjoy the real world and face to face conversations! Lee Karen, Former Acting Executive Director of Hope Sheds Light said, “Be social and active! Summer is a time to surround yourself with family and friends and to be active. Get out there and go hike, bike, walk, run or even swing on a hammock!” Leave your phones and computer behind and enjoy the fresh air.
Summertime means sun, delicious foods, time with family and friends, beach days, sunsets, swimming and the list goes on. While you’re out there having a blast, don’t forget to take the small steps to stay healthy and happy.
What’s your favorite summer activity or best tip to stay healthy?