As we enter the summer months, many people may be gearing up to travel, spend more time outdoors, and recharge their batteries with fun summertime activities.
Enjoying the sun, spending time with loved ones, and doing lots of physical activity can all be important practices for mental health and overall wellbeing. However, too much sun exposure can have adverse effects, so taking a few precautions can help you stay safe this summer and promote good overall health.
Let’s explore the science behind why you might feel healthier in the summertime and how you can make the most of these warm months.
Why do we Feel Healthier During the Summer?
You may have noticed that you don’t tend to get as sick during the summer as you might in colder months.
A study by the University of Cambridge found that some genes show different activity levels during certain months, leading to different blood compositions each season. As a result of these changes, our bodies may experience more inflammation during the winter months, increasing the risk for certain diseases.
More sun exposure can also boost your mood, help regulate sleep, and provide you with vitamin D, which are all things that promote overall health. You may even consume more vitamins and minerals as more produce comes in during the summer, making reaching the recommended fruit and vegetable intake easier.
So, if you’re feeling full of energy this summer, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you stay on top of your health and maximize the health benefits that can come with warmer weather.
General Health Tips for the Summer
Whether you’re taking advantage of all the outdoor activities that open up in the hot weather or staying indoors and enjoying the AC, there are a few things you might want to keep in mind to stay safe in the heat.
Drink Plenty of Water
Staying hydrated is vital for your health throughout the year, but it’s even more essential in the summer. Fluid requirements may vary depending on factors such as exercise levels, gender, weather, and overall health, so make sure to listen to your body and drink water regularly.
The Mayo Clinic recommends a daily fluid intake (from water, beverages, and food) of 2.7 liters (91 ounces) for women and 3.7 liters (125 ounces) for men.
Taking breaks to recover after being outside, dressing in breathable fabrics, and limiting time in direct sunlight are just a few simple tips to help you keep cool.
Research by the American Heart Association found that extreme heat exposure can increase the risk of deaths related to cardiovascular disease and stroke. The risk of heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses is higher for individuals with diabetes, obesity, and hypertension, so taking care not to become overheated is essential.
Protect Your Skin
Many clothing brands sell sun protective clothing that can block UV rays from hitting your skin.
We’ll break down the importance of sun protection later in this article.
Fitness Tips for the Summer
Staying active has countless benefits for your health, boosting your mood and lowering the risk for chronic diseases, obesity, and even premature death. Physical activity can also positively affect your blood sugar; luckily, warmer weather can open the door to many fun outdoor activities.
Here are a few summer activity ideas to keep you moving and safe while doing so.
Find an Activity you Love
Nice weather means there are so many options for staying active. Activities like swimming, biking, hiking, gardening, surfing, rowing, running, volleyball, and yoga are great ways to add more physical activity to your routine and increase your heart rate.
Exercise Outside of Peak Sun Hours
Keeping up with your exercise routine during the warmer months is excellent, but if you live in an extremely hot or humid climate, aim to get your run, bike ride, or hike done at a cooler time of day.
Get the Whole Family Involved
Exercise can sometimes feel like a chore, but summer is a great time to bring the family together and stay active.
Whether you’re playing volleyball on the beach, going for a hike together, or jumping in your local swimming pool, there are many opportunities to spend time with loved ones while getting some exercise.
Tips for Staying Safe in the Sun
However, too much sun exposure can also negatively affect your health, leading to health conditions like skin damage.
Here are some tips to stay safe in the sun this summer.
Wear Protective Clothing
During the summer, it’s normal to spend lots of time outdoors. However, that means you may need to take extra steps to avoid sunburn, especially if you are sensitive to the sun.
Many activewear brands sell UPF clothing (ultraviolet protection factor), which can protect against UV rays for individuals with sensitive skin, sun allergies, or other conditions that may make them more vulnerable to the sun.
This one sounds like a given, but wearing sunscreen is one of the most important things you can do to protect your skin from sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer.
Sunscreen helps block harmful UV rays from damaging your skin, and it comes in many forms and with varying levels of SPF protection. A 2020 report found that only 11 percent of Americans reportedly wear sunscreen daily, indicating that many people may be more susceptible to skin damage.
If you’re unsure what type of sunscreen is best for your skin type, here’s a helpful guide.
Wear Your Sunglasses
Prolonged exposure to UV light is not just harmful to your skin. And it may also lead to certain ocular conditions like cataracts, uveal melanoma, and photokeratitis.
Wearing sunglasses is one way to help protect the eyes, though they may not entirely block UV rays. Finding well-fitting sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection may be beneficial in preventing damage to the iris, cornea, retina, and lens of the eye.
Summer Nutrition Tips
While having a reduced appetite is common during the summertime, eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated remains just as important. Eating light meals in the hot weather shouldn’t mean sacrificing vital nutrients.
Here are some nutrition practices to help you stay cool and eat well in the summer.
Prioritize Hydrating Snacks
As we mentioned earlier, staying hydrated is vital for regulating body temperature, delivering nutrients to cells, and keeping the organs functioning properly. Fortunately, there are lots of nutritious, hydrating foods that make for great snacks in the summertime.
Things like cucumbers and other veggies and seasonal fruits like watermelon have high water content and can contribute to your daily recommended intake of fluids. These foods are also high in essential antioxidants and potassium, magnesium, fiber, and vitamins A, K, and C.
Eat Lighter Meals
In the summer heat, eating heavy meals can sometimes be undesirable due to appetite suppression as the body tries to keep cool. Nutrient-rich salads, cold soups, and fresh fruits and vegetables are often more appealing than bigger meals loaded with grains.
If you want to eat lighter meals in the summer, include high-quality protein sources, fiber, fats, and carbohydrates to maintain a healthy diet.
Limit Sugary Drinks
While we all might want to reach for that glass of lemonade or a chilled can of soda, these types of drinks have been observed to cause further dehydration and can potentially lead to other health conditions.
Added sugars in these drinks can also lead to blood sugar spikes, so opting for a tall glass of fruit-infused water or unsweetened carbonated water may be better alternatives to quench your thirst.
Engage with Your Blood Glucose Levels with Nutrisense
Your blood sugar levels can significantly impact how your body feels and functions. That’s why stable blood glucose levels can be an important factor in supporting overall wellbeing.
With Nutrisense, you’ll be able to track your blood glucose levels over time using a CGM, so you can make lifestyle choices that support healthy living.
Ready to take the first step? Start with our quiz to see how Nutrisense can support your health.
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Amanda is a Nutrition Manager and Registered Dietitian at Nutrisense, with a Masters in Dietetics from Stephen F. Austin State University. Originally from south GA, she got her undergrad degree from Texas Tech University. Before joining Nutrisense, she worked at a hospital in Fort Worth, TX, for 4 years as a dietitian, counseling those living with HIV.