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Summer is just around the corner! Summer conjures up visions of cookouts, lounging at the pool or the beach and summer treats. However, summer can also be a time to work on your health and fitness goals while you are out having fun! Keep reading for 5 ways to stay on track with your health while you enjoy all summer has to offer.

  1. Protect your skin

While everyone wants to work on that summer glow, make sure you are protecting your skin adequately. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, you should apply sunscreen 30 minutes before outdoor activity and reapply every 2 hours you are outside. Sunscreen should also be re-applied immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.  For adequate protection, be sure to use a broad spectrum UVA/UVB SPF 30 or higher sunscreen for outdoor activities, and use at least SPF 15 sunscreen for every day activities.

To prevent sunburn and dehydration is it recommended to stay in the shade or indoors during the hottest part of the day, generally from 10am-4pm in the summer. Don’t forget to protect your eyes and head too! Cover up with a hat and sunglasses with UV protection to prevent sun damage to your eyes and scalp.

  1. Stay hydrated

All that summer heat increases our need for hydration!  Drinking caffeinated beverages and alcohol can be refreshing during the summer, but can lead to further dehydration and extra calories. While it is tempting to go for those sugary summer drinks, try to stick mostly with unsweetened beverages or water to keep your weight in check. Try these fruity water recipes for a refreshing low calorie treat!

Most people need at least 64oz per day of water, but fluid needs vary greatly. The best way to see if you are hydrated is to check your urine. Pale yellow to clear urine is sign of a well hydrated body. Heat, direct sun exposure, and activity can all increase your fluid needs.

  1. Keep moving

While it can be tempting to lounge around all day on vacation, summer is also a good time to take advantage of warmer weather by hiking, walking, swimming and biking. Be sure to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days. Summer is a great time to branch and try water sports like kayaking, paddle boarding and swimming.  One hour of kayaking can burn about 300-450 calories.

If you have joint problems, water aerobics or water walking might be just the thing for you! These low impact aerobic work outs take the stress and pressure off of joints, allowing people to get in a good workout without exacerbating their joint symptoms.  Check out your local community pool, community recreation center, senior center or YMCA for indoor water classes. For more tips on staying active, check out our blog on Fitness Apps.

  1. Fill up on summer produce

Remember to make at least half your plate fruits and vegetables throughout the year.  Summer is a great time to try salads, smoothies and grilled vegetables.  Try mixing fresh fruit, into savory dishes, such as berry salad, or peach salsa. Visit your local farmers markets to try in season fruits and vegetables. Locally grown, fresh produce usually tastes better, and may have a higher nutrient content because it doesn’t have to travel as far to get to you.

If you like to harvest your own produce, check out local farms and orchards for “you pick” berries, peaches and apples. Nothing tastes better than a fresh berry straight from the garden! To find recipes and nutrition information on what’s in season throughout the year, check out this Seasonal Produce Guide from the USDA.

  1. Enjoy Nature

Most of us can remember a time when going outside to get some fresh air made us feel better. Studies have long touted the health benefits of spending time outdoors, from decreased stress to faster healing in hospital patients. Time in nature can help us think more clearly, boost happiness levels, decrease stress, and also helps our bodies make vitamin D. Just be sure to wear protection against mosquitos, ticks and other bugs, if you are spending a lot of time outdoors.

While gardening, yard work, or just sitting on your back porch can have a beneficial impact on your health, spending extended time in the forest has especially been linked with health benefits. These include increased immunity, increased mental clarity, and decreased stress and inflammation. So take some time this summer to go hiking at a local or state park or try an overnight camping trip. Spending time outdoors is a great way to bond with family and friends and make fun memories all summer long!