The long, warm days of summer bring to mind the activities and habits that have often fallen by the wayside during the cold winter months. It suddenly becomes nice enough to venture outside for exercise, swimming, or sunbathing. Many people spend weeks getting their bodies in shape for summer, slimming down any extra weight they might have gained during the winter.

Once hectic summer plans get kicked into high gear, however, it can be easy to let some of those good habits fall to the wayside; other habits are hard to pick up to begin with. Some of these habits are essential to staying healthy and energetic throughout the summer, and can help you to enjoy every sun-soaked minute.

Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Breakfast is an essential meal at the beginning of the day. No matter how busy you are, it’s smart to eat something to get yourself started. Eating a healthy breakfast will give you an energy boost in the morning and will curb your desire to snack. If you’re usually rushing in the morning, try preparing breakfasts beforehand. You can quickly prepare healthy meals like overnight oats or yogurt and fruit the night before, then grab them on your way out the door.

Try a Morning Workout

If you can’t seem to brave the heat to work out or are too busy once your day gets started, try getting up a little bit earlier to exercise. This will help you beat the heat, but it’ll also benefit you throughout the day. Exercising at the beginning of the day will make you feel more energetic, increase your metabolism, and produce endorphins in your body, which will lighten your mood. Starting your day out on this positive note will help you carry that happiness throughout your day.

Stay Hydrated

About 75% of Americans are constantly dehydrated. This continuous dehydration can be compounded by the summer heat and added activity, making you even more dehydrated and perhaps even causing symptoms like nausea, dizziness, or heat stroke. To avoid this, make sure you drink plenty of fluids and eat snacks like fruit, which are laden with moisture. The average adult should drink around half a gallon of water per day! If you find that you have trouble making yourself drink enough water, change it up by throwing in some lemon, lime, or other fruits.

Take Up Swimming

If you don’t enjoy running, find that the heat is too much for you, or suffer from joint issues, swimming is a great workout option. It’s easy on your joints because they’re not constantly absorbing the shock of your weight hitting the pavement, and it’s also great for your muscle tone and heart. Swimming actually burns quite a few calories, though how much depends on the intensity and duration of the swim, as well as what type of stroke you’re using. As a general rule, though, an hour of gentle swimming will burn over 400 calories. Like any exercise, swimming will increase your metabolism, help you feel more energetic, and produce endorphins.

Eat Colorful Foods

It’s a common adage that a colorful plate is a healthy plate; if colorful fruits and vegetables are covering your plate, you’re doing a good job of eating a well-rounded meal. In fact, experts recommend that you eat around five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables per day. In addition to the vitamins they provide, some fruits are also a natural source of fluoride, a mineral that’s great for your teeth and bones.

While the variety of fruits and vegetables available to us is sometimes diminished during the winter, there are more than enough fresh options to choose from during the summer. Whether you pick it up at a local farmers’ market or the grocery store, you should have one fruit and one vegetable at every meal—and perhaps an extra piece of fruit for your afternoon snack.

Commit to an Oral Hygiene Routine

When we think about committing ourselves to keeping our bodies healthier, we don’t often consider our oral health. However, poor oral hygiene can actually negatively impact your health as a whole. Gum disease alone, which about half of American adults over the age of 30 have, can increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. So while you’re hammering out a successful exercise routine and eating healthier, take some time from your busy day to take care of your mouth. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss and use mouthwash daily, and visit Dr. Alhadef at our office twice a year. You’ll safeguard your health for the future, and you can likely use the money you save from getting cavities filled for something fun!

Get Plenty of Sleep

It’s pretty well known that the average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep every night, but it’s easy to brush this knowledge aside by making up the difference with stimulants, like coffee or energy drinks. While it might help you get more things done, it harms you in a lot of ways. Make sure you get enough sleep every night, and try to keep a set sleeping schedule. This will decrease your risk for serious health issues, make you less stressed, and improve both your energy and mood. You’ll be healthier and happier with a few minor changes to your nightly routine.

Spend Time Outside

This is sometimes hard to accomplish when you have an office job that requires you to spend most of the day inside, but even going outside to eat your lunch in the grass will do you some good. Natural sunlight is a great source of vitamin D, which helps you maintain healthy bones and improves your mood.

When you can, try going on hikes or picnics, or do some other outdoor activity that you enjoy. Spending time in nature has been proven to decrease blood pressure, improve mental health, increase focus and performance on creative tasks, boost your immune system, and more. It’s so healthy for you that in Japan, there’s a word for it, which translates to “forest bathing.” You’ll find that spending some time in nature will improve your summer in many ways and help you be more productive when you are at work.

Protect Your Skin

While sunlight provides necessary vitamin D in moderate doses, too much sun exposure causes sunburn, leads to early wrinkles, and increases your risk of developing skin cancer. So when you go outdoors, it’s smart to apply a nice layer of sunscreen to protect your skin.

Keep Moving

While many jobs require you to sit all day without moving much at all, doing so isn’t good for your health. This lack of movement is bad for your heart, increasing your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. It also increases your risk of stroke, diabetes, and blood clots, and is horrible for your neck and back. Even if you exercise much more than the recommended amount per week, it’s hard to make up for seven hours of daily sitting. In order to combat this, try taking short walks around the office every so often. You can also make a DIY standing desk so you can change positions, allowing you to stand and stretch without taking your eyes off your work.

Take Some Time to Relax

Relaxing is incredibly important to your mental and physical health, so it’s important that you do this every once in a while. Take a break to go to the beach or the mountains and just relax and soak in the sun. Even when you’re relaxing, though, you can find ways to move around and keep active without noticing it. Set aside a few hours on your beach vacation to visit an art fair on the boardwalk or wander through a museum. You’ll walk much farther doing so than you probably realize, getting in much-needed exercise while fully enjoying yourself.

While a few of these habits take some effort to incorporate into your daily routine, many of them are fun and easy to implement. They’re all great habits that will work toward keeping you happy and healthy this summer, whether you get a long vacation or a short one. With a little bit of discipline, these habits can also be adapted to help you stay happy and healthy year-round.

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