The pools are open, the days are long, and the sun is hot — summer is finally here! Summer isn’t just the perfect time to enjoy a popsicle or a fireworks show (although we like those things, too!): it’s the ideal time to recommit yourself to a healthy lifestyle.

Check out the 4 keys to staying happy and healthy this summer — and beyond.

Keep hydrated

Dehydration is a quick way to ruin a perfect summer day; even mild dehydration can become a serious concern for children, the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions. Drinking plenty of water is the best way to ward off dehydration, but don’t forget to expand your horizons. Eating water-dense, fresh produce is a tasty way to ingest fluids — particularly for kids who might not enjoy drinking plain water. Try watermelon, strawberries, peaches, and cucumbers. Not only are they at their tastiest this time of year — they’re also at their cheapest! Try slicing them up and adding them to plain tap water to create your own delicious and refreshing “spa water.”

Protect yourself from the sun

You might think a tan creates a “healthy” glow, but in reality, a tan is proof your skin is damaged. Once skin is exposed to harmful UV radiation, it increases the production of melanin (skin pigment) in an attempt to protect the skin from further damage — and as a result, your skin darkens to produce a tan.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying water-resistant SPF 30 or higher every day (yes, even if it’s cloudy — the sun’s rays can still harm you on an overcast or cool day). Make sure to choose broad-spectrum protection (protecting against both UVA and UVB rays) and avoid being directly in the sun from 10 am to 2pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest and most harmful. If you’ll be out in the sun for an extended period of time, opt for protective clothing such as a lightweight long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

Finally, don’t forget to check your birthday suit on your birthday: If you notice any moles or freckles changing, itching, or bleeding on your skin, see a board-certified dermatologist. Skin cancer can be deadly, but it is highly treatable when caught early.

Get active

The beautiful weather and long days make it easy to exercise outdoors. Research has shown even moderate amounts of exercise a few times a week is enough to show improvements in weight and fitness levels, and in reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack.

If you’re new to working out or it’s been more than six months since you’ve exercised, try a half-hour walk outside four days a week. As the walk becomes easier, mix it up with two minutes of jogging alternated with two minutes of walking. Keep increasing your jogging time as your body adjusts. Prefer to stay cool while you work out? The pool offers the perfect sweat-free way to work on your fitness. Running in place in waist-deep water, walking up and down the swim lanes, or doing an easy breaststroke are great ways to stay active. Just remember to drink plenty of water during those pool workouts! (And get a doctor’s approval before embarking on a new exercise program.)

Relax in Mother Nature

Science has proven that simply being in a natural setting makes us healthier and happier: a recent study showed that exposure to green space reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure. Soak in the benefits of the outdoors by spending some time meditating, praying, listening to music, or just daydreaming outside. Grab a blanket, find a shady spot, and kick back.

Do you have a question or concern about your health? Our low-cost ($30 or less) visits provide quality care for you and your family. Call us today at 317-272-0708 to book an appointment!