Summer Activities to Promote Health and Wellness
Summer is the perfect time to try out new activities that promote your health and wellness. If you’re struggling with your weight and are looking for some simple ways to ease healthy activities into your life, check out some of the ideas below you can incorporate into your summer plans.
Some tips to make any new physical activity regimen safe and successful:
- Talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.
- Find a buddy or group to keep you motivated.
- Start slow with new activities and build endurance.
- Set a specific schedule for your new activities, so that they become regular habits.
- Celebrate wins along the way and keep trying when you experience setbacks.
According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which publishes physical activity guidelines, it’s recommended for adults to get at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity physical activity a week and muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week. If this sounds intimidating, make it the goal to reach by the end of the summer. Begin with smaller goals to get moving every day in short intervals, working your way up to half an hour of exercise, five days a week, plus a few days a week to focus on some sort of strength training.
Easing into Exercise: Walking
It’s simple. It’s free. Walking is a great place to start developing the healthy habit of getting your body moving. The benefits of walking are nothing to roll your eyes at—walking burns calories, strengthens your heart, and boosts your immune system. It can also help ease joint pain, regulate blood sugar, and elevate your energy and mood.
Some tips to make walking an activity that you sustain:
Timing: Choose a regular time of day to walk, and stick with it. The more it becomes a regular habit, the easier it will seem to keep up with it. Think about what is going to be the easiest time of day to fit regularly into your schedule and also what time of day it may be most comfortable for you to be outside this summer.
Get some gear: Yes, it’s a free activity, but it’s safer and more enjoyable if you have the right footwear. Make sure you have comfortable, supportive athletic shoes. They’ll help your endurance when you walk, making the activity more enjoyable and sustainable. Dress in comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely as you pick up the pace! If you can, get a pedometer or download a step app on your phone. It can help you track your progress and keep you motivated.
Build up endurance: Start out walking at a comfortable pace each day—again, just getting yourself moving is a great first step. Over time, work your way up to a brisk pace that gets your heart pumping. If walking is difficult, start out doing just 10 to 15 minutes each day, working your way up to half an hour or more.
Make it fun: Explore your own neighborhood, or make a list of parks, trails, and neighborhoods you’d like to explore. If you have a walking partner, this can be a great way to stay motivated and spend valuable time with someone whose company you enjoy. If you’re going solo, plan playlists of podcasts, audiobooks, medications, or music to make your walks something you look forward to every day.
Beat the Heat in the Water
For many people, the beach and the pool are key parts of summer, but rather than lounging by the water, make it an activity that promotes your health.
One of the benefits of moving in the water is that water supports your weight so it is low-impact on the joints. People who have pain in their hips and knees may find that exercise or activities in the water are more comfortable and more enjoyable. Additional benefits of swimming and water aerobic activities include:
- Strength-building: The resistance of the water as you move helps work out your muscles and builds strength.
- Cardiovascular benefits: Swimming and water aerobics can get your heart pumping, helping it to grow stronger and work more efficiently. Aerobic activity can also help you improve your cholesterol, by boosting good (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and lowering bad (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.
- Calorie-burning: Recreational swimming can burn the same amount of calories as a brisk walk and you can burn as much as 500 calories an hour in a water aerobics class.
- Low risk of musculoskeletal injury: Because of the low impact of swimming and water aerobics on the joints, the risk of musculoskeletal injuries are relatively low. (But always be sure to practice water safety to prevent drowning and never swim alone).
If they’re available, enroll in aerobics classes at a pool near you or check out some water exercises you can do on your own in a pool, lake, or other body of water.
If you’re looking to stay home this summer, there are still lots of ways to get active and promote your health.
Stationary bike: If it’s within your budget, a great way to get started exercising is with a stationary or recumbent bike. Because a recumbent bike has a backrest, it can be more comfortable and supportive for your back, especially if you’re overweight or just new to cycling.
Climbing stairs: If you have stairs in your home or outside, try building a stair workout at your own pace.
Explore Healthy Seasonal Cooking: Summer is an excellent time to get to know fresh fruits and vegetables and explore cooking new flavorful dishes. Check out some tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how to incorporate fruits and vegetables into a healthy eating plan for weight loss. To design the freshest, most flavorful meals, learn what produce is in season when.
Summer and Beyond
By the end of the summer, you may find a number of benefits from your new activities. Regular physical activity can elevate your mood, help you feel more focused, reduce stress, and help your sleep quality. Exploring new ways to stay active at home and prepare healthy, seasonal meals can help improve your overall health and help you feel your best.
Some research says that it takes an average of 66 days to make new habits become automatic behaviors. Summer is the perfect time to get started on new activities that can become the basis for longlasting healthy habits.