We’ve all heard of the winter blues (remember the snow just a few months ago?), so when the days get longer, most people come out of ‘hibernation mode’. Sound familiar?
On the other hand, it’s not uncommon to experience a ‘summer slump’. Oftentimes, when the seasons change, so do our moods, and this may affect those healthy habits we’ve worked so hard at creating. Remember, no matter what time of year, if ever you feel you’re in a slump, we’re here to help! A great start is checking out our Facebook Group – The Craving Healthy Habits Community.
I wanted to share with you 5 healthy habits that the summer sets the stage for, so I invite you to take advantage of these activities so that you can continue those healthy habits…or even create new ones, while having fun in the sun!
1. Getting outdoors
It’s no secret: being outdoors makes people healthier. The benefits of spending time outdoors and staying connected to Mother Nature is good for many aspects of life, particularly for our mental health1. It’s also important for getting your daily dose of vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin – a vitamin so many of us Canadians are lacking. According to the Canadian Health Measures Survey2, 32% of Canadians are vitamin D insufficient, while 10% are deficient. The good news? To get your daily dose of vitamin D, all it takes is 10-15 minutes of direct sun exposure to your arms and legs.
The best part about being outdoors? Little to no equipment is required. Simply lace up your walking shoes and step out the door! Don’t forget that other outdoor activities count, too, such as gardening, biking, hiking…you name it!
2. Being more active
On that note, there are ton of fun activities to do in the summer! Not that there weren’t activities in the winter, everything just seems that much more fun in the sun, right? Unfortunately, only 20% of Canadian adults meet the minimum standard for physical activity each week3.
The possibilities are endless: hiking, biking, jogging, swimming, racquet sports, playing Frisbee in the park, skateboarding, even Outdoor Yoga & Fitness with your Dog… The important thing is to choose activities that you love and have fun doing! When you choose something you enjoy doing, it’s that much easier to meet Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines of 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous activity4. And just like diet, making small, realistic changes to your activity level will yield sustainable, long-term results.
3. Eating more fresh veggies & fruits
Connect with nature even further by ramping up your fruit and veggie intake! They’re especially delicious in the summer months when most produce is in season. In fact, according to Stats Canada, most Canadians increase their fruit and veggie consumption in the summer months5. I mean, who doesn’t love a juicy slice (or two) of watermelon at the beach?
Word on the street is that eating more fruits and vegetables has many health benefits . According to the Heart and Stroke’s position statement, eating more produce helps to lower your chances of heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer6.
Aim for 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables (if you’re unsure about how much, check out Canada’s Food Guide for your specific requirements).
- Choose at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day
- Choose fruit and veg prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt
- Have the real deal more often than juice
- Include fruits and veg as part of your snacks in between meals
4. Drinking more water
While you’re enjoying your outdoor activities, don’t forget to stay hydrated! According to Dietitians of Canada, there are many benefits to staying well hydrated, such as7:
- helping clean out your digestive system and prevent constipation
- helping you stay cool on hot days
In general, the amount of water to consume is typically 2-3 Litres of water per day, but it depends on your age, sex, how hot and humid it is and how active you are7. While water is the best (and lowest calorie) choice to stay hydrated, anything with water counts – fruits and vegetables, soups, tea, coffee, popsicles and ice cream. Watch out for those patio-side alcoholic beverages though as they can actually be dehydrating. If you do consume alcohol, alternate with a glass of water or mix half your drink with sparkling soda water and sip mindfully.
Want to jazz up your water this summer? Try our infused water recipe here. It’s totally refreshing! Make a big pitcher for your next summer BBQ.
5. Catching more zzz’s
Everything comes full circle here. Getting out in nature can promote better sleep for many people. Good quality sleep helps you to face daily activities and has many benefits. In the long-term, getting enough sleep (for most people, that’s approximately 7 hours of sleep, but can range from 5 to 10 hours per night) can help boost immunity, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure and heart disease8,9.
Even when you have summer BBQs and weekend weddings, maintaining good sleep hygiene is important. Here are some tips from the National Sleep Foundation10:
- Keep it consistent. Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday, even on weekends.
- Defend your last hour. About an hour before bed, avoid any strenuous activities, artificial light (iPad, I’m pointing to you). Instead, read a book, take a relaxing bath or try some meditation.
- Avoid large meals. A light snack is okay, such as our energy bites or a these other great snack ideas.
- Avoid alcohol, nicotine and caffeine before bed.
- Throw some shade. We mean, pull the shades down and keep your bedroom dark, quiet and comfortably cool.
- Spend time outdoors during the day for better quality sleep!
WHAT'S THE BOTTOM LINE?
The summer months set the stage for continuing or creating healthy habits such as increased physical activity, increased fruit and veggie intake, improved hydration and better quality sleep. You’ll reap the benefits of improved mental, physical and emotional health. Get outside and enjoy all that summer has to offer!
Want more tips, advice, and inspiration to keep your healthy habits on par this summer? Join our Facebook Group – the Craving Healthy Habits Community! Besides being a place to share and reflect, we also host contests and challenges to keep you motivated while having fun.
1 - http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/a-prescription-for-better-health-go-alfresco
2 - https://www.dairynutrition.ca/nutrients-in-milk-products/vitamin-d/vitamin-d-status-of-canadians-results-from-the-canadian-health-measures-survey
3 - http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/publications/department-ministere/state-public-health-status-2016-etat-sante-publique-statut/page-13-eng.php
4 - http://www.csep.ca/CMFiles/Guidelines/CSEP_PAGuidelines_adults_en.pdf
5 - http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-229-x/2009001/deter/fvc-eng.htm
6 - http://www.heartandstroke.ca/-/media/pdf-files/canada/2017-position-statements/vegetableand-fruit-consumption-ps-eng.ashx?la=en
7 - https://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Water/Why-is-water-so-important-for-my-body---Know-when-.aspx
8 - http://uat.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Alcohol/A-Menu-for-Good-Mental-Health.aspx
9 - https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why
10 - https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/sleep-hygiene