It’s summertime! But warm weather and good vibes don’t keep viruses and harmful bacteria entirely at bay. There are an estimated 10 to 15 million cases of “summer colds” nationwide between June and October. That’s in addition to food poisoning from backyard BBQs and Lyme Disease from pesky tick bites during a nice summer hike. It is still essential to prioritize your health and test right away when you feel early symptoms of illness. Summer fun and exciting outdoor activities make this season an excellent opportunity to practice good habits to stay healthy and boost your body’s defenses. We’ll explore valuable tips and strategies to fortify your immune system. By incorporating these simple yet powerful practices into your daily routine, you can make the most of this vibrant season while staying safe.
1. Stay Hydrated
The hot summer weather means more sweat– causing dehydration. Drinking water throughout the day helps your body replenish those lost fluids. Try carrying a reusable water bottle wherever you go (opt for one with designated times and encouraging words as a friendly reminder). If you plan on being active outside or exercising, increase your water intake to compensate for the additional sweat loss. Adequate hydration is vital for optimal bodily functions, including digestion, circulation, and temperature regulation. Moreover, it helps flush out toxins, supports your immune system, and promotes overall well-being.
2. Eat a Balanced Diet
Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is crucial for bolstering your immune system. Take advantage of the abundant summer fruits and vegetables at farmer's markets. These nutrient-rich foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support your immune function. A great rule of thumb is to remember to “eat more colors” or add colorful foods such as berries, melons, leafy greens, and citrus fruits to your meals and snacks. Additionally, prioritize whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats to ensure you're receiving a well-rounded nutritional diet. Finally, avoid excessive consumption of processed foods, sugary snacks, and sweetened beverages, as they can weaken your immune system and impact your overall health negatively.
3. Practice Sun Safety
While soaking up the sun is a staple summertime activity, it's still essential to protect your skin from overexposure to UV rays. Apply sunscreen with a broad-spectrum SPF of at least 30 before going outside, and reapply every two hours or more frequently if you're swimming or sweating. Wear protective clothing, such as lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and wide-brimmed hats. Try seeking shade or planning outside gatherings during peak sun hours, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Remember, sunburns weaken your immune system and increase the risk of skin cancer.
4. Engage in Physical Activity
Regular exercise is vital in maintaining good health and boosting your immune system. But don’t think you need to be stuck inside a gym to get those benefits. Take advantage of the pleasant weather and engage in outdoor activities like walking the beach, swimming, hiking, cycling, or playing sports. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 vigorous minutes per week, which not only strengthens your immune system, but also enhances your cardiovascular health, improves mood, reduces stress, and promotes better sleep. Find activities that suit your interests and fitness level, and remember to start slow if you're new to exercise.
5. Prioritize Sleep
It may be tempting to party the night away this season, but ample sleep and effective stress management are essential for fighting viruses. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to allow your body to rest and recharge. Establish a consistent sleep schedule and create a relaxing bedtime routine. A lack of proper sleep weakens the immune system, making you more susceptible to illness. By prioritizing sleep, you'll enhance your overall health and strengthen your body's natural defense mechanisms.
This summer, don’t get caught with fevers or sniffles. Use the warm weather and good vibes to get moving, eat well, and rest your body. Continuing healthy habits and being conscious of common summer illnesses means you can prepare yourself for whatever comes your way this season.