If you’ve spent any time outside this month, you don’t need a calendar to tell you, “It’s summer!” With school out, longer daylight hours, and vacations to plan, nearly everyone looks forward to the summer months. In terms of health, how do the positives stack up against the negatives?
Some research indicates that the “lazy, hazy days of summer” are good for heart health. The research reported that “bad” cholesterol levels (LDL) are as much as 8% higher in winter than summer, while during the same months the “good” cholesterol levels (HDL) tend to increase by about 5%. Although seasonal cholesterol changes may be more drastic in parts of the US and Europe that have more seasonal variation, these are not the only reasons why summer has several health benefits.
What’s in It for Me?
Check out these reasons to get excited about summer:
- Summer is vacation time! The health benefits from a summer vacation – or even “stay-cation” – can be many. If you truly leave your work behind, your stress levels will decrease, with a positive effect on heart health. And, vacations can provide great motivation for losing a few pounds or getting in better shape.
- Free Vitamin D – Long sunny days provide ample opportunities to boost Vitamin D stores. Vitamin D strengthens the immune system and promotes good emotional health. Be sure to avoid excessive sun during hours of peak exposure.
- Extra fresh fruits and vegetables – Summer heat normally causes us to feel less hungry, and those fresh fruits and vegetables are even more appealing as lighter meal choices. (For more on healthy summer eating, see our earlier post.)
- Opportunities for physical activity – Yes, it’s hot in the middle of the day, but longer daylight hours make it easier to get up a bit earlier or go outside after dinner to bike ride, walk, swim, kick a soccer ball with the kids, or practice a little outdoor yoga.
- Increased sweating! Sound strange? Even if you’re not “working out,” hot summer weather means everyone sweats! Sweating is a key component for body detoxification, but we usually use all sorts of methods and products to keep our bodies from doing it. Get outside and let your body sweat!
- Walking barefoot – Walking barefoot has two primary health benefits. First, it’s a free reflexology massage. Stimulating pressure points on the feet promotes better digestion, elimination, enhanced immune function, back healing, and more. Second, walking barefoot allows natural grounding to the Earth, helping us “recharge” from all the technology we use every day. Be sure to choose safe areas free from sharp objects, debris, and stinging plants or insects for your barefoot adventure.
- More fresh air – Most of us spend most of our time indoors and don’t get nearly enough fresh air. And, we typically breathe at a very shallow level, which signals a stress response to our bodies. Try to get outdoors with your family in a smog and pollution-free environment and “just breathe!”
- Overall “good” feeling – Being outdoors, and especially exposure to sunlight, has known mental health benefits and just generally helps us feel good.
Integrity Urgent Care is here for you too! Even though the health benefits of summer are many, we all have times when our fun is interrupted by not feeling well or a minor mishap. Your friends at Integrity Urgent Care are here to serve you – call or visit one of our convenient locations today!
So, make the most of the season and these months of summer. Turn off the TV, put away video games and movies, and get outside! Any activity – whether a family picnic or bike ride, gardening, physical activity, or just sitting outside will be sure to improve your health and your outlook on life! Remember to stay hydrated, use sunscreen, avoid prolonged exposure during times of peak sun, and just have fun!
Carceres V. 8 Reasons summer is good for your heart. Everyday Health [online]. Updated 31 Jul 2013 [cited 7 Jun 2018]. https://www.everydayhealth.com/heart-health/eight-reasons-summer-is-good-for-your-heart.aspx
Ochel E. 7 Simple summer health benefits. Evolving Wellness blog [online]. 7 Jul 2010; updated 4 Apr 2015 [cited 12 Jun 2018]. http://www.evolvingwellness.com/post/7-simple-summer-health-benefits
Reinberg S. Cholesterol levels may vary by season. Health Day News [online]. 7 Mar 2013 [cited 12 Jun 2018]. https://www.everydayhealth.com/high-cholesterol/0307/cholesterol-levels-may-vary-by-season.aspx