June 29, 2015

Three simple tips can make your summer season healthier, happier, and safer.                                         

With the first day of summer still in our rear-view mirror, the season is heating up and bringing all the fun and outdoor activities with it. Swimming, hiking, vacationing, picnicking—they’re all fun and engaging summertime staples that millions of Americans enjoy every year.

But don’t leave your health and wellness behind when you partake in them! With these three simple tips, you can have a healthy, happy, safe, and fun summer.


Remember your sunscreen, and use it properly.

This is a fundamental step for a safe summer. Nearly every summertime activity puts you directly under the sun’s warm, inviting rays, but you need to choose caution to avoid getting burned—or worse.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, there are 63,000 new cases of melanoma—resulting in 9,000 deaths—every year. Proper sunscreen usage can drastically reduce this figure.

First, buy a broad-spectrum sunscreen that is at least SPF 30, as recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology. Broad-spectrum sunscreens block both UVA and UVB rays, the two types of rays that reach our skin. In short, UVA rays penetrate deeper into our skin, causing premature aging and, potentially, skin cancer. UVB rays don’t dig as deep, but they can still cause serious burns and complications. A broad-spectrum sunscreen takes care of them both, helping you best avoid any negative effects from direct sunlight.

Once you’ve lathered up with a nice broad-spectrum sunscreen, you’re not done! Remember to reapply throughout the day, ideally every two to four hours . Many people feel that once they lotion up in the morning, they’re good to go for the rest of the day, but that’s not the case. Sunscreens wear off over time, and exposure to water—such as through sweating or swimming—can reduce their effectiveness even more rapidly.

Lastly, combine smart sunscreen application with other smart sun strategies, like seeking shade, wearing sun hats, etc. Moderate your exposure to the sun in the first place, and you can reduce the risks inherent to your favorite summertime activities.


2. You’re on vacation, and your health should come with you!

Former Mission Support Grantee Outdoor Outreach champions an active lifestyle—by land or by sea—in the community. The next time you head out for vacation, take their lead and try surfing, hiking, or rock climbing!

When we slip outside our normal, daily routines, we often indulge in unhealthy eating and living practices. Do you eat healthier at home or on vacation? Do you exercise more at home or on vacation?

In many cases, our diets and our exercise routines don’t get packed next to the swimsuits when we head out for a week on the beach. Maintaining your structure is a matter of will power and dedication. If you make a conscious effort, you can turn your vacation into an extension of your everyday healthy living strategy.

Take a hike. Go for a bike ride. Stroll down the beach. Sample the local, fresh fare. Most beach towns sell freshly caught seafood in abundance, a much better alternative to the fast-food option next door.

Get the whole family involved and opt for an active adventure instead of lounging in the sand all day. A hike through a scenic trail is still incredibly relaxing, and it’s much healthier than staying sedentary!

When you vacation, pack healthy snacks such as nuts, fruits, and veggies, and make an effort to stay active at least a few days out of your trip. Rest and relaxation is important for your mental health as well, so enjoy yourself, but make sure your physical health doesn’t suffer.

Strike a balance, and enjoy the benefits!


3. Eat local, fresh fruits and veggies

Summertime brings a fresh crop of fruits and veggies to Farmer’s Market stands, so take a trip and stock up!

Thanks to a Mediterranean-like climate, San Diego County is a particularly fertile region, giving you an abundance of options. According to the Farm Bureau of San Diego County, we’re the No. 1 producer of avocados nationally, and we rank in the top 10 in egg-laying hens, strawberries, lemons, honey, and acreage of guavas, pomegranates, limes, and macadamias!

Give your recipes a little zing with fresh, local ingredients, and support a healthy diet and your local community while doing so. It’s a win-win for you and for the farmers working hard every day to make a living.

Find a Farmer’s Market near you and freshen up your pantry today.

How do you advance your health and wellness during the summer months? I’d love to hear your strategies for ensuring healthy, safe summertime living. Leave a comment, and we’ll discuss!


– Nancy Sasaki, Executive Director, Alliance Healthcare Foundation

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