Adopting healthier habits can be a little bit easier during the summer. Maybe you're spending more time in nature or exercising outdoors. Maybe you're eating better. You're probably wearing sunscreen more regularly.
"People tend to be more active when it's warmer. They drink more water and they spend more time outdoors," says Mira Otto, M.D., an internal medicine specialist at Henry Ford Health.
Healthful Summer Habits
How do you carry these positive lifestyle changes into fall, particularly with the holidays on the horizon? You choose to be intentional. Here are a few areas to focus on:
- Exercise: With exercise, consistency is key. To keep up the momentum after summer ends, consider getting an exercise buddy. "If you're scheduled to meet someone to work out, you're more likely to show up," Otto says. Can't work out in the gym because of COVID-19? Try online fitness challenges and mobile app workout plans. YouTube and other channels are filled with solid video workouts. And keep in mind that you don't have to complete all your daily exercise at one time. You can be active in 10- to 15-minute bursts throughout the day. The key, says Otto, is identifying activities you enjoy. "If it's a struggle, you're not likely to stick with it.”
- Spend time outdoors: As the weather turns colder, people need to be more intentional about spending time outdoors. If you make getting outside part of your daily routine, you might notice you feel better. Studies show that spending time in nature is good for both body and mind.
- Drink water: "People drink more water when the weather is warmer," Otto says. Part of that relates to your body's needs. When you sweat, you need to replenish your water stores. But even if you aren't guzzling bottles of water, many foods that are popular when the weather heats up have a high water content (watermelon, grapes, cherries and iceberg lettuce). As we venture toward fall, consider keeping a large bottle of water at your desk or in the car. Can't stomach straight water? Consider infusions with fruit and herbs.
- Wear sun protection: Sunglasses, sunscreen and broad-brimmed hats are common during the summer months. Keep these items in your wardrobe when the seasons change. "It's important to wear sunscreen year-round, even when the sun isn't bright," Otto says. "If sunscreen is built into your daily moisturizer, you'll be more likely to wear it." Keep sunglasses and hats by the front door so you remember to wear them.
- Slow down: Summer is known as a time of slowing down. If you can carry that same mentality into fall, you'll be better off. "Choose one day during the week where you set aside family time or time with your partner," Otto suggests. "When you schedule that time in advance, almost like an appointment, you'll be more likely to work around it."
- Eat more produce: Spring and summer offer plenty of healthful fruits and vegetables, making getting your daily five to nine servings of produce much easier. Your best bet for transitioning this healthy habit into fall? Choose frozen fruits and vegetables. "Frozen produce maintains all of the nutrients, without the risk of going bad over time," Otto says.
Toward a Healthier Fall
The end of summer doesn't have to mark the end of your healthier lifestyle. Instead, it's a time to evaluate how your daily habits have changed over the summer months.
"Once you figure out how your lifestyle has changed, you can come up with tools to carry healthful practices into fall and through the holiday season," Otto says.
To find a doctor at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).
Dr. Mira Otto is an internist, seeing patients at Henry Ford Medical Center –Ford Road in Dearborn.