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6 New Health-Focused Habits to Adopt This Summer

6 New Health-Focused Habits to Adopt This Summer

Summer is upon us, and it's the perfect time to start incorporating healthy habits into our daily routines. But I’m not talking about giant lifestyle overhauls. If you're an avid reader of this blog, you know I'm a big advocate for making small, sustainable changes. 

So here are 6 science-backed small tweaks that can significantly impact your overall health right now, while also supporting the pillars of healthy longevity:

 

1. Take a Walk

Increasing your daily movement can significantly benefit your physical health. Regular walking, for instance, supports your immune system, reduces joint pain, and helps maintain a healthy weight.

Exercise, including walking, also boosts mental health by alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety and generally enhancing mental wellness.

So the first tweak is making a daily walk part of your summer routine. If you haven’t been very active up until this point, now is a great time to start walking. You won’t have to worry about navigating ice and snow, or bundling up, and the only gear you’ll need is a good pair of running shoes.  

One of the best decisions I’ve ever made was to go to a running store to be properly fitted with the right shoes for me.  I could not believe how much easier and pleasurable walking became because I had the right shoes on my feet.  By the way, this does not mean you have to get custom-made shoes or spend a fortune on them!  I walked out with one of the less expensive brand-name varieties that I probably would have never stumbled upon on my own.

One way to make sure you’re moving more is to find a time of day that consistently works for you to do that.  A circadian rhythm for exercise, so to speak.  I walk this first thing in the morning. Because I know that if I don’t work out before breakfast, it simply won’t get done - there are just too many competing responsibilities throughout the rest of the day.  

 

2. Get Fresh Air

Spending time in nature offers a soothing balance to our often screen-filled days. Research shows that time in nature can improve cognition, increase attention spans, reduce the risk of mental illness, and enhance empathy and social connectedness.

Next tweak is to make sure you spend at least some time outdoors every day. Combine this habit with your daily walk (win-win!) by seeking out green spaces (like parks or even tree-lined streets) or blue spaces (like bodies of water and the vast sky above) for your outdoor time. 

I used to practice my walking routine by getting on a treadmill each day.  Once I got a dog that activity moved outdoors.  And now, there’s no looking back!   I can’t imagine spending the precious time I have to exercise indoors.  Even cold or snow won’t hold me back.  Rain and ice - well, that’s another story.

 

3. Eat a Fruit AND a Veggie

A diet rich in plants helps maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels and reduces the risk of a multitude of chronic conditions. That’s because plants are full of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients our bodies need to function optimally.  If you look at the nutritional value - per calorie - of plant-based dietary sources versus meat or dairy products, you will find that plants win each and every time.  Relatively speaking, meat and dairy are relatively poor sources of most of the nutrients and vitamins we need.

And if you’re worried about protein, you don’t need to be.  Yes, meat and dairy are highly concentrated sources (and I eat some dairy regularly and meat occasionally), but plants are sources of protein too!  Did you know that 100 calories of broccoli delivers the same amount of protein as 100 calories of beef?  It’s just that 100 calories of beef is a bite while 100 calories of broccoli is equivalent to 5 cups of broccoli florets!

Summer is the perfect time to experience produce at its best!  Whether you’re a farmer’s market aficionado, grow your own herbs and veggies, or simply visit your grocery store once per week, the next tweak is to eat with the evolving harvest.  This will ensure you are eating plants at their absolute peak of flavor - and nutrient content. 

Strawberries should be pretty perfect right now.  Around the corner are blueberries, raspberries and cherries.  Then apples, pears and plums - not to mention every imaginable vegetable and green along the way.  Big bonus?  Produce tends to be significantly less expensive in season than out. 

I keep a fruit bowl on my kitchen counter to make grabbing a healthy snack effortless.  But I have to admit, even I’m not perfect.  So on the days I walk by that bowl without reaching in, I make sure to have a Step One bar as a quick, and healthy snack that keeps me satiated but won’t weigh me down.

 

4. Connect

The next tweak is to connect with an extra someone each day.  Social connections are vital for boosting our moods and overall happiness.

If you have friends, neighbors or family members you haven’t seen for a while, make an effort to reach out to them. This does not have to be elaborate or take up your whole day. Simple gestures, even if we think they’re minor, are always appreciated.  So if you have a garden and your tomato crop comes in with excess bounty, surprise someone with a share of it.  Call someone you haven't spoken to in a while just to say hello.  Or arrange to take that walk outside this summer with a friend (win-win-win!).  

Group activities and clubs offer other ways of connecting to people whom you might not know but already share a connection with.  After all, they are demonstrating an interest in the same things you’re interested in.  

Not all of us are naturally outgoing and for some of us the idea of reaching out or joining a club can feel intimidating.  But as someone who tends towards shyness, I can tell you that the hardest part is just getting started.  Once you do, the rewards are innumerable.  

 

5. Start a New Hobby

Speaking of clubs, consider what you've always wanted to try—as a way to point you to a new hobby. Exploring a new hobby can reduce stress and boost mental well-being. And that’s the next tweak.

Some hobbies also get you moving, supporting both physical and mental health. You might enjoy playing pick-up soccer at the park, trying yoga, or even gardening. 

And if you haven’t tried pickleball yet, I dare you not to love it!  Exercise + being outside + connecting with another person + new hobby…. all in one (win-win-win-win!).

 

6. Get More Sleep

Adequate sleep is essential for our well-being. Just like expecting our phones to last all day on 10% battery is doomed to failure—expecting our bodies to function at peak performance is unrealistic without time to rest and recharge.  That recharging is not passive.  Sleep is when our bodies perform critical tasks, such as solidifying learning and cataloging memories.  If you’ve ever noticed your brain is foggy after a bad night’s rest, you’ve proven the importance of sleep.

The final tweak is around your bedtime routine. Adults should aim for at least seven hours of sleep each night. If you find this challenging, try aligning your sleep schedule with your circadian rhythm. This natural process helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. To harness it for better sleep, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.  In fact, try turning the whole process of going to sleep into a routine. Put away the portable electronics, turn off the TV, and engage in some deep breathing.  Maybe read a book.

And if none of that works, go back to the top of this list.  Physical activity, proper nutrition, and spending time outdoors all help engender better sleep.

 

Bottom line

Ultimately, there are many small but meaningful daily habits that can be incorporated to boost health. You can start with one or two, or embrace all six. You can start small or go big.  Either way, you'll be moving toward a healthier, happier you.  

Notice that not one item in the list involved a drug or procedure.  We all have the ability to markedly improve our own health without the aid of a doctor. It would be my life’s greatest accomplishment if my services were no longer needed.

Tested & Proven Results.

  • Cardiologist formulated
  • Supported by over 500 publications
  • Clinically-proven, in a double-blind randomized trial with Mayo Clinic and The University of Manitoba

80% of participants lowered their cholesterol in just 30 days. With just two servings per day, Step One Foods offers a proven-effective way to naturally lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

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