By Rennie Aranda – Skinny Gene Nutritionist
The end of spring is drawing near as hotter weather rapidly approaches. Most schools are wrapping up their last lessons as students anticipate the upcoming summer months. Families are planning family vacations while others look forward to summer events such as beach fun, poolside parties, picnics and BBQ’s. The longer, warmer days of summer can bring a feeling of laziness that may lead to a lack of activity. There’s plenty of ways to be active and still enjoy summer break while relieving physical and mental stress. With this in mind, it is important to stay cool, safe, and healthy during the hotter months and still have summertime fun.
ENJOY THE SUN WHILE STAYING HEALTHY!
It is tempting to want to lounge around during the hot summer days, but why not take advantage of the hot weather and sunny afternoons and be active! Here are some ideas for summer activities that the whole family can enjoy:
– Enroll your kids in a summer sports program of their choice. This provides physical activity for the kids as well as allows them to make new friends and be social. These programs can be organized by formal leagues, scheduled classes (like martial arts), or even be informal activities organized by neighborhood gatherings.
– Plant a small garden, cultivate a flower box, or plant a few flower pots. This is an activity that the whole family can enjoy. Gardening involves strength, endurance, and flexibility, and may help in relieving physical stress and muscle tension. It can also be a great stress reliever as well as lower blood pressure and improve the quality of rest/sleep at night. Not only is it a great bonding/learning experience for the kids, but it doesn’t hurt that it burns calories too!
– Take advantage of the nice weather and participate in outdoor activities. Not all activities require you to spend money. Take advantage of the sun and take a hike with the family, enjoy a nature walk, play games such as tag, Frisbee, or dodge ball, go bicycling around the neighborhood or at your favorite park, stay cool and go swimming, or have slip-and-slide sprinkler parties! Not only does it keep you active and healthy, it’s a good bonding experience as well.
While enjoying the fun summer activities, it is also important to be safe during the hot weather:
– Keep yourself and your family hydrated. Stay cool with a refreshing glass of water before, during, and after physical activity to avoid dehydration. Add some fresh fruit and mint for some low-calorie flavor!
– Protect yourself and your family from the sun. Wear wide-brimmed hats, apply water-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and re-apply every 2 hours, avoid intense activities between 12 noon – 3pm when the sun is at its strongest, dress appropriately for the heat, and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
– Find some time to relax and unwind between activities. It is also good for your body to take a break and relax between activities. Take time out of your day to meditate or have some quiet time to yourself. This can help lower your blood pressure as well as control stress hormones (such as cortisol) that contribute to a widening waist and the increase risk of heart disease.
Complement your summer activities with healthy eating! BBQ’s and picnics may not always promote health. Try substituting natural, low-fat ingredients in meals that your family and friends can all enjoy. Here are some ideas for healthy summer meals:
– Turkey Burgers. Substitute a 3oz turkey patty for your burgers. It contains less calories and saturated fat than lean beef. Eat it with a whole grain bun, lettuce and tomato. Instead of cheese and bacon, add avocado for extra flavor and healthy fats. Substitute mayo with mustard or a low-fat mayo or dressing. Serve with grilled veggies or a crisp salad.
– Sandwiches. Avoid processed lunch meats and sandwich fillings that are high in fat and calories. Try grilling chicken breast and eat it with whole grain bread or bun, along with BBQ sauce or low-calorie condiments, lettuce and tomato. Instead of the traditional mayo-based chicken, egg, or tuna salad sandwiches, try mixing them with homemade guacamole or low-fat vinaigrette. Add vegetables such as chopped celery, apple, or dried fruit. Serve on whole grain bread, whole grain or veggie tortilla, or a lettuce leaf and make it a lettuce wrap!
– Pasta Salad. Use whole grain or veggie pasta. Add grilled chicken breast or another lean meat or substitute beans or hard-boiled egg as your protein source. Add your favorite vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, bell peppers, and olives for flavor and color. Top it off with vinaigrette and fresh herbs and enjoy!
– Veggie Kabobs. Add a healthy flare to your BBQ with a flavorful veggie kabob! Grill your favorite veggies marinated in fresh ingredients such as oregano, olive oil, lemon, and garlic. Add some cubes of tofu or another favorite source of protein and you got yourself a perfect summer meal. An easy to make recipe that the whole family can enjoy!