Summertime and the livin’ is easy. No matter how many years removed you are from your childhood’s carefree, barefoot adventure, there’s something nostalgic about the season that brings out the giddy, energetic kid in all of us.
From picnic-perfect dishes and lawn games to beach trips and summer clothing (hello flip-flops!), these are perennial symbols of summer that take us back to simpler times, like building sandcastles and enjoying barbecues with family, friends and neighbors.
These recurring, summertime trips down memory lane are really healthy for us, according to a study showing that feeling nostalgic activated the reward center of the brain. Brain scans of participants revealed that brain regions associated with memory and reward lit up when shown photos related to common childhood experiences.*
With so many opportunities for enjoyment, you don’t have to plan too hard to make this summer your healthiest yet! Here are a few ways to let go and tap into your inner child (and get healthy without trying):
Get in the water
Summer isn’t complete without time spent in the water, whether the beach, a lake or river. The number of calories you can burn swimming is deceptively high for such a gentle, low-intensity activity. In 30 minutes, you can burn about 200 calories at only a moderate pace. Take it up to a vigorous pace and burn about 350 calories.
If you prefer to be on the water instead of in it, head to a recreational area where kayaks, canoes and standup paddle boards are available for rent.
Hop on your bike
Remember when you could spot the action in your neighborhood by where all the bikes were parked? The bicycle is summer’s official mode of transportation and also the healthiest, most fun way to get around. Instead of driving to run local errands, do them on your bike. For longer treks, gather the family for a ride on a rail trail or easy nature trail.
But before you roll out, layer-on the sunscreen for skin protection against the summer sun’s intense UV rays. Overexposure can cause free radicals that break-down skin’s collagen structure, leading to premature sagging, wrinkling and dry, leathery texture.
To maintain firmness and elasticity, add Collagen + Elastin to your summer skincare routine. It helps strengthen your skin’s collagen structure and elastin fibers with 2 key proteins found in skin.
Enjoy cool foods
This time of year, it’s easier to fill-up on lighter fare you may not typically crave in winter months, like big, leafy salads and a variety of tropical fruit and berries. Studies out of the University of Massachusetts and University of Georgia revealed that daily caloric intake naturally decreases by about 200 calories during summer. Fruit and veggies are full of nutrients and fiber, and their high water content also fill you up faster.
Too hot to cook? Set-up a picnic-style spread of hummus, whole grain crackers, uncured deli slices, potato salad, sliced veggies and fresh fruit, like refreshing watermelon. Skip soda and enjoy unsweetened tea instead. For a refreshing pick-me-up in the morning or during the day, try this delicious, easy-to-make Iced Mocha Coffee recipe made especially for Body Kitchen.
Stock-up on ice pops
There’s nothing like waiting for the ice cream truck to roll down the street on a hot day! Summer is just not the same without cool, refreshing treats. While you may no longer have the same affinity for the artificially colored and flavored treats that ice cream trucks are known for, you can treat yourself to a small scoop of real ice cream made with pure ingredients, such as cream, milk and natural flavors.
If your grown-up digestive system no longer has the same tolerance for dairy, you’re not alone. About 65% of people experience lactose intolerance.* And it can develop later in life, because as we age, we produce less lactase, the enzyme that breaks down sugar found in dairy.
But that doesn’t mean you’ll be left out in the cold. You can still indulge in this cherished summer pastime by enjoying fruit bars and sorbets made with real fruit.
Summer weekends are made for barbecues and cookouts with family and neighbors, so it’s easy to pull together teams for a friendly game of anything – volleyball, kickball, softball – whatever gets everyone moving. If you have children, this is especially great for role modeling an active lifestyle while building memories that last a lifetime.
By the close of summer, your photo album and memory bank will be full of memories to carry with you all year long, and you may even find yourself healthier and a few pounds lighter!