- Start the Day with a Stretch. Take your yoga practice outdoors for a sunrise session that will invigorate your morning, get blood flow pumping and create a positive meditative state that will sustain the day. If possible, do it under the trees. Several studies published in Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine found that people exposed to a forest environment versus an urban environment had a lower concentration of the stress hormone cortisol. Other studies found that forested settings sparked feelings of vitality. However, any green space will offer benefits. Researchers at USC found that any beautiful scenery releases feel-good endorphins.
- Grab a Paddle. Stand-up paddle boarding has reached mainstream popularity, and with good reason. It builds incredible balance, provides a full body workout, increases strength (especially core and upper body), and offers idyllic views on whatever body of water it’s practiced on, from lakes to the ocean. It’s also a low-impact activity that’s easy on the joints, ideal for people like runners who need to heal shin splints but still get some exercise.
- Go for a Swim. While indoor pools are great for swimming year-round, taking a dip outside offers an entirely different sensory experience, and is an ideal summertime activity. Swimming is a great full-body workout, providing low-impact exercise with strength-building resistance of the water, according to WebMD. It keeps the heart rate up, builds endurance, muscle strength and overall fitness. In addition, it helps to maintain a healthy weight, heart and lungs due to its full-body engagement. Plus, it’s a super enjoyable activity when the weather is hot because there’s no sweat involved.
- Take a Hike. Many times, it’s easy to pass by the nature surrounding us, either in our backyards, nearby parks or within a short drive from home. Whether terrain is rugged or flat, taking a hike is a great aerobic exercise that also provides weight-bearing benefits to help prevent osteoporosis, says WebMD. Hiking also helps clear the mind, maintain a healthy weight and provides a daily dose of vitamin D when out in the sunshine. To avoid injury, avoid going up steep hills and inclines without proper training, gradually increasing endurance levels. Check out the American Hiking Society to find one of the country's more than 170,000 miles of trails nearest you – or just hit the sidewalk right outside the door.
- Get Your Hands Dirty. Gardening is well known for relieving stress and anxiety, which not only keeps the heart healthy but improves overall well-being. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease also found that physical activity—gardening included—can cut the risk of Alzheimer’s by 50 percent. Summer is also one of the best seasons for fresh produce, and growing your own produce can be not only extremely satisfying, but delicious. Sweet potatoes, peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers are all easy-to-grow summer veggies. Strawberries and blueberries are also good fruit choices for beginner gardeners, and can even be grown vertically in pots or trellises, ideal for small home or apartment dwellers.
- Go for a Spin. Leisurely wind down the day by dusting off the old bicycle. Besides enjoying the gentle warmth of feeling the summer breeze on the skin, a seven minute bike ride can burn 50 calories, according to Self.com. A 5-year study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that pedaling for just half an hour daily led to a 31 percent decreased risk of high blood pressure. Each 10 minute increase of activity dropped participants’ risk by 9 percent.
The days are longer. Vacation time is beckoning to be used. It is officially summer – which means that there are no more excuses to not get outside and be active! From land to sea, there are just too many summer-friendly activities available to stay cooped up indoors during the sunniest time of the year. Slather on some natural sunscreen, throw on a hat, drink plenty of water and get geared up to burn some calories, tone up tired muscles, and develop new habits that will promote better health all year long.