Summertime has arrived and with it comes a shift in schedules, activities, and priorities. Kids are out of school. Families take vacations. Schedules are no longer centered around school, tutors, or carpool. Now cookouts, vacations, and camps control the itinerary.

Don’t Turn Relaxation into Unhealthy Living

Summer is an opportunity to relax and take a break from the demanding schedules of the school year. Academic stress is one of the biggest stressors for Americans.

However, without the proper mindset, free time and lower stress can quickly shift to laziness, boredom, and excessive consumption. Summer can easily turn into a period of unhealthy choices.

So here’s a novel idea; incorporate the five healthy habits of living this summer.

5 Healthy Habits to Live By This Summer

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at the data from nearly 400,000 U.S. adults ages 21 and older who participated in a national survey. They published their report in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease in May of 2016.

The five healthy habits the researchers looked at were:

  • Maintaining a healthy body weight (with a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9). One of the key findings from the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America report is children and adults who are obese or overweight are more likely to feel stress.
  • Getting at least 7 hours of sleep. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Sleep deficiency also increases the risk of obesity. One in three adults don’t get enough sleep.
  • Exercising 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of intense exercise weekly. Exercise has been researched and validated for treating a variety of mental issues and mental health conditions. Additionally, exercise positively impacts mood, stress, chronic pain and chronic illnesses.
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation or not at all. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism, moderate drinking is defined as up to four alcoholic drinks for men and three for women in any single day, and a maximum of 14 drinks for men and 7 drinks for women per week.
  • Not smoking. Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causes many diseases, and reduces the health of smokers in general. Quitting smoking lowers your risk for smoking-related diseases and can add years to your life.
Healthy habits and summer resolutions.

Only 6% of Adults Engage in All 5 Healthy Habits

If you look at the list of the five healthy habits and feel encouraged that you already engage in a few of them on a regular basis, you are not alone.

Nationally, 24 percent of adults engage in four of the habits, and 35.2 percent are engaging in three, according to the report.

Dr. Wayne Giles, a chronic disease prevention researcher at the CDC and a co-author of the report has stated, “What we found is, however, only 6 percent engage in all [five].”

Where you live is a significant factor in healthy habits. “The geographic data are a particularly intriguing finding from this study, and illustrate that where you live can have a huge impact on whether or not people engage in these behaviors,” Giles said.

“This study demonstrates a higher percentage of five health-related behaviors in the Pacific and Rocky Mountain states than in Southern states,” the researchers wrote.

The Southern states, along with the states that border the Ohio River (including West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio), have higher rates of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes.

Living in the Charlotte, North Carolina area for the past seventeen years, I have had to come to terms with humidity. I am still working on it.

I understand the challenges that come with where you live. I enjoy running, but during the summer, the heat and humidity narrows ideal times to run in the sunny, summer weather.

If you would like to see more information and where your state ranks, check out this infographic from LiveScience.

How to Engage In Healthy Habits This Summer

Despite a low percentage of adults engaging in all five healthy habits, there are plenty of positive habits that can be accomplished without seriously disrupting or ruining the pleasures of summer.

  • Monitor alcohol consumption. It can be easy to let a leisurely cookout or weekend turn into excessive drinking. In addition to the obvious risk of alcohol abuse or addiction, alcohol can disrupt sleep and cloud judgment. Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to all kinds of health problems.
  • Take a brisk walk in the morning or evening time when the heat is not at its peak. 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week breaks down to roughly 22 minutes per day.
  • When vacationing, choose summer activities that involve physical activity; bike rides at the beach, hiking in the mountains, kayaking at the lake, and swimming.
  • Grill vegetables, make fruit salads and push for healthier snacks. Watermelon is one of the cheapest and best options to refresh youngsters during the summertime.
  • Choose summer activities that involve physical activity; bike rides at the beach, hiking in the mountains, kayaking at the lake, and swimming.

Maybe It’s Time to Make Summer Resolutions

At the beginning of every new year, folks identify resolutions designed to improve their overall health and well-being. Many folks use the beginning of the calendar year as a marker to start a different way of living.

But why don’t more folks make resolutions for the summer season? And why do people wait until after they’ve engaged in unhealthy behaviors to make goals for their health?

My summer is officially in full swing. My daughters are out of school, and I have adjusted my work schedule to reflect the shift in my daily schedule.

I no longer wake up at 5:45 AM every morning and immediately jump into lunch packing mode. And I certainly don’t need to consume the amount of coffee that I drink during the school year.

But now that I can catch an extra hour of sleep, will I use that extra time to increase my rest and rejuvenation? Or will I end up staying up later at night and waste that opportunity for rest? Why don’t you check in with me at the end of the summer!

Click here to read more articles by Jonathan Hetterly, LPC!

Jonathan Hetterly, LPC
Jonathan Hetterly is a licensed professional counselor. He specializes in helping teen and young adult men navigate the challenges they face in life.Jonathan is also a writer and his articles are regularly featured on PsychBytes.com and ShrinkTank.com. He has contributed material to several books that explore the intersection of pop culture and psychology, including The Walking Dead Psychology, Star Wars Psychology, and Game of Thrones Psychology.

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