6 Tips to Stay Healthy Over the Summer Period

Do you find it a challenge to stay healthy over the holiday period? Does your food and exercise derail completely when out of your routine? Whilst it is necessary to have time away from the daily slog it doesn’t mean that the wheels need to fall off completely. So, whether you are holidaying or just spending time at home with family and friends here are my 7 tips to keep you on track over this period.

Tip 1 – Incidental Exercise & N.E.A.T

Incidental exercise is the physical activity required to engage in normal daily activities across our day.  Think of taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking to work instead of driving or cleaning the house as some examples.  The reason why these daily tasks are so significant is due to the acronym known as N.E.A.T.

According to NASM.org, Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) “is the energy expended for everything we do that does not include, sleeping, eating, or exercise; and ranges from simple things like standing and fidgeting to moving about.’

There has been some interesting research in recent years whereby researchers have begun investigating the remaining 110-115 hours of the week that we are awake as a weight loss solution, rather than the few hours a week spent trying to exercise.

The results are impressive.  NASM found that a 65kg person burns approximately 102 calories per hour in their office job in a seated position (1.7 cals/per minute), but burns 174 calories per hour if performing those same office duties while standing.

The importance of NEAT is truly significant for those of us that cannot squeeze any more exercise into our busy lives.  Just by making some minor adjustments to how we go about our everyday lives our entire day can be more effectively managed in terms of our energy expenditure.

Tip 2 – Cook at Home Where Possible

When the weather starts to turn better over the Summer month’s we may find ourselves going out socially a lot more.  After work drinks and Christmas parties may start to roll in and whilst fun, it can be disastrous for our healthy eating and alcohol consumption.  It is absolutely necessary to find the balance in between but we can mitigate some of the effects of these social events by putting some positive lifestyle choices in place beforehand. 

Where possible, always try to eat something 60-90 minutes before going out preferably a meal or snack containing protein and good fat.  These foods tend to line the stomach and are slower to digest.  This will also slow down the rate of which alcohol is absorbed in the blood stream.  Pre planning a meal at home before going out will also help stop us from demolishing the snack table at these events.

Tip 3 – Stay Protected from the Sun

According to Cancer Australia “Melanoma of the skin was the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia in 2018. It is estimated that it will become the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in 2022.”

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.  This is largely due to the harsh climate in which we live and our close proximity to the equator (higher UV levels) plus our outdoorsy lifestyles.

Quite often, especially at the start of the season we get that one bad sunburn where we end up pink and eventually peeling all over.  To try and mitigate the risk of sunburn apply an SPF factor 30+ or above every time you intend on going outdoors (reapply it every 2 hours).  Combined with this ensure you have a hat and a pair of sunglasses whenever you decide to venture outdoors.

Tip 4 – Get a Good Night’s Sleep

2 out of 5 Australians struggle with sleep on a regular basis according to James Lee a certified sleep coach.  In his blog “16+ Shocking Sleep Statistics Australians Need to Know” he reveals that 10.3 million people or 40% of Australians are not napping the recommended 7-9 hours.   I have to put my hand up and agree that I am one of these people, having a job which requires you to rise at 4.50am every morning can play havoc on your sleep/wake cycles. 

Even more alarming was the statistic that 20% of Australians have fallen asleep whilst driving and 5% of these have been met with an accident (Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults 2016).

A lack of sleep is fraught with a multitude of health issues with links to diabetes and to heart disease.    There has also been numerous research into the potential connection between weight and sleep.  Numerous studies have suggested that restricted sleep and poor sleep quality may lead to metabolic disorders, weight gain, and an increased risk of obesity and other chronic health conditions.

While there is continuing debate within the medical community about the exact nature of this relationship, the existing research points to a positive correlation between good sleep and healthy body weight.

What is known is lack of sleep can affect our neurotransmitters ghrelin and leptin which control our hunger and feelings of satiety.  During periods of poor- quality sleep ghrelin is thought to be stimulated more often, signalling it is time to eat.

Leptin on the other hand, signals when it is time to stop eating.  It decreases your appetite, and signals to your body that it is ok to start burning fat for energy.

When both of these hormones are working well, we have a better metabolic rate, mood regulation, memory, brain function and mental sharpness.

Tip 5 – Practice Daily Mindfulness for Mental Health:

Being mindful is about being aware – of your surroundings, being aware of who you are and what we are doing.  It is the mindset of being able to regulate our emotions, decrease stress, anxiety and depression.

Daily practices of mindfulness can enhance our lifestyle by helping us deal with stress and anxiety.  It allows us to be present without judgement, fear or worry and just be in the moment. 

Mindfulness techniques can include practices such as Yoga, Meditation, breathing exercises, Tai Chi, Stretching or simply sitting quietly and emptying our minds from all thoughts. 

Mindfulness helps improve our concentration and helps reduce ruminative thinking that contributes to the high levels of stress which are so prevalent in today’s society.

When we are mindful, we experience our life as we live it.  We are present with our family and friends and we experience the world directly through our 5 senses, we taste what we are eating and we recognise the thoughts we are having.  When we allow ourselves to get out of our heads and experience the world directly without the endless commentary of our thought’s we may just open ourselves up to the limitless possibilities that life has to offer.

Tip 6 – Take that Much Needed Holiday – 

We have all lived thru a challenging 2 years and now the world is slowly going back to ‘normal’ and things are starting to open up it is time to book that much needed holiday.  If you are still a little nervous about travelling internationally it does not mean that you need to shelve that much needed break. 

Taking time off work, even for a long weekend, allows the body to replenish and repair itself.  Leisure activities contribute to higher positive emotional levels, lower levels of stress hormones, less depression and lower blood pressure.

Taking a break, gives us an opportunity to recharge our batteries, spend quality time with family and friends and push the reset button so we can come back with renewed vigour.  When we don’t take time off regularly it does affect particularly our mental health and can lead to depression, anxiety and burn out.

Wherever and whatever you have planned for this Summer, by being mindful of some of the above tips you can live your life to it’s fullest potential.