Get Your Health in Gear This Summer
Summer is a great time to ramp up your health. You can exercise outdoors, plant a garden full of fruits and vegetables and use your vacation time to de-stress.
So throw on a pair of shorts and take advantage of these warm, sunny days to recharge your mind and body.
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Load Up On the Fruits of Summer
And the vegetables too, of course. Cherries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, peppers, squash and eggplant are plentiful during summer months. If you’re lucky enough to have a farmers market nearby, stock up on the bounty of the season. Otherwise, go for organics at your local market.
The flavor of in-season ripe fruits and vegetables is incomparable. Plus, eating more fresh produce has been associated in studies with a number of health benefits (such as a lower risk of heart disease), thanks to the antioxidants, fiber and micro and macronutrients they contain.
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Take Your Workout Outside
Why be stuck in a gym when you can exercise in the fresh air? Lose the fitness rut and try a new activity, like trail running, surfing, inline skating or horseback riding.
A 2010 study in the journal
reported that exercising outside, even for short bouts, boosted mood and self-esteem. Environmental Science & Technology
Where you live may dictate what you can do (it’s tough to surf in Denver), but be creative. Even trading your usual group cycling class for a real ride outdoors can tap into unused muscles and impart some new skills.
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Produce Some Produce In Your Garden
Gardening is a great moderate physical activity that uses muscles in the upper and lower body and trains balance and coordination. Digging, planting, lifting and hoeing all count as exercise.
Working in the dirt is also a great way to lower stress. And while you’re making the flower bed look pretty, consider growing fruits, vegetables and herbs. Nothing tastes better than homegrown produce, and you’ll reap the benefits of the vitamins, nutrients and fiber they offer.
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No Flu For You
The warmer months provide a nice break from the winter flu season, and a number of theories explain why the flu virus and summer may be incompatible. A 2008 study in
found that in cold temperatures, the flu virus may have a protective coating that helps it disperse. Nature Chemical Biology
In winter people are inside more, allowing germs to spread. And some studies have shown a link between a vitamin D deficiency (sunlight is a source) and higher flu rates.
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Use Your Vacation to De-Stress
Everyone has his or her own idea of the perfect summer vacation, but make sure yours includes some downtime. While trips packed with activities can be exciting, they can also be exhausting.
A 2010 study done in the Netherlands looked at happiness levels among vacationers and non-vacationers. Only those who said they felt very relaxed on their trips experienced a boost in their happiness when they returned. So put your feet up, unplug and chill out.
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Sun and SAD
Seasonal affective disorder is depression linked to a change in seasons and strikes many people in fall and winter, when daylight hours are shorter. According to the
Mayo Clinic, this psychological and physiological reaction to colder, darker months can produce symptoms such as weight gain, sleeping too much and a drop in energy.
Since light is often used as therapy, those with even a mild case of SAD can benefit from more hours of sunlight during summer.
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Get a Dose of Vitamin D
We all know that spending hours baking in the sun can up the risk of skin cancer. But a little bit of summer sunshine and exposure to UV-B rays can increase levels of vitamin D, important for immune function as well as bone growth and repair, according to the
National Cancer Institute.
Some health experts say spending about 10 minutes a day in the sun without sunscreen is enough to reap the benefits. Be aware that this isn’t a one-size-fits-all prescription. The maximum amount of time depends on a number of factors, including your overall health, where you live, previous sun exposure and skin type. Check with your doctor before venturing out.
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7 Amazing Prosthetics
Health & Beauty
Luke Skywalker’s Hand
This is Luke Skywalker’s arm at the end of
The Empire Strikes Back. In 1980, the Star Wars community called them cybernetic limb replacements. While Luke’s hand is not real, it’s fully functioning fingers and lightsaber-fighting capabilities foreshadowed more advanced prosthetic limbs. Here are some of today’s coolest prosthetics. Some are still in prototype, while others are currently being used by amputees.
Next photo gallery: 7 Amazing Prosthetics