Ok so the May 24 weekend has passed us and so has Memorial Day weekend. To me it FEELS like summer even though officially it has not arrived.
The changing seasons often mirror the seasons of life. Spring, for example, represents a rebirth. What hides in winter, emerges in spring. The barren winter scenery is suddenly transformed into a colorful landscape and we feel renewed.
And then, summer explodes in all its glory!
Mental images of cookouts, parties, fun in the sun, sizzling summer romance, and vacations dance through your mind. It’s when many of us feel the most alive. It is a time when we’re inspired to seek new adventures, to explore, and to make new holiday memories. It’s filled with activities and summer also brings an added bonus of certain health benefits.
Summer has always been my favorite time of year. I grew up on my grandparent’s farm in a small, rural community that I’m pretty sure was a zillion miles from civilization. The remoteness was not fun and this was before the days of internet or even good cable TV. Couldn’t wait until I turned 18 to depart for college and life in the “big city.”
The farm bordered a large river and my grandparents owned a camping area with cabins and camp sites on the banks of the river. It was a place where people who wanted to “get away from it all” could come. And, they did. When summer hit, the joint started hoppin’. Life was different. The sole sounds of animals were replaced with voices and laughter from the campers. Days were filled with cookouts, swimming in the river, riding bikes until dark, county fairs, and staying up late trying to catch the lightning (fireflies) bugs. Most kids go away to summer camp but I lived the “summer camp life.”
Doing Life Differently in Summer
Everyone seems much happier when summer comes around. It’s the season devoted to leisure and good times. It’s more laid back. We can throw on shorts, a summer Tee, and flip flops and we’re ready to go.
It’s a minimalist lifestyle.
It’s a nice change of pace from winter when we are hidden away and have to wrap ourselves in scarves and gloves to brave the outside. Winder days are shorter and darker. But, when summer comes we gladly exchange shoveling snow for pulling weeds. When you feel the warmth of the sun on your face, you don’t seem to mind.
Summer is a good time to take more risks. It’s a great time to get out of the comfort zone that wrapped you so tightly in winter. It’s an opportunity to do life differently and experience fresh things. It’s a chance to re-zone that comfort zone.
You’ll feel better and you’ll also have better health. And speaking of health, there are certain health benefits associated with summer. Just another reason to love the season.
Summer is knocking on the door. Open the door and let it in!
Health Benefits of Summer
Summer Reduces the Chance of Heart Attacks
Research indicates that you are less likely to die of a heart attack in the summer than in the winter. In a study of almost 11,000 people who had heart attacks in the UK, survival rates increased by 19 % if the attack occurred in the summer.
The summer sun gives us higher levels of Vitamin D, produced by sunlight, which is also thought to play a protective part in those who suffer heart attacks.
Cardiovascular deaths tend to be 26 to 36 percent higher in December and January, according to a study done at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles. There are a number of theories about this, including the idea that high blood pressure and cold weather might team up to increase vessel constriction.
Recent research from Brazil shows that bad cholesterol levels tend to be 8 percent higher in the winter than summer. In the summer, our “good” cholesterol tends to increase by about 5 percent.
Seasonal cholesterol changes may even be more drastic in parts of the United States and Europe that have more dramatic climate changes, the researchers report. Scientists are conducting more research to determine if there’s a connection between the seasonal cholesterol changes and heart attacks.
Summer eating is also great. The summer months produce a greater variety of fruits and vegetables.
Doctors agree that a diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables is better for us. It’s also lower in calories and higher in nutrients but you don’t have to feel as guilty about eating because we’re much more active in the summer.
We Spend More Time Outside and Burn More Calories
Summer is filled with outdoor activities. We swim, bike, walk, hike, and play softball or other organized sports. We tend to get more physical activity which can also detract us from eating more than we should.
Summer Is Vacation Season
Vacations are good for us. “If you really leave your work behind, you can lower stress levels, which has a positive effect on cardiovascular health”, said Marjorie Nolan Cohn, MS, RD, CDN, a New York-based nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokeswoman.
Vacations also provide us with some external motivation to get in shape. When we think about going to the beach and wearing a bathing suit, we want to be in as best shape as possible.
We work hard. Taking a vacation contributes to higher positive emotional levels, less depression, and lower blood pressure. Who can argue with that?
As we move into summer, here’s to a great summer to all of you. May your summer be filled with new memories, new activities, great food, lower stress and of course, that smell of coconut sunscreen that reminds us all of the beach.
Over to You
What’s your favorite thing about summertime? What things will you be doing this summer? How will you do life differently?
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