5 Ways to Stay Healthy on Your Summer Vacation
by Lisa DiFalco
Are you planning a fun getaway in the next few months? Whether you are staying close to home or going abroad, it is important to stay on track with health goals while enjoying a change to your routine. A family trip to Disney World, a relaxing lakeside getaway or a road trip can be just the thing to rejuvenate body and mind.
Vacation goers, parents, caregivers and healthcare professionals should be aware of the simple ways to maintain good health while indulging in a much-needed getaway. Stay in peak mental and physical shape while on an upcoming summer vacation with the following tips.
Enjoy Time With Friends and Improve Your Mental Health
Stop procrastinating and take a needed vacation with friends or family. According to research, enjoying a few laughs and spending quality time with others can reduce stress levels more than exercise. With higher stress levels associated with the hormone cortisol, those that take a time out can make it easier for themselves to reduce or avoid stubborn belly fat. Laughing for 5 to 10 minutes is also considered to be a mild workout. Participants in laughter meditation programs feel a significant decrease in stress and allow for potentially deeper meditations. Priti Mathur, a government contractor that participates in laughter meditation and maintains a regular meditation practice, said:
“I can definitely feel the stress leaving the body. You fill yourself with joy. The mind kind of quiets down.”
Taking time out and laughing more need not be part of specific program to benefit individuals. Laughter is known to release endorphins in the body, which in turn elevates a person’s mood. In addition, there are links to improvements in heart health and more.
Catch Up on Sleep and Support Weight Loss Goals
As featured in a recent article, Can Improved Sleep Habits Reduce Obesity Risk?, those with irregular sleep habits, interrupted sleep or sleeping less than the amount of sleep recommended may find themselves with a higher risk of weight gain. In an initial study, Dr. Jason Gill of the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences said:
“These data show that in people with high genetic risk for obesity, sleeping for too short or too long a time, napping during the day and shift work appears to have a fairly substantial adverse influence on body weight. However, the influence of adverse sleep characteristics on body weight is much smaller in those with low genetic obesity risk – these people appear to be able to ‘get away’ with poorer sleep habits to some extent.”
A vacation is the perfect time to get approximately seven to eight hours of sleep to regulate hunger hormones, such as ghrelin and leptin. Nurses and shift workers may benefit in more ways than one from taking out a little time out for themselves and getting a little shut eye.
Stay Hydrated to Avoid Heat Exhaustion
When busy with vacation activities and socialization, it is easy to forget to drink enough fluids. Dehydration and heat exhaustion can occur to anyone of any age, but some people are more sensitive to heat-related health issues than others. Some risk factors to consider are:
- Age. Children younger than three and adults over 65 are at a greater risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
- Weight. Those who are overweight or obese are more sensitive to dehydration and complications.
- Specific prescription drugs. Diuretics, antihistamines, antipsychotics, tranquilizers and beta-blockers may make people more susceptible to heat exhaustion without proper hydration.
Athletes and those in good physical shape still need to drink sufficient levels of water. For most people on an average day, it is recommended that a person drinks half of their body weight in ounces of water. Those who are active on vacation, sweat heavily, or drink alcohol should aim for more than the average.
Continue to Burn Calories
Regular gym-goers and those wanting to be “bikini ready” should continue to move and stay active on a vacation. For those that find working out at a hotel gym to be less than exciting, consider the activities you can explore when at a new destination. Water sports, dancing, shopping and sightseeing can all burn calories. Take the stairs at a hotel and park a vehicle at the far end of a parking lot to get in extra steps. Fitness trackers and free apps can help individuals stay on top of fitness goals while on vacation.
Avoid Overeating to Enjoy Every Moment
While on vacation, it may seem necessary to throw caution to the wind and indulge in food at the buffet, unhealthy snacks and excessive amounts of alcohol. While it sounds good, a person’s body may not react well to higher levels of sodium and sugar, as well as the extra calories. Choose a salad plate when filling up on healthy meal choices. When ordering with friends, select an entrée and eat half, sharing it with another person or bring it back to the hotel for lunch another day. In this way, a person can enjoy a variety of healthy foods and still consume the recommended amount of calories for their body size, age and activity level. People with diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease should be aware that their health conditions do not go on a vacation and stay mindful of eating healthy and continue to follow a physician’s or nutritionist’s recommendations at all times.
Keep on Track and Maintain Good Health
Patients must be aware that a vacation is no time to go off their medications and know of potential interactions that may result from excessive alcohol consumption or changing diets. Individuals with serious health conditions should take extra precautions to maintain their health when away. The previous tips apply to the general public and patients should always consult with a healthcare professional if they are currently receiving treatment for a specific health condition.