Health

6 Ways to Stay Healthy All Summer Long

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Warm-weather activities you’ll want to do ease seasonal bothers to help you feel your best.

Enjoying pretty blooms stops mental fatigue.

Daisies, lilies, purple coneflower, dahlias — so many flowers are in bloom right now! And if too many to-do’s are taking a toll on your usual sharp resolve, bringing a pretty bouquet indoors could be the secret to on-demand energy.

Researchers at Britain’s University of Essex say gazing at seasonal blooms for just two minutes can stimulate your brain’s frontal lobe, increasing its release of energizing beta waves and helping you feel 35 percent more focused, clear-headed, and sharp for two hours.

Relaxing under a tree ends GI upsets.

You’re twice as likely to feel bloated and queasy on hot, muggy days. The reason? Uncomfortable weather extremes disrupt the enteric nervous system — the branch of nerves that controls digestion and absorption of food. Thankfully, British researchers say stretching out under a shade tree for 10 minutes after meals could cut stomach troubles by 82 percent.

Explains gastroenterologist Elsa Eriksson, MD, the scent and soothing sound of rustling leaves calms the enteric nervous system and prompts the release of digestive acids and enzymes, easing painful intestinal muscle spasms.

Gazing at a campfire lowers blood pressure.

To keep your core temperature steady on sticky days, your body pumps twice as much blood per minute, which can drive blood pressure up by five points or more.

The good news: University of Alabama scientists say relaxing and gazing at a small backyard fire can trim six points off blood pressure in 15 minutes. Turns out the flickering light, crackling sounds and distinctive smell all instantly calm the central nervous system, relaxing, and opening arteries and reducing blood pressure as effectively as meditation.

Puddle splashing banishes blue moods.

High temperatures and intense sun rays can rattle your brain and nervous system, slowing its production of calming, mood-enhancing serotonin. The good news: You can boost your mood by 50 percent in 15 minutes by breathing in the refreshing scent of a rainy day, say, by cracking your windows to let in breezes or splashing in puddles when the rain stops.

Columbia University scientists say rainstorms prompt the formation of negative air ions — tiny molecules that when inhaled prompt brain neurons to release serotonin.

Strolling sans shoes eases joint pain.

Wiggling your toes through soft grass could be the ticket to a pain-free summer! “When you walk barefoot, your body absorbs electrons — tiny charged particles that reduce tissue inflammation and promote healing,” says cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, M.D.

In fact, research suggests spending 20 minutes daily strolling barefoot cuts joint pain by as much as 45 percent in three days.

Watching the sunset steadies blood sugar.

Just stepping outside at the end of the day for 20 minutes to watch the sunset can heighten your blood-sugar control, mood and energy level by as much as 45 percent.

That’s the word from University of Connecticut researchers, who say the nightly blast of fresh air, combined with the pretty views, tamps down your adrenal glands’ production of the stress hormone cortisol. And when cortisol levels drop, your body’s insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control quickly rise.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine.

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