Summer is a prime opportunity to explore the great outdoors and try something new. Here is our list of activities -- big and small -- that will quickly lift your spirits and relieve stress.
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Don’t hit ‘snooze.’
Waking with the sun means getting your day off to a more leisurely start. Instead of grabbing a muffin on the go, you’ll have time for a healthier breakfast. Research shows that people who enjoy a balanced morning meal are more likely to lose weight. Early risers also avoid the where-are-my-keys? and have-you-seen-my-other-silver-sandal? a.m. stressors.
Smell the flowers.
Cultivate an orchid in your office window, or keep a vase of cut blooms in your bedroom. Studies show that having flowers around triggers happy emotions and heightens feelings of life satisfaction.
Exercise outside.Ditch the treadmill and spin class for an outdoor jog. If you already run outside, try a new activity, like a yoga session on the beach or a boot camp in the park; the change can reinvigorate your fitness aspirations. Experts say that adjusting to different scenery and terrain can boost brainpower. Try to schedule early-morning workouts to take advantage of pollen-free air and lower temperatures.
Showing your pearly whites may help reduce symptoms associated with stress and anxiety, according to Mark Stibich, a consultant at Columbia University who holds a doctorate in health behavior change. Smiling also makes you appear more confident and younger, since the muscles used to smile lift the face -- no plastic surgery needed.
Not that you need to find an excuse, but experts at the Academy of General Dentistry say that engaging in a passionate lip-lock doesn’t just improve your love life, it can also better your oral health. Deep kissing can increase the flow of saliva, which helps keep teeth and gums healthy.
Take a dip.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, water-based exercise can boost your cardiac health, increase muscle tone and improve your mood. But don’t just stick to swimming laps. Rowing-based activities -- such as kayaking, canoeing and the latest craze from Hawaii, stand-up paddle boarding -- work the core to whittle your middle as you row, row, row your boat.
Skip the dryer.
The smell of sheets being hung to dry in the summer sun can transport you back to the innocent days of childhood. Bonus benefit: Line-drying clothes cuts carbon dioxide levels and energy costs, making it eco-friendly (and wallet-friendly).
Spend time with yourself.Make this the year you get comfortable spending quality time on your own -- whether it’s taking in a matinee, stopping at your favorite lounge for a cocktail or vacationing solo. Once you’ve mastered coolly taking control of your environment, it will be easier to approach any situation.
How much does your weight fluctuate in a year?
How often do you eat organic? A. Never -- it's too expensive B. All the time C. Sometimes -- some products are more important to buy organic than others Your Diagnosis: Registered dietitian Anne Mauney, who provides virtual and in-person one-on-one nutritional counseling at AnneTheRD.com, explains the facts and myths about organic food so you can maximize your health while minimizing the effect on your grocery bill.