How to build healthy habits this summer

Summer has arrived, which means it’s your chance to get out and build some healthy habits.

“The most important thing is we need to move more everyday, no matter where, but outdoors is more enjoyable,” says Samantha Harden, an associate professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise at Virginia Tech.

Harden said it’s all about trying to disconnect from day-to-day life so we can reconnect to nature and each other. “We are very social creatures,” she added.

It’s not just about your physical body. Your mind could use the outdoor break, as well. It’s a concept called biophilia, or the love of nature. One of the best benefits from being outdoors.

Harden said “being exposed to nature feels like coming home,” especially for those who spend more time behind a desk.

When it comes to the heat outside, there are ways to avoid it. For example, getting out earlier or later in the day. Starting low and slow when it comes to heat exposure will help build up a tolerance. Also, staying hydrated, before and during exercise, is important.

When it comes to what you eat, being more intentional or seeking education will help establish more sustainable eating habits.

As she encourages more people to get active, Harden says it’s good to celebrate small goals while remembering that just getting out and moving can have a major impact on your health. Over time, that increased mobility will lead to more activity.

“It’s habit formation,” Harden said. “We have to start somewhere and be grateful for what our bodies can accomplish.”

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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