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12 easy ways to improve your health this summer

Do you want to be healthier but don’t have the time or energy to drastically overhaul your lifestyle?

In Just One Thing, Dr Michael Mosley guides you through some small tweaks you can make to your everyday routine, from drinking more water to taking more breaks, which can have a surprising number of benefits.

Here are Michael’s 12 top tips to improve your health this summer.

1. Drink water

While it’s lovely to enjoy the warmth of the summer months, it’s important to drink more water, to replace the fluid lost from sweating.

Your body is 60% water and your brain is a whopping 90% water.

Your body is 60% water and your brain is a whopping 90% water, so it’s vital to keep it topped up. The old eight glasses of water a day myth can seem unachievable, but it’s actually not based on any evidence. The general guidance is to drink a glass of water with every meal – much easier!

Learn more by listening to Just One Thing: Drink Water

2. Get some sun

The summer sun is finally here and it’s time to frolic!

In the UK the Sun’s rays are only strong enough for you to make vitamin D from April to September, so you need to boost your levels during that time to store it over the winter. And it can increase your brain’s release of serotonin, which boosts your mood and helps you feel calm and focused.

So grab a book or your headphones, head outside and soak up some of that sunny goodness.

Read moreabout getting some sun or listen to thefull episode of Just One Thing.

3. Go for an early morning walk

One of the best things about the summer is the long days, so why not make the most of the light mornings and go out for a walk?

It turns out that if you expose yourself to bright light early in the day, you can bring forward your body clock, so you are more ready to go to sleep at night. And walking faster significantly reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease.

So take advantage of the warm weather and stretch those legs!

Read moreabout daily walks or listen to thefull episode of Just One Thing.

4. Hang out in green spaces

Nature is a medical treatment! Doctors in parts of Scotland now prescribe spending time in nature for conditions ranging from heart disease to depression.

Doctors in parts of Scotland now prescribe spending time in nature.

Recent research suggests that spending a total of 120 minutes in nature per week is the ideal length of time to maximise benefits such as lowering your cortisol levels, and therefore stress. So immerse yourself in nature and discover inner peace.

Read moreabout green spaces or listen to thefull episode of Just One Thing.

5. Have a cold shower

When the weather is sticky, there’s nothing better than a cold shower to feel refreshed.

And there are significant health benefits too! Cold water causes short-term stress, which kickstarts the body and gives you a high from increased dopamine, serotonin and b-endorphin levels. Plus, studies have shown that cold water can boost your immune system and could potentially help with conditions from rheumatism to depression.

So stay cool and ride that high!

Read moreabout cold showers or listen to thefull episode of Just One Thing.

6. Read a novel

Whether you’re lying on a beach or lounging on the grass, reading a novel could be enhancing your mind.

Studies show that it’s the best way to lower stress (more than listening to music or doing nothing!) because it helps focus your attention outwards and away from yourself. It can also be a great resource for people with symptoms of depression.

So if you’re heading off on holiday, be sure to pack a couple of novels in your suitcase.

Read all about itor listen to thefull episode of Just One Thing.

7. Meditate

Feeling overwhelmed? Try meditation!

Just a small amount of practice each day can improve your sleep, mood, boost your immune system and even physically rewire your response to stress and pain.

There are loads of free resources online, or, even better, you can find a teacher and a class. Even a short, 10-minute meditation session several times a week is beneficial, so give it a go!

Read moreabout meditation or listen to thefull episode of Just One Thing.

8. Take a nap

Feeling sluggish in the heat? Time for a nap!

Having a kip during the day can minimise your risk of heart attack, heart failure or stroke, plus it can boost your memory and your ability to learn new information. Longer naps (90 minutes or more) may give you deeper benefits, but even 5-20 minutes could help you feel more alert.

So stop fighting that mid-afternoon slump!

Read moreabout naps or listen to thefull episode of Just One Thing.

9. Think yourself stronger

While we all want that ‘summer body’, it can be hard to summon the motivation to exercise at the end of a long day, especially in the warmer months when you’d rather lie on the sofa with a cold flannel on your face.

But you’re in luck: research suggests that you can improve your strength just by thinking about it! Visualisation is a technique used by top athletes in a range of activities from rugby to tennis, and it can even help you run faster.
So why not enhance your physical workouts by thinking yourself stronger from the comfort of your sofa?

Read moreabout thinking yourself stronger or listen to thefull episode of Just One Thing.

10. Get some houseplants

Summer is the time to envy the lush foliage in other people’s gardens, but there’s an easy way to bring it home, even if you don’t have outdoor space.

Even a microbreak of 3 minutes could lower your heart rate and improve your work accuracy.

Houseplants can be a great way to purify the air and minimise indoor air pollution. And greenery can help you concentrate better; one study showed that when employees could view plants from their desk, they performed better in a specific test of concentration by 19%.

So get out your watering can and go green!

Read moreabout houseplants or listen to thefull episode of Just One Thing.

11. Exercise in short bursts

When it’s hot it’s hard to summon the motivation to exercise. But it turns out that ‘exercise snacking’ – short bursts of activity – can be as good for you as one 30-minute session!

It can help you lose weight, reduce your blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Plus, every minute counts; just 2 minutes of stair climbing a few times a day can give noticeable benefits after eight weeks.

So rather than dreading that 5k run, try some smaller, more manageable bites of exercise.

Read moreabout exercising in short bursts or listen to thefull episode of Just One Thing.

12. Take a break

You’re sitting at your desk. The sun beams down on the street outside, an ice cream van tinkles in the distance… and your concentration is completely gone.

But letting your mind wander can be beneficial! It’s important for creative thinking, improving mood, decision-making and mental resilience.

Even a microbreak of 3 minutes could lower your heart rate and improve your work accuracy. Plus, it’s good for your eyes to look away from a screen.

It’s not lazy, it’s science!

Read moreabout taking a break or listen to thefull episode of Just One Thing.

So why not improve your wellbeing this summer with Just One Thing?