Your Guide To Healthy Summer Living

“Summer Means Happy Times and Good Sunshine” -Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys)

Summer has a way of bringing out the child in all of us. Even if you don’t have two months off to swim and surf, there’s just something special in the air. But summer can also be challenging for some, including the elderly or people with chronic health conditions, because the soaring temperatures can exacerbate symptoms. But whether you’re 17 or 70, below are answers to your questions on how best to make your summer a healthy – and happy – one.

Q: We like to have parties outside in the summer, but how long is it safe to keep perishable food outdoors?

A: Don’t leave perishable food out in the sun or in the heat for more than two hours. Another tip: be sure to pack your food in an insulated cooler with ice packs.

Q: I always hear that the best in-season fruit is available in the summer. Do you know what types of fruit this is referring to?

A: It’s true, the summer is full of in-season delectable, juicy fruit!  What’s more, summer fruits (and vegetables) are not only delicious, but they’re also full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that your body needs and that are critical for maintaining good health. They also provide energy and help you stay hydrated.

Here’s a list of some of the top in-season summer fruit contenders: watermelon, berries, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, pears, peaches, mangoes, plums, nectarines, grapes, bananas, apricots, lemons, limes, yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes and avocados (yes, technically yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes and avocados are fruits).

And some great summer vegetables include corn, cucumbers, eggplant, beets, bell peppers, carrots, celery, okra and green beans.


Q: I want to get in shape this summer and plan to jog around my neighborhood a lot. What else can I do to augment my goal to get in shape?


A: The number one thing you can do to compliment your exercise regime is to maintain a healthy diet. A great rule of thumb is to add plenty of in-season vegetables and keep your protein sources lean. If you eat meat, avoid fatty cuts, and avoid fried foods like fried chicken. Fruit is a healthy dessert, but just don’t overdue it because all fruits have natural sugar, some more than others – so do your due diligence. And remember to carve out some down-time, because you’re much more likely to adhere to your daily regime – exercise and food-wise – if you take time out to have some fun in the sun!

Another very important thing to keep in mind is to remember to stay hydrated, particularly since you’ll be jogging outside. Because of increased sweating during hot summer days, it’s easy to become dehydrated without even realizing it, which can be potentially dangerous. And please keep in mind that while extreme heat can be dangerous for everyone, it’s particularly dangerous for the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions. If you fall into this category, you should consult your physician to create a safe exercise regime.


Q: My husband gardens a lot in the summer; between that and him going to the beach, I worry about skin cancer. How often does he need to reapply sun lotion and what SPF should it be?

A: According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), a good rule of thumb is to reapply every two hours. But if he takes a dip in the water, he should reapply every time he gets out, even if it’s been less than two hours. Regarding SPF, the AAD recommends 30 or higher. And be sure that it is water-resistant and offers broad-spectrum protection, in other words, protects against UVA and UVB rays (UVA rays can cause wrinkles and age spots and can pass through window glass, and UVB rays are the main cause of sunburn, but are blocked by window glass. They both can cause skin cancer.)

Q: My daughter wants to go to a tanning salon before going to the beach this summer so she “looks good.” Before I okay it, I want to be sure it’s safe. Is it?

A: No. The United States Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization’s International Agency of Research on Cancer have declared UV radiation from artificial sources, like tanning beds and sun lamps, may cause cancer. And bottom line, according to the AAD, there is no safe way to tan. In fact, every time you lie out in the sun, you’re damaging your skin, and this damage speeds up the ageing of your skin (yikes!) and increases your risk for all types of skin cancer. ‘Enough said!



This information is for educational purposes. Please consult your physician for any medical issues. The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) is committed to bringing trusted and quality home health and private care to Brevard County patients. For more information about VNA services, call 321-752-7550 or visit