Every year, we wait for summer and its energizing sun rays, casual Fridays, and long weekends with anxious anticipation. As spring comes to a close, we are eager to shed our jackets and exchange them for shorts, tank tops, and flip flops. We bask in the warm weather. We relinquish our lazy schedules and quickly fill our calendars with backyard barbecues and beach trips. Re-energized, rejuvenated, and refreshed, summer is the best time to start practicing new habits to create a strong foundation of well-being. Practice these five warm weather habits to be the healthiest and happiest version of yourself.

Add more color to your plate

During the summer months, fresh produce grows in abundance. Grocery store shelves are stocked with seasonal fruits and vegetables, and farmers markets come alive with locally-grown produce. Eating a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables is an important component of a healthy lifestyle. Use fresh, seasonal produce to try new recipes and add color, variety, and flavor to your meals. Try a seasonal salad or throw some vegetables on the grill for a delicious side dish. Is your local supermarket too expensive? Plant your own garden or support your local farmers by shopping the farmers market. Bloomington’s farmers market is located in the historic Museum square in downtown Bloomington. Open from 7:30 a.m.-noon every Saturday, it offers a wide variety of farm products, cooking demonstrations, and musical performances.

For more information on Bloomington’s farmers market, check out their website.

Become a grill master

Backyard barbecues do not have to mean burgers, hot dogs, and ribs. There are a variety of different health benefits that come with grilling low-fat meats and vegetables that are flavorful and easy on the waistline. Wrap fresh and seasonal vegetables in tin foil or throw them directly on the grill for a delicious, smoky flavor. Prepare a marinade ahead of time and let your chicken, beef, or vegetables marinate overnight before throwing them on the grill. And don’t forget to get moving while you’re grilling. Toss a Frisbee around or kick a ball with your kids as you prepare dinner for the family.

For good summer grilling ideas, check out Cooking Light’s quick and easy grill recipes.

Make time to move

Physical activity can have immediate and long-term health benefits, such as increased energy levels, mood boosts, and a reduced risk of chronic diseases. Take advantage of the warm summer weather and start your own personal exercise routine. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try new things. Take a yoga class, go on a hike, or bike the constitution trail. Too hot outside? Choose a water workout and make a splash as you get fit and strong or beat the heat with an early morning workout. Get your family active by visiting a museum, zoo, or aquarium and walk for miles before you even realize it.

Do you want to start a new exercise routine but aren’t sure where to start? Campus Recreation at offers a variety of different fitness classes, such as HIIT, cycling, and total body strength workouts, in addition to personal training session. Browse through the fitness options at today!

Adventure outdoors

Summer is the perfect time to go outside and play. In a world that lives fast-paced, it is easy to forget to take stop and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. There are a variety of health benefits associated with spending time in the sunshine. Previous research indicates that individuals who spend more time outdoors have a better mindset. They are more relaxed, have more energy, and overall a better mood. In addition, sunlight is one of the best sources of vitamin D, a vitamin that has many roles in our body and is essential for optimal health. Stop scrolling through pictures of your friend’s outdoor adventures and spend a little extra time outside today. Plan a weekend hike through a park, organize a family softball game, or have a picnic with your kids on the playground. The options are endless.

For a list of summer activities that the whole family can participate in, check out cheap summer activities for kids.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

As the temperature soars, it is important to maintain a proper hydration status. An easy rule to stay hydrated is to guzzle a glass of cold ice water every meal.  Not only does this ensure that you are drinking enough water, but it will also help you eat fewer calories and keep your body weight in check. Additionally, sweating is a major contributor to dehydration, and it is important to make sure you are drinking extra water when exercising. Don’t like drinking water? Try adding fresh fruit, such as lemons, limes, oranges, or berries, or a splash of natural fruit juice to infuse your water with a little extra flavor.

Not sure how much water you should be drinking every day? The Mayo Clinic outlines basic guidelines on how to maintain a proper hydration status.

Making you a priority

As your schedule begins to fill with backyard barbecues, pool play dates, and other warm weather festivities, don’t forget to take time for you this summer. This summer is the perfect opportunity for you to start practicing new healthy habits that will lead to a lifestyle of healthy living. Take advantage of the seasonal produce and throw some vegetables on the grill for a delicious side dish. Beat the heat and start your morning with a brisk walk outside in the fresh air. And don’t forget to drink extra water as the temperatures continue to climb. This is your summer to make your well-being a priority!

About Health Promotion and Wellness

Health Promotion and Wellness provide wellness information, services, and programming to students, faculty, staff, and the Illinois State community addressing a variety of topics such as sleep, stress management, nutrition, physical activity, and violence prevention. People living, learning, and working in a safe and healthy environment are more likely to reach their highest potential. For more information, visit Wellness.IllinoisState.edu or stop by 187 McCormick Hall.