8 Tips for a Healthy Summer

The heady, sun-drenched days of summer make it tempting to head to the beach, the pool, or the park as often as you can. To get the most out of your time outdoors this summer, it’s important to know how to avoid some common summer health risks.

Here are eight tips from a variety of experts to help you keep your cool and stay healthy all summer long:

  1. Drink up. "Warmer weather means more sweating, especially if you are active. Therefore, you need to increase your intake of fluids," says Nieca Goldberg, MD, director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. Her colleague, Steven Lamm, MD, medical director of Langone’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Men’s Health, suggests aiming to drink two quarts of water over a two to four hour period.
  2. Limit Alcohol. While you may love sipping tropical drinks or downing cold beers on the beach, Lamm stresses that in the summer, alcohol consumption comes with extra risks: "Alcohol may alter perception, as well as impact the body's ability to adjust to heat, regulatory, and compensatory processes," he points out. "It’s also a diuretic, and as such, facilitates dehydration, which can be (especially) detrimental during heat exposure," he adds.
  3. Go under cover. "Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in the United States," says Elizabeth K. Hale, MD, clinical associate professor of the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center. And some forms of skin cancer can be deadly. You can minimize your risk of skin cancer by wearing a broad-spectrum (UVA- and UVB-blocking) sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30 on a daily basis. Hale adds that sunscreen should be worn 365 days a year to protect from the sun’s UVA rays, regardless of the season. "One should also take other sun protective measures, like wearing a hat and sunglasses, and staying in the shade whenever possible," she says. "Sun protective clothing is also very helpful, and certain clothing offers a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) of 50 or higher."
  4. Pace yourself. It can be easy to overdo it in the summer and put yourself at risk of heat exhaustion. That’s why Lamm reminds people to pay attention to environmental conditions, reduce exercise when needed, and increase fluid intake during periods of high exertion. He says that people also need to become acclimated to their environments, so their body temperatures can adjust more effectively. The bottom line: when the weather is especially warm, it’s best to forego strenuous sports, or take them indoors.
  5. Kiss allergens goodbye. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) suggests checking mold and pollen counts before you head outdoors. It’s also wise to keep your home and bedroom windows closed and avoid working in the yard when allergens are common. If your allergy symptoms are troublesome, see your doctor for allergy medications or to find out if you are a good candidate for allergy injections.
  6. Eat regular meals. "It’s never a good idea to skip meals, since this means you’re depriving your body of the energy it needs," says Despina Hyde, a registered dietician and diabetes educator at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. "Skipping meals can cause low blood sugar levels, which leads to shakiness and light headedness. Combine this with the heat, and a person can become very sick," she adds. Lack of food can also contribute to dehydration: "The food we eat also provides fluid, as most foods are comprised of water. It is important to eat consistently throughout the day, combining protein with complex carbs for energy."
  7. Fill up on fruits and veggies. Summer is a great time to take advantage of your local bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables. This will help you to meet the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s guidelines, which include filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables in order to reduce your risk of many chronic diseases. The Fruits and Veggies—More Matters website (in conjunction with the Produce for Better Health Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) provides tips to help you incorporate these important foods into your diet and list the fruits and vegetables in season throughout the year.
  8. Don’t let insects bug you. When the weather heats up, mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas can be out in full force. Since some of them can transmit disease, the CDC recommends protecting yourself with an insect and tick repellent. Also shower after spending time outdoors and do a thorough check for ticks.

Nieca Goldberg, MD, Elizabeth K. Hale, MD, Despina Hyde, RD, and Steven Lamm, MD, of New York University reviewed this article.


  1. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. "Outdoor Allergens: Tips to Remember." Accessed April 24, 2014.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Spring and Summer Outdoor Safety." Accessed April 24, 2014.
  3. "Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Key Recommendations." Fruits and Veggies—More Matters. Accessed April 24, 2014.
  4. NYU Langone Medical Center Experts: Nieca Goldberg, MD, director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health; Elizabeth K. Hale, MD, clinical associate professor of the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology; Despina Hyde, registered dietician and diabetes educator; Steven Lamm, MD, medical director of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Men’s Health. Email interviews April 22, 2014.