Summer time and the temperatures are in the 90s! Yep, it’s July and August in Oregon, which means lots of sunshine and hot temperatures. In this lovely rainy state, when we get to this time of year, we put on our shorts and tank tops and snag any moment we can to take in the warm sun. Getting outside to enjoy the great outdoors, get some fresh air and exercise, and of course taking in a healthy dose of Vitamin D. Summer time is good, as long as you do not overdo the sun exposure.
As lovely and warm as the sunny days are, all that sunshine can cause a lot of skin damage if you are not careful. Sun burns, premature wrinkles, brown “sun” spots, and even cancer are all at a much higher risk during the summer months. To help prevent these harmful side effects of enjoying the sunny days, it is important to always cover up. Remember what you mom always told you before you left the house?
Ok, so I probably did not tell you anything that you already did not know. It is the same old same old that you have heard since childhood, but did you know that covering up is not the only way to help protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun? That’s right, what you put inside of you matters too!
Consuming a healthy diet that is full of natural sun blocking antioxidants will help ensure your body has the best defense against skin cancer. Add carotenoids for their compounds that give vegetables their vibrant and deep colors and acts as a natural sunscreen to plants. These compounds help fight free radicals, that contribute to problems like premature aging and can be a product of unprotected sun exposure. Here is a list of some sun protecting foods that you should add to your daily consumption this summer:
Last month I talked about the importance and health benefits of getting outside and playing. I am glad to see so many people doing just that this summer. Whether that is participating in one of the numerous run/walk races, the obstacle mud races, cycling, hiking, or water sports, everyone seems to be getting outside and becoming more active this summer. Way to go! Interested in finding out about some of these races or some good day hikes in the area? Here are a few links for you to check out:
With the warmer weather people naturally become more active. We are drawn to the outdoors, to getting outside and playing, which is great! I’m sure your doctor has both asked you about your fitness, and told you that you should be doing some form of physical exercise at least 3 times a week. Exercise is great for your mind and body, but what about the other side of staying fit? As we increase our physical activities, we find that we put more stress and tension on ourselves both physically and mentally. We discover more tension and sore muscles, and maybe even fatigue from a weekend warrior event and the heat. We all know that staying fit by being active has numerous health benefits, but how do you maintain this level of staying fit when you’re tired and sore? To balance out your overall health and well-being, you need restorative relaxation too.
Massage Therapy is one of the greatest ways to help you stay fit. Being a LMT, you are probably thinking, of course she suggests getting massages, but in all seriousness, it has been proven time and time again that the healing and restorative effects of massages is one of the best forms to keep you moving and healthy. Receiving regular massages 1 or 2 times a month increases body awareness. (Read my blog back on May 4th about body awareness). It also helps alleviate those sore and achy muscles, increases your flexibility and range of motion, and even helps with the tired and rundown feeling you may be experiencing. Massages work to increase your blood flow to your muscles and joints as it releases opioids into your system, which is your body’s own natural pain killer. When your pain is decreased, your movements become less restricted, and your energy levels increase, you are more likely to keep up with your fitness routines with decreased recovery time. Another added bonus to receiving regular massages, it will help reduce stress and boost your immune system, leading to less illnesses and injuries.
The benefits of staying fit and taking care of your overall well-being does not discriminate by age or physical fitness levels. Young or old, whether you are a competitive athlete, a weekend warrior, an avid walker, or someone who enjoys hitting the golf courses a couple days a week, combining massage with your activities is just a perfect combination to staying healthy and fit this summer.
So remember, with all the hustle and bustle of the summer time fun, all these inspiring walks and races, as well as life's everyday stresses of daily routines, you need to allow your body the time to relax and recover. Your mind, body, and soul needs down time to recover and to keep you healthy, strong, and vibrant. It is part of staying fit. So whether you need to simply relax or if you need some therapeutic work done to help reduce your sore and achy muscles, there is an excellent massage therapist out there that is ready to guide you back to that happy balance to enjoy your life to its fullest.
Stay fit, take care of yourself, and have fun this summer!
Courtney Truax, LMT is a graduate of East West College of the Healing Arts in Portland, Oregon. She is licensed through the Oregon Board of Massage Therapy and a member of the American Massage Therapy Association. She has her own studio massage practice in the heart of downtown Lake Oswego, Oregon.