Summer is almost here! Students have a few more weeks of classes, the weather is quickly warming up and many of us are thinking about the pool opening. A warm and sunny day can be such a relief after the cold, dark days of winter and snow.

Whether you’re planning a beach vacation, deciding how you’ll keep your kids busy or just looking forward to leaving the house without a coat, summer is a great time to start a healthy routine that you can carry with you into fall.

Summer brings plenty of opportunity to guard your wallet and enhance your life with good habits. Here are a few ideas for a happy, healthy summer.

  1. Preemptive measures – Who doesn’t love a sunny day at the pool? But don’t be so excited that you forget to protect your body. Use sunscreen when you’ll be out in the sun without cover. Protection from the sun’s harmful rays will help prevent skin cancer, keep your skin heathy and youthful and combat the pain of a sunburn. Make sure to stay hydrated with plenty of water and less sugary, caffeinated drinks.
  2. Don’t fall victim to cookouts – Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to cookout season. The warm air, delicious food and good company makes for a great party, but a lot of bad diet decisions. You don’t have to avoid the junk food altogether, just make sure you’re conscious of what you’re eating and what could be a better option. Bring a healthier snack with you to share with friends, try a leaner alternative to your usual go-to entrée or set your limit for what tasty, but less healthy foods you want to eat.
  3. Make a plan – Summer seems to go by quicker than any other season, so make the most of your time! Plan some fun and free activities (more on that below!), try new recipes, set exercise goals or make a list of great books to read. You don’t have to plan out each day of your summer, but set your goals and write down your ideas so the days don’t slip away.
  4. Be active – This one is a no-brainer. Turn off the TV and get outside! You have longer days and warmer weather waiting to be experienced; get out and take advantage of it. Start walking before or after work, go hiking, go for a swim or find a festival in your area with food and shops.
  5. Participate in free activities – There are plenty of free or low-cost activities you can do with your children, your families or on your own. Look at your town’s community calendar for ideas, search the internet for ideas in your city, check out books from the local library, visit a museum, go to the park or volunteer for a cause you care about.

Make healthy and helpful habits part of your routine in the summer, and you’ll be on the path to greater wellbeing when summer winds down.