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Summer wellness

By Michelle Fortune

Healthcare Umbrella

Summer is in full force here in Western NC! The rising temperatures and humidity are not my favorite thing to endure but there are lots of things I love about this time of year. Summer serves as a time that I can enjoy the bounty of fresh vegetables, the delight of seeing hummingbirds visit the feeders and the bursts bright blooms in the pots on my deck. I start to spruce up my outdoor living space as I know I will spend time out there eating strawberries on the deck, watching all the birds and reading! It definitely brings a sunny tilt to my attitude to do those things! Summer also marks the time that I have chosen to take care of many of my annual health and wellness tune ups; sprucing up my health just like I do my yard!

I find that since I do these check ups each summer, it makes it much easier for me to remember to schedule them to ensure that my screenings stay up to date. There are many of these that St Luke’s provides and I hope, like me, you will choose to utilize our services. Mammograms, Bone Density Tests, Annual Physical or wellness visit, Prostate exams and GYN visit are all examples of things that you may complete on a reoccurring schedule. Making those primary care appointments and doing your summer spruce up is a great investment in keeping your health on track the whole year through so please don’t neglect these important appointments.

The other mile marker that summer is for me is the ability to take a hard look at my diet and exercise progress. The bounty of fresh vegetables that are available from our farmer’s markets encourages me to step away from processed foods and bad habits I might have picked up over the winter and pulls me back to the healthy food that fuels my body and keeps it healthy. I would urge you to take a look at your dietary intake this summer and see where you might need to make adjustments. Put down those chips and pick up some fresh cucumbers instead! Hopefully, those new, healthy habits you start this summer will carry over the rest of the year and next summer season you will have less changes to make!

Also, each summer, I set a goal for exercise and physical activity that I want to achieve over the next year. I think of it like the canning process that so many people employ to put up fresh veggies from their gardens. Their planning ahead allows them to enjoy the bright taste of summer long after the winter boots have replaced the flip flops. This process lets me plan ahead for some benefit or result I want to achieve in the future. Sometimes it is taking yoga classes to improve my flexibility, signing up for an Aerobics class in a local gym to ensure I am strengthening my cardiac health, committing to run a race and getting a training plan in place to build up my leg strength or starting something new that I haven’t participated in before like cycling to cross train and strengthen my core.

Often, the things I try become activities that I enjoy so much I continue them beyond that one year. This year, I am planning to run a marathon. This will be the second time that I complete a marathon if this endeavor is successful. I have started my training plan and I have about 7 months to get ready for this big event. Whatever your goals are, big or small, I hope you will take this season to set a plan for being more active and improving your health. Start small. Perhaps you could consider committing to walk three times per week or performing stretching exercises on a daily basis if you are just getting started. If you already exercise, maybe it is possible for you to raise the bar a little by planning to train for a 5K or 8K (we will have a great one this fall!). If you already exercise regularly, this could be the season that you decide to try something new to crosstrain or increase your level of physical fitness. Exercise has so many health benefits and you will reap them in the seasons ahead!

As we all continue to strive for better health, remember, we are here for you! Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn or visit our website at SaintLukesHospital.com. We are eager to hear from you, to connect with you and to serve you.

Michelle Fortune can be contacted at Michelle.Fortune@slhnc.org.