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21 Summer Wellness Ideas: Tips for a Happy & Healthy Summer

Four individuals in bike helmets biking on the beach.

With warm weather, sunshine, and plenty of outdoor activities, the summer season offers outstanding opportunities to improve your overall health and wellness – and perhaps cross a few items off your summer bucket list at the same time!

Here are 21 research-backed summer wellness tips and ideas to boost your physical, mental, nutritional, financial, and social health at home and in the workplace this summer. 

Summary

1. Have fun (or just relax) in the sun
2. … But don’t forget your sunscreen
3. Stay hydrated
4. Adopt a daily stretching routine
5. Go for daily walks
6. Fire up healthy grilling recipes
7. Do a digital detox
8. Bike to work
9. Try a new sport or activity
10. Meditate daily
11. Watch the sunrise and sunset
12. Participate in 5K or OCR races
13. Take a summer class
14. Read summer books
15. Have a reunion
16. Practice grounding techniques
17. Start a garden
18. Summer savings
19. Travel
20. Volunteer
21. Get your ZZZ’s

1. Have Fun (or Just Relax) in the Sun

Get outdoors often, even if just to relax in a hammock or chaise lounger. If possible, seek opportunities to work outdoors. For example, if your workplace has an outdoor break area, you could work from your laptop at a patio table. 

Simply being in the great outdoors offers significant health benefits, according to the University of California (UC Davis), including: 

  • Improved mental health
  • Better concentration and focus
  • A more relaxed mind
  • Lower heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels
  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Higher Vitamin D levels

2. … But Don’t Forget your Sunscreen

Sunscreen is a must-have in the summer, even on overcast days since UV rays can penetrate the clouds. In fact, Stanford Medicine states that UVB rays – which cause sunburns and potentially skin cancer – are 400 times more intense during the summer months. 

Person sitting in the sand rubbing sunscreen on their leg.

Summer self-care is crucial, so protect yourself by following these CDC guidelines for sunscreen: 

  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has a minimum 15 SPF
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours
  • You should also reapply sunscreen after sweating or swimming

RELATED: How Wellness Programs Can Prevent Chronic Diseases

3. Stay Hydrated

Hydration is critical to staying well during the summer months, when you can lose up to two quarts of water per hour of activity – and up to three quarts during intense activities such as running and hiking (Johns Hopkins Medicine). Moreover, losing just 10% of body water puts you at risk of serious dehydration (The Atlantic). 

According to Harvard Health, proper hydration offers multiple benefits, from carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells and aiding digestion to normalizing blood pressure and regulating body temperature. 

Follow these tips to stay hydrated throughout hot summer days:

  • The University of Wisconsin recommends men drink 13 cups of water a day and women drink 9
  • During extreme heat, the CDC says you should drink one cup (8 oz.) of water every 15 to 20 minutes
  • Avoid energy drinks and alcohol, which can dehydrate you

RELATED: 5 Unique Ways to Help Employees Drink More Water

4. Adopt a Daily Stretching Routine

Regular stretching offers myriad benefits, including improved flexibility, better balance, and injury prevention (Harvard Health). Studies have even shown that routine stretching is associated with a lower risk of death.

Implement a daily stretching routine this summer to enjoy these wellness benefits. Here are some helpful resources to help you get the most out of your stretching routine:

5. Go for Daily Walks

Walking is one of the most beneficial summer wellness tips we can offer. Per the National Heart Association, walking at a brisk pace for at least 150 minutes a week helps you think and feel better and can: 

  • Reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer
  • Increase energy levels and bone strength
  • Improve mental and emotional wellness
  • Prevent weight gain
  • Improve blood pressure and cholesterol

Walking can even boost your memory and reduce depression risk – an important factor given 10% of people with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) experience it during summer months. 

RELATED: 50 Office Fitness Challenges

6. Fire Up Healthy Grilling Recipes

Summer BBQs are a favorite activity. However, fatty meats and sugary sauces can have negative health consequences. This year, enjoy summer cookouts with a wellness twist when you opt for healthy grilling recipes. Here are some recipes to help you plan a healthy cookout:

Close up of vegetable ka bobs on a grill.

7. Do a Digital Detox

It’s tough to avoid screen time when we’re cooped up indoors all winter long, but summer provides the perfect opportunity for a digital detox. Benefits include: 

  • Better focus and productivity
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Better sleep

A digital detox also frees time to spend with your friends and family and on your favorite non-screen activities. 

If you can’t (or don’t want to) take a break from your phone, you can alternatively marry the ideas of “digital” and “detox” for healthy activities. Ideas include listening to audiobooks on your daily walks and taking outdoor fitness audio classes. 

Woman sitting on a curb reading outside.

RELATED: Digital Wellness for a Digital World

8. Bike to Work

In addition to obvious physical benefits, studies have shown that biking to work offers significant summer mental health benefits (Forbes), including: 

  • Higher energy levels
  • Reduced stress
  • Productivity and innovation boosts

Moreover, people who bike to work report greater job satisfaction and enjoy financial benefits: around $2,500 saved annually by not driving and, interestingly, bicycle commuters tend to earn an average of $15,000 more per year than their peers (Forbes). 

If it’s not feasible to bike to work, you can substitute by biking to other places you need to go every week: the bank, grocery store, post office, and local pool, for example. 

Use these resources to find biking trails in your area: 

9. Try a New Sport or Activity

Summer is the perfect season to try a new sport or activity, which can boost personal wellness via physical, mental, and social benefits. Ideas include:

  • Swimming laps or just going to the pool with your kids
  • Hiking
  • Pickleball
  • Disc golf
  • Kayaking
  • Outdoor yoga
Man and woman laughing and talking while running in a 5k race.

You can also join a sports league or hold a workplace volleyball, softball, or pickleball tournament. Studies have shown that adults who participate in sports enjoy improved mental health and social outcomes, and team sports are even more beneficial than solo sports (National Library of Medicine). 

RELATED: 28 Corporate Wellness Ideas and Activities

10. Meditate Daily

Meditation offers myriad wellness benefits, and during the summer, you can meditate outdoors to immerse yourself in the sun’s warmth and the sounds of the season. 

Meditation has been shown to foster mental wellness via stress management, greater creativity, and reduced negative feelings (Mayo Clinic). It can also improve physical wellness through lowered blood pressure, better sleep, and improved immune system and anti-inflammatory response (National Library of Medicine). 

Get started with these free guided meditation resources: 

11. Watch the Sunrise and Sunset

Studies have shown that watching sunrises and sunsets can trigger a feeling of awe, which in turn can improve your mood, foster positive emotions, and promote social behavior – all valuable factors in enhancing overall wellbeing (Science Daily). 

Person in a hammock in the forest watching the sunset.

If you live in a hot climate or can’t spend much time outside during peak sun hours, you can swap sunrises and sunsets for stargazing. Check out these helpful resources: 

12. Participate in 5K or OCR Races

It’s well-known that 5K and obstacle course racing (OCR) offer physical benefits, but did you know they can also provide a mental and social wellness boost?

Both types of races require training, so you can train alongside friends and coworkers. Post-race celebrations are wonderful social scenes, and the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when you achieve your goals (whether beating your best time or simply finishing) can do wonders for your mental health. 

Find 5K and OCR races near you at:

RELATED: Easy Ideas for Increased Fitness in the Workplace

13. Take a Summer Class

This is one of our favorite summer wellness tips: summer classes allow you to unleash your creativity and learn new skills in social settings – indoors or out. Take a summer class to make new social connections and earn a sense of accomplishment, contributing to your mental, emotional, and social wellness. 

Blonde woman painting a canvas outside during a painting class.

Summer-themed ideas include: 

  • Plein air painting classes
  • Outdoor photography classes
  • Rock climbing or rappelling classes
  • Yoga classes
  • Kayaking classes

14. Read Summer Books

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have shown that reading stimulates neural pathways in the brain, improving memory and cognitive function (Nuvance Health). Reading can also reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve the quality of your sleep. There’s even a link between reading and longevity.

Clearly, reading is a fantastic summer wellness idea, as it’s an excellent time to catch up on the latest bestselling novels or self-improvement books – whether you prefer traditional paper books, e-readers, or audio books. 

  • Take books to the porch, patio, pool, or beach
  • Join a summer library book club for adults
  • Start (or join) a book group at work

15. Have a Reunion

Summer is a great time to reunite with old friends and classmates or attend your annual family reunion. Social connections are important for overall wellness. According to the American Psychological Association:

  • People who maintain friendships are happier with their lives
  • Adult friendships can help prevent depression and anxiety
  • Even keeping up with acquaintances offers wellness benefits, influencing happiness

16. Practice Grounding Techniques

In the sphere of wellness, “grounding” can refer to two different practices. In the first, grounding (or “earthing”) is when your skin directly contacts the surface of the earth. Fascinating research published by the National Library of Medicine reveals that this type of grounding can:

  • Reduce pain and inflammation
  • Accelerate healing
  • Relieve stress
  • Improve sleep

It’s the perfect excuse to go barefoot in your backyard!

Grounding can also refer to therapeutic techniques designed to reduce anxiety. One popular method is the 5-4-3-2-1 technique, which can help you cope with anxiety. Read the full explanation by the University of Rochester Medical Center, which walks you through the process of acknowledging:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can touch
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

RELATED: Unique Ways to Reduce Stress Levels in the Workplace

17. Start a Garden (or Shop at a Farmer’s Market)

Gardening is a wonderful wellness activity that offers multiple benefits, per The Ohio State University:

  • Gardening stimulates the brain
  • May reduce risk of dementia by 50%
  • Increases cytokine levels, which activate serotonin (the “feel-good” hormone) and improves mood

Moreover, gardening is a fantastic way to get daily exercise and makes it easy to improve your diet with fresh, pesticide-free vegetables. It can also contribute to financial wellness, as it’s cheaper to grow your food than buy it at the store. 

Woman in overall shorts watering her vegetables with a watering can.

If you don’t have space for a garden at home consider starting or joining a community or workplace garden, which also lends social wellness benefits. Or buy fresh, locally grown produce at a nearby farmer’s market. Either way, check out this grilled vegetable recipe to make healthy and tasty summer dish.

18. Summer Savings

Even though we often spend on seasonal vacations and activities, summer can be a great time to address financial health:

  • If traveling, take advantage of credit card points to get free hotel stays and discounted flights
  • Use coupon sites for ongoing savings all summer long
  • Think ahead and start a Christmas fund or begin saving for next year’s vacation – a little saved every week can save for big gifts or trips down the road

RELATED: Financial Wellness Programs in the Workplace: A Comprehensive Guide

19. Travel

Summer is known as vacation season, but did you know traveling offers wellness benefits? According to Harvard Business Review, traveling can: 

  • Unclutter your mind and boost creativity
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve your mood

That might seem like common sense, but consider this: one study found that women who took vacation less than once every six years were eight times more likely to develop heart problems than those who went on vacation twice a year (HBR). It’s no wonder that outdoor therapy is a new travel trend, as explained by National Geographic

If traveling isn’t in the cards this year, you can opt for a staycation instead. Take time off work and make your vacation come to you in the form of backyard movies, watching an educational documentary series, or even reliving the halcyon days of your youth by lounging in a blow-up pool and enjoying some popsicles with friends and family.

20. Volunteer

Volunteering is a meaningful activity that also contributes to your wellness. According to South Dakota State University, volunteering benefits include better physical health, reduced anxiety and depression, a sense of purpose, and cultivating relationships. 

Two men assisting and older woman with sweeping and picking up trash while they volunteer.

Here are a few summer volunteering opportunities to consider:

  • Work volunteer days where employees pick a cause and everyone chips in
  • Environmental clean-up
  • Children’s summer camps
  • Fundraiser events (festivals, car washes, etc.)
  • Planting trees
  • Community gardens
  • Local, state, and national park volunteer opportunities

RELATED: How to Create Corporate Wellness Programs for Millennials

21. Get Your ZZZ’s

As activity-packed as summer is, it’s still important to get your sleep. Most people should aim for seven hours of sleep each night, as sleep restores your body’s cells and removes toxins (University of Wisconsin). 

Per UC Davis, sleep also promotes: 

  • Heart health
  • A healthy weight
  • Reduced injury risk
  • Learning and memory
Two people hanging feet over a ledge after a hike.

Wellness is an important summer theme at home and at work. WellSteps offers a bevy of resources designed to promote summer wellness, including daily and weekly step and hydration challenges, healthy recipes, and activity tracking for sunscreen application and shopping local farmers markets. Our wellness program makes it fun with gamification plus social features that allow participants to post and comment on each other’s pics and videos. Learn more about our workplace wellness programs and schedule a demo today.