Your Healthy Summer

The official start of summer is around the corner. Warmer, longer days usually mean squeezing in as much activity as possible. That’s why now is the perfect time to take stock of your health and strive for improvements.

Start out in the right direction by heading outdoors. According to a study from Environmental Science & Technology, just 5 minutes of activity in natural areas resulted in improvements in self-esteem and mood. Also, an article on the American Society of Landscape Architects website reports that, in 1984, researcher E. O. Wilson coined the term Biophilia, which suggests outdoor preferences are an evolutionary response and there is an intuitive link between nature and well-being. For many, Biophilia explains the stress reduction connected to gardening, so it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get busy. IMG_0193Plant a small garden and if space is limited plant a few flower pots—indoors and out. Enthusiasts will confirm there is something cathartic and grounding about feeling the crumbly soil trickle through your hands. 

You may also want to try skipping the gym and  embrace green exercise by hiking, cycling, walking, roller blading or swimming. Both your brain and body will feel revitalized after breathing in fresh air and observing nature.

While out in the summer sun, remember to shield your eyes from intense rays with sunglasses that block at least 99% of ultraviolet A and B rays. Sunglasses can also help prevent cataracts as well as wrinkles around the eyes. The thing is, the closer you travel toward the equator, the harsher the sun’s UV rays, so all types of sun protection can be powerful tools.

Other healthy summer suggestions include taking advantage of California’s summer crops by loading up on seasonal berries. A cup a day of blackberries, blueberries, or strawberries will provide a healthy dose of fiber and antioxidants. The fiber helps keep cholesterol low and may help to prevent some cancers, while the antioxidants may help prevent damage to tissues and reduce the risks of age-related illnesses.

When entertaining, acknowledge the fact that food-borne bacteria thrive in warm weather. The picnic-without-food-poisoning rule-of-thumb is that no food should be left out for four total hours then eaten. Food should only be out in the sun two hours max, and if it’s
90 degrees or hotter, cut that to one hour.

You won’t be able to enjoy summer picnics and parties if your teeth and gums aren’t in top condition. Your dental hygienist isn’t wasting her breath when she goes into floss sermon mode. Do it every day. According to several dental associations, flossing reduces oral bacteria, which improves overall body health, and if oral bacteria is low, your body has more resources to fight bacteria elsewhere.

Ultimately, embrace your summer and take a vacation—or even a staycation. Studies have shown multiple benefits from R & R including lowering your blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones such as cortisol, which contributes to a thick waist and an increased risk of heart disease.

To verify the license of a dental hygienist, visit the Dental Hygiene Committee of California’s website at www.dhcc.ca gov; for an optometrist, visit the Board of Optometry website at www.optometry.ca.gov, and for a Landscape Architect, visit the Landscape Architects Technical Committee’s website at www.latc.ca.gov.

April: Paying Tribute to Lawns and Landscapes

Green is in again. This year’s tremendous rainstorms have brought back to life lawns, trees, flowers, and the like. With yards thriving again, what better time to celebrate lawn care and landscape architecture?

April is National Lawn Care Month, which emphasizes the importance of natural grass’ environmental and health benefits. According to the National Association of LandscapeProfessionals (NALP), healthy lawns and landscapes can help clean the air, minimize noise, protect water sources from unhealthy runoff, and act as natural coolants. However, despite America’s love of lawns—an NALP survey reported that 78 percent of U.S. adults maintain a lawn and/or landscaping—the majority of us don’t understand how to properly care for them. For example, one in three doesn’t understand how often a lawn should be watered and 64 percent mistakenly think that all grass needs to fertilized in the spring. To learn more about how to maintain a healthy lawn, visit NLAP’s website at www.landscapeprofessionals.org.

This month is also World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM), which pays tribute to the profession of landscape architecture and designed public and private spaces. Sponsored by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the month-long celebration recognizes work from landscape architects all over the world—from the High Line in New York City and gardens in Estonia to your own yard or local park—and showcases how landscape architecture affects our daily lives. Follow ASLA’s Instagram, which shows a variety of perspectives on landscape architecture. Find out more about WLAM at .

If you’re looking to get some professional work done in your own yard, be sure to check the license of a landscape architect first by going to the Landscape Architects Technical Committee website at www.latc.ca.gov.