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Summer: Staying Healthy and Cool when the Paddling is Hot

Ever wonder why rashes and river rot get so bad in the summer? It’s not just because you’re spending a lot of time on the water.

The effects of too much heat build up in the body from summertime heat and activity can lead to skin conditions such as rashes, digestive disruptions such as acid reflux, and clashes due to feelings of frustration and anger.

It sucks to have a rash on your face (been there) when there are so many fun gatherings and events on the schedule. It’s also no fun to re-taste your breakfast or dinner while paddling because your digestion is off.

Introducing cooling foods and lifestyle practices during the hot summer months can help reduce the effects of overheating and have you feeling cool as a cucumber.

Here are my top five tips for staying healthy and cool this summer:

Enjoy the water!

This season is great for paddlers, obviously. Be sure to take a dip off your board or kayak as a break, especially if you’re training for a race or paddling hard for a workout. If the water you paddle on is too warm to feel cooling, then take a cool shower when you get home to reduce your body heat to a comfortable temperature. If you’re going out on the water for a workout, do it in the morning or evening to avoid the heat of the day, especially if you’re a type A personality. (Type A = Fiery! Reduce the probability of heat-induced frustration.)

Avoid ice cold water.

Cool or room temp water hydrates our bodies more efficiently. Adding flavor with cooling veggies, fruits and herbs such as cucumber, mint, lime and pomegranate, gives your H2O a little more flair and flavor! It’s super easy to fill a carafe with water in the morning, slice and add half a cucumber and some mint leaves. Let sit and enjoy all day, or put it in your water bottle and take it with you!

mason jar of water with cucumber slices and mint leaves

The cucumber is cooling and fresh. Mint is a fresh herb that’s been used for thousands of years to aid digestion and calm an upset stomach.

Other cooling foods to enjoy in summer time include cilantro, melon, avocado, coconut, berries, beets, broccoli, kale, lettuce, sprouts, summer squash, yogurt, basmati rice and chickpeas. You can also put many of these in a blender

Be still.

For a calm, peaceful and compassionate mind, balance the activity of summer with stillness and relaxation every day. That could look like a 5-minute guided meditation in the morning, a nap in the afternoon, a gentle yoga class, a cup of chamomile tea before bed or a mellow trip to your favorite secluded swimming hole with a friend or partner.

small group laying on paddle boards in the blue ocean

Personally, one of my favorites is floating relaxation pose on my SUP! There’s nothing more calming or relaxing than floating with my fingertips in the water, completely relaxed.

Hot emotions such as frustration, anger and jealousy can thrive in summer months if we’re not careful to balance our lifestyle with cool, calming activities.

Try moon bathing instead of sunbathing.

Always use sun protection and limit your sun exposure during the hottest times of the day. As paddlers we’re already well aware of this lifestyle habit. There’s great SPF 50 layers available and it never hurts to wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. I’m sure you’re already on this, but…

Have you ever heard of moon bathing? According to Ayurveda, the 5000 year old sister science to yoga, moon bathing is an important aspect of balancing the heat of summer. My favorite way to moon bathe is sleeping out under the stars on multi-day wilderness river trips. It can be frustrating for sleep when it’s a full moon, but the upside is that you soak up lots of cooling moonlight.

Multi-days aren’t available or attainable to some, so I also like to sit out on my porch with a good cup of tea as the moon rises. (I may be known for enjoying moonlight skinny dipping once in awhile.)

Go easy on the sauce.

Now the bad news…I apologize in advance to all of you hot sauce lovers! You want to avoid hot, spicy food during the summer months. When you really think about it, it’s obvious right? If you suffer from digestive distress in the summer and you love hot spicy food, try staying away from the hot sauce and see what happens. My bet is you’ll feel a lot better. Save the spicy stuff for the colder months.

Anna’s Summer Green Smoothie Recipe

  • 1 frozen banana
  • Handful berries
  • Half a date
  • Handful kale
  • Handful spinach
  • Small handful parsley
  • 3 ribs of celery chopped
  • 1 TBS Gaia Herbs Maca Boost with cacao and ginger
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • Handful of pumpkin seeds or a few TBS of almond butter or both
  • Water (I eyeball the amount of water - depends on how creamy you want it to be)
  • Splash of coconut or almond milk (adjust to your preference)

Blend and enjoy with a sustainable straw (stainless steel, paper etc… just not single use plastic, please!)

Want to learn more about seasonal diet and lifestyle choices for optimal health? Check out Anna’s Wellness Coaching and Art of Self Care Retreats to live and paddle better! mindbodypaddle.com

drinking glass with green smoothie and straw

With 20+ years of experience as an accomplished whitewater paddler and instructor, NRS Ambassador Anna Levesque is the leading expert on kayak instruction for women and yoga and wellness for paddling, including SUP Yoga.