Summertime is a great opportunity to get outside and enjoy the warm weather. However, if you have Lyme disease or are worried about contracting it, it can be tricky to find outdoor activities that don’t compromise your health.
In this blog post, we will share some fun and educational summer activities that you can do without worrying about your Lyme disease symptoms!
Why Caution Matters When Enjoying Outdoor Summer Activities
The summer is arguably the best time of the year to enjoy the wonders of nature and spend some time outdoors with friends and family (especially if you have kiddos enjoying summer break after the end of the school year).
Plus, science shows that spending time outdoors can do wonders for your mental health, especially when it comes to cortisol (i.e. stress) levels.
If you suffer from Lyme disease, though, you know that it can be difficult to find activities that don’t exacerbate your symptoms. With that in mind, it’s important to choose outdoor hobbies that are fun and educational while still being gentle on the body and mind.
After all, you want to be able to soak in the sun while keeping joint pain, fatigue, aches, rashes, and more in check.
Helpful Tips on Staying Safe While Enjoying the Outdoors All Summer Long
Before we present our list of some of the best ways to have a blast during the summer, it’s a good idea to cover some general advice that applies to pretty much every activity we’re about to list.
We encourage students, parents, and everyone in between to follow these guidelines.
Protection and Avoidance
- Wear protective clothing, such as long pants, hats, and closed-toed shoes to protect yourself from the sun and any ticks that may be present.
- Use bug spray with DEET or other active ingredients to reduce your risk of tick exposure.
- Avoid areas where ticks are known to live (e.g. tall grasses) whenever possible.
- Carry an emergency kit with you during outdoor activities in case something unexpected happens.
Protect Your Body
- Check for ticks after spending time outdoors and take a shower afterward—this will help wash off any remaining bugs before they can attach themselves.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of water or electrolyte-rich sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade.
- Apply sunscreen with SPF 15+ regularly throughout the day as needed—especially if you’re out in direct sunlight for extended periods of time!
If you keep these tips in mind while doing any or all of the awesome activities below, you’ll have a summer full of fun yet safe memories to cherish for years to come.
Fun Summer Learning Activities That Won’t Compromise Your Health
While the worst symptoms of Lyme disease may inhibit you from enjoying some activities, you still have plenty of options for having loads of summer fun.
1. Bird Watching
Bird watching represents a perfect blend of light physical activity, mental stimulation, and socialization—all without having to worry about overexerting yourself.
By scouting for birds in their natural habitats and trying to identify them by their colors, shapes, sizes, songs, and behaviors, you’re essentially playing a game of nature-themed hide-and-seek!
To get started, you’ll need a pair of binoculars (or just use your eyes) and a bird guidebook (you can find them at the local library). With these tools, you can spot birds and learn more about the different types of birds in your area.
And if you want to make your bird-watching a social event, consider inviting your friends and family to join you or go out with a local birding club!
2. Hiking Trails
Hiking trails can be a great way to get out in nature and enjoy the sunshine without compromising your health. You can choose your own pace and can hike alone or with a friend.
When hiking with Lyme disease, it’s important to take precautions such as choosing easy trails that are not too strenuous, wearing proper clothing and shoes, avoiding areas with high concentrations of ticks, and carrying an emergency kit just in case.
The main thing to remember when hiking is to know your limits and listen to your body. If you can handle even a long trail without fatigue or aches, go for it!
Once you start feeling tired, however, sit down, take a break to rest and enjoy the scenery around you, and determine if you need to double back to the trailhead.
When you stargaze, you look up at the night sky and try to spot stars, planets, meteors, and other celestial objects. It’s a fun way to learn about the universe without putting too much strain on your body.
Like many of the other items on this list, stargazing can also be a social activity. Perhaps you could host a stargazing party and have your whole family enjoy snacks while lying out in your backyard to observe the heavens.
4. Gardening and Planting Flowers
One of the perks of gardening is that it allows people of all fitness and activity levels to spend ample time outside without risking overexertion. Gardening is also an educational and rewarding hobby.
When you garden, you learn about plants and how they grow as well as gain a sense of accomplishment by seeing your hard work come to fruition (literally!).
Plus, it’s a great way to brighten up your outdoor space with colorful flowers and plants. And if you plant a vegetable or herb garden, you can spruce up your at-home cooking with homegrown food!
5. Swimming in Natural Bodies of Water
Swimming outdoors is a great way to stay cool in the midst of the summertime heat. Plus, swimming in a safe, clean body of water can be a real blast!
Just be sure to follow safety guidelines for swimming in open water, such as swimming with a friend (how else can you play games like “Marco Polo”?), wearing a life jacket, paying attention to both current and upcoming weather conditions, and avoiding alcohol immediately before jumping in.
Few activities shout “summer” more than spreading out a checkered picnic blanket and enjoying a spread of sandwiches, egg salads, fresh fruit, and other lip-smacking goodies. For this reason, picnicking is perhaps the ultimate outdoor summer activity.
You can even make your picnics a bit more educational by helping your kids learn about local plants and wildlife while they snack. From identifying birds to spotting insects, you can turn your picnic (complete with a Lyme disease-friendly menu!) into an outdoor learning experience!
In case you’ve never had the pleasure of geocaching, just know that it is like a treasure hunt or a nature scavenger hunt. Participants use GPS devices to search for containers that have been hidden outdoors by other players.
Once you find the cache, you write your code name in the hidden box’s logbook, and you get to keep any small trinkets that the hider left in their cache! Typically, you exchange the “prize” with a small trinket of your own (a “take a penny, leave a penny” approach, if you will).
As long as you avoid tick-heavy areas and remind yourself of your limits regarding wilderness exploration, geocaching is a great way to explore the outdoors during summer in a fun, educational, and safe manner. Plus, you just might find some cool stuff!
8. Kayaking or Canoeing
If you have Lyme disease, you can still go kayaking or canoeing during the summer. Before you do, make sure you take some precautions so that your health is not impacted.
- Wear clothing and shoes that will protect your skin from the sun and bugs.
- Make sure to choose a safe body of water and follow safety guidelines while out on the water.
- Bring an emergency kit in case something happens while kayaking or canoeing.
With a friend sharing the canoe or kayak, you can paddle the waters and enjoy the scenery without overexerting yourself.
9. Exploring Nature by Bicycle
Bike rides are a great way to explore nature and have some summer fun while also staying safely in one piece. Bicycling is a great way to stay in shape while placing minimal impact on your muscles and joints.
Like with some of the other activities we’ve talked about, including hiking and swimming, just pay attention to your body’s limits and stick to routes you can handle.
Fishing is a great outdoor summer activity for everyone, including people with Lyme disease. It gives you the opportunity to relax in the sunshine and learn about different kinds of fish and how to catch them.
If you’re an avid fisher, you can even teach others about the best baits, casting methods, and ways to spot a fishing hole. Having your kids learning beside you can add a whole new dimension to the fishing hobby.
Fishing blends brief exertions of physical activity with long periods of silent meditation in the middle of nature.
Enjoy Your Summer Vacation!
Whether it’s stargazing, gardening or planting flowers, swimming in natural bodies of water, picnicking, geocaching, kayaking or canoeing, exploring nature by bicycle, or fishing – there are plenty of ways to stay safe while having a blast outdoors this summer. You could even book a SwellWomen surfing yoga retreat to Maui or France this summer.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make the most of your summer!