Welcome to summer! Time to hit the beaches, enjoy the sunshine, take a dip in the pool, and invite friends over for a yummy barbecue.
Summer might mean fun in the sun — and it does! — yet it is important to remember to maintain our health, too.
Don’t let summer get the best of you. Here are three tips that will keep you healthy and energized during this season so the fun can last even longer!
1) Stay hydrated!
We hear this a million times during the season, and it is for a good reason. According to The American Heart Association, getting enough to drink is important when the temperatures rise, and also critical for your heart health.
Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart to pump blood more easily through your blood vessels to the muscles, and helps your muscles work efficiently. When you are hydrated, your heart does not have to work as hard.
Dehydration can be a serious condition that can lead to fatigue, headaches, and even life-threatening heat stroke.
Don’t think that keeping hydrated is only important during exercise. Sitting in the sun on a hot or humid day, even if you aren’t exercising, can also cause your body to need more fluids.
And thirst might not be the best indicator that you need to drink some water — Dr. John Batson of the AHA says that if you get thirsty, you are already dehydrated!
According to Dr. Elson M. Haas from Healthy.net, you should drink at least two to four cups of water when you wake up in the morning, and similar amounts before you go out for activities or exercise. Carry a water bottle with you at all times, and remember to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Fresh fruits and vegetables also have a high water content, so make a point of consuming these foods during hot summer days. This will not only help to keep you cool and hydrated, but will also nourish your body for summertime festivities.
Avoid alcohol or caffeinated drinks that cause you to lose more fluids.
2) Maximize sun protection!
Your mother was right, sun protection is crucial to skin cancer prevention. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, 65 percent of melanoma and 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun.
Sun exposure also speeds up the aging of your skin, causing fine and coarse wrinkles.
Sunscreens can help protect your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. There are two types of ultraviolet radiation — UVA and UVB — and products vary in their ability to protect you from the two.
Try to apply a product that offers at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor). It theoretically prevents the reddening of your skin for about five hours.
Pick a product that is water-resistant, so it doesn’t easily come off when you sweat or get in the water. Use about a handful to protect your body, and reapply every two hours, or after rigorous exercise or swimming.
Broad-spectrum sunscreens can protect your skin from both UVA and UVB.
Don’t just rely on sunscreen! According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, hats are the head’s first line of defense. Boost your sun protection with a hat which has a brim that extends 3 inches or more all the way around. It should shade your face, neck, ears, and even the top of the shoulders.
Five to 10 percent of skin cancers appear on the eyelids, so don’t forget to wear sunglasses that provide full protection against ultraviolet light. Look for a tag that verifies that the glasses block 99-100 percent of UV radiation. Pick a model that covers the eyes, eyelids, and as much of the surrounding area as possible.
Finally, try to stay in the shade during midday hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) when UV rays are strongest, to protect yourself from overexposure.
3) Grill Safe!
With the start of barbecue season, the sun and the heat could bring the danger of foodborne illness. Be extra careful to keep the germs away this season, and always wash your hands before and after handling food.
The CDC recommends that you never let let raw meat, cooked food or cut fresh fruits or vegetables sit at room temperature more than two hours before putting them in the cooler or refrigerator. The time that food can safely be left out is reduced to one hour when the temperature is above 90°F.
To ensure a constant cold temperature, pack plenty of extra ice or freezer packs.
Preheat the coals on your grill for 20 to 30 minutes when grilling, and do not put cooked items back on the same plate that previously held raw food.
Don’t let the heat spoil your party! Take these steps to keep the fun last for longer.
10 Tips to Staying Healthy in Summer. Healthy.net. Retrieved June 21, 2015.
10 Tips to Staying Healthy All Summer Long. Oprah.com. Retrieved June 21, 2015.
Clothing: Our First Line of Defense. Skin Cancer Foundation. Retrieved June 21, 2015. http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/clothing/clothing-our-first-line-of-defense
How to Pick Good Sunglasses. WebMD. Retrieved June 21, 2015.
Staying hydrated - Staying healthy. American Heart Association. Retrieved June 21, 2015.
Stay Safe and Healthy This Summer. Cdc.gov. Retrieved June 21, 2015.
Sunscreen. Skin Cancer Foundation. Retrieved June 21, 2015.
Reviewed June 22, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith