It's summertime again! We can see the excitement in everyone around. Boating, fishing, sun tanning and lazing around the beach, but this is also the perfect season to be focusing on health to look and feel your best during the summer months. Summer can be a time of rest, excitement and fun, but it also ushers in a number of health hazards, if people do not take some simple precautions.
Along with sunny days and warm weather, summer brings the risk of sunburn, allergies, bug bites, and other potential health complications.
Below are a few of my suggestions to have a healthy and fun summer of 2017.
1. Get out, Get Fit.
Summer can be a good time to do some physical activity and get fit, especially if longer days and vacation time offer extra opportunities for leisure.
Walking in the country, or even the city streets, going to a zoo, exploring a nature reserve, biking along the ocean or taking a rowboat ride are all fun summertime activities.
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In places where the summer is very hot, it can be tempting to stay indoors with the air conditioning on. Even then, early morning and late afternoon can be a good time to take a walk.
Physical activity is good for mental health, it can ward off obesity, and it enhances fitness. It is also thought to reduce the risk of breast and other cancers, of psoriasis, it improves cognition in children and older adults, and it leads to better sleep.
But before heading for the great outdoors, whether a walk in the park or a family camping trip, make sure you are protected against some common summer hazards.
2. Eat Right and Stay Healthy.
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy an outdoor meal with friends and family. Refreshing salads, melons, and berries add color and flavor to picnics and cookouts. But because warmer temperatures can easily spoil food, you’ll need to be extra careful.
- Wash hands, utensils, containers, and work surfaces before handling food to prevent harmful bacteria from spreading.
- Cook food the same day as the picnic, not in advance, to give bacteria less time to grow.
- Wash fruit and vegetables before cutting, in case bacteria are present on the rind or peel.
- Keep mayonnaise-based foods and other cold foods in an insulated cooler with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs.
- Throw out leftovers that have been sitting out for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour if the temperature is over 90°F.
And if you’re cooking out, follow these tips for safe, healthy grilling:
- Serve more chicken, fish, and vegetables, and cut back on ground beef, pork, sausage, and hot dogs.
- Defrost and marinate foods in the refrigerator, and don’t reuse marinade that touched raw meat or poultry unless you boil it. Bring one set of plates and utensils for handling raw foods and another for cooked foods to prevent cross-contamination.
- Cooking meat at high temperatures creates chemicals that may raise your cancer risk. Reduce the risk by cleaning charred bits from your grill before cooking and from your food before eating. Line the grill with foil poked with holes. The fat will drip off, but the smoke won’t reach the meat.
3. Sun protection
Sunlight is good for the body. It is an excellent source of vitamin D, and it can enhance mood. However, like many things, too much can be hazardous.
There are two types of sun rays: UVA and UVB.
UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin's layers, and they create a tan that appears quickly then fades. They can also cause serious damage. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin, affecting the connective tissues and blood vessels and leading to a loss of elasticity, wrinkles, and aging.
Spending too long in the sun leads to overexposure of the skin to UVA and UVB rays.
Eventually, these can cause life-threatening skin cancers.
To protect the skin from UVA rays, a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and that has a protective factor of at least SPF 30 is needed.
Its recommended applying a "shot glass" amount from head to toe and reapplying it after swimming or sweating.
For protection from sunburn, it is advisable to use not only sunscreen but also protective clothing, and to stay in the shade.
4. Discover What You Enjoy .
Weights are one of the best ways to make significant physical changes to your body. Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys lifting. The most important determinant of long-term success with fitness is how much you enjoy an activity. Choose something that makes fitness fun for you. Explore new classes and activities to determine which you prefer. As a beginner, almost anything you choose will be challenging, but gains will be made starting your very first week.
5. Stay hydrated: Drink water
In hot weather, it is crucial to drink plenty of water, and to replenish all the fluids that are lost through perspiration.
Drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine are not effective against dehydration. They can increase fluid output, making it harder to be properly hydrated.
Signs of dehydration include:
- Dry mouth
- Little or no urination
- Muscle cramps.
Dehydration can lead to a number of conditions.
Heat exhaustion can cause the following symptoms:
- Cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat
- Heavy sweating
- Dizziness, nausea, and headache
- Weak, rapid pulse and low blood pressure on standing
- Muscle cramps
Wearing lightweight clothing, avoiding direct sunlight, using air conditioning, drinking water, and avoiding heavy meals can help to reduce the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Seizures can result from a lack of electrolytes. Electrolytes send electrical signals from cell to cell. When electrolyte levels fall too low, these signals do not function properly, leading to involuntary muscle contractions.
Cerebral edema may occur when drinking after being dehydrated. The body sends water to the cells, but it can send too much, causing cells to swell and rupture.
Severe dehydration can lead to kidney failure, coma, and death.
When exercising, it is a good idea to carry a drinking bottle with water.
6. Embrace outdoor Challenges.
We all want to live comfortably, but workouts produce the best results when they make a little—or even more than a little—uncomfortable. Your body adapts to changes when you ask more of it than it's used to giving. To make improvements, you must push just outside your comfort zone. Adjust your mindset to seek greater challenges over time, and you'll see your body respond.
Summer stingers include bees, yellowjackets, wasps, and hornets.
When outdoors, especially in warmer climates, it is a good idea to use insect repellent that either contains 30 to 50 percent DEET or up to 15 percent picaridin. According to the Wasps and Sting Prevention website, insect repellant is unlikely to deter wasps, but those containing DEET may help to repel them.
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Bites and stings can lead to allergic reactions and infections.
Tips to prevent insect stings include:
- Keeping windows and doors closed
- Throwing out garbage as often as possible
- Wearing closed toe shoes all the time
- Avoid excessive use of fragrance
- Avoid wearing dark colors or floral prints that may attract wasps
- Contacting a licensed pest professional to deal with infestations.
- If someone is stung and has a reaction, medical help should be sought immediately.
Removing the stinger and washing the area with soap and water can ease the swelling, itching, and pain.
Applying an ice pack or cold cloth and taking ibuprofen or another over-the-counter pain reliever may help. An antihistamine, such as Benadryl, may help to decease the itching and swelling.
Yellowjackets, wasps, and hornets are attracted to backyard barbecues, sweets, and proteins.
Their sting is no more dangerous than that of other stinging insects, but they tend to sting repeatedly. This can pose a serious threat to both adults and children.
8. Get some "ME" Time.
Summer can get chaotic with all the party plans, so make sure you take some down time for yourself. Get a massage, pedicure, or just lay around on your patio with a good book. Don’t feel guilty about taking some time for yourself and taking a rest.
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