Summer is a popular season for spending time outdoors. The warm weather makes it easier to go outside and enjoy nature, sports, and other activities.
There are many benefits to being outdoors. Fresh air is invigorating while sunlight is a great source of vitamin D. When ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit the skin, it turns cholesterol into vitamin D, which helps the body absorb and retain phosphorus and calcium. Both are essential for bone health. Studies have also shown that vitamin D can reduce inflammation and help manage infections.
The hospitable weather also encourages many women to get more exercise. It’s much easier to go for a walk when you don’t have to bundle up or navigate through snow and ice.
The summer brings many benefits, but it’s also important to make sure you enjoy them safely and with your health in mind. Spending too much time outside under the sun and in the heat can be dangerous.
What can you do to fully enjoy the summer season without putting your health at risk?
Eat a Healthy Diet to Nourish Your Body
Eating a healthy diet should be an all-year-long health habit, but it is especially important in the summer. Choose fresh foods that are good for you, like fruits and vegetables. Make sure you are getting adequate protein through healthy sources like beans, nuts, yogurt, fish, and poultry.
Many women spend more time doing physical activities during the summer. Your body needs energy to keep up, and that starts with a nutritious diet.
Summer is also a time when more produce is in season, so it’s often less expensive and easier to find. If you want something sweet, consider trying fruit instead of candy or baked goods. Berries, plums, and kiwis are a great choice.
Drink Enough Fluids to Stay Hydrated in the Heat
Hydration is essential if you are spending time out in the summer heat. Make sure you are getting enough water before and while you are outside.
The average person is advised to drink around two liters or eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. That should increase to around two and a half liters during the summer months. Water is your safest bet because it doesn’t contain sugars, caffeine, or alcohol. It will help cool you off and give your body the moisture it needs.
If you are doing moderate or intensive physical activity, you may need to increase your fluid intake.
Make sure you pack enough water if you plan on camping, hiking, or going to the beach. This is especially important if you are in an area that doesn’t have easy access to a clean water source.
Plan Physical Activities During Cooler Hours
The temperature tends to increase as the sun moves through the sky. The hottest hours are usually after noon and closer to 3 pm. This may vary from one region to another. This is not the best time to do physical activity outdoors.
If you can, schedule your exercise or physical activities during the cooler parts of the day, specifically in the morning or closer to the evening. The cooler it is, the less likely you are to experience heat stroke.
Keep in mind that even if it isn’t 3 pm, you can still experience heat-related illness. Pay close attention to what your body is telling you and make sure you are staying hydrated and giving yourself adequate breaks to cool off.
Put on Sunglasses if You are Prone to Migraines
Extreme weather conditions can cause some women to get migraines. This can be an extremely painful experience that makes it impossible to function until it passes.
If you are prone to migraines, make sure you protect yourself from summertime triggers. Bright light, like sunlight, can cause problems. There is a link between swelling in the eye that’s commonly linked to light sensitivity and migraines.
Some women are more sensitive to light, but even if you aren’t, excessive exposure can lead to a migraine. Be proactive to prevent the problem so you can enjoy more of your time this season.
Wear Sunscreen and Reapply as Needed
Sunscreen is a must if you are going to be outdoors. Make sure you use an SPF 30 or better broad spectrum sunscreen that is reapplied at least every two hours. This will help protect you from the UVB rays that cause sunburn.
The FDA no longer allows sunscreen to be called “waterproof.” Instead, it can be labeled as “water resistant” which usually works for 40 to 80 minutes. You will still need to reapply whether you have been swimming or not.
Cover all exposed skin adequately. Frequently missing the same spots can increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
Stay Away from Skin Irritants Like Poison Ivy
Nature is beautiful, but it is also full of hazards. Skin irritants like poison ivy and poison oak can cause uncomfortable problems. While they aren’t usually life-threatening, the allergic reaction to these substances will make it more difficult to enjoy the season.
If you are concerned about irritants, wear long sleeves and pants. You can also try a barrier skin cream like lotion with bentoquatum. Know what native plants look like so you can identify them before you touch them. Stay on walkways and clear trails and do not wander into brush or deep forest areas that are unkempt.
After spending time in an area that may have plants like poison ivy, you can remove all clothing and take a cool or lukewarm shower. Hot showers are not recommended because they open pores, giving the urushiol that causes the reaction a chance to be absorbed into your skin.
Also, remember that pets who brush up against these plants can carry the oil on their fur. It might not bother them, but it will still cause a reaction in humans. If your pet has been out in the woods around poison ivy or similar plants, give them a bath while wearing rubber gloves.
Know the Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is a serious concern during the summertime. There is no set length of time required to start to experience symptoms. Many variables are at play, like how hot it is, how much activity you have done, how hydrated you are, and if you have related health conditions.
Make sure you know the symptoms of heat exhaustion, so you know when to seek help if needed. The most common symptoms include:
- Increased body temperature
A rapid pulse and cramps in the stomach, legs, and arms are also signs that you need to cool off immediately. Other symptoms include confusion, loss of appetite, and clammy skin.
Prevent Insect Bites While Spending Time in Nature
Depending on where you live, bug bites may be more of an annoyance than a serious risk. However, it’s important to remember that mosquitoes and similar insects can carry disease. It’s best to prevent bites as much as possible.
One effective method is to apply an insect repellent and avoid wearing fragrances or using scented soaps that may attract bugs.
Avoid spending time near heavily wooded areas or stagnant water. Wearing long sleeves and pants will provide a solid barrier as well.
If you are bit, anti-itch cream and ice packs can help reduce discomfort and swelling.
Check Yourself for Ticks After Hiking
Ticks are a serious concern for people and animals in the summer. Ticks are notorious for carrying Lyme, which is an inflammatory disease that can cause arthritis as well as neurological and cardiac disorders.
Wearing long sleeves and covering exposed skin will help stop ticks from biting. Wear shoes or boots that cover your feet and tuck pant legs into socks or shoes so ticks can’t climb underneath.
Avoid walking through areas with long grasses or vegetation. If you’re camping, that means staying on trails and avoiding going into the deeper forest. Ticks also gather in beach grasses and on sand dunes.
Shower as soon as you get home and put all your clothing in a hot dryer for 20 minutes after spending time in an environment with ticks. You should also thoroughly check your body for ticks – including hard to reach areas.
Change into Dry Clothes After Swimming
It feels nice to take a dip in the pool and then dry off by laying under the sun. Unfortunately, wet bathing suits can be a breeding ground for yeast. Moisture in a warm, dark place can cause yeast to grow, leading to yeast infections.
This is a common problem and one that is easily treatable. However, it is uncomfortable until it goes away. It’s best to avoid it if you can. Unless you plan on swimming again, bring clean, dry clothing to change into when you are done. Loose, flowy garments are ideal because they allow air to circulate better.
You can also look for a swimsuit with moisture-wicking protection. This will bring moisture to the surface of the fabric so it can evaporate instead of getting trapped in intimate areas.
Summer is a great time for fun, exercise, and exploration. Get started safely with a physical exam. A doctor can advise you of any health conditions or medications that might increase your risk for heat stroke, dehydration, and other common heat-related problems. Visit Complete Women’s Healthcare now to get started.