Summer is here... except maybe still in the Midwest! Time for barbecues, water sports, and playing outdoors. The sun has many natural benefits such as increasing cognitive performance, endorphin levels (your happy thoughts), and testosterone levels. It also allows the body to efficiently absorb its daily needs of Vitamin D. Heat exhaustion is also attributed with the summer sun and can be draining and harmful on both the skin’s surface as well as the inner body. To ensure proper sun health while making the most of your summer, here are 10 safety tips for summer that everyone should follow.
Safety Tips for Summer
It says it on the bottle – sunscreen helps block the harmful rays of the sun. Depending on your skin-type, you may need a higher SPF than others. Ideally, you should wear no less than 30, and apply liberally. Sunscreen should be applied 15-20 minutes before going out in the sun and should be reapplied every 2 hours.
Purchase the sunblock specific to your activity – are you going swimming? Are you going for a hike and sweating a little more than normal? These are indicators that you may need a sunscreen that doesn't rub off easily in water.
After-sun skin care is just as important as it is before and during sun exposure. Moisturize your skin by using an aloe based lotion. The aloe vera plant is a natural topical remedy to sooth dry and chapped skin. Apply lotion liberally to all areas of the body, especially concentrating on those that appear to be more dry and/or red.
The sun is at its peak between the hours of 10am and 2pm. Try to avoid certain activities such as exercising outdoors and laying out during these hours. If you absolutely must be in direct sunlight, remember to wear proper sunscreen and stay hydrated.
Time to bring out your fashion-sensibility! During the summer months, light, breathable clothes are the most sensible. Darker clothes will warm the body and increase perspiration, which can cause you to become dehydrated faster. Cotton is a wonderfully breathable material that also dries quickly. Avoid materials that do not breathe, such as satin, silk, or leather, as these types of materials will hold in perspiration. Sweating is the body’s natural cooling mechanism and when it is restricted, you can become overheated, which can cause many adverse health effects.
Cover your body as much as you can when in direct sunlight for hours at a time. Wear light, breathable jackets, hats, and even carry an umbrella with you. The shade is your friend, and as a bonus, the indirect sunlight you are getting is still allowing your body to absorb that Vitamin D!
The rule is 6-8 8oz glasses of water a day, right? But which water is best? Ultra-filtrated water is clean, but isn’t necessarily the best for your body. An electrolyte enhanced water is best when sweating and releasing energy. And what happens when you release a lot of energy? Drink more water! 6-8 glasses may not be enough for those with an active lifestyle, those on certain medications, and those who eat salty foods. The best rule is to figure out how many calories you should consume daily (most Americans require 2000 calories/day) and drink the equivalent in milliliters of water (2000 ml/day). The more you sweat, the more water you need to consume.
Try to avoid salty foods. Foods that are processed, fried, and high in animal products, are all salty foods. These foods will attack the water molecules inside the body and leave little water to properly hydrate. Consume foods that have a high water ratio such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, remember, alcohol causes the body to become hydrated quickly, if drinking alcohol in the sun, it is important to consume extra water.
The best thing you can do for your body is to check it out! Ideally, once a month you should check for unfamiliar bumps, spots, and scars. If something new pops up, go to your dermatologist for a check-up. If you already have certain spots and scars, apply sunscreen liberally to these areas and keep a close eye on them.
Look for signs of dehydration in yourself as well as in others. Feelings of fatigue, dry mouth, and blurred vision are all signs that you may have overexerted yourself in the sun. Sit someplace cool, grab a big glass of water, and wrap a wet towel around your neck, on the backs of your knees, and underneath your armpits – the warmest places on the body.
Take this information and share it with your friends! Have fun in the sun and practice all of these tips daily. Have a safe and happy Summer!