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MAY 08, 2024

Embracing Summer Safely: Staying Healthy, Hydrated, and Protected

Summer is almost here and too many of us are going to suffer burns and fatigue because we didn’t take the necessary steps. So we’ve set them out for you.

Read time: 5 minutes

Summer time! Time to show off that beach body you’ve been working on, spend hours in the sun, and kick back with a drink. Right? Well, yes, but let’s be sensible about it. As much as we don’t want to be the fun police, summer actually comes with a lot of significant health concerns that too many of us ignore or overlook.

So, let’s all agree that while summer is a time for fun, the sun is often not our friend. Especially as we stubbornly refuse to adapt our routines, that can end up compromising our health. With that said, let’s go over the various risks and the steps you can take to reduce them.

Why Summer Preparation Matters

The transition to summer can catch even the most weather conscious among us off guard. One day you’re enjoying the mild spring weather, and the next, you’re sweltering under the midday sun. That’s why it’s so important to anticipate and respect the change to season by adjusting our habits. Because gnoring the basics of summer safety (things like hydration, sun protection, and appropriate clothing) can lead to serious health issues, including dehydration, exhaustion, sunburn, heatstroke, and exacerbated chronic conditions.

The Essential Trio for Summer Health

Hydration: Water Your Body Like a Plant

Ok, not exactly like a plant, we’re not saying you should hose yourself down and stand staring at the sun. But, seriously, good hydration is absolutely essential during the summer months. As temperatures soar, our bodies work overtime to cool down, primarily through the process of sweating. And this increased perspiration can quickly lead to dehydration if your fluid intake isn’t significantly increased.

Proper hydration supports vital bodily functions. It helps regulate our internal temperature, ensures our joints are well-lubricated, aids in digestion, and facilitates the proper circulation of nutrients in the blood.

And the downside is severe: dehydration often starts mildly with symptoms like thirst and dry lips, but can escalate to dizziness, severe headaches, muscle cramps, and extreme fatigue. In truly dire scenarios - especially during heatwaves - dehydration can lead to dangerous conditions like heat exhaustion or heatstroke, which can be potentially life-threatening.

Tip: Don’t just sip water, really embrace it. Make hydration a constant habit by starting your day with a large glass of water and keeping a filled reusable water bottle to hand at all times. To enhance your intake, why not add natural flavor enhancers like slices of fruits such as lemon, lime, orange, or even berries and herbs like mint or basil?



Sun Protection: More Than Skin-Deep

We all enjoy basking in the summer sun, especially after months of cold, dark evenings. But unprotected exposure can be dangerous. This is where sunscreen is your best friend. It plays a critical role in defending your skin from ultraviolet rays that cause sunburn, which can lead to skin cancer over time. Don’t believe us? Ask Hugh Jackman, who has had several basal cell carcinomas removed.

Beyond the immediate pain of a sunburn, prolonged sun exposure can significantly increase the risk of serious skin cancers, including malignant melanoma – which is one of the most deadly forms of cancer.

Tip: Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and apply it liberally to all exposed skin. Be sure to reapply every two hours, or more frequently if you're swimming or sweating

And don’t be fooled by clouds, make sure you’re applying sunscreen even on cloudy days. Why? Because UV rays can penetrate through clouds and glass, meaning you’re just as much at risk during overcast days as sunny ones!

Dress Smart: Comfort and Protection

Far be it from us to tell you what to wear when it comes to style, we can absolutely give some pointers for safety. Light-colored clothes will reflect sunlight (as opposed to dark colors which absorb heat) making them ideal for sunny days. Similarly, loose-fitting clothes allow air circulation near your skin, enhancing sweat evaporation and body cooling.

When it comes to materials, choose natural fibers like cotton, which is breathable and facilitate cooling by absorbing and releasing perspiration quickly. Alternatively, specially designed moisture-wicking fabrics can draw moisture away from the body, keeping you dry and comfortable while exercising.

Beyond comfort, good attire can also protect against other summer hazards. Long sleeves and pants in particular can shield you from mosquito and tick bites. They can also provide a barrier against other irritants like poison ivy or oak, if you’re out and about.

Tip: Enhance your sun defense with accessories. A pair of UV-protective sunglasses is indispensable not only for comfort but also for eye health. Choose sunglasses that block at least 99% of UVA and UVB rays. A lightweight, broad-brimmed hat can also provide substantial protection for your face, ears, and neck, areas particularly vulnerable to sun exposure.

Three Steps to a Better Summer

By integrating these three key strategies into your summer routine, you can enjoy the season to its fullest while protecting your health and wellbeing. Meaning, whether you're spending a day at the beach, hiking in the hills, or just enjoying a picnic in the park, staying hydrated, using sun protection, and dressing smartly can make all the difference.

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Written by Matthew Stogdon

Matt has been writing for two decades, across print and digital media. He is also an accomplished filmmaker, with several accolades under his belt.

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