5 Summer Health Tips That Can Help You Beat the Heat

Stay healthy so you can enjoy the outdoors.

By Rachel Bowman
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Dr. Oz Busts Summer Health Myths, Pt 2 (3:49)

My favorite time of year is when the sun sets after 7 p.m., and I can shed the extra layers of clothes I've been dragging around through the harsh winter months. While feeling the sunshine on my skin can’t take all of my problems away, it certainly has a way of making life feel a bit easier. Growing up, my summers were focused around the fact that school was finally out, and now that I’m older, it’s about finding as much time as possible to escape everyday stress by getting back to basics with nature. That's why I'm all about brushing up on summer health tips, so I don't waste a second of the opportunity to be outside.

With the stress of school and work, summer is now a time where I can take a quick little escape from reality, even if it’s in my own backyard. If you’re like me and you’ve looked forward to the summer all year, you don’t want sunburn and dehydration to get you down. I'll always carry summer memories with me, like spotting dolphins at the beach or watching the sunrise. But hopefully, I can leave the painful sunburns and heat exhaustion behind. Make sure you know the sneaky ways the summer weather can get you sick, so you don’t miss a coveted day of the sunshine.

Stay Cool in the Heat

There is nothing like the feeling of going inside after hours in the sun at the beach to make yourself something to eat and cool off. It's important to take some time out of the sun because too much exposure to heat can cause health issues like heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and migraines. To prevent these heat-related illnesses, avoid going outdoors from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., which is the hottest time of the day. If you do go outside be sure to wear light, loose clothing and stay in the shade as much as possible.

If you notice yourself or someone else showing symptoms of heat exhaustion like dizziness, headaches, muscle aches, or nausea, move to the shade and hydrate immediately. If symptoms worsen, it could be because of heat stroke, so call 911 for help immediately.

Keep Yourself Hydrated

Sweating and spending time in the sun can dehydrate your body, which can be dangerous for your health. It’s important to stay hydrated all year round, but physical activities outside in the summer time can be particularly depleting. Knowing the signs of dehydration is the first step to preventing negative side effects. If you notice that you have dry skin or are experiencing dizziness, you may be dehydrated. The best way to test your hydration is to look at the color of your urine. The darker the color, the more likely it is you are dehydrated.

Prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. You can even stay hydrated by eating fruits and vegetables with high water content, like watermelons and cucumbers.

Take Precautions During Outdoor Activities

Summertime means you can work out outside instead of being closed off in a stuffy gym. Since you'll likely be hitting the pavement for a basketball game, or digging your heels in the sand for beach volleyball, you might be at a higher risk for injury. There are tons of low-impact exercises you can do outdoors in the summer. Cycling and taking an afternoon stroll are easy ways to get exercise in without putting too much pressure on your joints. If you’re on vacation, walking around is a great way to explore your new area.

Swimming and water aerobics double as relief from the heat, and also getting your cardio in. Regardless of what exercise you do, be sure to properly stretch to avoid injury, always wear sunscreen when going outside, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. If you notice something feels uncomfortable or painful when exercising, stop and listen to your body. It's better to take a break rather than get seriously hurt and spend the rest of your summer on the couch.

Always Wear SPF

While you're probably craving vitamin D after months indoors, too much sun exposure can damage your skin, lead to premature wrinkles or sun spotting, and can even put you at a greater risk for skin cancer. You can even be at risk of sun exposure when you're driving your car or walking around an outdoor mall. Make sure to slather on some sunscreen, even if you think you'll only be outside for a few minutes. 

It’s important to know the difference between “daily use” and “active” on sunscreen bottles. “Daily use” sunscreens are meant for minimal sun exposure and are found in beauty products. “Active” sunscreens are designed for longer direct sun exposure and are water resistant so they can still provide protection while you sweat. When possible, opt for a cream lotion instead of a spray bottle because the sprayers often make for a patchy coverage and can miss spots. Be sure to read the package label to know how frequently you should reapply, especially if you're in the water. 

Think About Where You're Traveling To

UV radiation is stronger the closer you get to the equator, so if you're traveling to this area, it's important to remember that your body might not react to sun exposure the way it normally does. If you're sipping cocktails on the beach, make sure you're upping your water intake, just to be sure. Set a timer to help you remember to reapply sunscreen after taking a dip in the pool.

If even after applying sunscreen, you still manage to get a sunburn, there are several things you can do to treat it. To help reduce inflammation as well as cool and soothe the burn, apply natural soothing gels like aloe vera. Anti-inflammatory medication can also help relieve pain. Sunburns are very dehydrating, so it’s important to replenish your body and drink plenty of water.

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Related:

The Simple Guide to Buying Sunscreen

Dr. Oz’s Summer Safety Guide

5 Tips to Beat the Summer Heat

Article written by Rachel Bowman