By Lucy Maher
For many, summertime means family trips to the beach, backyard BBQs, and visits with the ice cream truck.
Unfortunately, with temperatures this year reaching into the hundreds in many parts of the country, many Americans may be dealing with heatstroke, fatigue, and dehydration. That’s on top of disrupted schedules, later than normal nights, and eating calorie-dense foods that can make one feel bloated and lethargic.
That said, there are a handful of smart strategies you can use to keep you and your family healthy in the heat—without sacrificing fun or staying cooped up inside.
Water Is Your Friend
When temps rise, many people become dehydrated and overheated, which can result in heat exhaustion or heatstroke. That’s because in high humidity, your body’s sweat doesn’t evaporate as quickly as it should, keeping it from releasing heat properly. Sufferers experience a slowed heart rate, anxiety, and in extreme cases, loss of consciousness.
Avoid that by:
drinking more water than usual and often—don’t wait until you feel thirsty to pour yourself a glass.
limiting outdoor activity during midday when the sun is hottest.
wear loose, lightweight clothing.
exercise when it’s cooler out, such as morning or evening.
avoid excessive amounts of alcohol, caffeine, or soda—which all can contribute to dehydration.
Maintain Your Schedule
Long summer weekends visiting friends and family, late nights with neighbors, and early mornings getting the kids ready for the day can throw off even the most organized.
“Changes in schedule can lead to lapses in eating and fitness regimes,” says Monica Auslander Moreno, a registered dietician at Essence Nutrition in Miami. “For example, if your kids are away at camp but normally you head straight to a spin class after drop-off, you don't really have that drop-off stimulus to get you prepping [for the day].”
Vacations, while relaxing, can also cause you to overeat, leaving little energy for the activities you want to do most.
“Whereas your home breakfast may be a banana and some almond butter,” she says, “all of a sudden you're on a cruise with a bountiful breakfast buffet, and you're eating an omelette, pancakes, oatmeal, muffins, a croissant, cheese, and a sugary coffee drink before 9 a.m.”
Stay committed by:
eating a healthy breakfast so you can indulge later in the day.
drinking smart. “Swap out sugary drink mixes or tonic water for flavored seltzer water and add herbs like mint, rosemary, sliced watermelon, lemon, or berries to your drinks for added flavor,” says Dr. Kiera Barr, founder and chief wellness officer at Resilient Health Institute in Washington state.
eating a salad before digging into the BBQ buffet.
exercising in the morning so you are less tempted to skip it as the day progresses.
Protect Your Skin
UV rays are the number-one cause of skin cancer, and they are highest during the summer months.
When outside, running errands or even driving, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen to keep you and your family safe from sunburn. If you’re out between 10 am and 4 pm, pair it with a hat and appropriate clothing so you stay covered up. Seek shade when possible and try to schedule activities outside this window.
“SPF 30 or higher is a must,” says Caren Campbell, a board-certified dermatologist in San Francisco. “Reapplication is required every two hours or if you sweat or swim. I always remind patients to protect lips, ears and temples as they are higher risk areas for metastasis or spread of skin cancers internally when they’ve formed on the skin.”
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