Staying Healthy While Having Fun in the Summer Sun
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
The sunny days of summer have arrived, and the opportunity to spend time outdoors with friends, family, and neighbors. The choices of adventures vary depending on several things, including a person's locale, ability, and time. Sometimes activities are spontaneous, whereas others require planning.
Summertime fun can be as simple as going to an ice cream parlor, visiting a park, swimming, taking a walk, or gardening. On the other hand, perhaps a day-long hike, camping, boating, or fishing might be pleasurable.
No matter what summer activity you choose, spending time outside is healthy. Only 10 to 30 minutes a week provides the recommended amount of Vitamin D, which supports a healthy immune system. Experts suggest spending the first 10 minutes without using sunscreen if you don't sunburn easily. But the "sunshine vitamin" can be absorbed while protecting against sun damage; it just takes longer.
One common denominator of any away-from-home activity is being prepared. Therefore, creating a ready-to-go essentials bag or backpack that is available whenever the mood strikes. Some helpful items to add are:
- Non-perishable snacks include granola bars, cookies, nuts, dried fruit, chips, meat or fruit jerky, trail mix, or homemade gorp. Hikers need to munch on snacks to help them stay energized — gorp combines several energy-boosting nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and vegetables.
- Add reusable straws for sipping cold drinks. By choosing reusable, you are protecting the environment and wildlife.
- Sunscreen. Make sure to choose the recommended SPF for your family members. Consider a sweat-proof one. Remember to cover easily burned areas: the nose, ears, shoulders, and back of the neck.
- A basic first aid kit. Make sure it has treatments to reduce itching from bug bites, bee stings, or poison ivy, as well as something to ease sunburn pain.
- Unscented Simpleaf personal cleansing wipes in either a resealable dispenser pack or individual packets. Simpleaf brand wipes are made using 100% viscose, a plant-based fiber that is 100% bio-degradable, therefore, eco-friendly. In addition, they are thick, hypoallergenic, and safe for sensitive skin.
- Brush, comb, hair ties, lip balm, and facial tissues might come in handy.
- Bring head coverings such as ballcaps, sun visors, or foldable sunhats with three-inch brims (or 2.5 inches for babies and toddlers) for maximum protection.
- A must is extra bags for trash to make it easier to carry it back home for proper disposal and miscellaneous items like pinecones, interesting stones, etc.
While they won't fit in an essentials bag, other items, including lightweight jackets and extra clothing, are needed. In addition, if you plan to have a picnic, bring along a bottle of Simpleaf multipurpose cleaner to safely sanitize picnic tables or an outhouse toilet seat.
Staying Healthy in the Summer Sun
Don't forget staying hydrated is essential while spending time in the summer sun. Excessive heat exposure can be harmful. When a person becomes dehydrated, they could develop dangerous heat-related conditions such as cramps, exhaustion, and sunstroke, according to Healthline.
Health experts say, "Don't wait until you are thirsty!" Sipping water throughout the day will prevent dehydration. An easy way to tell if you are hydrated enough is to use the color of your urine as a guide, "the clearer, the better."
In addition to water, fruit juice — no sugar added — not only helps people stay hydrated but adds important nutrients like vitamin C. Pineapple, cranberry, pomegranate, and concord grape are very high in antioxidants. These antioxidants help the body heal from wounds and sunburns that are common during the summer.
If alcohol is a must, drink a bottle of water between each alcoholic beverage. By adding water, you reduce the chance of becoming dehydrated. Caffeinated drinks, like cola, tea, and coffee, are also considered non-hydrating but should also be avoided.
Watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes, and bell peppers, are hydrating foods that would be welcome at any barbeque or picnic.
Loose-fitting clothing made of linen, cotton, or hemp is a smart choice for keeping cool on hot summer days. Choose light-colored clothing because darker clothing soaks up more heat. Make sure your clothing is loose to let your body do what it is supposed to: cool you down by evaporation.
However, lighter-colored clothing does not protect against ultraviolet rays. If you want to be protected from the sun, then dark or bright pastel colors are best.
To further help cool down, use some of the wipes in your essentials bag, drink some juice or water and find shade. Rest, rehydrate, and cool your skin before moving down the trail.