The official start to summer arrived a few days ago, so we thought we’d start the season off right with a few tips to have a healthy summer. While many of these we probably know, we could all use a little reminder to think for the future in how we care and provide for our bodies. A few extra steps now will pay off down the road. Here are some of our top tips. And because we are classy, we've illustrated them all with Simpsons gifs.
1. Schedule your outdoor activities.
Planning on exercising or working on equipment, checking some fields, or doing some gardening? Do a little rearranging of your daily schedule and prioritize those activities first thing in the morning. Move your desk work or inside work to midday. Finish up any outdoor activity after things have begun cooling off for the day.
2. Know the symptoms of heat stress.
If you are out during the hottest part of the day, be fully aware of the symptoms of heat stress. Are you having trouble cooling off? Do you have a headache? Do you just feel extra tired and fatigued? Does food sound unappetizing or are you nauseous? Are you more short tempered or irritable than normal? These can all be symptoms of heat stroke. Get out of the sun, take a cool shower or wipe off with a cool cloth, and start getting some water.
3. Take care of your skin.
While we all like to get a little sun after a long, pale, winter, remember this skin is with you for the rest of your life. Regularly use sunscreen, or cover up with a light long sleeved shirt and hat. But I am going to go ahead and guess many of you aren’t going to take the time to do that. You never have before, and just figure, “oh, well.” So please take this second piece of advice. Make a dermatologist visit a yearly priority. Wendy discusses steps she and Andy have taken to take care of their skin. “About five years ago, Andy and I decided that we have had enough exposure to the sun with our outdoor summer activities that we should schedule annual skin checkups. So, in January when things are slower, we have our routine check ups with a dermatologist. It provides a little peace of mind for both of us.” Be proactive and make a yearly checkup a part of your health care routine. Go get that skin spot checked out. It’s worth it.
4. Did you know cases of food poisoning increase during the summer months?
Warmer temperatures mean a smaller window that food is considered food safe. Think about that your next picnic or road trip and make sure food stays adequately cooled in a cooler until right before eating. If food has set out more than two hours, throw it out. (No second helpings!) And if it is above 90 degrees, throw it out after 1 hour.
5. Prioritize your water intake.
Chances are a lot of us are not drinking as much water as we probably should anyway. But this deficit becomes more dangerous when we are out in heat and sweating. If you need to trick yourself into it, challenge yourself to drink a gallon of water a day for a week. (Or set whatever volume goal you would like) Here a few other tricks to help up your water intake. Keep a water bottle or water jug nearby. If you have to walk back to the house or the truck you won’t be as likely to drink as much water as you need. Next trip to the grocery store grab a few packs of Gatorade. Swap out one of your pop’s for a bottle of Gatorade a day. Finally, don’t forget when enjoying some alcoholic beverages that they put you at a greater risk of dehydration. For every one or two alcoholic beverages consume the same quantity of water.
6. Don’t forget the bug spray.
It’s more than just an itchy bite. Mosquito and ticks are known carriers of diseases that can have long lasting effect. And don’t think it can’t happen to you. I know several people who have contracted West Nile Virus and it has had lasting impacts on their memory and mobility. Similarly, ticks can transmit dangerous diseases like Lymes disease or Alpha-gal. If you don’t know what Alpha-gal is, it is the disease transmitted by Lone Star ticks that transfers an enzyme into the body that results in a food allergy to red meat. If that won’t scare you into wearing bug spray, I don’t know what will. Remember how much you love steak, and put on some bug spray. (And yes, lone star ticks are in the entire eastern half of KS and Nebraska.)
While no one likes some of these daily details, taking a few extra minutes to take care of your body this summer can have lasting impacts on your health for years to come. Be safe, and have a great summer!