Summer is here! It’s time to dust off those barbecues, bask in the glory of longer days and soak in the sun (and enjoy guilt-free ice cream, because it’s summer). Temperatures at the end of June soared to nearly 35C in London, with the UK experiencing its hottest day of the year so far.
While summer may summon trips to the beach, family picnics or holidays abroad, excessive exposure to the sun can also bring along certain health problems, including dehydration, heat stroke, sunburn, and the dreaded hay fever season. Whatever your plans are this holiday season, follow our simple tips to stay happy and healthy this summer.
- Drink plenty of water
It goes without saying that summer makes you want to be in the great outdoors, meaning your body loses water more quickly due to perspiration from the heat. Dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluid than it takes in, so it is important to make sure you are drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. Make sure you are drinking throughout the day (around 8-9 glasses a day) and not just when you’re thirsty. You can use the colour of your urine as a helpful guide to how hydrated you are (the clearer it is, the better).
- Be cool (as a cucumber)
While ‘wanting to cool off’ can serve as an acceptable excuse for ice-cream, there are plenty of refreshing fruits and vegetables that can provide a healthier alternative. It is estimated that we get 20% of our daily water intake from the food we eat, so reach for water-rich fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, watermelon, celery, and cucumber. As well as helping you be cool, hydrated, healthy and refreshed, this is also a simple way to make sure you are getting your 5 a day. Don’t flake out on your fruits and veg.
- Wear sunscreen
Sun-kissed can easily turn to sun-burnt, red and peeling. While the sun is great for making sure your body gets all the Vitamin D it needs, it also emits harmful UV rays that are damaging to your skin. A tan will not protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. You can protect your skin using sunscreen with at least sun protection factor (SPF) 30 and 4-star UVA protection, which you can look for on the labels. Apply sunscreen on all exposed areas, including the face, neck and ears, and at least 30 minutes before you go out. As the sun and water can dry/rub it off your skin, it’s recommended to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and straight after swimming.
- Chase the shade
Sunscreen is not the only way to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. Limit your exposure to the sun by staying in the shade, especially during the hours of 10am and 4pm, when UV light is strongest. If you’re planning to be out in the sun for long, you can still make sure you enjoy the sun while avoiding sunburn by wearing a hat as well as appropriate clothing that covers your skin, and by protecting your eyes with UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Keep it light
While summer means BBQs, cocktails, hot dogs and burgers, it is important not to allow the sunlight in at the expense of your health going out the window. You may find yourself naturally gravitating towards lighter meals in the summer, so start your day with a healthy breakfast and keep your meals light and healthy. Add salads and berries to picnics and outdoor meals. Cut back on hot dogs at BBQs; replace those with healthier alternatives such as grilled fish. Try to avoid or reduce your intake of alcohol, caffeine and fizzy drinks as these can leave you dehydrated.
- Sun’s out, runs in
Just because the sun’s out, does not mean that exercise is also out. On the contrary, you can keep cool by taking a dip at your local pool or gym – getting your exercise in one go. Swimming is a great form of cardiovascular exercise and can help you burn calories and keep healthy during summer. While it’s best not to exercise outdoors in the sweltering heat, you can take advantage of the long summer days and head out for a run or a bike ride in the mornings or evenings, or when the days are cooler (make sure to take plenty of water and sunscreen). Running near water, such as by lakes, rivers and reservoirs, can also provide nicer, breezier conditions to help you stay cool, protected and healthy this summer.
While summer has just begun, the UK has already experienced its first heatwave of the season. If you’re worried or want to find out more about what you can do to protect yourself from the heat this summer, contact Doctorcall to find out how we can help.