By Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)
The summer season is upon us, which for many individuals means spending time outdoors and becoming more physically active. Whether you’re an aspiring athlete, a serious nature lover, or someone who enjoys fun in the sun, there are special precautions that need to be taken to protect your body during the summer season.
1. Prepare your body for activity and exercise: There are many activities made more enjoyable during the summer season such as gardening, walking, running, swimming, canoeing, bicycling, and golfing to name a few. Prepare your body for physical activity by stimulating the joints and muscles, and increasing blood circulation with a proper warm-up. If you have been inactive for a period of time, gradually ease into activity and take it slow.
2. Drink plenty of water: The body’s water supply is responsible for many important functions such as digestion, controlling body temperature, and protecting our joints by providing lubrication and cushioning. In warmer temperatures, we lose more water from the body through increased perspiration. The consequences of inadequate water intake/dehydration may include: headaches, fatigue, digestive problems, joint pain, muscle pain and cramping. Therefore, special care should be taken to replenish fluids lost during the summer season. Limit diuretics such as caffeinated and alcoholic beverages which actually drain the body of water.
3. Get just enough sun: Appropriate sun exposure can provide many health benefits associated with the natural production of Vitamin D. Avoid sunburn which is a result of overexposure to the sun’s UV radiation and can contribute to certain skin cancers, along with premature aging and wrinkling of the skin. To protect yourself, apply sunscreen regularly, wear a wide-brim hat and light-colored clothing that covers your exposed skin. Your eyes should also be protected with UV blocking sunglasses. Outdoor activities and sports should be limited to the early morning or late afternoon when UV rays are not as strong. Be cautious on cloudy days, as your skin is still susceptible to burn under these conditions.
4. Think safety first: Water sports and other outdoor activities should always be performed with safety in mind. This means wearing a life jacket in deeper water or if you are not a strong swimmer. Parents should always keep a watchful eye on young children around water. Diving into shallow or unknown waters should never be performed to eliminate the chance of serious spinal injury. Running on pool decks may result in serious slip and fall injuries. When bicycling, in-line skating, or skateboarding/longboarding, be sure to wear bright reflective clothing and protective headgear. In addition, wearing appropriate footwear for the activities you are performing will give you balance, support, and protection.
Following the above rules and safety tips can go a long way in protecting your body during the summer season. For additional information on health, wellness, muscle and joint health, visit our website at www.nhwc.ca.
This article is a basic summary for educational purposes only. It is not intended, and should not be considered, as a replacement for consultation, diagnosis or treatment by a duly licensed health practitioner.