Summer Health Tips

by Gayle Cottrill

It’s finally summer in Wisconsin, and with that comes plenty of things to do and see out in the hot sun. It can be easy to engage in summer fun without thinking about the risks of the season, so as you plan for a fun-filled summer, consider the following tips to remain safe and healthy and lower your risk of dehydration, sunburn, and even skin cancer.

Food and Drink

During the summer, it’s important to pay attention to what you’re eating (and drinking) and how you’re preparing your food.

  • Keep refrigerated food cold and don’t eat food that has been sitting out for more than two hours.
  • Be sure to use different utensils and plates when handling raw and cooked food at picnics and cookouts (and indoors too).
  • Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants like carrots, watermelon, and tomatoes. These types of foods help reduce risk of melanoma.
  • Grill lean meat, fruits, and vegetables rather than burgers and brats. Research shows that carcinogens form while grilling fatty meats. If you don’t want to get rid of your grilled red meat, consider cooking it at lower temperatures for longer times and do not give it char marks. Adding rosemary to your meat and marinades can also limit the production of carcinogens.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help your body stay cool and sweat efficiently. It’s important to drink water even when you don’t feel thirsty, before and after exercising, and while drinking caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.

Outdoor Protection

Spending time outdoors is a huge health benefit, but much like frostbite in winter, there are risks associated with being outside during the summertime.  

  • Protect yourself from the sun in various ways. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun are the most dangerous and can still penetrate shady areas. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunblock when out in the sun or shade.
  • Protect yourself in the car, especially if you spend a lot of time driving. Research shows malignant melanoma cases are more common on the left side of the body. Even in the car, wear sunblock, a hat, and long sleeves or consider putting UV-blocking film on your windows.
  • Wear sunblock with an SPF 30 or higher which is considered broad spectrum in its UV defense. Reapply frequently throughout the day if you’re outside, especially after sweating or swimming.
  • If you like to exercise outside, try to do it in the morning or evening when the temperatures are cooler and the sun is not at its full strength. Or, alternatively, workout indoors in air conditioning.
  • Check for ticks after spending time in wooded areas. If you are bitten by a tick, watch for symptoms of Lyme disease and contact a healthcare professional if you exhibit signs or would like them to identify the tick.

Enjoying the great outdoors of a Wisconsin summer is rewarding and a great health benefit in itself, but be sure to protect yourself from the summer sun and heat every time you embark on a new adventure.