Summer is one of the best times of the year, and it typically comes with more freedom and opportunity to be outside, especially for our kiddos! However, it can also become easy to lack motivation or become overwhelmed by the summer heat when we aren’t paying direct attention to how we can prevent things like heat stroke and exhaustion.
Our hearts have to work harder and pump faster on hot days in order to keep up our blood flow and sweating. (Gross, I know, but sweating is our body’s natural mechanism of cooling itself!) On the other hand, we’ve got to be careful we don’t let the heat trap us indoors either, when we could be out partaking in fun activities!
In order to find a happy medium, stay active, and protect a healthy heart, here are a few of my favorite summertime tips:
Drink plenty of water! We want to avoid dehydration at all costs, as it’s one of the leading causes of heat exhaustion and stroke. Heat exhaustion weakens the heart and entire cardiovascular system, so we want to do as much as we can to prevent it. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Your heart will thank you for it; and your whole body will have more energy and vitality because of it. I like to start out my day by drinking lots of water to prepare myself for the day, especially if I know it’s going to be a particularly active one outside! Be prepared and pack water bottles in a cooler in order to have enough for the day- you want to be hydrating before, during, and after all of your activities, and nothing dues the trick quite like good ol’ water. If you’re someone who likes a little flavoring, avoid the sugary beverages by putting slices of your favorite fruit, berries, or mint leaves into your water and put it in the fridge to chill for a few hours to make a yummy, hydrating treat!
Eat more fruit! Replace sugary ice cream treats (it’s okay, they’re fine once in a while!) with fruits! They’re refreshing after you’ve been outside in the warm sunshine, and you can even try freezing them for a little extra wave of coolness. Fruits are also hydrating during the summer months, as they have a higher water content than many other foods (not to replace that water we just mentioned!). Additionally, while it is important to monitor and be aware of your sugar intake, it’s also key to note that fruits have various natural sugars within them- which is so much better for you than anything packed with processed sugars that you might find at the grocery store. Veggies are the same way, so don’t hesitate to add a few more of those to your regular diet as well!
Wear your sunscreen! Guys, I truly can’t stress this one enough. There tends to be a bit of a stigma around sunscreen and it not being “cool.” Well, you know what really isn’t cool? Paying the price for it years down the road when you have to deal with larger health consequences and bills for something like skin cancer. The American Heart Association recommends applying water-resistant sunscreen (with at least SPF 15 or higher) once every two hours and wearing wide-brimmed hats to protect yourself and your family from getting too much sun. The great thing about sunscreen that many people don’t understand is that it doesn’t block the sun out entirely- only the harmful rays! You’re still able to soak up the good stuff like vitamin D- while avoiding all of the bad. Don’t let the stigmas around sunscreen prevent you from making the right choice for yourself and your family. Remember, the decisions you make today can significantly impact your future; so let’s make the healthiest ones possible!
Dress appropriately! Nobody wants to be caught wearing a black long sleeve shirt on a hot summer day- it’s the worst! Instead, switch up your wardrobe with some lightweight, light colored clothing for the summer months. Not only will you be more comfortable, but breathable fabrics like cotton can help keep you cool when the sun comes out- and don’t forget those sunglasses to protect your eyes!
Know when it’s time for rest! While I sit here and tell you not to let the heat trap you indoors, I also need to emphasize that there needs to be a time for your body to go inside, cool down, and rest. Otherwise, we could run into dangerous situations like heat stroke! Take a moment every so often to evaluate and listen to your body. If the heat is becoming overwhelming, head inside for a bit! If it’s too hot, but you or your kids are not quite done playing for the day, try some fun indoor alternatives- like going to your local YMCA or rec center to continue your swimming, basketball, yoga, or racquetball, etc. The sun is strongest between 12-3 pm, and this would be a great time to trade in the more intense outdoor activities for something a little cooler!
- Take advantage of early morning outdoor workouts! I’m sure you’ve already heard me talk about making sure to get at least 30 minutes of exercise in every day about a million times, but the heat can make us lose a lot of motivation during the hot summer months! Furthermore, it’s not even healthy to be trying to complete intense workouts during the heat of the day- and you won’t be comfortable. Waking up a bit earlier during the summer is well worth it, and I always feel so much more peaceful and accomplished if I complete my workout right away in the morning! Getting outside for a walk, running, biking, some yoga, or joining a local boot camp, is one of my favorite ways to enjoy being outdoors in the summer without overwhelming my body in the heat. Lower your blood pressure and boost your mood by heading outside earlier in the morning (and pack your water!).
I have a summer challenge for you! While you're hanging out on the beach with family or enjoying the sun on a hike with friends, take a minute to invite them to get involved with the lifesaving advocacy work of the American Heart Association! They can join by simply texting HEART to 46839 or CLICK HERE. Help us build a powerful movement to make a difference and save lives.
There you have it, friends! I hope these summertime tips help you remain “chill.” Follow these tips, and you’re sure to be the “cool” kids on the block! Okay, enough with the puns- it’s time to go have some heart-healthy summertime fun! Let’s do this!
Until Next Time,
AHA Advocate and Miss Wyoming 2017