Tag Archives: physical health

Tips for Beating the Heat This Summer!

Exercising in Hot Weather

The southeast’s mild climate makes it possible to exercise outside year-round. Now that winter’s cold and spring’s rains are gone, summer and the warm weather is enticing people outside in droves. However, that warm sun that loosens your muscles and feels so good on your skin can actually be doing serious damage. Heat and sun can be as dangerous as cold and ice when it comes to exercising outdoors, so read on for tips on how to beat the heat.

Tips for Beating the Heat This Summer!

  1. It’s all about the timing. In the winter, lunchtime is an excellent time to take a walk, run, or ride a bike outside. In the summer, not so much. The sun is at its zenith at noon—making it the worst time of day for being outside. If possible, avoid the sun’s rays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. With summer’s longer days, prework and postwork are the best times for exercising outside.
  2. It’s not the heat; it’s the humidity. The high humidity of the southern summer climate can raise the heat index, making a hot day feel even hotter. The Mayo Clinic warns that exercising in the heat can raise your core body temperature, resulting in heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. If you experience headaches, lightheadedness, confusion, nausea, or muscle cramps, stop exercising immediately and take steps to cool your core temperature. On extremely hot days, you might do better to exercise in the gym or to even run up and down the stairs in the office.
  3. Despite (or because of) the humidity, don’t forget to hydrate. Exercising in hot weather produces extra sweat, which makes it more important than ever to stay hydrated. As discussed in our post on sports drinks, water is usually the best form of hydration. For prolonged exercise in hot weather, however, the electrolytes and sugar in sports drinks may provide important replenishment for your system.
  4. Stay protected. When you head outside to exercise, don’t forget to protect your skin from the sun. Even during non-peak hours or cloudy weather, harmful UVA rays can still cause sun damage and skin cancer. Always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, and when feasible, cover your skin with lightweight, breathable fabric.

 

Darker Days: Sleep and Nutrition As Daylight Hours Get Shorter

Have you ever read about what bears do in the fall? They gorge themselves to put on more weight, which will insulate them during the cold winter months and provide nutrients during their hibernation. They are prompted both by the colder temperatures and also by the shortening days. The longer hours of darkness cue the bears’ internal clocks to begin the process of getting ready to hibernate.

Sleep and Nutrition As Daylight Hours Get Shorter

Unfortunately, humans’ internal clocks have not yet evolved from doing something similar. As the hours of daylight get shorter, our bodies want to pack on the pounds and get ready for hibernation. That’s why in the fall and winter, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to your eating and sleeping habits.

The lack of daylight during the fall and winter hours leads to a lack of serotonin, which regulates mood and food cravings. To buck your body’s desire to hibernate, trick it into thinking that the days aren’t really getting shorter by making sure to take as much time outside in the sunshine as possible. If sunlight is truly unavailable, try using a light therapy box—recommended for the seasonal affective disorder (SAD) that affects up to six percent of the population during the winter.

You can also resist your body’s desire to hibernate by making sure to get plenty of sleep at night. When we’re overtired, we’re likely to eat more to keep ourselves going through the day. Getting more sleep at night might mean cutting down on screen time before bed; studies have shown that the blue light from tablet and phone screens is especially damaging to sleep because it suppresses the production of melatonin, which regulates sleep.

Another good way to stay healthy during the winter is to eat more protein throughout the day, especially for breakfast. We often crave carbohydrates for comfort, but starchy foods are more likely to make us want to sleep rather than giving us energy to work. Make sure your breakfast and lunch include protein, like turkey or tofu, sausage or eggs, to keep you going at work. And read more here about healthy winter eating tips from our nutrition program, The Right Choice … for a Healthier You.