10 Dec How Look After your Health in the Summer Heat
It’s that time of year again – things are starting to heat up. With the mercury rising and the sun making its’ way out from behind the clouds, it’s important to know what effect hot weather can have on your health.
During extremely hot weather, it is easy for the body to lose enough water to become dehydrated and overheated. The average body temperature should be in the range of 36.1 – 37.8°C. Anything above this quickly becomes dangerous, and the body has to work very hard to stay cool.
Even with our experience of long, hot summers in Australia, heatwaves are responsible for multiple deaths every year. Some groups are more susceptible to the dangers than others, such as elderly people (aged 75 and over), babies, young children, people with chronic illness, heart or respiratory conditions, people with obesity or diabetes, outdoor and manual workers, and those who are unaccustomed to hot weather (such as travellers).
So during a heatwave, how do we stay well?
It is absolutely vital to ensure you are drinking enough water on a daily basis during summer, as water helps the body to regulate temperature and keep organs functioning properly. The recommended daily amount is 8-10 cups of water, and even more in warm weather. Remember: tea, coffee, sugary drinks and alcohol can all act to further dehydrate the body, so need to be compensated for with more water. Keep a bottle with you, and fill it up regularly.
Keeping your body as cool as possible is important in maintaining health during the hot summer. Wearing light and loose-fitting clothes can help, as can cool showers or baths. Staying inside or under shade is essential; air-conditioned houses are ideal, but if your home doesn’t have one, you can keep the sun out with block-out blinds during the day, or head to a local library, shopping centre or recreational centre with air-conditioning.
Staying out of the sun is just as important for your skin as it is for your body temperature. The statistics of skin cancer in Australia are alarming, so protecting your skin should be high on your list of summer priorities. Always consider the clever campaign from the Cancer Council during summer – Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide: Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek some shade and slide on some sunnies. Be sun smart, and stay cool.
Having a strong immune system in summer is just as important as it is in winter, especially with the health challenges that 2020 has brought with Covid-19. You want to make sure your body is strong and well-conditioned to stay healthy.
Although you should be wary when exercising on hot days (aim for swimming, air-conditioned gyms, or working out in the cooler hours, rather than running in the heat), it’s still important to be active and fit. Aim to eat smaller, more regular meals to keep your body cool, rather than large meals that will leave you feeling bloated and inactive.
Salt therapy can be a great way to boost your immune system and stay cool, all in one go. Sitting in a cool, calming room, breathing in the pharmaceutical-grade salt pumped through the air, can have positive effects on the immune system. The anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory properties of the salt can increase circulatory and respiratory function, helping to prepare the body for the health risks of heatwaves.
So remember to look after yourself this summer, and keep it cool.