Summer may be a time to take it easy, but that doesn’t mean letting health and fitness goals slip by the wayside. Not only is the year’s halfway point an opportunity to recommit to your wellness — and perhaps check in with those New Year’s resolutions — there are seasonal health considerations to account for as temperatures rise and you spend more time outside. We’ve rounded up our top summer wellness tips to help you stay safe and healthy amidst the beach days, BBQs, and road trips.
1. Make sun protection a daily habit.
Many of us are familiar with the discomfort of a sunburn after a long summer day outdoors. While the pain and redness are short-lasting, prolonged sun exposure may cause long-term damage to the skin and increase your risk of skin cancer, which is one of the most common types of cancer.
Limiting your exposure to UV rays is the most impactful way to protect your skin. Here are several steps you can take.
Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher every day — up to 80% of UV rays can pass through clouds. If you’re going to spend a lot of time outdoors, opt for an SPF of 30 or higher.
Avoid direct sunlight as much as possible between 10 am to 4 pm daylight savings time (9 am to 3 pm standard time), when UV radiation peaks.
Check the UV Index here for a daily forecast of local UV radiation strength on a scale of 0 to 11. Extra precautions against UV rays are recommended when the index is a three or higher.
Wear protective clothing like long-sleeve shirts and wide-brimmed hats.
2. Stay hydrated.
Hydration is paramount during summer months, as hot, humid weather decreases the amount of fluid in your body. To prevent dehydration-related issues like heat injury, consume plenty of fluids and take extra precautions during extreme heat or strenuous exercise.
A glass of water isn’t your only option for staying hydrated — consuming water-rich foods like cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, strawberries, watermelon, and other fruits and veggies will also increase your daily water intake.
If you take medication, ask your pharmacist if it can affect your body’s ability to cool itself, in which case you may need to double up those hydration efforts.
3. Get moving outside.
Most health experts suggest aiming for 150 minutes each week. If you find it challenging to reach this target, you’re not alone: according to the New York Times, less than 5% of all US adults complete this weekly minimum. When it comes to exercise, there’s a big correlation between consistency and enjoyment, and one of the biggest barriers to starting and maintaining a routine is finding the right fitness activities for you.
Summer brings many new exercise options to explore, from hiking and mountain biking to transitioning from treadmill to trail. Whatever your preferred outdoor workout may be, let those warm, sunny days get you moving.
4. But be mindful of the heat.
As you explore your outdoor exercise options, have a backup workout plan in place in case temperatures soar. Extreme heat is more than a discomfort, it’s a legitimate health risk to stay mindful of.
Heat-related illnesses occur when the body cannot regulate its temperature after exposure to intense heat. While everyone should avoid extremely high temperatures, some individuals are more susceptible to these reactions, including young children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with heart disease or poor circulation.
There is a spectrum of severity of heat illness. Heat exhaustion is less severe than heat stroke, which requires urgent medical attention. Symptoms of heat exhaustion to watch for include:
A weak, rapid pulse
If you experience these symptoms, move to a cool, shaded location, rest, and drink cold water or sports drinks. Seek medical care if symptoms worsen or don’t improve within an hour.
Heat exhaustion may precede heat stroke, which affects the nervous system. Indicators that someone is experiencing heat stroke rather than heat exhaustion include disorientation or confusion, loss of consciousness, and seizures. A person with heat stroke requires emergency medical care. While waiting for medical services, they should remain in a cool, shaded area and try to lower their body temperature with cold cloths or water.
Fortunately, the skin protection tips above can prevent heat illness, too — a sunburn makes it more difficult for your body to stay cool. Staying hydrated and wearing loose, lightweight clothing also help.
5. Manage your medication while traveling - we can help!
During summer travel season, make sure you have everything you need to manage your health while away from home. Here are several quick tips from our guide on medication management while traveling.
If traveling internationally, research your destination’s medication laws. Many medications that are legal in the U.S. aren’t allowed in other countries, including some over-the-counter treatments. Some countries also require you to carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your provider.
Always pack important medications in your carry-on when traveling by plane. Note that while there are medical exceptions to TSA limits on liquids, gels, and creams, you should allow for a longer screening process when traveling with these items.
Confirm the temperature your medications should be stored at and take it into account when packing. For example, if you take insulin, you can use an insulated medication bag to hold it at an appropriate temperature while traveling.
Want more tips for managing your health while traveling? We have additional resources tailored to specific health considerations:
Last but not least: be sure you have enough medication for your whole trip. Need a refill before it’s covered by insurance? No problem! We’ve streamlined the steps to request a vacation override so that you can get your medication in a pinch.
Transfer your prescriptions to Alto for a better pharmacy experience, including support with insurance and savings opportunities and same-day delivery.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.