Most of us welcome the summer, but there can be some health risks. This month’s spotlight offers three tips on how to enjoy the summer weather safely:
Sunburn doesn't just happen on holiday – we can burn in the UK, even when it's cloudy. Sunburn increases the risk of skin cancer. There isn't a safe or healthy way to get a tan; a tan doesn't protect skin from the sun's harmful effects. Aim for a balance between protection from the sun and getting enough vitamin D from sunlight.
The NHS website gives detailed advice on sunscreen and sun safety for adults and children, including:
- Sun safety tips
- What factor sunscreen (SPF) should I use?
- What are the SPF and star ratings?
- How to apply sunscreen
- Mole protection.
The British Association of Dermatologists has lots of sun awareness leaflets and posters available for download.
There are lots of cheap and fun gym-free activities that make the best of the summer weather, such as walking, running and jogging, cycling and swimming.
On very hot days avoid extreme physical exertion: outdoor activities such as sport, DIY or gardening are best kept for cooler parts of the day – in the early morning or evening.
Devon’s One Small Step service helps you to move more and improve your health and happiness. It suggests small changes such as taking a lunchtime walk with a colleague, ways to boost motivation, provides links to free tools and lists local services such as Health Walks, Park Runs, or Nordic walking classes.
East Devon District Council’s countryside team are organising outdoor activities for the summer ranging from canoeing, bird-watching, rock-pool rambling, orienteering, to outdoor meditation.
Dehydration (not having enough water) is usually caused by not drinking enough fluid to replace what we lose. Hot weather, level of physical activity, and diet can contribute to dehydration.
Some of the early warning signs include:
- Feeling thirsty and lightheaded
- A dry mouth
- Dark coloured, strong-smelling urine
- Passing urine less often than usual.
The NHS website gives detailed advice about dehydration, including:
- Who is at risk
- What to do
- How much to drink
- When to see the GP.
Studies have tried to establish a recommended daily fluid intake, but it can vary depending on the individual and factors such as age, climate and physical activity. A good rule is to drink enough fluid so that you're not thirsty for long periods, and to steadily increase your fluid intake when exercising and during hot weather.
The Eatwell Guide suggests drinking six to eight glasses of fluid a day. Water, lower fat milk and sugar-free drinks including tea and coffee are all good choices. The NHS gives lots of information about caffeinated drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, sugars and artificial sweeteners in drinks.