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Tips to having a safe, healthy summer


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Summer is a great time to try new activities and get outdoors, but the season also brings unique risks, according to medical experts.

“Regardless of where you are in your fitness journey, the warm weather months offer opportunities to reevaluate your wellness goals for the remainder of the year. But as you and your family get active, it’s important to prepare. Understanding water safety and sun safety and recognizing the signs of heat-related conditions are all critical,” said Dr. Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, president of the American Medical Association.

To help you enjoy a safe and healthy summer, the AMA offers these tips:

1. Be smart about sunscreen. When shopping, look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30. Also, understand that no sunscreen is waterproof, and you’ll need to reapply it every couple of hours and after exposure to water or sweat.

2. Make sure your family is up-to-date on their vaccines. Before summer travel or camp season, double-check everyone’s vaccine status. If you have questions, consult your physician and review trusted resources, including getvaccineanswers.org.

3. Prioritize water safety. Ensure everyone in your family achieves water competency skills. Teach children to ask permission before going near water, have them and inexperienced swimmers or boaters wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets, and, at the beach, always swim in lifeguarded areas.

4. Reduce your intake of processed foods and sugar-sweetened beverages, especially those with added sodium and sugar. Eat less red meat and processed meats, and add more plant-based foods to your diet, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, nuts and seeds. Also, reduce your consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and drink more water instead. Drinking sugary beverages, even 100% fruit juices, is associated with a higher all-cause mortality risk, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.

5. Take advantage of warmer weather and find ways to be physically active. Exercise is essential for your physical and mental health. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week.

6. While exercise is important, it’s essential to be smart about it. If exercising outside, avoid the early afternoon (noon to 3 p.m.) when it’s hottest. Drink water before, during and after physical activity, and wear light-colored, lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing. Look for signs of heat exhaustion, including cool, moist, pale skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea and dizziness. CDC’s Heat Risk Dashboard informs you on how best to protect yourself when temperatures impact your health.

7. If consuming alcohol, do so in moderation as defined by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans – up to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men, and only by adults of legal drinking age.

8. Know your blood pressure numbers. Visit ManageYourBP.org to understand your numbers better and take the necessary steps to control high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Doing so will reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.

9. Check your community’s outdoor air quality using the Air Quality Index. Smoke from wildfires and degraded air quality can irritate your eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Children, pregnant people and those with certain chronic conditions must be conscientious.

“If you have questions or concerns about summer-related health issues, now is a great time to talk to your physician,” Dr. Ehrenfeld said.