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Beat the Heat: How to Stay Cool During the Hottest Days of Summer

Summer is officially here, and with it the sweltering heat of the season. Taking steps to keep cool is not only essential for comfort, it’s also important to our health, as soaring temperatures can bring on dehydration, heat exhaustion and electrolyte depletion that can lead to dizziness and heart rhythm issues.

Heat-related illnesses are preventable, yet many succumb when the mercury reaches dangerously high levels. The elderly, infants and children are especially susceptible to summer heat issues. Read on for some practical tips to keep you and your loved ones safe during the dog days of summer.

Learn the warning signs of heat exhaustion and stroke: Keep an eye out for muscle cramping, heavy sweating, weakness, pale and clammy skin, fainting, vomiting, rapid pulse or high body temperatures. Any of these symptoms can indicate that a person needs to seek medical attention immediately. Call 911 and move the individual to a cool, shady area. Apply wet cloths to their body and give them water until help arrives.

Stay hydrated: Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as these can increase dehydration. Instead, drink plenty of water and liquids with electrolytes, like coconut water or sports drinks. Eat foods that contain at least 90% water, such as fresh watermelon, cucumber, lettuce, celery, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, melon and strawberries. Ensure that you’re well hydrated before beginning any exercise routine, and weigh yourself before and after you work out.

I encourage my patients to weigh in before and after their work outs; for every ½ pound you lose during work outs consume at least 8 ounces of electrolyte rich water such as coconut water or other electrolyte drink.  Don’t wait until you are thirsty; as I share with my patients that once you are thirst or your mouth is dry you are already too far into becoming dehydrated.  Carry a water bottle with you at all times, and sip from it periodically to keep yourself continuously refreshed.

Keep your home cool: Keep windows and shades closed during the day, especially in areas facing south and west, and place houseplants in windowsills to help absorb some of the sun’s energy. If you don’t have air conditioning, open your windows wide at night and position a box fan in the sill to bring the cooler air inside. You can also place a bowl of ice at an angle in front of a large fan, to chill the air that circulates. Set ceiling fans to rotate counter-clockwise, and use breathable cotton sheets and buckwheat pillows on your bed for more comfortable sleep. Turn off the lights to keep room temperatures down, and if possible, install attic insulation to keep cool indoor air from escaping through the ceiling. And of course, now is the time break out the grill for outdoor barbecues—and give your oven a rest to avoid trapping heat in your home.

Lower your body temperature: Choose loose-fitting, cotton fiber clothing in light colors, and take frequent baths or showers with cool water. Store your lotions and toners in the refrigerator to use on overheated skin. You can also keep a spray bottle filled with water in the fridge for a refreshing spritz to the face after coming in from the sun. For an icy-cold water source while on the go, keep plastic water bottles in the freezer to grab when heading outdoors. A quick dab of peppermint oil on the wrists and back of the neck gives an instant cooling effect, and you can carry it in your pocket or purse. For any extended outdoor recreation, bring along a handheld battery-operated fan and a brimmed hat. In case of extreme temperatures, you can remove the hat and pour in some cold water before replacing it on your head.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2015). Extreme Heat and Your Health. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/
Co, Emily. (July 27, 2015). 11 Affordable Ways to Stay Cool in the Summer Heat. Retrieved from http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/How-Stay-Cool-During-Summer-23380786
Favreau, Meg. (June 4, 2014). 15 Cheap Ways to Stay Cool This Summer. Retrieved from http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2014/06/04/15-cheap-ways-to-stay-cool-this-summer
Health Magazine. (2015). 15 Food That Help You Stay Hydrated. Retrieved from http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20709014,00.html
McDermott, Nicole. (July 9, 2015). This Is All You Really Need to Know About Staying Hydrated. Retrieved from http://greatist.com/fitness/hydration-during-exercise
Stoppler, Melissa Conrad, MD. (2015). 15 Ways to Keep Cool When It’s Hot. Retrieved from http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=52796
Tallmadge, Katherine. (July 30, 2013). 13 Tips for Staying Hydrated in the Summer Heat. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/38553-staying-hydrated-in-the-heat.html
Toscano, Samantha. (June 24, 2014). 12 Brilliant Ways to Keep Your Home Cool Without Air Conditioning. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/08/03/ways-to-cool-your-home_n_5516182.html

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Improve Posture

  • 1.Avoid slouching. Be aware of your posture as you walk, sit, and drive, keep shoulders squared and head pulled back and up.

  • 2.Imagine a thread pulling the top of your head toward the ceiling. Visualization can help improve your sense of position.

  • 3.If your job requires you to sit for long periods, take frequent breaks to stand, stretch and shake it out.

  • 4.Maintain a strong core to help support proper posture. Add core-training exercises to your daily routine.

  • 5.A firm mattress and ergonomic pillow help achieve proper back support while you sleep, so you'll stand straighter in the a.m.

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