23 July 2019
How to stay healthy in the heat
When the sun is shining people are more likely to be in a positive mood, families and friends get together for BBQs and it’s a great time to go on walks. However, the heat can also bring unwanted health problems if you’re not careful. In this guide, we reveal some tips for how you can stay healthy in the summer heat.
When you’re feeling hot, it’s tempting to choose an alcoholic, fizzy or caffeinated drink to cool down with, however, these drinks are deceiving as they will only end up dehydrating you further. Staying properly hydrated in hot weather is essential, so make sure you’re sipping on water throughout the day.
Hilda from the blog Over the Hilda, a lifestyle and style blog inspiring people over fifty, shares with us her top tip for how to stay healthy in the heat: “My number one tip is to stay hydrated. We all find it difficult, particularly when it is hot outside, but being properly hydrated is far more important than you realise. I recently suffered from sore eyes and could not wear my contact lens because I was not drinking enough water.
“Staying hydrated is so important. If you do not drink enough water, you’re more likely to suffer from headaches, dizziness and dry eyes as well as more serious symptoms.”
If you’re attending a BBQ or a summer family gathering you can always jazz up your water with fruits such as lemon, cucumber or strawberries. Alternatively, brew up your own iced tea from decaf tea leaves and blended ice.
What you wear can have a massive effect on how you feel on a hot day. Try to wear light coloured and loose-fitting clothing to keep you cool, as well as wearing layers so you can easily adjust from air-conditioned rooms to the warmth of the outside. Pick items of clothing made with breathable materials so that you’re more comfortable, such as ones made with natural fibres like cotton and linen. Make sure to also pick up a pair of UV protected sunglasses, which are available in most high street retailers, which will protect your eyes from sun damage.
Hilda from Over the Hilda continues: “Definitely wear loose clothing such as a cotton dress; I love maxis or shift dresses when it’s hot outside. I also recommend wearing open-toed footwear and a large sun hat. I think Wallaroo hats are great, they offer sun protection of SPF 50.”
It should go without saying that you should wear sun cream, as failing to do so can lead to sunburn and skin damage. It’s recommended that people apply SPF all year round, even on cloudy winter days, so add applying sun protection into your everyday morning routine. You can also find moisturisers with SPF included, which may make it easier to apply in the morning.
It’s a good idea to reapply sun cream for every two hours you’re outside and opt for a factor 50 if you’re sitting directly in the sun. Even for cloudier days, it’s worth applying factor 15+ to be safe. Hilda agrees as she says, “to keep your skin healthy sun protection factor is crucial.”
Create a cool refuge
Nothing is worse than going home to a hot and stuffy house. However, just like you would make your home more accessible, by installing a straight stair lift, there are also simple ways to transform your home into a cool refuge.
Even in summer, there are days when the weather is cold and miserable, which may mean your heating is still on. When you are anticipating a hot day, make sure to turn off your heating and turn on the air conditioning. If you don’t have air-con, you can keep your home cool by keeping your curtains or blinds closed, your windows slightly open at night and avoiding using the oven or stove as much as possible.
Kathy from When They Get Older, a website that aims to help people support their ageing family and friends, told us her advice for how older people can stay healthy in the heat: “For anyone, it's really important to have a cool refuge for the hottest part of the day. This is likely to be somewhere at home. I'd advise starting the day with opening windows while the weather is cool, but then closing windows, blinds and curtains as soon as it starts to heat up.
“That way you can help to keep the cool in and the heat out. Blackout linings for curtains, external shutters, and planting to screen the house from the worst of the sun are all great ideas for long-term thinking. You could also try leaving bowls of water and pot plants around the house, as evaporation can cool the air.”
Eat hydrating foods
As cooking up a storm in the kitchen will only add to the heat, try to stick to healthy salads and cooler foods when the weather is hot. As previously mentioned, keeping hydrated is one of the most important things, and eating the right food can help with this. Try to stick to fresh meals that include hydrating foods such as cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes. Snack on watermelon, bananas, apples, strawberries, which are all water-packed and will boost your body’s hydration.
Skip the heat
When the sun is scorching hot it’s not healthy for anyone to be exposed to it for long periods, especially between 10 am and 4 pm, when UV rays are at their strongest. There are plenty of activities to do in the daytime instead of sitting outside in the sun, such as enjoying a refreshing drink at a local café or visiting the local cinema.
How to spot heat-related health problems
It’s important to look after yourself in the heat as it can cause health problems including heat exhaustion, heatstroke and dehydration. According to the NHS, signs of heat exhaustion include headache, dizziness and confusion, loss of appetite and feeling sick, cramps in the body, fast breathing and high temperature. This can also lead onto heatstroke, which is a lot more serious, and symptoms include vomiting, rapid breathing, confusion, seizures if you ever recognise these symptoms in yourself or someone else, be sure to call the emergency number.
Older people are also more at risk of dehydration, so it’s important to listen to your body and keep drinking fluids whenever you feel thirsty. Follow our simple steps and you’ll be able to enjoy the summer heat without risking your health.
How to stay healthy in the heat:
- Stay hydrated (but avoid alcohol, fizzy drinks and caffeine)
- Wear breathable, layered, loose-fitting clothing
- Stock up on sun scream with a high SPF
- Wear UV protected sunglasses
- Create a cool refuge in your home
- Eat fresh, healthy meals and snack on foods packed with hydration
- Avoid sitting directly in the sun between 10 am and 4 pm
- Be aware of the symptoms of heat-related health problems