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June 05, 2013

Remaining Active: 3 Steps for Keeping Safe in the Sun

For your grandchildren, summertime means one thing: being outdoors. Whether it’'s riding bikes, splashing around in the pool, or playing a game of mini-golf, there are a number of outdoor activities you can take part in with your grandchildren to keep active and strengthen your family bonds this summer.

However, being outside in the hot sun comes with a certain number of risks for older adults. According to WebMD, older adults do not sweat easily and sometimes have other health conditions that affect their ability to lose heat, which can increase the risk of heat-related illnesses, such as heat edema, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Many medicines, including some blood pressure medicines and thyroid medicines, may also increase the risk of heat-related illnesses.

The good news is there are certain steps you can take to help keep safe in the sun this summer:

Stay Hydrated

Keeping yourself hydrated in hot conditions is the most effective method for protecting yourself against heat-related illnesses. According to the Mayo Clinic, an adequate intake for men is roughly 13 cups of beverages a day, and an adequate intake for women is roughly nine cups of beverages per day. Older adults may need to drink even more water in the summertime.

To ensure you’'re getting enough water, follow these tips:

  • Carry a water bottle with you at all times
  • Drink fluids even before you feel thirsty
  • Avoid sugary, caffeinated, and alcoholic beverages
  • Use natural flavoring, such as juices from lemons, for a new taste to your water

Avoid the Midday Sun

Avoiding being outdoors between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is hottest and strongest can reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses and prevent sunburn. If you must be outdoors during these times, stay in the shade as much as possible. Also, thoroughly apply broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects from both UVA and UVB rays, with an SPF of 15 or higher at least 30 minutes before going into the sun. Reapply your sunscreen as directed by the label and after perspiring or swimming.

Wear Preventative Clothing

Dressing appropriately for the summer environment can have a big impact on your health. Overdressing can increase your risk of heat-related illnesses, yet underdressing increases your chances of sunburn. So what are we to wear? WebMD suggests the following:

  • A wide-brimmed hat that covers your neck, ears, eyes and scalp
  • Sunglasses with UV protection
  • A long-sleeved, loose-fitting shirt that covers your shoulders and arms
  • Clothing made with lightweight, synthetic fabrics or sun protective fabric

“Remaining Active: How to Begin a Regular Exercise Routine” offers tips for older adults to get moving, in and out of doors. Download it today!

Remaining Active

photo credit: Hal MacLean


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