With the hot summer sun beating down, it’s tempting to stay indoors and out of the heat. But don’t let your health suffer because of the temperature. Rather than lounging around on the couch all summer wishing you could be at the beach, become a great indoors enthusiast with these tips to stay active inside:
- Join a gym. Gym membership not in your budget? Check out the local YMCA or similar community center, or find free workout tutorials on YouTube.com.
- Find places to walk indoors. Give yourself a few extra minutes when you go shopping and walk around the perimeter of the store. Go up and down different aisles you might not normally visit. Park further from the store entrance to add a few extra steps (every bit helps).
- Get cleaning. Tackle those chores you’ve been putting off — things like washing the windows, cleaning out that “junk” closet, and cleaning the baseboards. You’ll get to check them off your to-do list while also staying active.
- Go dancing. Instead of going to a movie, where you sit the whole time, check out a local dance venue or a restaurant that has a dance floor. You and your friends will enjoy the change of pace, and you’ll get a little exercise while you’re at it!
While sometimes it is too hot to be outdoors, it’s important to try to get outside for at least a little bit each day to get the benefits of natural air and sunlight. However, before you head outside (or instead choose to stay inside), consider these factors:
- Humidity. Check the humidity, heat index, and other important weather stats on your local weather station or a weather app on your phone. If it’s warmer than 80 degrees and the humidity is higher than 60%, you might want to reconsider what outdoor activities you were planning.
- Electrolytes. Before you go outside, make sure you are properly hydrated. If it’s particularly hot, or if the activity is significantly strenuous, bring along a sports drink with electrolytes to replenish your potassium and sodium levels and prevent dehydration.
- Time of Day. Avoid outdoor activities, especially intense exercise, during the peak heat hours of the afternoon. Use that time to catch up on indoor housework, or relax while reading a book or watching a movie. Instead, go on morning or evening walks to enjoy the outdoors, without getting overheated or sunburned.
- Wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15), a hat that blocks the sun from your face, and sunglasses with UVA protection. Light colored clothing can also help in deterring the sun. For pesky mosquitos, use insect repellant with 10% picaridin, 30% DEET, or eucalyptus oil.
So, whether you are indoors or out, make sure to enjoy an active summer. For more information about cool summer activities, visit Capital Health Plan’s Healthwise® Knowledgebase at capitalhealth.com.
David Jones, MD, is a Pediatric physician at Capital Health Plan and serves on the board of directors for Get Outdoors Florida!