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Sunnies, sunscreen and summer health

Simode Tregeagle
Simone Tregeagle, Chief Operating Officer at rthealth fund.

The warm days of summer mean holidays, swimmers and sunnies. And the warmer months bring their own special kind of health challenges, too. Here are some ways that you can enjoy the season, while staying healthy as you have fun in the sun!

Get protected

Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world so it’s vital to protect your skin during the year and especially during the hottest season of the year. Choose SPF 30+ and apply thickly and often – especially if you’re in and out of the water.

The sun is hottest between 10am and 2pm so find some shade whenever you can and wear protective clothing such as a long sleeved shirt. You can now also buy swimmers made from sun protection factor (SPF) material. Add a broad-rimmed hat and you can cut sun exposure not just to your skin, but also to your eyes by 50 per cent.

Seek some shades

Don’t rely on a hat alone to protect your eyes. Your eyes are vulnerable to the sun’s harsh rays so wraparound glasses with 100 per cent UV protection provide the essential coverage you need. The sun’s UV radiation can cause irritation and swelling – and even sunburn to the eye – in the short term. And long-term damage includes cataracts, cloudiness of the cornea and even cancer. When you’re choosing sunglasses, go for eyewear that meets the Australian Standard AS/NZS1067:2003 (this can reduce UV radiation exposure to the eyes by up to 98 per cent). Sunglasses that have an eye protection factor, or EPF, rating 9 or 10 exceed the Australian Standard and block almost all UV radiation. And, if you’ll be working outside, opt for tinted eye protectors – look for items that meet the Australian Standard AS / NZS1337.1:2010.

Don’t forget to protect your children’s eyes, too. Since UV radiation builds over time, it’s vital to protect children’s eyes early for a healthier future.

Make your moves!

Summer Health

Want to get fitter or just want to stay on track at a healthy weight? Set some small goals this summer. Smaller goals with timeframes are easier to stick with than vague or ambitious aims that aren’t backed by a timeframe. Try aiming for around half an hour of exercise every day – more if you can manage it. Breaking it up into three ten-minute bouts is fine, too. Exercises that use large muscles or muscle groups are the most effective so try squats, lunges, sit-ups and planks to shape up, fast. Add just ten minutes of weight training each day on top to help to define your body by building a little muscle. Since muscle uses more energy than fat, you’ll boost your metabolism, too! Remember, if you haven’t exercised for a while and especially if you have a medical condition, speak with your doctor first.

Eat smart

Veggies and Fruits

There’s no secret weapon when making healthier choices – lots of vegetables and fresh summer fruits, fish, seafood and other lean protein and nutritious snacks should make up the majority of your meals. Try filling half your plate with veggies, a quarter with protein and a quarter with whole grain carbs. Try to stay away from cheesy/oily dressings, fried foods and watch your drinks.

Try to prepare as much food as you can at home – takeaways and restaurant items can provide around 200 calories more than the same foods made at home, according to the American Cancer Society[i]. And be extra careful when you’re cooking on barbecues and/or keeping food warm or outside for long periods, which can increase the risk of food poisoning.

Don’t drink your calories

Glass and Bottled-water

Try to stick to good old H2O most of the time – it’s the natural way to quench your thirst. Soft drinks, juices, milky syrupy coffees and alcohol can be loaded with sugar and fat, or both. For example, a large glass of wine and a full-fat milk coffee can each carry 200 calories – that’s more than in a jam doughnut.

Your body can’t detect the calories in liquid as well as it can with foods so it’s easy to overdose on liquid calories without really feeling it! Try diluting juices with ice-cold soda water or diet tonic water, alternate alcoholic drinks with sparkling water and choose diet drinks in place of full sugar versions.

[i] American Cancer Society. MediaRoom – Press Releases.

This blog was posted in health, summer and tagged in holidays, rt health fund, sun, sunscreen