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The Benefits of Enjoying the Outdoors

Jul 19, 2016 12:33PM ● Published by Melanie Heisinger

By John Phillips, president of Methodist Mansfield Medical Center


John Phillips, President of
Methodist Mansfield
Medical Center

Summer means more daylight hours to do the activities that you love, like working in the garden or — my favorite — taking long, early-morning runs. I encourage you to take advantage of the summer months and get moving outdoors. Chances are, you’ll be so distracted by the sights and sounds of Mother Nature that you won’t even think about how far you’ve run, walked, or biked or how long you’ve gardened or worked in the yard. But it’s important that you protect yourself against heat-related illness and sunburn. 

While the sun provides vitamin D to help us better absorb calcium for bone health, it’s easy to overdo it. Avoid burning by applying a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15. Don’t forget that your eyes need protection from ultraviolet rays, too. Always wear sunglasses in the bright sun, and make sure that they have a label indicating they block UV rays.

You can guard against heat stroke by drinking plenty of water and avoiding drinks with caffeine, alcohol, and lots of sugar. Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and take breaks so you don’t get overheated. 

Watch for the warning signs of heatstroke, and if you experience any of them, move to a cool place and get medical help right away. Symptoms include a rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; or dizziness, nausea, or confusion.

I’m John Phillips, president of Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, and I love the outdoors and running marathons.

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