How to keep your cool during the hottest time of year
Last month, I spoke about how we all needed to be mindful of our stress levels these days because high levels of stress can have a negative impact on blood pressure.
Now that we're knee-deep into summer there's another threat to our blood pressure levels that we need to be aware of. Humidity.
You see, when it's hot and humid outside – which is pretty much every day these days – your heart has to work much harder.
And your body may need to circulate twice as much blood per minute as it does on an average, cooler day.
On top of that, it's hard to cool yourself down when the humidity level is high.
Excess sweating can lead to dehydration because you're literally sweating away the essential fluid your body needs to function.
And when that happens, there is a greater strain on your heart, which in turn, can have a negative impact on your blood pressure.
How can you tell if you're overheated?
Headaches are a tell-tale sign. As is feeling fatigued, confused or dizzy.
Your heart rate might start soaring, and you could feel nauseous.
You might notice excess sweat, or even an inability to sweat.
Cold, clammy skin, muscle cramps, and swelling in hands or feet are also warning signs of overheating.
If you've been outdoors for a long period of time and are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, you should seek medical help right away.
But the ultimate goal is to avoid getting overheated in the first place.
That means drinking plenty of water daily, at least eight glasses, and more if you are sweating and spending time outside.
Eating foods with a high water content can also be helpful.
Berries, tomatoes, melon, celery and tomatoes can all boost hydration.
And watch the alcohol and caffeine, which act as a diuretic and increase your risk of dehydration.
Also, time your activities outdoors to avoid the midday heat when the sun is at its highest.
Get outside early, before noon, or later in the day after 4pm.
And when you are outside, wear a hat with a wide brim to protect your face, and loose-fitting, lightweight clothing made with natural fibers that let your body breathe.
We're all in a rush to get in as much outdoor time as possible after our months-long stay-home orders.
But we've got to be smart about it.
Stay hydrated, time your outings to avoid mid-day, and dress for the weather, to keep your body from overheating, and your blood pressure healthy.