Staying Healthy in Hot Weather
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Staying Healthy in Hot Weather

Get some ideas on how to beat the heat and stay healthy this year in the UAE.

Staying Healthy in Hot Weather

As summer settles in on the Northern Hemisphere, news and weather reports around the world will soon start to talk about heat waves, increased temperatures and summer weather warnings. But for residents of the UAE, those days when the mercury just reaches the upper-30’s Celsius (mid-90’s Fahrenheit) are something to be treasured, since really hot days here are more like 44°C (110°F).

Everybody knows that intense heat poses serious risk of heatstroke and heat exhaustion, but some less obvious heat-related health risks include obesity, lethargy, cabin fever, boredom and depression, since about the only way to entirely avoid the UAE’s intense summer temperatures is to stay indoors for half the year.

To beat the heat and still stay healthy and in shape means a lot more than just staying cool. Here are some great suggestions that anyone can put into practice.

Stay Fit

One of the first things to slip for many people after moving to the UAE is their exercise routine. Heat, a hectic work pace, and difficulties adjusting to the new location and lifestyle can all lead to a lessened desire to get moving. Unfortunately, falling into the rut of very little physical activity can have major health repercussions, so it is critical to find a way to stay active.

Thankfully, almost all modern apartment complexes in the UAE have an air-conditioned gym, swimming pool and other amenities to make staying fit in a cool environment easier. The key is to use them.

Another important aspect of staying healthy and fit in summer in the UAE is to adjust diet and eating habits. Rich, heavy foods are not only very filling but can also make a person feel sluggish and uncomfortable.

During summer it is better to eat several small meals throughout the day, including plenty of fruits and vegetables which serves as natural rehydrating agents, and will prevent the awful feeling of being too full in hot weather.

Keep Hydrated

Everyone needs to take in plenty of fluids when the weather is extreme, either very hot or very cold, since the body has to work much harder in extremes to stay regulated, and because its suspended water is the primary agent for removing toxins from muscles and organs that can cause negative effects when allowed to build up.

Under most circumstances, even in very hot weather, cool water is the best thing to drink to stay hydrated. The average adult is recommended to drink about two liters of water per day. This figure accounts for routine activities, but when exposed to extreme temperatures, especially when sweating heavily during intense exertion or under direct sun, the amount of water drunk should be increased to about one liter per hour.

The easiest place to detect early signs of dehydration is in the urine. Dark yellow or brownish urine is an indication of high concentrations of waste, meaning there is not enough available water in the body to function properly. Passing several hours without the need to urinate is a sure sign of dehydration setting in. Another indicator is headache. At the first signs of dehydration, drink more water immediately.

Only during and immediately after intense periods of activity, such as exercising or doing manual labor outside, are electrolyte-replacement sports drinks really necessary. Drinking them when they are not needed just results in intake of a lot unnecessary sugar, calories and salts.

Another mistake many people make is thinking that alcoholic beverages, such as cocktails and beers next to the pool or at a backyard barbecue, still count as staying hydrated. In reality, the water in these drinks will at best only offset the diuretic effects of the alcohol. Thus, when drinking alcohol, it is best to increase water intake. The same basic rule applies to caffeine-laden beverages such as coffee, tea and soda.

Stay Cool

Heat not only increases risk of health problems; it also puts many people on edge, resulting in short tempers, road rage, lashing out and other frustration-related actions. This can damage relationships and make people look foolish, as well as raise blood pressure and cause increased stress, both of which are linked to cardiac disease.

Moderate exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress, and it is good for heart health too. Just be sure to do it in a cool environment.

Obviously, it is best to work out in an air-conditioned gym in the warmer months in the UAE, as body temperature can rise significantly during periods of exertion, but one thing many people forget is that after finishing their work out, a lengthier cool-down period is needed in summer to reduce their core temperature. Take a cool shower before leaving the air-conditioned gym to return to a normal internal temperature, since going out into the intense heat without adequate cool-down time can put the body at risk of heat stroke in a very short period of time.

Also, don’t overlook the effect of too many, or too few, layers of clothing on body temperature. Dressing in heavy formal attire can make warm weather feel hotter and hot weather become unbearable. It is best to dress for the climate, doing as the locals have for centuries and wearing natural fibers such as cotton and linen which are cool and breathable. Conversely, not covering up exposed skin with a layer of UV resistant material when in direct sunlight increases risk of sunburn, sun poisoning and heat stroke or heat sickness.

Get Outside

The vast majority of hot weather advisories hinge on staying indoors in a cool place, and during the heat of the day this is definitely sound advice. But, because the UAE is in the desert, the temperature differential between daytime and nighttime is quite significant. As soon as the sun starts to set, outdoor temperatures can drop considerably, meaning that getting outside for some exercise or sports is possible.

Additionally, early mornings around sunrise are a great time to go outdoors: the air is cool and there is a chance to get some much needed vitamin D from the sunshine, as well as to simply shake off that entrapped feeling of cabin fever that comes with staying cooped up indoors all day long.


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