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Copyright© 2002, 2003, Marlene R. Fedin
HOW TO STAND UP TO SUMMER
Tips and Strategies for Staying
By Marlene R. Fedin, The Wellness Concierge®
Counter Summer’s Sultry Side Effects
How to Avoid Becoming a Heat Casualty
JUNE 27, 2002
magazines, movies, and our dreams, summer is a fantasyland of
sun-splashed days in which we languidly loll around a pool or
beach. We wear linen that never wrinkles, have the perfect tan
(we never burn or wrinkle), never sweat, and look sexy no matter
what we're wearing or what the Heat Index is.
reality, even leisure travelers can't live this fantasy. For
business travelers who have been on the road
in the last month or been hitting U. S. hotspots (Think Arizona,
Florida, and New Orleans for starters.) all year, "summer" is a
seemingly endless round of trying to look professional while
navigating one's (overdressed) self and (suddenly heavier)
luggage through a maze of heat, haze, and humidity.
landscape of travel today is already stressful and physically
challenging. Factor in the heat, and it's a rare roadie who
survives without feeling withered, toasted, wilted, or
worse. But keeping cool isn't just about trying to ensure
some level of physical comfort or maintaining a professional
demeanor. It's about staying healthy so we can enjoy the
increased activity and outdoor exposure that summer brings.
(And maybe even live out some of our fantasies of "how it should
big part of staying well when traveling during the summer is
simply using your head (planning ahead is critical). But since
we're often too hot to think clearly, here's some
learned-on-the-job tips to help you stay cool, calm, collected,
and healthy from your resident "Heat Counselor."
Among my "credentials": numerous trips to factories in southern
and western U.S. locales in the depths of summer and a six-week
sales trip in Miami in July that was preceded by a whirlwind of
appointments in an under-air-conditioned, 90-degree+ Rome that
was capped by my scaling at mid-day—in high heels and a tight
skirt—the narrow stairs to the top of St. Peters with an Italian
client. I drank so much water that I could have served as a buoy
but I never fainted or even got dizzy, although several of my
traveling companions hit the pavement rather unexpectedly during
the Miami sojourn.
Local Air-Quality Conditions
The impact of
poor air quality, which increases in the summer, often goes
unnoticed by travelers because many of its symptoms (wheezing;
runny, irritated nose and eyes or throat; coughing, etc.) are
often mistaken for allergies. But haze and smog pose a health
threat for many and the negative effects of exposure to air
pollution aren’t limited to those with heart or respiratory
Extended exposure to high levels of pollutants such as
ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide and particulate matter,
particularly through exercise, can catch anyone off guard and
leave even the fit short of breath and coughing, sneezing, and
worse. Numerous cities and areas frequented by business
travelers have air-pollution levels that persistently exceed
established national standards for air quality. (A listing of
these areas is provided on the
EPA’s Web site.)
The amount of toxic ozone—one of six pollutants monitored in
the EPA’s Pollutant Standards Index (PSI)—rises between May and
October. This increases the incidence of risk, which now extends
beyond cities to the suburbs and even some rural areas.
If you’ve got allergies, local pollen counts can warn when
you’ll need to take medication or alter the timing of workouts.
Noting which allergens are at the highest levels can help you
isolate which culprits are triggering problems.
TIP: Claritin's Web site
is filled with helpful allergy-related info. You can check for
airborne allergens by region; review its
Allergen Guide to learn about specific plants, trees,
and mold allergens; and get a
forecast. (You can even sign up for a
e-mail alert for a designated area.)
If you're overweight, have a heart, respiratory or other
medical condition that is affected by air quality, be sure to
check the daily Air Quality Index for your location and adjust
your activity level.
TIP: Many local TV
weather reports include PSI and air quality info. You can
check the air quality
for any U.S. location for the current day (as well as a
forecast for the next day) at the EPA's AirNow page, which also
provides detailed health alerts and an explanation of how the
Air Quality Index affects your health. And if you really want to
get the details on the pollutants in an area, you can check out
Type-A folks may
be loathe to accede to the dictates of nature, but energy levels
can plummet in hot weather with some undesirable consequences
(fainting and heat exhaustion, for example). "Slow down." and
"Take it easy." are cautions meant to be heeded.
Trying to do too much, physically overdoing it, and
running from icy cold air-conditioned rooms into the blazing sun
and hot, open air is a sure-fire way to become a hot-weather
casualty. So relax, slow down, pace yourself, and try not to
end up in situations where you are running—there's nothing
that's worth putting your life at risk.
Your Fitness Routine
over-exercise or overexert yourself physically, particularly if
you’re not in good shape. The temptations are many, but summer
isn’t the best time to try to transform yourself into a jock or
a fitness buff. However, the more fit you are, the better you’ll
be able to deal with summer weather.
In cities with high altitudes, poor air quality, or high heat
and humidity, curtail your workout (length and intensity) and
give yourself time to acclimate to local conditions.
Ironically, exercising makes people more vulnerable to air
pollutants since they breathe in more air and take it more
deeply into their lungs. Pollution levels are higher during
peak commuting hours, so avoid those times if you run/jog/walk,
particularly if you have asthma or chronic respiratory problems.
TIP: The ALA advises
avoiding exercising near congested highways or on heavily
trafficked streets and staying 30 to 50 fee away from cars—tough
to do in most cities, for example! If possible, stay in shaded
areas. If you don’t want to run the risk of exposure, take your
routine indoors. When outdoor pollution is at a dangerous level,
The American Lung Association's site details the
of air pollution on your exercise routine, who is
at risk, and how to minimize risks while exercising outdoors
during poor conditions.
If you’re an allergy sufferer, take an antihistamine 30
minutes before you work out. Pollen levels soar until
around 10 a.m., so don’t take to the road too early and avoid
locales such as fields and areas around streams and ponds where
ragweed is plentiful. If you’re faced with unhealthy levels of
air pollution, work out indoors.
Your Physical Condition
Heed the body’s
warning signals. If you feel disoriented, lightheaded, or dizzy,
or if you have a headache, nausea, clamminess, or chills, get
out of the heat, cool down, and drink water.
If you’ve stopped
sweating and your heartbeat is rapid, you’re experiencing the
early signs of heat exhaustion and need immediate aid.
TIP: Avoid meltdown:
Carry a frozen bottle of water. Roll it over your forehead and
neck to chill out and when it thaws, drink it!
If the frozen-water bottle bit isn't your style, consider
wrapping your neck (or head) with the
Cool-Down Bandana. (FYI: It's not really a bandana but a
thin, long piece of fabric more akin to a skinny tie.) Place the
cooling band in water, wrap around your neck, and you should see
a drop in body temperature of 10 to 15 degrees. (The maker
claims it works by cooling the carotid artery, the main artery
in your neck, and offers a money-back guarantee.)
And if that's too messy or unfashionable, there's always the
sleek, high-tech looking
Personal Cooling System from The Sharper Image
Personally, I've tried all three and I'm sticking with the
frozen water bottle. I hate anything around my neck when I'm
hot, but I know folks who swear by the cooling system and others
who love the low-tech cooling bands.
Your Fluids Intake—But Watch What You Drink
be a major problem. Increase your intake of water/fluids prior
to a flight and drink at least eight ounces of water for each
hour of a flight.
Drink up even if you don’t feel very thirsty. By the
time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
Don’t reach for the ubiquitous iced-tea or coffee. Such
caffeine-laden drinks act as stimulants and increase heat
production in the body.
Avoid beverages laced with alcohol or caffeine
(they’re diuretics, which encourage elimination) and carbonated
or salty drinks that only fuel your thirst.
TIP: To prevent overheating, the American
College of Sports Medicine advises drinking about two glasses
of water two hours before exercising and drinking cool (not
cold) liquids throughout a workout.
REMINDER: If you’ve got a fever or an illness that
includes diarrhea or vomiting, which can lead to rapid fluid
loss, or are taking medications that interfere with sweating
(antihistamines, antispasmodics, some antidepressants, to name a
few), increase your fluid intake to compensate.
Drink the Water!
No matter how
thirsty you are, don’t drink questionable water—on the ground or
in the air. Plan ahead to have safe drinking water or other
And don’t overlook the water you immerse yourself in. In the
heat of summer, many of the same folks who tote bottled water or
use water filters blithely hurl themselves into rivers, ponds,
and streams that are rife with contaminants such as giardia and
cryptosporidia, which can cause gastrointestinal problems.
lighter, looser, and more comfortable clothes. Look for
natural fibers (cotton and linen) or natural-fiber blends with
open weaves. Avoid tight or constricting clothing. They'll
only increase your discomfort. And unless you're a masochist
(or a fashion model), avoid sweat-inducing materials like
polyester, nylon and leather.
- Eat less (but don't skip meals) and cut down on
heavy, fat-laden foods. Up your intake of fresh fruits,
vegetables, and lean meats. You'll feel better and you'll have
- Carry less. Ship luggage ahead or pare down.
Everything seems to weigh more in the summer.
COUNTERING SUMMER’S SULTRY SIDE EFFECTS
Sun, heat, and humidity deliver subtle
punches that can, if ignored, take out—or slow down—even
the fittest road warrior.
Unanticipated Sun Sensitivity: Mixing Drugs
and Sun Can "Burn" You
Taking a decongestant on a 90-degree day
can leave some with a bad case of the shakes because heat,
humidity, and sun exposure can affect the way a drug is
metabolized. People with certain medical conditions or
those taking certain medications, for example, are
especially vulnerable to sun exposure. The degree of
photosensitivity varies based on a person’s protective
pigments and the way they metabolize a drug when exposed
to UVA rays.
Some common photo-sensitizing chemicals
include acne treatments (Accutane) and anti-wrinkling
drugs (Retin-A, Renova), antidepressants, antihistamines,
diuretics, oral contraceptives, oral diabetic agents and
anti-cancer or anti-seizure medications. Taking common
pain relievers such as Ibuprofen (found in Advil and
Motrin) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
also can increase skin’s sensitivity to sun.
Since UVA rays are not absorbed by
glass, which does absorb UVB rays, you can get burned
while riding in your car. Avoid mid-day exposure, limit
overall exposure, use broad-spectrum sunscreens that
protect you from both UVB and UVA rays and wear a hat with
a wide brim.
exposure adds up. Even city-trolling, skyscraper-bound
travelers may rack up unprotected sun exposure. If you
have a lengthy drive to and from the airport, an
unexpected al fresco lunch, an outdoor meeting, a site
tour with a client, you may be getting more sun exposure
than you anticipated. So unless you literally never see
daylight, you should use a sunscreen or sunblock every
day—even if you don’t anticipate any extensive sun
Start the day by slathering on (don't skimp) sunscreen
(a minimum SPF of 15; your choice should reflect not only
the amount of time you'll be exposed but also your skin
type and susceptibility to skin melanomas) on exposed
areas such as your face, neck, hands, forearms, and feet.
If you do a lot of driving, put extra lotion
(and reapply frequently) on the exposed areas of your
driving arm and hand, as well as the left side of your
face and neck.
the SPF (Sun Protection Factor), the greater the
protection against aging, cancer, and sunburn you'll
high-SPF sunscreen doesn't decrease your risk of a burn if
you don't re-apply in a timely manner. According to a
recent study, you're less likely to burn if you use a
product with an SPF of 15 and reapply it every two hours
than if you opted for an SPF 30 product that was reapplied
every 2.5 hours!
Savvy! To avoid over-exposure and better plan
your outdoor activities, check the
UV Index to determine the local risk factor.
Wearable Protection If you’re sun-sensitive,
burn quickly, or have a medical condition that requires
you to stay out of the sun (but you can’t), consider
specially designed clothing. Sun Precautions
comfortable, lightweight sportswear and outdoor clothing,
including hats, that blocks more than 97 percent of UVA
and UVB rays. Its
Solumbra line of men’s and women’s apparel has
received FDA approval for its claims of 30+ SPF
protection—wet or dry.
companies with sun-protective clothing include
L.L. Bean (cotton shirts in the
Travel Collection) and
Sun Guard. Pop the laundry additive into the wash
with the clothes you want to sunproof and you'll have
apparel with an SPF of 30.
Swipe-On Sun Protection:
Who can bother with those tubes and bottles of sunscreen?
No wonder most of us don't use sun protection. Lighten
your load and protect your skin with pre-moistened,
single-use towelettes. Look for
Sunscreen Towelettes. The swipes are re-usable,
waterproof, and greaseless and available in SPF 30 and 45,
and provide UVA and UVB protection. (800-478-6386)
offers five non-allergenic, PABA-free, waterproof products
(including a Sunblock SPF 30 version with an insect
repellant). You can get a
sample for a $1 SH fee (Phone:
forget to buy—and wear—sunglasses. Check the label to be
sure they provide both UVA and UVB protection. (Check out
the Washington Post's
sunglass-selection and shopping tips.)
The material you see here is provided for information purposes
only and is not a substitute for consulting a healthcare
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only real value that we bring
other human being on this planet
is our ability to make some of their stress go away.”
The Wellness Concierge®?
Marlene R. Fedin
To provide road warriors with
travel-health information, resources, and inspiration to ease the
stress and strain of life on the road and encourage
healthier life choices.
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