Have a Happy, Healthy Summer

The month of July offers plenty of fun opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and engage in physical activity. The season offers more unstructured family time as many people have time away from work and school. While the hot and humid summer weather poses challenges for Alabamians of all ages, there are ways to keep cool on hot days and stay healthy and safe from summer hazards.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention summarizes the following general tips to have a healthy summer.

  • Move More, Sit Less!
    • Get at least 150 minutes of aerobic physical activity every week.
    • Physical activity has immediate benefits for your health: better sleep and reduced anxiety are two.

  • Wear Sunscreen and Insect Repellent
    • Use shade, wide-brimmed hats, clothing that covers, and a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 for sun protection.
    • Use insect repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to prevent mosquito bites and ticks.
    • Apply sunscreen before insect repellent. After you come indoors, check your clothing, body, and pets for ticks. Reapply sunscreen after 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.

  • Keep Cool in Extreme Heat
    • Extreme heat can be dangerous for everyone, but it may be especially dangerous for people with chronic medical conditions.
    • Stay cool.
    • Stay hydrated.
    • Stay informed.

  • Eat Healthy Food
    • Delicious fruits and veggies make any summer meal healthier.
    • Healthy eating supports muscles, strengthens bones, and boosts immunity.

  • Choose Your Drinks Wisely
    • Drink water (fluoridated tap or unsweetened bottled or sparkling) instead of sugary or alcoholic drinks to reduce calories and stay safe.
    • Add slices of fruit to water for a refreshing, low-calorie drink.

  • Don’t Use Tobacco
    You can quit tobacco today! Find the free quitting support that’s right for you. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. Download the QuitSTART App.

    The Alabama Tobacco Quitline is a free telephone and online coaching service for any Alabamian who is ready to quit tobacco. Information, referrals, and counseling are confidential, and sessions are designed on a schedule convenient for the caller. If medically eligible, those who enroll in the counseling program can receive up to 8 weeks of nicotine patches to assist in quitting. You may also visit Quit Now Alabama to enroll in the program.

In addition to these general tips, remember that summer is the peak season for foodborne illnesses. The four most important food safety rules are to wash your hands and clean surfaces often; don’t cross-contaminate; cook food to the right temperature; and refrigerate food promptly.

Whether you are out in nature, in the sun absorbing vitamin D, or just enjoying a break in your everyday routine, take care to follow health and safety rules so you can make the most of this season.

Scott Harris, M.D., M.P.H.
State Health Officer