Health Awareness Month- Staying Healthy in the Outdoors

Spring is a great time to start getting in shape after a long winter. In the Springtime, many of us find ourselves more motivated to exercise if we can get outdoors in the fresh air and sunlight. With May being Health Awareness Month, here are a few of the specific May health topics for you which are related to time outdoors.

National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month

What is osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is a disease which causes the bones to become more brittle. There are many reasons a person gets osteoporosis such as low estrogen levels, having a small frame/bones, calcium intake or absorption and age. Exercise can help prevent osteoporosis, but it can also lower estrogen levels. Your athletic, teenage daughter may like not having periods, but it can mean weak bones later. Her doctor may want to prescribe estrogen pills during sport season. Weight-bearing exercise builds denser, stronger bones. The more bone mass you build before age 25 or 30, the better off you will be during the years of gradual bone loss.

Hiking and biking are great weight-bearing activities that require your muscles to work against gravity and can help keep your bones strong.

Allergy/Asthma Awareness Month

Flower photoYou may feel like you have to skip out on enjoying hikes because of allergies and asthma, but you shouldn’t have to. Try following a few of these tips :

  • Pollen counts are highest on hot, dry, windy days. Check the forecast before making plans to go out for a hike. Warm, breezy mornings have the highest pollen counts. Cool, rainy days have the lowest.
  • Move your morning hike or walk to evening. Peak pollen and mold time is 5- 10 a.m.
  • Where sunglasses when doing outside activities like hiking. Sunglasses not only protect against harmful UV rays, they also keep pollen out of your eyes.
  • Start allergy medications a few weeks before pollen season starts. Claritin is available over-the-counter if you cannot get Allegra or the other prescription allergy medications.

  • Depending on the severity of your allergies, you may need to carry along your inhaler or EpiPen with you on hikes, but don’t skip the adventures. They can be a refreshing time and great exercise.

Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month

beachMore people get skin cancer than any other cancer. The good news is that it can be taken care of if detected early enough.

There are over 200 types of cancer that can invade skin tissue. The most serious is malignant melanoma. It often arises from or near a mole, so make sure to check your moles for irregular shape.  The best known way to prevent skin cancer is to avoid getting sunburns.

Our bodies need the vitamin D from the sun, so don’t stay inside. Head outside for a nature hike. If you are fair- skinned and burn rather than tan, just wear sunscreen and UV protecting clothing. It is very important that children do not get burns.

Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness. When out in the woods or in grassy areas make sure to use tick repellents with DEET. Also, wear light colored clothing, long sleeves, and long pants with pants’ legs tucked into socks.
Check for ticks on your skin when you get home from outdoor activities.  Rashes and flu-like symptoms can be signs of lyme disease and you should call your doctor immediately.

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2 Responses to Health Awareness Month- Staying Healthy in the Outdoors

  1. The Florida Blogger May 19, 2010 at 8:38 am #

    I’m very aware of Lyme Disease after walking in some woods around the Big Bend of Florida and coming back with numerous ticks. I need to spray my clothes with Raid next time I go hiking.

    • Shawn May 19, 2010 at 10:39 am #

      Yuck! You didn’t get Lyme Disease did you? We went hiking a few years ago in Milton, Florida and when we returned home we discovered some ticks on me. No fun.