The summer is here and it’s time to be outdoors. Summer heat and the change of seasons can have a variable effect on pain, as medical conditions react differently to weather changes. Most pain conditions often do better during the summer, since the warmth allows muscles and joints to move more comfortably. Summer also allows for more time to use the outdoors as a place to exercise.
The warmth of summer is often a blessing for those with painful conditions. Muscles in the warmth often do not tighten up, and thus hurt less. Joints are less stiff since they are not cold. Now is the time to get some exercise. Start exercising slowly, warm up and stretch your muscles as you get going. Remember, if you have not been exercising, do not over do it initially. Walking is good exercise, and gradually increase your pace, distance and time as you build up strength. Go for 30 minutes a day and meet the American Heart Association goals for cardiac conditioning. If walking is too slow, bicycling is another low impact activity that can easily get the heart moving. Exercise stimulates the body’s endorphins, improves the brain function and decreases pain. Get a fitness tracker and monitor whether you are meeting your goals.
Pace, Hydration and Sun Protection
Once the weather turns nice, many of us forget common sense. We need to pace our selves especially with activities that we have not done or which are repetitive. Spending a weekend doing extensive landscaping is likely to cause injury. Heavy lifting and highly repetitive jobs or sports may damage the back or muscles, tendons and ligaments. Be reasonable and break up the tasks that need to be done to prevent problems.
The summer is a great time to be outdoors. However, do not forget to hydrate and protect against the sun. Dehydration is easy if it is hot and humid outside. Drink plenty of water, and if you are sweating excessively, drink liquids that replace nutrients. Avoid drinking alcohol when its hot outside since this tends to lead to dehydration. Remember the sunscreen when outdoors, as new studies show men ignore using sunscreen and have a higher incidence of skin cancer.
Summer is a good time to have some fun. Relax, exercise and enjoy the outdoors. There are many benefits of being outside and taking advantage of the good weather. Use a little common sense and your pain may greatly improve.
Thomas Cohn, MD
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