With summer on the horizon, vacationers and coastal citizens will soon be heading out to enjoy the refreshment of the beach. What’s meant to be a fun, relaxing occasion can have serious health side effects without adequate preparation.
If you’re ready for fun in the sun, here are seven tips for staying healthy at the beach.
1. Prioritize Skin Protection
Skin protection should be your top priority when at the beach. Ideally, you should apply a strong mineral sunscreen before heading to the beach or as soon as you arrive. Your risk of developing skin cancer increases with each sunburn, as the damage caused by UV rays is cumulative. Furthermore, excess sun exposure causes premature aging.
Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours when engaging in water activities or sweating. Adding barriers like hats, beach wraps, and pop=up tents can also help create shade. Keep in mind that the sun’s harmful rays can reflect off the water and sand— you still need sunscreen if you’re sitting in the shade.
2. Get Up And Move
Movement is good for the body and will help you stay healthy while enjoying your time at the beach. Consider packing a few beach-appropriate games to get you on your feet and moving, or commit to taking a walk along the water to collect shells.
You don’t have to engage in intense physical exercise to justify your relaxation time— you don’t have to earn the right to rest at all. However, incorporating some simple movement will help with your circulation and generate some brain-friendly endorphins
3. Bring Sufficient Water
In addition to skin damage, spending all day in the sun also creates a risk of heatstroke. It’s integral to bring enough water to offset the potential for dehydration through sweating, especially if you plan on enjoying a few alcoholic beverages.
The recommendation of two liters of water per day is a generalization across all body types and seasons, but it’s a good starting point. For a more personalized approach, calculate half of your body weight and aim for that many ounces of water. For example, a 250lb man should be drinking 15 cups (almost 4 liters) of water on a hot day.
You can also monitor your physical symptoms for signs of dehydration, such as headache, dizziness, and urine color.
4. Pack Healthy Snacks
Use this opportunity to eat healthy snacks to provide vitamins and hydration to your body. Fruit is easy to pack and makes a delicious snack while resting on the beach. You can pack a bag of frozen fruit and enjoy the refreshing coolness in the hot sun.
It’s also important to bring enough nourishing food to replace meals at the beach, rather than going hungry. Pack a few simple sandwiches or bento boxes to ensure everyone is getting adequate nourishment.
5. Bring Cooling Packs
Don’t forget to pack cooling packs if your food has any heat-sensitive ingredients— like meat, dairy, or mayonnaise. You can also use these cooling packs to keep your drinks cold or place them on the back of your neck if you’re feeling too warm.
6. Protect Your Eyes
Many people make the mistake of grabbing a cheap pair of sunglasses for the summer without checking the UV protection rating. Many cheaper sunglass options provide shade without sufficient UV protection. There should be a sticker on your glasses upon purchase if they’re UV-rated.
7. Unplug And Relax
While it’s nice to snap a few beach photos for Instagram, take this opportunity to unplug and relax. Consider leaving your phone in the car and being present in the moment. Practice mindfulness, listening to the waves, and appreciating the warm sun on your (protected) skin.
Studies show that being at the beach can help lower stress and improve sleep quality, contributing to better hormonal regulation, immunity, and cognitive function. Those work emails can wait. Use this time for you.
With these seven tips, you can stay healthy and happy on your beach days.