All Health's Breaking Loose: Living with the heat

They say you can blame acting a little crazy on a full moon. Maybe so, but I think it's time we gave the sun its crazy-making due as well. I was out for a run one morning last week. Already in the upper 80s, the temperature was rising fast. Jogging toward me was a latte-brown suntanned fellow about 60 years old. He was wearing a bright blue "do-rag" on his head and some Elton-John-looking, wrap-around sunglasses. He was in heaven, cruising along, sun on his shoulders, loving every rising degree of the heat.

The heat means different things to each of us. I grew up in Arizona, a bleach-blond little kid with bare feet running around on black asphalt so hot that you could fry an egg on (it works — we tried it). I learned early on to make peace with the heat. For some, sitting outdoors in the shade is restful and relaxing, whereas for others, it is uncomfortable. Remember, your body perspires in order to cool you off and release toxins from the body — it's a good thing. Plus, studies show that outdoor air is much healthier to breathe than indoor air, so take those chances to get outside and really breathe.

But perhaps some of us are just built for the heat. The average body temperature is about 98.6, but if you are hungry, sleepy or cold, it is likely to change. It also varies depending on where your temperature is taken — under the arm, under the tongue or that other place where the sun never shines. See, we're adaptable. And some of us have expanded our comfort zones to more fully enjoy the outdoors. We don't mind the feeling of our raised body temperature and a little perspiration. Plus, those who remain persistently hidden from the sun will miss out on many of the benefits the sun provides.

The sun's rays are a wonderful source of vitamin D, which balances hormones and builds good bones and teeth. The sun also raises your serotonin levels, which is why it can elevate your mood and bring a sense of contentment. Exposure to UV light can improve depression and mood swings and lower your risk of certain cancers. The warmth of the sun can relieve joint pain and help to normalize your blood pressure.

But if all the while you are stressed about the possibility of getting skin cancer, then the good may not out-weigh the bad. Rather, we should be smart and protect ourselves by limiting exposure to direct sun to approximately 15 to 20 minutes daily. Find the shade when necessary and use a good quality paraben-free sun block. You'll need to read the label. Remember, if it goes on you it's also going in you. If you are applying a toxic cream to the skin daily—well, here's that "good outweighing the bad" thing again. Remember your hat and sunglasses too, then go ahead and enjoy the fragrance and sounds of the outdoors and the beautiful mountains around us. Your disposition just might get a little sunnier.

For all you residents of the Crescenta-Cañada Valley, here's a poem by Lili Dauphin:

Go ahead and smile

Get rid of the frown

Let a happy face shine for a while

Wake up and enjoy the sunshine

Today is a beautiful day

Allow your heart to shine

Allow your spirit to grow

Let it cheerfully expand

Give it enough room to flow

Be happy in the meanwhile

Feel love in your heart

Don't stop the smile ***

I'll see you in two weeks.

Love & health,

Loa

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