Staying Healthy This Labor Day

labordayFor many Americans, Labor Day weekend is a time to celebrate with friends, family, food and enjoying those last warm days of summer. Whether you’re soaking up the last rays of sunshine, taking the boat out on the lake, or firing up the grill, there are ways to enjoy the weekend without sacrificing your health.

Robert Greenberg, MD, at Scott & White’s Cedar Park Emergency Hospital, shares information for the upcoming Labor Day weekend:

Keep Your Food Safe from Contamination:

  • Keep raw meat away from fruits, vegetables, or any other dishes that may be served cold to prevent cross contamination with germs that can grow in raw meats.
  • Keep a meat thermometer handy to ensure all proteins are cooked thoroughly (aim for 145-160 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the type of protein and how well done you prefer it).
  • Perishable foods should not be left out for more than two hours. If it is above 90 degrees outside, no more than one hour.

Get Moving:

  • If you plan on indulging, be sure to plan more physical activities so you can balance the amount of calories you eat with number of calories you burn off.
  • Go swimming or organize water games at a local pool.
  • Try riding your bike or walking to your Labor Day destination.
  • Look into local races such as a 5K. Many towns and organizations host runs on holidays.

Seek the shade

According to Dr. Greenberg, forgetting to cover up during the outdoor family party can significantly increase your risk for sun burn. “A person’s risk for skin cancer doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns at any point in their life,” he says. Here are some ways to stay sun-burn free:

  • Find shade between 10 am and 4 pm when the sun is strongest.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. “Clothing can be your most effective form of sun protection, so make the most of it with tightly woven or knit, dark or bright colored fabrics, which offer the best defense,” says Dr. Greenberg.

Use sunscreen for outdoor activities:

  • The sunscreen label should say water-resistant, broad spectrum (meaning it protects against UVA and UVB rays) and have an SPF of 30 or higher. Look for sunscreens with The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Active Seal of Recommendation, which means it has been proven to protect the wearer from extended sun exposure.
  • Apply one ounce (about the size of a golf ball) to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside so the sunscreen has time to absorb into the skin. Be sure to reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating.
  • “A tan, whether you get it on the beach or in a tanning bed, is bad news,” says Dr. Greenberg. “If you have one, you’ve sustained skin cell damage, just as you would if you had burned.” Up to 90 percent of the visible changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by the sun, including wrinkles, leathery skin and brown spots.

Eat every three hours

  • Not skipping meals and sneaking in snacks throughout the day will keep your blood sugar steady, which means more energy for holiday festivities.
  • Eating every three hours will keep you satisfied throughout the day so you won’t get hungry and make poor food choices later.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking enough water will curb cravings and keep you hydrated even when you’re out in the sun.

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Staying Healthy This Labor Day