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All Health's Breaking Loose: Living with the heat

September 01, 2010|By Loa Blasucci

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.

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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.

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