Outdoor adventure season is in full swing here in the valley. Whether it’s a day trip to the Wind Cave up Darby Canyon or an overnight camp-out in the Alaska Basin, our options are seemingly endless when it comes to hitting the trails.
Our high elevation, combined with long sunny days and stretches of temperatures in the 70s, 80s and 90s can pose some risk for unprepared adventure seekers.
Regardless if you plan to go for an hour or a day, it’s important to make a few key preparations.
First, always bring water on your trips. In warm months, hikers/bikers/climbers/runners should drink approximately one gallon of water per day, but that can vary based on your individual needs. In direct sunlight and with physical exertion, your fluid/electrolyte loss can happen faster than under cooler conditions. Sweat evaporates instantly in dry climates like ours, so it’s important to pay attention to any signs your body might need hydration. If hiking with children, pay attention to the water in their water bottles to make sure they are drinking enough and at an appropriate frequency. Ditto for dogs. Don’t plan on finding sufficient watering holes for dogs to lap up; bring water for the pooches and remember that dogs are exerting energy while wearing fur coats. Also be aware that dogs may not stop to drink water at a creek or pond if their human partner is bike riding or running at a steady pace. You may have to stop and relax before your dog feels that he can take a break and lap up some water.
Second, dress in layers and loose-fitting, lightweight clothing to avoid heat exhaustion. Seek out shaded areas when hiking, and avoid sunburns. Also, if you are taking any medications, ask your doctor whether the medications could make you more susceptible to heat exhaustion or sunburn.
Third, bring a friend or family member along for the trip and avoid strenuous activity in the middle of the day, when the sun and heat are at their highest points.
Generally, by the time you are thirsty, you’re already somewhat dehydrated. To avoid this, drink 1/2 to 1 quart of water or electrolyte drink for every hour you hike.
Although most instances of dehydration are mild or moderate and can be easily resolved by drinking fluids, severe dehydration can also occur. Signs of a serious problem include little or no urination, extreme dry mouth and skin, confusion, rapid heart-beat and unconsciousness. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency.
Like any good Scout, you need to be prepared. Water, sunscreen, good shoes, weather outlooks, and good directions should form the basis of every summer outing.
Dr. Nathan Levanger is a family practice physician offering patient care at Driggs Health Clinic located in Driggs Idaho.
High blood pressure is a common medical concern. It’s often referred to as “the silent killer” because it causes much damage to the heart before symptoms are felt. Luckily, it’s easy to diagnose with regular wellness checks. Annual wellness exams are generally covered by insurance, too.
What is normal?
In a normally healthy person, high blood pressure (hypertension) is defined as > 140 (systolic value)/ 90 (diastolic value) from two random readings. Mild hypertension is defined as systolic value of 140-159 and diastolic value of 90-99.
Systolic pressure measures the peak pressure in the arteries when the ventricles contract, and diastolic pressure measures the minimum amount of pressure in the arteries when the ventricles are filling with blood. Both numbers are important, and any elevation in either number is used to diagnose hypertension.
If you have mild hypertension, you may wonder if you should start prescription therapy. Evidence shows that treating mild hypertension reduces your risk for a heart attack in the future. But you have options to try before starting one of the many pharmaceuticals.
Yoga has shown to improve blood pressure if practiced regularly once daily for 6-12 months.
Monitoring your blood pressure is an important aspect of staying healthy. Everyone should have at least one general wellness check (which screens for medical problems such as high blood pressure) with a provider annually.
With the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, most insurers are now required to cover an annual wellness exam. Check with your insurer to confirm you benefits prior to making an appointment.
Anna Gunderson, PA-C is a nationally certified Physician Assistant. She works at the Driggs and Victor Health Clinics and is currently accepting new patients. Call (208) 354-2302 to make an appointment or visit tvhcare.org for more information on the services offered at Teton Valley Health Care.
I’ve been quiet on the blog lately and usually when I’m quiet, it’s because something has happened that must be processed through my 5 phases of Realization:
Rationalization aka Flimsy Excuse-making
Acceptance along with inner scolding
Realization = moving forward, along with occasional bursts of inner scolding
The reality is this: I did not meet my wellness goal of lowering my BMI. In fact, I’ve stayed exactly the same in terms of BMI.
Ms. Disbelief says, I can’t believe 12 months have gone by!
If I’d shown some willpower, I’d be in great shape today says the Scolder.
At least my BMI didn’t get worse, according to Rationalizing Ann.
It’s my own fault for not taking this seriously, now I need to commit and try again.
Realization: I have the tools, I know what I need to do, I’ve learned a lot about what motivates me and now I’ll put it all together and succeed. I can’t continue to be a busted flush ne’er do well.
There’s a little trick I play on myself that’s worth about 100,000 calories. (This is top secret information.) This is what happens: Let’s pretend I’ve had a good day of exercising and eating well. I praise myself. I prowl around the kitchen, making a mental list of the locations of all of the high calorie foods. Then, I wait for my husband and teenagers to clear out. When the coast is clear, I quietly pocket a cookie, scarf a spoonful of ice cream, or chug a chocolate milk. Then I scoot off, almost smug in my knowledge that I’ve gotten away with it again!
And what exactly have I gotten away with? NOTHING. While I’ve been able to host secret hoovering sessions, the resulting pounds are visible to everyone. Somehow, eating non-healthy foods in private is similar to the belief that breaking up a cookie into small pieces reduces the caloric intake: No witnesses, no calories. It never happened folks! My capacity for magical thinking is boundless.
Over the past month, I’ve been declining unhealthy foods and replacing them with better choices. I’ve skipped the cinnamon rolls and taken the watermelon slices instead. I’ve made myself get out and walk more, do more yard work and generally be wiser about how I spend my hours. I KNOW what I need to do, I’ve LEARNED how to build and use the tools toward better health, and having that knowledge is simply not enough.
If you’ve been following my blog, you know how much I like quotes. Here’s a good one by Legouvé “To live is not to learn, but to apply.”
Disclaimer: This blog discusses my personal wellness goals and is in no way a soapbox to tell anyone else how to eat, exercise and/or live their lives.