To Mask or Not to Mask?
Back on May 20th, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam made the announcement that she was recommending Canadians wear a face mask/covering where physical distancing wasn’t possible. Wearing face masks is not something Westerners are used to. It’s almost a stigma to have one on, however, in East Asia and China, there is no shame in wearing a face mask. In fact, it has been going on there since the pneumonic plague in 1910 and is seen as a sign of civic responsibility to do so. If someone is seen not wearing a face mask during a public health emergency, it is greatly frowned upon and people are actually afraid of that person because they would be considered to have low civic responsibility and disrespect.
Now that things are slowly opening up, we will be exposed to more human contact than we’ve had in the past 2 months. Social distancing is a new term for us and we are still trying to understand what is acceptable and what is not. Based on what Dr. Tam has suggested, if you are not able to distance yourself in a situation where you will have 2 meters space, then the recommendation is to wear a non-surgical face mask. An example would be if you routinely take the train to work. You cannot guarantee you will be able to keep a 2 meter distance with someone else. In a situation like this, it makes sense to wear a covering. If you take your own car to work, you would not need to wear your mask as you were driving.
COVID-19 is a new virus. We are learning more and more about each day. We already know you can be asymptomatic. Even though you feel well, you may be a carrier without even realizing it. By wearing a face mask in situations where there will be close contact with others, the chances of spreading it are decreased significantly on both ends. Not only are you protecting yourself, you are also protecting the more vulnerable such as a senior or immunosuppressed individual. While it is not mandatory, it does show that you are willing to make a difference in combating this virus and are respectful of others around you. Plus, it is a temporary inconvenience and there are some pretty cool looking face masks being made out there!
What Are The Health Benefits To The Approaching Summer?
We can feel the sun on our face and it brings excitement and joy every time we realize that summer is almost here. It is by far our favorite season. Being able to shed winter layers for flip flops and shorts is what I look forward to every single year. Some of the great things about summer are of the many. High on that list are the health benefits it offers. Below we have shared some of those:
Fresh Fruits & Vegetables
Doesn’t it seem like we associate winter with heavy, comfort food? But when summer approaches and we start to shed the extra layers, heavy meals suddenly don’t seem as appetizing but the colorful fruits and vegetables do. That is because the summer heat drives our hunger down as our bodies do not need to expend as much energy to keep us warm. It tells our minds we only need something lighter to sustain us.
Fruits and vegetable look so much more vibrant in the summer. I am more apt to grab a piece of fruit as a snack now than I would in the winter based on esthetics alone. It’s also time for the local Farmer’s Market’s to open back up with local vendors presenting their organic, wholesome, fresh food. While some are open during the winter, the summer months present more excitement and color.
More Opportunities for Exercise
There is nothing worse than sitting behind a desk and staring outside to the beautiful sun shinning, envious of those out there enjoying it. The sluggish feeling of winter fades and we are suddenly energized making us more productive, even at work. This also affects the way we exercise.
People naturally want to be outside. Summer gives us more options on how and where to exercise. Not everyone is a gym rat. That can seem like a daunting, monotonous task but summer opens doors to activities that people love to do. Things like gardening, mowing the lawn, hiking/walking, riding a bike, playing a game or sport with our children/grandchildren or swimming. And what happens when you are in the sun and exercise or work outside? You sweat! Sweating detoxifies your body, which is another excellent health benefit.
More Vitamin D
Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins in our body for optimal health. It strengthens our immune system, can play a role in cancer prevention, strengthens our bones, speeds up metabolism and improves the overall emotional health. The easiest way to get a significant amount of Vitamin D is through the sun. We are meant to get 80% there and only 20% through diet. When exposed to the sun, our Vitamin D is replenished and stored.
Over the years, with more awareness of the dangers of too much sun, we have been taught to block the rays out with sun screen. People are also working more hours keeping them indoors and shielded them from the rays. Due to this, many now suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency.
Having a Vitamin D deficiency can cause you to have bone pain, muscle cramps, stooped posture, loss in height and weakness and tingling. During the summer months it is easier to store up on your Vitamin D. We wouldn’t suggest you to disregard the yields to applying sun screen, but newer research has shown that exposing your body to a little bit of sunshine can actually be good for you.
Overall Feel Good Attitude
Have you ever wondered why you instantly feel good when you see the sun? That is because it boosts your level of serotonin, which is the body’s natural happy hormone. Summer time offers us longer days and more opportunity for the sun to shine. Having the extra daylight gives us more time to be outside and possibly get outdoor exercise in. This can produce the happy endorphins more so than if you exercised indoors. Regular sun has also been known to halt moderate depression. There are individuals that have an illness called Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD), which is normally present during the fall and winter months. Once summer arrives, it magically disappears.
Nothing rejuvenates your spirit and mental health like a vacation. Taking a vacation, whether it’s a quick 3-4 day weekend get-away or a week off, can be beneficial to your overall well-being. Summer presents more time for people to take time off work and spend it with their families. Studies have shown over and over that stress can contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure. Making the time to take a vacation not only gives you a break from the normal stressors of daily life but it can strengthen your relationships by spending quality time together.
Summer is often a short lived season in Canada. Make the most of it by watching less TV, putting the devices down and getting outside to explore all of the wonderful things available to us. A little bit of sunshine can go a long way!
Happy Father’s Day!
Happy Father’s Day to all of our favorite men out there! In light of Father’s Day, Canada also celebrates Canadian Men’s Health Week (June 15-21st) This is a time to focus on challenges men have regarding healthy lifestyles. To find out more, visit the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation: https://menshealthfoundation.ca/campaigns/menshealthweek/