Outdoor Adventures

Head out for a day hike. Go fishing. Enjoy a weekend camping trip. With summer just around the corner, it’s time to plan for some fun and adventure in the great outdoors.

Whether you’re staying local or getting out of town, playing outside is a reliable recipe for relaxation and renewal. Check out these resources for outdoor fun, and make a list of things to do and places to go:

  • Head to a national park. One of the best values in vacation spots, national parks offer up–close encounters with unique land formations, wildlife, and unbeatable natural beauty. With online search tools, you can find a national park in the United States, Canada, Europe, and other countries around the world.
  • Turn up the fun. Boost the exhilaration factor by trying whitewater rafting, canoeing, rock climbing, or parasailing — just a few of the outdoor activities available for beginning through advanced adventure–seekers.
  • Explore your backyard. You don’t have to travel far to enjoy fresh air and nature’s bounty. State and city parks, rivers and lakes, and local trails make for easy anytime escapes.

Save a Life

If a friend or family member went into cardiac arrest, would you know what to do? According to the American Heart Association, if bystander CPR (more immediate than paramedic or in–hospital CPR) is not done or a defibrillator isn’t used, the chance of survival drops by 7%–10% every minute following cardiac arrest.

You, your family, friends, and coworkers can be life–savers by mastering a new technique — even if you’ve never been trained — called Hands–Only™ CPR. This simple 2–step procedure keeps blood flowing to the heart and brain; done properly, it can double a victim’s chance of survival. And it only takes a moment to learn:

  • Call 911.
  • Push hard and fast in the center of the chest.

Visit the Hands–Only CPR website to view a video demonstration or download a free how-to application for your handheld device.

The American Heart Association still recommends conventional CPR classes for helping infants and children, resuscitating drowning victims, and responding to other emergencies. After participating in a class, you’ll also be more confident about your CPR skills — and more likely to help in an actual emergency. Don’t put it off — learn Hands–Only CPR and find a CPR class near you today.

Grill Drills

It’s time to scrape the char off the grill and refill the propane tank. And while fire–roasting your chow gives it that rustic flavor, it can heat up the risk for ingesting carcinogens. Before you cook up those kabobs, learn these tips for cooling down exposure to cancer–causing agents:

  • Lower the flame. Studies find that direct contact with high temperatures not only makes your meat crispy, it triggers a chemical reaction that produces heterocyclic amines — compounds known to generate malignancies in humans. Prebake your meat, fowl, or fish to reduce time on the open flame, and raise the rack when it comes time to throw them on the grill.
  • Stop prodding. Avoid frequent turnover, flipping only once if you can. Use tongs instead of forks to cut back on the chances of spilling flammable juices into the pit and igniting flare–ups. Amputate well–done portions.
  • Favor veggies. Studies show that grilled vegetables are less vulnerable to the cancerous whims of poultry and beef. Try tossing a veggie burger on the grill, or thread a skewer with mushrooms, squash, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and nectarines for a vegetarian cookout. If you can’t shake your carnivorous spirit, add a few pieces of beef or chicken onto the stick, which will satisfy your appetite for meat while limiting the amount you eat.

Remembering Family

Most of us merge into the fast lane during much of the day, scattering our quality time over text messages and brief kisses on the cheek as we jump out of the car. You don’t need studies to tell you that families who practice regular togetherness thrive with a spirit of contentment and well–being.

So slow down to enjoy the sweet simplicity of being together with these tips:

  • Ask each person to share a favorite memory about another family member, alive or dead. Use the opportunity to tell stories of your childhood to your kids.
  • Break out the family photo albums and/or watch old family movies to reminisce over yesteryear.
  • Write notes of gratitude to one another. For large groups, draw names and have everyone express thoughts in a journal. Then read them aloud as you gather over grub.

Lifesavers

While aquatic recreation tops the list of summer fun, it can be a dangerous pastime. Drowning deaths account for 4000 deaths a year. Learn life–saving techniques and preventive tips so you have skills you hope you never need to use:

  • Get trained in CPR and first aid. You can find local certification classes through the American Red Cross or American Heart Association or by contacting your local fire department. Medical schools, health agencies, and community centers sometimes offer free workshops as a public service. If you have children, register for pediatric courses too.
  • Avoid menacing waters. If swimming in the ocean, stay away from dark or murky areas, which can indicate deep waters churned up by a riptide. Never enter zones that appear to ripple or be carrying debris out to sea. If you’re ever caught, signal for assistance, remain calm, float with the current, and try to swim parallel to the shoreline until help arrives. Always check weather before swimming or boating to make sure lightning won’t be an issue. At the pool, enter feet first, diving only into designated diving sections.
  • Heed simple advice. Never drink alcohol while swimming, diving, or boating. Keep a cell phone nearby or install a landline. Keep toys and gear away from the deck to prevent trips. Remove pool covers completely. Keep a flotation device nearby.

Self-Help

Doctors recommend an array of health screenings for both genders, especially as Father Time ticks and tocks. But in between mammograms and prostate checks, you should conduct self–exams at home. Keep tabs on your health with these simple inspections that could mean the difference between life and death:

  • Scan your skin. Check moles monthly to monitor any changes in color, size, regularity, or number — even slight alterations can signal a cancerous growth. And look for other changes like splotchy areas or bumps, especially on the back of your arms — sandpapery patches can be a sign of an omega–3 deficiency, which can contribute to cardiovascular problems.
  • (For women) Record your menstrual cycles. While most women don’t have the so–called 28–day norm, cycles that fall outside the typical 21– to 35–day range can indicate an underlying problem — such as polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, or fibroids. It’s also important to monitor changes in flow, as heavier or more frequent periods suggest hormonal imbalances. And don’t forget those monthly breast checks.
  • (For men) Conduct testicular screenings. Testicular cancer is actually the most common cancer among men ages 15–34, so be diligent about monthly inspections to catch abnormalities. And while extremely rare, breast cancer does develop in men, especially those over 60. Pay attention to lumps, dimpling, puckering, or changes in size, shape, or contour of each breast.