Kimberly Garrison | Summer, an invigorating time of the year

But there are six annoying health problems you'll want to avoid

MY FAVORITE season of the year always has been summer.

Summer makes me feel more alive, energized and even happier. I love those hazy, lazy, hotter than July days.

I also love summer because it's the perfect time to reunite with nature, to exercise outside, to hug a tree.

What I don't enjoy, however, are pesky problems like these six summertime hazards you'll want to avoid.

_ Dehydration.

While proper hydration is important all year long, it is especially important in hot weather. Water should be your primary beverage. Period.

Every cell in your body is clamoring for proper hydration. (If your urine is bright yellow, you are dehydrated.)

SOLUTION: Drink plenty of water daily and especially before, during and after exercise.

The minimum is eight glasses a day, but be sure to drink even more on days when you exercise.

I suggest drinking one or two glasses before your first cup of Joe in the morning.

By the way, coffee and other beverages containing caffeine are dehydrating, so if you consume these, you should drink even more water.

Be sure to sip, sip, sip throughout the day.

_ Overheating.

Along with staying dehydrated, it is equally important to keep yourself cool. That's right - humans can overheat and blow a fuse, too.

Failure to keep cool could lead to conditions such as heat stress, cramps, or even a potentially dangerous heat stroke.

SOLUTION: To prevent overheating, be sure to follow the instructions above and stay hydrated. And when you're outdoors, use common sense and stay in the shade.

If you haven't done this already, have your home properly ventilated and keep the fans and air conditioning flowing.

Wear light-colored clothing, and invest in summer hats, visors and sunglasses.

_ Sunburn.

This is a no-brainer: Wear sunscreen. Minimizing wrinkles and avoiding skin cancer are reasons enough to slather on the SPF.

SOLUTION: Everybody should get a sunscreen that is at least SPF 15. Also, be sure to put lotion on your kids, too.

_ Yeast infections.

Summer often brings an increase in vaginal yeast infections.

Yeast loves warm, dark, moist environments, so ladies, be sure to get out of the wet bathing suits and workout gear immediately.

And guess what? Avoiding too much sugar will also minimize your chances of getting one of those dreaded, itchy infections.

Yeast feeds on glucose (the body's sugar), so foods that increase your blood-sugar levels can disturb the body's delicate balance, letting yeast grow out of control.

SOLUTION: Get out of the wet stuff and stay dry. Also, do yourself a favor and eliminate or reduce sugar consumption.

Not only might you avoid a yeast infection, you might avoid some dental cavities and slim down in the process, too.

_ Insect bites.

Bugs and their bites are the two things I truly hate about summer.

SOLUTION: Be prepared. Keep insect repellent with you at all times.

Stock your medicine cabinet with hydrocortisone cream and calamine lotion for treatment should you get bitten.

_ Athlete's foot.

Hot, sweaty feet plus summer heat create the perfect breeding ground for athlete's foot, a fungus that can affect the nail or the entire foot.

Thick, yellow toenails and itchy, dry feet are sure signs that you have a fungus.

SOLUTION: To avoid athlete's foot, keep your feet clean and dry.

Get out of those wet socks immediately after your workout and clean and dry those tootsies (especially between them).

Athlete's foot is generally treatable with OTC products, but more serious conditions and nail fungus will require a prescription. *

Kimberly Garrison is a certified personal trainer and owner of One on One Ultimate Fitness in Philadelphia (www.1on1ultimatefitness.com).

E-mail her at

kimberly@1on1ultimatefitness.com. Her column appears each Thursday in Yo! Chat with her on her Daily News weblog, the Girlfriends' Locker Room, at www.girlfriendslockerroom.com. Her new podcast, "Philly Fitness and Health," is available for download every Thursday at www.philly.com.