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Denver Newbies: What You Need To Know To Stay Healthy

Six tips for living in the Mile High City's unique climate. 

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It doesn’t take much to feel at home in Denver—the people are friendly, the weather is pleasant, and there’s no shortage of things to do. But moving to a new city is never easy; there are so many things you need to learn (the best route to the mountains) and do (update your license plates). With Denver’s population booming, now seemed like the perfect time for us to create a welcome package of sorts for all you newbies: This month’s “Your Newcomer’s Guide To Denver” is filled with advice, tips, and insider knowledge. But we couldn’t quite fit everything you need to know within the magazine’s pages. Here, we offer some important information gleaned from a conversation with Dr. Benjamin Honigman, professor of emergency medicine at University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, about staying healthy in the Mile High City.

Because the air is dryer… you’ll likely need to drink more water. One to two additional bottles per day should suffice upon first arriving in Denver. (Obviously, you should always gauge your own level of thirst.)

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Because Colorado’s incidence of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, is higher than the national average… wear a minimum of 15 SPF broad-spectrum sunscreen (even in the winter). The UV rays are simply more intense due to our high elevation.

Because our level of humidity is low… your skin is going to dry out. Use lotion generously.

Because we’re closer to the sun… it’s important that you protect your eyes with sunglasses. “People will come into the emergency room with burns on the lining of their eyeballs from sun exposure,” Honigman says. Remember: Sunlight reflects off the snow, so sunglasses are an all-season accessory.

Because we live at an elevation of 5,280 feet… “people will initially notice their pulse rates might be a little higher, or they might feel a little short of breath with routine exercise. Those are normal adaptive processes in order to get the oxygen we have available around the body for utilization,” Honigman says. Expect it to take about three months for the body to fully adapt to its new home.

Because marijuana is legal… and it likely wasn’t wherever you moved from, it’s especially important to be cognizant of how much you’re consuming—just like you are with alcohol. “Often people who don’t feel the effects immediately continue to use more, especially edibles,” Honigman says. “We see the effects of that on a fairly regular basis in the emergency department.”

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Daliah Singer, 5280 Contributor

Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at daliahsinger.com.

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