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Sun Safety Tips

Proper sun safety is essential whether you are exercising or relaxing in the sun. Protecting yourself from harmful rays prevents painful sunburns and reduces your risk for skin cancer.

Gather your summer supplies.

Start by selecting a high-quality sunscreen made for your activity. Sunscreens can no longer be labeled with confusing terms like “waterproof” or “sweatproof.” Instead, look for “water-resistant” sunscreens if you will be exercising or swimming. Read labels to ensure the sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB rays (listed as “broad spectrum”) and that it has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Your lips are also vulnerable to the sun, so use a lip balm that contains sunscreen. Pay special attention to expiration dates. Most sunscreens last 2 to 3 years. Also, note how your sunscreens are stored. Prolonged exposure to heat, like in a car trunk or a pool house, can reduce its effectiveness.

Apply sun protection correctly.

If you don’t apply enough sunscreen and apply it evenly, you may not get the protection you expect. Most adults need one ounce (a small shot glass full) to cover the arms, legs, neck, and face. Reapply at least every 2 hours. Wiping your skin with a towel can remove sunscreen. When exercising or swimming, you may need to reapply more often.

Wear the right clothing.

Clothing won’t block all UV rays, but it can add an extra layer of protection. Choose sleeved shirts with tightly woven fabrics. Consider investing in clothing that has a UV protection factor (UPF). This clothing is made for outdoor activities and can protect you from the sun while also being lightweight and comfortable in the heat. A hat with a 2 to 3-inch brim will help protect the upper face, scalp, ears, and eyes. Sunglasses that block UV rays shield the skin around the eyes and protect the eyes from diseases caused by extended sun exposure.

Practice healthy sun exposure habits.

Monitor the time you spend in the sun. Experts recommend avoiding the direct sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the UV rays are the strongest. Seek shade whenever possible. Set timers for when to reapply your sunscreen. UV rays can penetrate clouds and windows, so practice sun safety regardless of your environment.


Lori Rice, M.S., is a nutritional scientist and author with a passion for healthy cooking, exercise physiology, and food photography.
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