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Protect Yourself During Summer Athletics

Athletes and adventurers who compete and train outdoors have a common enemy— ultraviolet radiation from the sun. It has been estimated that 1 in 5 Americans will get skin cancer in their lifetime. Skin care should be a top priority for outdoor athletes and adventurers. Whether you are a triathlete, running in Hawaii, or hiking on the Appalachian Trail, you run the risk of developing skin cancers from sun exposure. Skin cancers are commonly either basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma. The more serious and deadly skin cancer is melanoma.

Being in the sun increases your risk for your skin prematurely. UVB rays do not penetrate as much, but do cause the skin to burn. Both UVA and UVB contribute to the premature aging, freckles, and age spots. Obviously, too much exposure increases the skin cancer risks.The sunscreen you use should have an SPF (sun protection fracture) of at least 30. When looking for the sunscreen product, be sure that it has a broad-spectrum coverage for both UVA and UVB. You need to apply at least one ounce of the sunscreen to get full protection, and reapply it at least every two hours especially if you are sweating during an outdoor game or adventure. If the activity lasts several hours, expect to use up to half of an 8 ounce bottle of sunscreen. Most people do not use enough, and tend to skimp on the sunscreen usage. Be careful with spray-on products.

Sunscreens cannot reverse skin damage but can help prevent it. Sunscreen however, should not be the first line of defense.Wearing protective clothing to cover the skin as well as a wide brim hat reduces the exposure significantly. The newer athletic outdoor clothing has not only good sun protection but also breathability to allow sweat and moisture wicking.

Planning your activities around the time of day doing activities and workouts helps. The highest rate of ultraviolet radiation is in the mid-day when the sun is at its highest. Planning activities in the early morning or late afternoon cuts down on the ultraviolet radiation exposure. Even finding natural shade such as trees prevents sun exposure. If you are on the beach, umbrellas or canopies help with the protection. Sunscreens are readily available, but finding the right one for you is important. Sunscreens need to protect both UVB and UVA rays, including the UV-A1 rays, which are the most harmful type. UVA rays penetrate more deeply into the deepest layer of the skin. These rays not only cause skin cancer, but also age skin from burning. The SPF in sunscreens only relates to the UVB rays. There is no current rating system for UVA protection. Sunscreens are often listed as waterproof, but this is a misnomer. They should be described as water resistant. No matter how water resistant or sweat resistant the sunscreen, you will need to reapply it every two hours. While participating in any athletic activity or outdoor adventure, you do not want the sunscreen to get in your eyes and cause an irritation. The water resistance should last at least 40 minutes, but the products that last 80 minutes are much more effective. Sunscreen products that use mineral based products such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide effectively protect against both UVB and UVA rays. Other products that contain avobenzone, oxibenzone, retinyl talmitate are also used. Be sure you apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside.

The spray on products may also be problematic during windy days. Lip protection is also needed. Use a sunscreen lip balm product that has at least an SPF of 30.Eye protection from the sun’s rays also is important for eye health. Whether you are running, hiking, or skiing, sunglasses are not an optional piece of equipment. You need to have good vision to participate in your activity and also cut down on the harmful ultraviolet rays, not to mention the dirt and wind debris. There are reports that UV radiation produces cataracts as well. Sunglasses cut down on this exposure. Remember the sun is out all year round. Even on cloudy days, 70% of the UV rays still get through. If you are doing outdoor sports and activities, sunscreen and sun protection are needed year-round. Be prepared and enjoy yourself. Just do not forget to protect yourself from harmful sun rays.

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