Spring and summer months are delightfully warm and full of sunshine, but Dr. Marina Gafanovich, MD encourages you to take precautions against direct exposure to harmful UV rays, and protect your skin from sun damage. Here are Dr. Gafanovich’s 7 tips along with some runner-specific advice. Keep your skin as healthy as the rest of your body!
- Make sure you wear sunscreen everyday: Sun exposure is an unavoidable factor of our daily life. Anybody who plans to be out in the sun for longer than 15 minutes should put on a sunscreen with SPF 30 to protect their skin from sun damage. You should apply sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before exposure so that your skin is able to absorb it. It is also advisable to reapply it every two hours.
Apply your sunscreen before your dress for your run. Make it the first thing you do, and not the last thing you do before heading out the door. Look for sunscreen that will work when you sweat, and try to find a brand that won’t sting your eyes.
- Make sure your eyes are protected: Our eyes are one of the first areas that start to show signs of aging. This is because the skin around our eyes needs extra hydration. In order to protect this skin from sun damage, always make sure you wear sunglasses that shield the skin around the eyes from ultraviolet rays. Wider lenses generally work better to provide the required protection to the skin around the eyes. In addition, you must ensure the sunglasses block 99 percent of the ultraviolet rays.
Wearing sunglasses will not only protect your eyes from the sun, but it will help you keep your face relaxed. Being relaxed keeps your running form more efficient and sends signals to your brain that makes the effort seem easier.
- Make sure you protect your lips: The sun’s rays can be quite damaging to our lips because lips are thin-skinned. Most people tend to neglect their lips despite the fact that this is one part of our face that is extremely vulnerable to sunburn, lip lines and wrinkles. That is why it is important to use lip protection balm to protect the skin on your lips from sun damage.
I learned this tip from watching elite runners prior to last year’s New York City Marathon. One of them told me that they use lip balm because it makes them feel more comfortable and keeps their lips from becoming chalky and dry during the race.
- Avoid outdoors when UV rays are strongest: The rays are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. It is best to avoid spending too much time outside during these hours. If you really have to stay outdoors then you must put on sunscreen, protect your eyes and lips. You could even try to stay in a shade or use an umbrella if possible.
Most runners already know this. The heat can make running feel miserable. In hot weather, try to run in the morning or evening hours.
- Make sure you protect your ears, head, neck, hands and feet: Many people forget to protect their ears and the surrounding skin from the sun. The top of the ears, the hairline, the V of the chest, the nose and the hands must be protected. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 80 percent of skin cancers occur on the head, neck and hands. That is why it is recommended that you wear a hat of woven fabric and a sunscreen on your hands, neck and other exposed areas.
Wear a runners cap and remember to put sunscreen on the backs of your hands. Wearing a hat will not only protect you from the sun, but it will help absorb your sweat and keep it out of your eyes and off your sunglasses.
- Make sure you protect your skin from reflected light: In order to protect your skin from sun damage, you need to protect it from rays reflected off sand, snow, concrete and other surfaces. Dr. Gafanovich says that it is a misconception that water can protect you from the sun because ultraviolet light can easily penetrate water. Umbrellas and shade trees also provide moderate protection therefore protect any exposed skin from reflected light.
Beach running is something to experience. The panoramic views, the fresh air, the spray of the crashing surf, and the sunshine combine to offer runners an euphoric experience. Just don’t become so at one with the sea that you turn into a human lobster.
- Do Not Sunbathe: All this talk about “healthy tan” is completely inaccurate. There is no such thing as a healthy tan and doctors have been emphasizing it for quite some time now. Sunbathing is not a healthy pastime and neither is the use of tanning oils. Avoid all such activities because sunbathing can be very damaging to your skin and tanning oils can enhance the effects of UV rays.
Who has time to sunbathe? There are miles to be run and medals to be won.