Sun Safety Tips for Exercising Outdoors

Here’s how to protect your skin from the sun when you take your workout outside.

Exercising outdoors is good for your body and it often boosts your mood, but when you exercise outside, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, even on cloudy days.

Here are 7 important tips to help prevent sun damage and reduce your risk of skin cancer:

  1. Avoid exercising between 10am and 4pm, when the sun’s rays are most intense.
  2. Use a broad spectrum sunscreen that offers UVA and UVB protection with SPF 30 or higher. Choose a sports-specific or water-resistant sunscreen so it won’t wash off easily when you sweat. Avoid spray sunscreen because coverage is less reliable and it poses an inhalation risk, according to the Environmental Working Group.
  3. Apply sunscreen a half hour before going outdoors. Don’t forget to put sunscreen on all exposed areas of skin. This includes the back of your neck, behind your ears, the tip of your nose, your scalp and your hands. You should use about 1 – 2 ounces of sunscreen for one application. Most Americans only use about 25 – 50% of the recommended amount.
  4. Reapply sunscreen every 1 – 2 hours while outside. Reapply more often if you’re sweating or swimming, even if the sunscreen is water-resistant.
  5. Wear wraparound sunglasses that offer UV protection to protect your eyes and the sensitive skin around them.
  6. For additional protection, wear sun protective clothing, such as long-sleeve shirts and hats with wide brims. You can get an idea of how well clothing blocks the sun’s ultraviolet rays if it has an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) listed. The higher the UPF, the more protection it offers.
  7. Don’t assume you can skip the sun protection if your skin is dark. Sun damage and skin cancer can occur in people with all skin types.

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Date Last Reviewed: May 23, 2017

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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