Healthy Living Archives - South Sound YMCA

By Lesli Baker

How can we make the most of solar energy, without getting burned? 

Make the Most of the Time of Day! 

Low solar angles (such as at dawn or dusk), higher latitudes, lower elevation, and cloud cover represent scenarios that decrease the intensity of the sun’s energy. Energy from the sun is more intense at midday, at higher elevations, and in certain parts of the northern hemisphere during the summer months. Working out outside, running, or working in the garden are best done in the early morning hours, or even at dusk once the temperatures have dropped a bit. UV rays can cause all kinds of different skin damage; the most worrisome is of course skin cancer. Commonly, this comes in the form of melanoma, but there are other kinds of skin cancer too. While some people are less susceptible due to their skin type and other factors, no one is exempt from skin damage.  

Here are a few more tips for staying safe while enjoying the sun: 

Wear Sunscreen 

This is the most important one and it applies to absolutely everyone.

How much sunscreen you need will vary from person to person, but in general you should aim to replenish it every two hours. You do not have to apply layers of it on yourself, but make sure you cover all your exposed skin. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to evaluate sunscreen products to ensure that they are safe and effective, and so that available sunscreens help protect consumers from sunburn. Broad spectrum products with sun protection factor (SPF) values of at least 15 can protect you from skin cancer and early skin aging caused by the sun when used as directed, and with other sun protection measures. 

Dress Appropriately 

Bright colors are useful. Wearing black will attract sunlight and you will roast. The best material to wear is recycled polyester – it’s a great sustainable clothing option which doesn’t attract heat.

In general, you should look for clothes which are “sweat-wicking”. This means that they will effectively transfer sweat through the material and out into the environment instead of trapping it inside. 

Keep Hydrated  

When you are in the sun, you get hot, and when you get hot you sweat, and this can lead to dehydration if not replenished. When dehydrated, you may feel dizzy or begin to have a headache. Always have enough water with you. If you are outside all day, bring a few bottles or one that you can refill when you need to. 

Seek Shade 

For longer days outdoors, such as when you play golf, you should try and get into the shade on a regular basis. Go from hole to hole in the cart and stand under trees while you are waiting. If you are playing tennis, get into the shade between matches. 

It is better to not spend the entire day in direct sunlight if it’s possible not to. 

Cover Your Head 

Getting burned on your scalp is no fun. The skin there is thin and it can be an uncomfortable place for a sunburn. Wearing a hat is best, plus the bill of your hat will protect your face from getting burned. 

 

Enjoy the sun this summer and have fun outside with friends and family, and remember to play it safe!