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Are You Sun Safe When You Exercise?

Athletes can often overlook the heightened risk prolonged sun exposure can have on the skin. Even if you've put sunscreen on before heading out, it doesn't always protect you for as long as you think.

Bethany Lewis, MD, a dermatologist at University of Utah Health, shares these tips for those planning to exercise outside:

1. Avoid peak sun exposure hours

Finish your runs before 10am or start them after 4pm. Those in-between hours are when the sun is most intense and harmful. This is the best option to avoid sun damage.


2. Apply sunscreen before heading out

Use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and check the label to ensure it is broad spectrum, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays. A shot glass amount of sunscreen is generally enough to cover the entire body. And remember that sunscreen only lasts about 40-80 minutes, even if it’s water-resistant.

And yes, you still need sunscreen on cloudy days. About 80% of the sun’s UV rays make it through the clouds, so you still need to apply sunscreen while exercising outside in the fall and winter.


3. Cover up

If running during those peak hours is unavoidable, be diligent to protect yourself fully. Wear a hat and sunglasses and bring sunscreen with you on runs over an hour. If it's an especially hot run and you are sweating more than usual, reapply sunscreen at least every hour.