It's that time of year that we just can't get enough of outside activities, fun in the sun, gardening and exercising! I like my sun. My father was born and raised in Coral Gables, Fla., and our visits there as a child took us to South Beach where I made sand castles and played in the ocean.
And so my journey with the sun began.
When I was a teenager, I tanned with Crisco! Remember that? I always smelled like fried chicken. As I've gotten older, however, I have not spent as much time on the beach "working on my tan." But, I do spend a lot of time outside biking or walking, and so I end up with tan arms and legs, but my feet are white. It's a dilemma for wearing sandals and dresses, so I tan as much as I need to in order to even out!
Spending time in the sun has actually shown to activate Vitamin D, enhance mood, improve quality of sleep and have a positive effect on blood pressure. Still, with all the good things about the sun, there are risks. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can cause irreversible skin damage, accelerated skin aging and, of course, a variety of skin cancers. We would be severely damaged by ultraviolet radiation from the sun if most of it were not filtered out by the Earth's atmosphere. Protecting ourselves from this potentially damaging radiation is vital and, somehow, not often taken as seriously as it should be. I'm a great example of that and ashamed to say it; however, I have started to take the sun more seriously! Spending many years in the sun has made my knees look like angry old men.
If you are an outdoor exerciser like me and don't cover up - like me - let's agree to "sun" differently from now on. First, it's important to have a skin evaluation followed by annual evaluations thereafter. If you have a lot of moles like me - and I've already had a couple removed - you may want to see a specialist more often. If possible, adjust when you exercise outdoors. Peak hours for UV radiation are from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.; however, if you must go during these times, wear a hat and sunscreen. Sunscreen with an SPF 15 rating filters 93 percent of UVB rays. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, both UVA and UVB rays are potentially damaging. The main difference is that UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply and are known to play a major part in skin aging and wrinkling. UVB rays can affect the outer layers of the skin, playing a major role in skin cancer. The higher the SPF, the more protection you will get. But, don't just protect yourself from UVB rays. Look for the label that says "multi-spectrum," "broad spectrum" or "UVA/UVB protection." Go to www.skincancer.org to learn more. It's YOUR move!
Corley Roberts, ACSM EP-C, MHA, CPHQ, is an Exercise Physiologist, published author, public speaker, health care professional and founder and CEO of MyFitScript. MyFitScript has been featured on Medscape Inc., CBS Healthwatch, Business and Health Magazine and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Visit www.myfitscript.com for exercise education and programs, or contact Corley at firstname.lastname@example.org.