Summer is a great time to take our workouts outside and spend some time soaking up the sunshine. While the sun’s rays provide much of our body’s supply of Vitamin D, they also deliver an unhealthy dose of harmful radiation that can lead to signs of aging and, even worse, skin cancer.


The Sun Safety Alliance has designated June 5th through the 11th as National Sun Safety Week – a time to focus on the importance of protecting our skin during the summer months. Whether you stay active in the fitness gym all year long or take your workout to the park or beach during the summer, keep these skin safety tips in mind.


  1. Wear sunscreen and lightweight, protective clothing.


Whether you see the sun out or not, wear sunscreen. Studies show that sunburns increase your chances of developing skin cancer, so don’t take the risk or assume burning is a healthy process.


When looking for a good sports-friendly sunscreen, find one that’s sweat-resistant and waterproof with both UVA and UVB protection and a rating of 30 SPF (it’s debatable whether higher SPFs do much better).


Even if you’re wearing sunscreen, protect exposed skin with breathable, lightweight clothing and wide-brimmed hats. If you’ll be out in the sun for many hours, you might also want to wear clothing that’s UVA/UVB resistant.


  1. Wear sunglasses with UV protection.


It’s easy to forget that our eyes need sun protection, as well, and not just so we can avoid squinting. UV protection isn’t dependent on how dark or expensive the sunglasses are, either. Look for a specific UV rating to ensure you’re doing all can to protect your eyes.


  1. Check the UV index for your area.


The National Weather Service and the EPA also provide a daily UV index, or forecast, so keep this in mind as you plan your outdoor activities and workouts.


  1. Take your breaks in the shade.


We all need breaks, so instead of staying out in the sun, seek out the shade! This will not only limit your exposure to radiation, but will help your body cool off and avoid heat exhaustion or heat stroke on especially hot days.


  1. Avoid direct sunlight during the hours the sun’s rays are at their strongest.


The sun radiates most directly between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If possible, avoid doing your workouts during this window. Not only will you avoid the most intense hours of sunlight (and radiation), but the earlier morning and later evening will be cooler, more comfortable times to be active in the heat.


This summer, make the most out of the sunshine and warm weather to supplement your fitness gym workouts with outdoor sports and active hobbies, but protect your skin. Taking good care of your skin now will keep it healthy and enable you to keep enjoying the sun for many more years to come.