Jeff RunningWith summertime here and the heat index climbing, you want to get outside with the proper sun protection when you’re running, swimming, hiking, mountain climbing or anything else that gets your heart pumping.

How do you know which sunscreen is best for your workouts? There are hundreds of products on the market and new ones debuting each year. When it comes to specific brands, ask your friends what they like to use or read through online message boards where active people share their favorites.

Look for Broad Spectrum Coverage

As you’re choosing your sunscreen, make sure it carries seals of recommendation from The Skin Cancer Foundation and The American Academy of Dermatology so that you know it’s been tested and approved to reduce the risk of potentially lethal sun damage to your skin. It’s absolutely vital that you protect yourself when you’re exercising in the sun. Suntans and sunburns are your skin’s way of telling you the sun’s damaging rays have impacted you in some way, depending on the severity of your exposure.

You want a sunscreen that offers broad spectrum coverage, meaning it blocks UVA (which causes wrinkles and age spots) and UVB (the cause of sunburn) rays.  A “sport” sunscreen means you won’t sweat off the protection, but no matter what sunscreen you choose, you’ll have to reapply coverage every 80 to 120 minutes. Because of federal regulations, sunscreens no longer can be marketed as “waterproof,” which led people to believe they didn’t need to reapply.

SPF Ratings and Breakouts

The SPF ratings on sunscreens differ between 15 and 50, which is an indication of how long you can stay in the sun without burning. For example, a 15 SPF means you can stay in the sun 15 times longer than you could if you weren’t wearing sunscreen. A 30 SPF means 30 times longer. However, research has indicated that the protection level doesn’t increase much beyond 30. If you were to apply an SPF 50 sunscreen, it actually blocks only about 1% more of the sun’s harmful rays.

When choosing sunscreen, many people are concerned about acne breakouts when the cream mixes with sweat to clog pores. You can reduce or eliminate breakouts by choosing sunscreens that contain no oils, paraffin wax or liquid paraffin. There are multiple mineral-based sunscreens that work well as a thick coating, much like a makeup foundation, to protect your skin because the mineral options degrade slower than many chemical ingredients.

Never Overlook Sun Protection

Sunscreen helps reduce the amount of heat your body absorbs but it will not reduce your ability to sweat. You can reduce the amount of sunscreen you sweat off during your workout by using double the protection.

Consider using a water-resistant sunscreen stick for specific applications to dark spots and wrinkly patches because they need extra protection. Then follow that with your regular sunscreen application to your face, neck, ears and any other exposed skin.

Sunscreen is important all the time during the summer, even on overcast days when as much as 80% of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation gets through the clouds. Time your sunscreen application so that it absorbs into your skin before you go outside. This typically takes 20 minutes. If you don’t wait, you’ll be unprotected for a certain amount of time before your sunscreen can take full effect, and even 5-10 minutes of unprotected exposure can damage your skin.

And remember, you can cover your skin by wearing a hat and UV-protective clothing if you’re exercising when the sun is strongest.

Get out there and enjoy this hot weather, but make sure you’re focusing on your skin’s health as much as you’re focusing on the rest of your body.

About the author

Matt Mund is the owner and founder of Mission Fitness. He is dedicated to helping his clients of all fitness levels achieve their personal goals

comments powered by Disqus