Warm, sunny days were made for playing sport outdoors. The sun tempts you outside, and the warmth encourages you to stay there and enjoy your chosen sport for as long as possible. From a fitness perspective, this is a great temptation to have, yet the sun poses its health risks too. Even less than one hour in the sun can lead to sun burn (particularly if, like me, you have fair skin and ginger hair). Repeated exposure can also lead to much more serious conditions such as an increased risk of skin cancer¹. Skin protection from the sun is therefore very important to enjoy sport outdoors in the sun without putting your skin at risk.
Whilst you do not want to miss the best of the weather by being cooped up indoors, it is still wise to spend time in the shade when the sun is most intense, between 11:00 and 15:00. Being covered up is also an effective way to protect against the sun, which not only means clothes but also a hat which provides protection for your whole head. Remember also that whilst clouds will block some UV rays, they certainly do not block out 100% of them. Therefore even if it is cloudy, you should still take measures to provide skin protection from the sun.
Choosing the right sun cream
Sun cream is a simple and effective way to protect any skin exposed to the sun – provided you choose the right sun cream and apply it correctly. In terms of choosing the right sun cream, the SPF rating is important to consider. So what do terms like ‘Factor 30’ actually mean?
The SPF rating refers to the amount of UVB rays which get through to your skin. Factor 10 means that 1 in 10 UVB rays will get through to your skin. Factor 30 means that 1 in 30 UVB rays will get through and so on. If you convert these figures into the percentage of UVB rays protected from, factors between 30 and 50 will offer a very good level of skin protection.
When playing sport, you should also choose a sun cream designed to be water-resistant. Whether you’re enjoying water sports or simply perspiring whilst you exercise, moisture can dilute sun cream and reduce its effectiveness. Water resistant sun creams are designed to combat this, meaning you can enjoy effective protection for longer.
Applying the sun cream
Sun cream can only provide effective sun protection if it is applied correctly. This means applying it to any exposed skin. If you need assistance to doing this, this is a much better option than leave parts of your skin exposed. Apply the sun cream evenly, working it into the skin. Also remember that as you move, your clothes do too. Areas covered when you are stationary but exposed when you move are often missed when applying sun cream and can lead to isolated areas of sun burn. Finally, remember that sun cream will not last indefinitely. If you’re spending several hours in the sun, you need to reapply the sun cream regularly throughout to maintain the level of skin protection it provides.
Skin protection from the sun is very important for your short and long-term health and physical well-being, and thankfully can be achieved through simple steps. Be sensible about when you go out in the sun, cover up as much as you feel comfortable with, choose the right sun cream and then apply it correctly. If you follow these steps, you can protect your skin effectively and enjoy playing sport in the sun.
The Aptonia care, hydration and nutrition range is available exclusively at Decathlon.
¹Source: NHS Choices