10 Ways to Protect Yourself From the Sun When Doing Sports
By Joseph Bryson - April 01, 2021
Most of us would agree that our favourite weather conditions would usually involve quite a bit of sun. There are of course a lot of people who are more fall or winter inclined, but in general what we get in the summer is optimal. It’s the perfect time to do outdoor exercise and sports. But I don’t need to tell you that really, it’s kind of common sense. What unfortunately does not seem to be common sense are the long-term consequences of exposure to the direct sunlight.
UV rays can cause all kinds of different skin damage, the most worrisome is of course skin cancer. Commonly this will come in the form of melanoma but there are other kinds of skin cancer too. While some people are less susceptible due to their skin type and other factors, no one is exempt from skin damage. If you are doing sports in the sun you need to protect yourself. Here’s a few ways you can do so:
1. Wear a Ton of Sunscreen
This is the most important one and it applies to absolutely everyone. Even if you are someone with darker skin, you are still susceptible to it. Dark skin will naturally give you a little bit more protection, but you are not protected completely.
How much sunscreen you need will vary from person to person, but in general you should aim to replenish it every 2 hours. You don’t have to cake layers of it on yourself or anything, but make sure you cover all of your exposed skin.
2. Dress Appropriately
Being out in the sun usually means that wearing a lot of clothes just makes you really hot, and I’m not going to suggest that you should cover yourself completely to prevent getting burned, but there are things you can wear which will help.
Bright colours are useful. Wearing black will attract sunlight and you will roast. The best material to wear is recycled polyester, it’s a great sustainable clothing option which doesn’t attract heat. In general you should look for clothes which are ‘sweat-wicking’.
This basically means that they will effectively transfer sweat through the material and out into the environment instead of trapping it inside.
3. Keep Hydrated
When you’re in the sun, you get hot, when you get hot you sweat and this is going to lead to dehydration. It will creep up on you too. You’ll start to feel tired and maybe dizzy, you might get a headache.
And you could attribute these to just general feelings of being in the sun, but it could also be dehydration. Always have enough water with you. If you are out all day, bring a few bottles or one that you can refill when you need to.
4. Cover Your Head
Getting burned on your scalp is no fun. The skin is really thin up there and so it can be very painful and it takes a long time to heal. Wear a cap, the peak will also protect your face from getting burned.
5. Find Shade Whenever Possible
For longer days, such as when you’re playing golf, you should try and get into the shade on a regular basis. Go from hole to hole in the cart, stand under trees while you’re waiting. If you’re playing tennis, get into shade between matches.
It’s better to not spend the entire day in direct sunlight if it’s possible not to.
6. Wear Sunglasses
You need to protect your eyes. Most people will wear sunglasses anyway because it makes it easier to see, but that’s not the only purpose that they will serve you if you are regularly spending a lot of time out in direct sunlight.
What many people don’t realize is that UV rays can cause long-term damage to your eyesight. They contribute to things like cataracts and macular degeneration.
7. Eat Something
You are out in the heat and you are doing sports. These two things individually are going to drain your energy levels, so doing them together will double that effect, which will inhibit your performance in addition to the effects on your well-being.
Before you go out, eat a substantial breakfast and make sure that if you are planning on playing all day, you carve out some time to have lunch. Snack if you need too, but only good stuff like fruit and nuts.
8. Stop if You Need To
Even if you do follow all of the other steps, it might just be a bit too hot or you might just be having an off day and need to take it easy. If you feel yourself starting to get very tired and are feeling anything like confusion or dizziness, it might be time to stop.
You could be getting heatstroke, you could be getting dehydrated or your body could just be shutting down due to too long in high temperatures. Don’t be a hero, accept that your health is more important than the sport you’re doing and call it a day.
9. Pick the Right Time
Keep an eye on the forecast and try to pick the time when the sun won’t be as much of a problem. Since it will be bright anyway, if you can leave it until early evening before you head out then that would be ideal.
The sun will be lower and the UV rays won’t be quite as strong. Of course, this can be difficult to coordinate depending on the sport you’re playing and the others involved but they will probably understand the logic.
10. Relax Afterwards
Regardless of all of this, when you’re done with sports you are almost definitely going to be tired. Make sure that you have some time to relax afterwards and preferably inside or at least in the shade.
Check yourself for sunburn too and make sure you always have some Aftersun Balm in case this happens. If you are diligent with your sunscreen you shouldn’t have to worry about this but be sure to keep some handy anyway.
Summer is definitely the best time for sports, but the sun does unfortunately come with its risks and the potential side effects so be sure to take care of yourself if you do want to take advantage of good weather.
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about the author
Hej! I’m Joseph, I was born in Alberta, raised in NYC and are living in New Zealand. I have been working in 4 different industries and helped numerous businesses grow. Now, I am focused on writing as my next career and I live a peaceful life with my family and a whole pack of dogs 🙂