Friday, February 27, 2009

Use Protection!

No, I'm not talking about that kind of protection! I'm talking about this kind of protection:Summer is fast-approaching, so it seems an apt time to discuss two equally important sun related issues:

  • Protecting skin and eyes from the sun's harmful rays
  • Getting enough sun exposure for vitamin D synthesis (important in calcium absorption)

If you live north of Atlanta, you won't be obtaining any vitamin D from the sun during the winter because the sun never reaches the height in the sky necessary for its ultraviolet B rays to penetrate the Earth's atmosphere. This means you need to increase your vitamin D intake from other sources to maintain good calcium absorption. Sun exposure for roughly 10 minutes per day is the preferred means of getting enough vitamin D if you're in the right climate and latitude to take advantage of ultraviolet B rays. Much more than that during UV index peaks is putting yourself at considerable risk for sun damage. Runners should schedule their training and sun screen application with these facts in mind.

When choosing a sunscreen for running, it's better to opt for those labeled of the "sports" or "spray" varieties, which usually feel a tad less greasy and are made more specifically for your activity, often claiming to be both water- and sweat-proof. Ensure the sunscreen protects from both UVA and UVB rays, reaching more thoroughly across the UV spectrum.

Apply the sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going out on your run, and if you plan to be out on a run for longer than 2 hours, you might consider bringing some with you or planting a bottle along your route to reapply it. Use SPF 15 or higher, even on a cloudy day.

I must admit, however, I am not the most diligent when it comes to sunscreen application before running. I aim to improve and make it more of a habit, though, as it's just as important as the measures I take to prevent injuries, stretch, and practice other preventative measures to optimize my running and health.

Runners, we run many a race for causes such as skin cancer, so I think it is, in a sense, our duty to be better examples and "practice what we preach."

No, we can't stop there. Protecting yourself from the sun includes your eyes, which, if left exposed, can develop cataracts, pterygium (tissue growth on the white of the eye that can block vision), skin cancer surrounding the eyes, and/or degeneration of the macula (the part of the retina near the center, where visual perception is greatest).

Personally, I have a pair of Smith Factor polarized sunglasses that include yellow, clear, dark brown, light brown, and black interchangeable lenses. Adidas, Nike, and Oakley are some other brand options as well if you're looking around for a good, sturdy pair. Sunglasses, depending on which ones you get, can be kind of pricey, so make sure you look for the best deal and weigh its fit, feel, lightness, sturdiness, features, and appearance into your decision before buying. Of course, also make sure they block 99 - 100% of UV radiation.

Forrest Gump may not have worn sunscreen or sunglasses, but Lolo Jones certainly does! 'Atta girl.

1 comment:

  1. i dont have sunglasses but i do wear sunscreen! and i love it. :) gotta lather up in florida!