The great cover-up conquers UV damage

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. She is also a member of the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

This has been a summer of transformation for me, and an exciting one at that.  Events have been occurring that I never dreamed I would experience.  Not only have I become a grandparent; I also find myself evolving into an outdoor runner. 

As a bona fide “indoor athlete”, preferring the temperature-controlled world of aerobics classes and bodybuilding, this is quite a step outside of my comfort zone.  Challenging myself, pushing my limits, enjoying the sounds of nature rather than blaring music…this is turning into a very positive adventure! However, in our recent weeks of 90+ degree temperatures coupled with high humidity, I have had to schedule such outdoor activities appropriately and safely. 

The danger of UV rays is a topic with which most of us are quite familiar.  Skin cancer, heat exhaustion, dehydration…we have heard it all countless times.  However, we continue to pursue our hiking, biking, and running, even when the sun is blistering overhead.  If we are determined to enjoy the great outdoors during the summer months, a few points do merit mentioning yet again.

I often see men running shirtless in this weather, and women scantily clad, choosing to avoid added weight and “sweat potential” to their active bodies. While the physics and aerodynamics of such choices may seem prudent, the risk of UV damage to so much unprotected skin is escalated.  There are two ways to help dodge the exposure bullet without seriously impeding that personal record you may be trying to hit. 

Sweating during outdoor exercise is a given, and it is precisely this reason that many avid runners decide to forego powerful sunscreen applications before hitting the hot road.  Lotions and creams become very sticky when mixed with the components of sweat, and can undeniably be a source of irritation during a lengthy run.  Manufacturers have listened, heard and responded.  Today there are a variety of spray-on sunscreens that leave more of a dry, powdery residue on the skin than the traditional wet, gloppy feel. If running with a tremendous amount of skin exposure is your norm, consider protecting yourself with one of these products.  They are designed for optimal UV protection as well as comfort.

Another option is found in a product not to be applied but rather worn.  Running gear designers have come up with exercise clothing that is thin, lightweight, and breathable, made of a material impregnated with UV sun protection. Even the long-sleeved versions are cool and comfortable during a summer run, and virtually eliminate the need for sunscreen application on the covered skin areas.  Lightweight head coverings, too, are available, for those runners like my husband who typically wears a baseball cap to keep from getting a sunburned scalp. 

Even if you are not pounding the pavement, these suggestions also work well for avid gardeners, golfers and cyclists.  It’s “summertime…and the protection is easy….”