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Protect Your Skin from the Sun

Tips on how runners can prevent skin cancer

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Updated April 11, 2014

Runners spend a lot of time outdoors in the sun, so it's important that we take steps to protect our skin from sun exposure. Follow these tips to protect your skin from the sun when running outdoors:

Run early or late.

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Try to avoid running between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's intensity is at its greatest. If you must train during those hours, try to stick to shady roads or trails.

Choose the right sunscreen.

Use a waterproof sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 15 and offers broad spectrum protection, which means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Stick formulations are good for runners' faces because the sunscreen won't run into your eyes.

More: When to Replace Your Sunscreen

Wear a visor or hat with a brim.

Man jogging in the rain
Chase Jarvis/Digital Vision/Getty Images
A visor or hat will give your face extra protection. (Although you'll still need sunscreen on your face.) It will also help absorb sweat, so the sunscreen doesn't run into your eyes.
More: Summer Running Essentials

Put on your sunscreen ahead of time.

Slather on your sunscreen at least 20 minutes before you head out for your run. Your skin needs time to absorb the lotion.

Don't skip sunscreen for short runs.

Female Runner Applying Sunscreen
Colin Anderson
You can get a sunburn in as little as 15 minutes, so don't think doing a short run means you don't need sunscreen.

Reapply after two hours.

Sunscreen starts to lose effectiveness at about the two-hour mark, or even sooner if you're sweating heavily, so you'll need to reapply if you're doing a long run or race. Carry a small tube of sunscreen or a one-use, sunscreen wipe in your pocket, so that you can reapply it to your face, neck and arms as you run.

Put on sunscreen before getting dressed.

Make sure you cover areas of your body that you assume may be protected. Some summer running clothes are made of mesh or very thin fabric, so they might not provide protection from the sun's rays. Also, your clothes move when you run (or, if you get hot, you may choose to take off some clothes, like your shirt). So it's best to make sure you're fully covered with sunscreen.

Wear shades.

A good pair of UV-blocking running sunglasses give your face more protection and also help protect your eyes from the sun's damaging rays.

Source: "Running into the Sun" The Skin Cancer Foundation
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