Over the years, sun safety has almost become a cliche. July is even an entire month dedicated to UV safety awareness.
Over-exposure to direct sunlight can cause skin damage and put you at risk for skin cancer. That’s why it’s important to ensure you’re taking all the necessary precautions every day to stay safe while outdoors.
The sun emits radiation known as UV-A and UV-B rays. Both types of rays are damaging to the eyes and skin. Knowing the risks and what precautions to take to protect yourself and your family will help you enjoy your time outdoors this summer… worry-free!
Some of the risks of unprotected exposure to the sun include damage to the eyes that may cause vision problems, premature aging of the skin, and skin cancer.
In order to properly protect yourself, you should:
- Cover up. Your clothing can be a great defense against UV rays. Wear a hat with a wide brim, longer sleeves, pants, and sunglasses.
- Stick to the shade. Try to avoid going out during the sun’s most intense glare, which is usually midday. Whenever you’re outside, try to stick to shaded areas when possible.
- Choose the right sunscreen. The bottle should indicate a minimum of 15 SPF and should protect against both UV-A and UV-B rays.
- Apply sunscreen at the right intervals. Don’t just apply your sunscreen one time. Stick to the recommendations on the bottle. Typically, you should apply every 2 hours and more often if you’re in the water.
- Don’t slack off on cloudy or cool days. The sun’s rays can still damage your skin even if the temperatures are cold or it’s cloudy, so be sure to follow your safety protocols even in the winter and on dreary days.
Protecting yourself is a great way to get outside and enjoy all the positive effects of being outdoors in the sunshine. While many are quick to point out the risks associated with sun exposure, all the positive benefits of the sun are often overlooked.
Soaking up the sunshine can:
- Improve sleep. Sunlight regulates your body’s circadian rhythms by telling your body when to produce melatonin. The more sunshine you get, the more melatonin your body will produce when it’s time for sleep.
- Reduce stress levels. Melatonin is also closely tied to stress levels, so the same benefits that help you sleep better also help you feel less stressed. Additionally, if you’re being active outside, this can also help you regulate stress levels.
- Maintain strong bones. It’s no secret that the sun is an excellent, all-natural source of vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body maintain calcium and prevents brittle, thin bones. Just 15 minutes per day can be all you need to reap the bone-building benefits of the sun.
- Strengthen the immune system. In addition to maintaining calcium levels, Vitamin D is also essential for healthy immune function. A healthy immune system does more than just fight the common cold. It can also reduce the risk for infections, some cancers, and negative outcomes after surgery.
- Boost your mood. Getting adequate amounts of sunshine each day can help fight off the symptoms of depression and seasonal affective disorder.
- Extend your life. A 2018 study of 30,000 Swedish women found that those that spent more time in the sun lived 6 months to 2 years longer.
Because most of the benefits of sunshine come through unprotected exposure to the sun, it is recommended to spend 15-30 minutes per day in the sunshine without applying sunscreen. If you’re going to be outdoors for longer periods of time, it’s important to follow the above precautions to avoid damage.
Don’t let the fear of sun damage keep you indoors this summer. Get out and experience all the amazing benefits of the sun for yourself!