Top tips for avoiding sun damage while enjoying the outdoors

Enjoying the great outdoors is one of the best things in life for many reasons. First, it’s a good way to get off our screens and see the world around us. It makes us feel good, it helps us, and secondly, it’s also free. While the outdoors is certainly enjoyable, and there’s plenty to do out in the great big wild, you need to exercise caution, too. Just because you want to spend hours in the sun doesn’t mean you should disregard your health.

Sun damage can be a bad issue for those that aren’t careful of UV exposure. It can cause serious burns, which have the possibility of developing into worse conditions like skin cancer. While that all sounds scary, it’s easily avoidable if you know how to prepare yourself for outdoor adventure. The best things to remember are simple pieces of advice that will stick with you when you learn them. Here are some helpful tips for getting the most out of your time outside without harming your skin.

1. Stick to the shade.

Whatever you’re doing outside, from a bike ride, swimming, hanging out in your backyard, to a nice leisurely stroll in the woods, you want to utilize shade as much as you can. While the skin does provide us with vitamin D and is healthy for our bodies, overexposure to direct light is a very real risk. On a walk, try to stick below trees for some coverage. While biking, you can do the same or go for rides in denser areas. Even in your backyard, shows how covering your patio to enjoy your home in the heat is important. Wherever you’re enjoying the outdoors or whatever you’re doing, remember to stick to the shade when possible.

2. Keep hydrated.

One of the most important rules to remember about any physical activity, no matter how casual or arduous, is you need to keep hydrated. This is especially important for your outdoor adventures because of the higher dehydration risk from the heat. Bringing a water bottle that can sustain you for a couple of hours could be the difference between a fun day outside and discomfort, sickness, or medical complications. Migraines and heatstrokes are a very real possibility if you’re not getting enough water, and it’s only made worse with a lack of water in you. Refillable water bottles are easy to bring along and will keep you safe.

3. Eat nutritious snacks.

Water isn’t the only thing you need to have to enjoy your day in the sun. You need good, healthy food to sustain your body’s energy levels as well. Nutritious snacks can be a protein or granola bar, mixed nuts and/or seeds, assorted fruits and vegetables, and foods with good carbohydrates. The less fuel your body has, the quicker it will crash. When the sun is out and bright, this makes you even easier to start feeling slow, tired, and exhausted, so those small snack ideas can help you. Even if you don’t intend to be out long, keep some on you for when you start hearing your stomach growl. This is much better than craving and finding the nearest fast food place to fill your stomach, too.

4. Be generous with sunscreen.

As a kid, you probably experienced your parents slathering sunscreen on your face to the point that it became uncomfortable. While you might haven’t known it then, you should realize now that they were doing you a big favor. There’s never enough sunscreen to go around, so being generous with it on your exposed skin and face is much more acceptable for you now than when you were a little kid. Picking the right sunscreen is also easy. You want to find one that’s easy to apply and has the right SPF level for your skin tone. Traditional cream sunscreen can be messy, but it’s really effective for getting on your skin, while spray-on sunscreen may miss spots more often. As for SPF, you don’t need an incredibly high amount. Anywhere from 30-50 is good, and the increases in UV protection are minimal past that point. Remember to apply it anytime you come out of the water, and to reapply every hour or so.

5. Take breaks.

If you’re outside and having fun, it can feel like time stops moving, but you should take some time to rest. Overexhausting yourself can lead to dehydration, heatstroke, or hunger, even if you brought snacks and water. Take breaks to rest and catch your breath and cool down. The longer you’re active outside without rest, the higher the chances that you’ll tire yourself out and feel bad.

6. Wear the right clothing.

Lastly, you might think that you simply need to wear some shorts, a shirt, and running shoes, but wearing the appropriate clothing to be outdoors isn’t that simple. If you’re wearing shorts and a shirt, you need to be ready with sunscreen. It’s advised to have some light layers like a thin long-sleeved activewear shirt to conceal your arms if you’re outdoors for long periods of time. A hat is a good idea as well to protect your face. Sunglasses, breathable socks, and a backpack for your supplies are great accessories to bring along. The better you dress, the less uncomfortable you’ll feel, and the more enjoyment you’ll get out of your time in the sun.

Being outside is a great way to enjoy the simpler things in life. Breathing in the fresh air, listening to the birds, getting your heart rate pumping on a good run, or just sitting back with a book in your backyard – whatever it is that you enjoy doing in the sun, you want to make sure you’re safe while doing it. Follow these tips, and you can have good fun in the sun without sacrificing your health.