Staying safe in the sun

July 22, 2020

Guest blog: Cody Workman, BS, NASM-CPT
Fitness Expertise

We’ve all experienced the positive, mood-lifting benefits of a sunny day. That’s because bright sunlight increases serotonin levels in the brain, a hormone that helps you feel calm and focused. And we’ve heard it before – at least 30 minutes in the sun can increase your Vitamin D, which also plays a positive role in bone health.

But we can get too much of a good thing. Even a mild sunburn can trigger a negative immune response for people of all skin types. You may be at a greater risk of skin cancer if your skin easily burns, if you have blonde or red hair, or blue, green or grey eyes.

When staying in the sun for prolonged periods of time, you should take precautions to prevent health concerns, such as:

  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • Melanoma
  • Basal and squamous cell carcinomas
  • Aging of the skin
  • Cataracts or other eye damage

And remember: Even on cloudy days, you can still get too much sun exposure. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, clouds block as little as 20 percent of UV rays.

If you do get a sunburn, you may want to take frequent cool baths to relieve any pain or discomfort. Use a moisturizer that contains Aloe Vera, drink plenty of water and if you have blisters, give them time to heal.

Sometimes excessive sun can lead to sunstroke. When this happens, immediately cool the outside body temperature by removing excess clothing, spraying the body with cool water, using ice packs, blowing cool air on the person or even wrapping yourself loosely in wet sheets. If these methods do not help, it’s important to see your primary care physician as soon as possible.

What you can do to protect yourself from sun overexposure:

  • Limit your time in the sun, especially between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the strongest
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Wear protective clothing such as long sleeves or a hat
  • Wear sunglasses that filter UV light

Clothing with a dense weave blocks more UV rays that can penetrate to the skin. Darker colored clothing absorbs more UV rays than lighter clothing. The more vivid the color, the greater the protection. Long sleeve pants and shirts provide the most coverage.

Chattanooga is beautiful, so take the necessary precautions and get outdoors!