Shining a Positive Light on Sunshine

As the days get longer and summer approaches, we have to at least mention sun exposure! Sun exposure often has a negative connotation associated with it. It is well known that ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sun exposure accelerates skin aging and increases your risk for skin cancers1. However, there are also multiple health benefits of sun exposure to remember. Some of the advantages include:

  • Enhanced mood
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Positive impact on blood pressure
  • Increased activation of Vitamin D
    • Vitamin D is most well known for it’s role in calcium regulation and bone health. Recent research explains Vitamin D is also active in muscle function and strength. The most plentiful source of Vitamin D is the sun. However, it is also available in salmon, fatty fish, egg yolks, fortified products such as milk, cereal, and orange juice1,2.

The benefits listed above can easily outweigh the adverse effects if proper sun protection is used!

Spending 15 minutes in the sun increases risk of skin damage1.

It is important to apply sunscreen regularly. Doctors recommend sunscreen be reapplied every 40-80 minutes, depending on level of activity. The more active you are, the more frequently you should apply sunscreen. A broad-spectrum sunscreen offers the best protection as it protects from both types of UV radiation: UVA rays and UVB rays3. Water-resistant sunscreens improve protection when sweat is present. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15, or higher, as it filters out 93% of UVB rays1,4Click here to learn more about sunscreen!

The peak hours of UV radiation occur between 10 am and 4 pm 1,3.

To avoid excessive sun exposure it is best to avoid going outside between 10am and 4pm. However, if you find it impossible to refrain from being outside between those hours, then be sure to cover your skin as much as possible. The less skin showing the better! Dark fabrics, polyester, rayon, and wool provide the most protection from sun exposure. Avoid wearing cotton fabrics, especially when exercising outdoors, because the fabric becomes more permeable when wet with sweat. Wear well-fitting sunglasses with large lenses and a nonslip nose piece to block out sun rays from all angles. Use a wide-brimmed hat for added protection for your head and neck1.

Sand reflects 10-15% UV radiation1.

Sun Exposure Safety

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Be aware of your surroundings. Various surfaces reflect the sun’s radiation which increases your risk of overexposure. In addition, locations at higher elevations have more intense UV radiation than lower elevations1. Even on cloudy days 80% of the sun’s UV rays make it through the clouds3, so make sure to use all of the UV radiation protection strategies all the time!


The weather is warmer. The days are longer. It’s fun to spend time outside and enjoy the season with family and friends! Therefore, it is really important to understand and implement all of the best methods to stay safe during sun exposure.


1. Lynn J, Urda J, and Pierce P. Sun Exposure and Exercise. The Good, the Bad, and the Behavior Change. ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal 2016; 20(3): 11-15.

2. Ogan D, Pritchett K. Vitamin D and the Athlete Risks, Recommendations, and Benefits. Nutrients 2013; 5(6):1856-1868.

3. Renda, Elisabeth. Are You Sun Safe When You Exercise? PUBLICATION. 2015. Available at: Accessed May 5, 2016.

4. MedlinePlus. Sun Exposure. Also called: Sunburn. U.S National Library of Medicine. Available at: Accessed May 5, 2016.