sunscreenOutdoor workouts are a good way to stay in shape. The change in scenery helps keep boredom at bay and the varying terrain can up the intensity of your run or walk or ride. No matter how you choose to be active in the great outdoors, don’t forget the sunscreen. Rates of melanoma – a type of skin cancer – have been increasing annually. Here is what you can do to protect yourself.

Avoid the hottest part of the day – When possible, exercise outside before 10am or after 4pm. The sun is hottest between those hours.

Wear sunscreen – choose broad spectrum products that protect against both UVA and UVB rays. An SPF (sun protective factor) between 30 and 50 is best. Apply before you don your workout gear so you are less likely to miss any spots. Don’t forget your hat.

Apply liberally, too – dispense a golf ball size amount and apply with complete coverage. Researchers have attributed the rise in skin cancer to improper sunscreen use. Use a little extra on vulnerable spots, such as your nose. Read the ingredients. Products with Retinol are thought to increase your risk of sunburn so avoid these if possible. Opt for lotions or sticks rather than sprays, which may not provide enough protection because of loss to the air before contact with the skin. The fumes may also compromise lung health.

Re-apply – Especially when you are working up a sweat, you want to choose a sunscreen that is water resistant. Re-apply at least every two hours or sooner if you are sweating a lot.

Consider sun protective clothing – products like shorts, hats and shirts are available from a variety of retailers at reasonable prices. You may even want to wear light weight long sleeved shirts to reduce sun exposure. Be sure to stay hydrated. If you feel dizziness, nausea or as if a headache is coming on, stop immediately and rest.

Give yourself a break – outdoor workouts are great but are not without risk from sun damage. To reduce the risk, exercise indoors or in areas with a lot of shade at least some of the time.

Running woman. Outdoor Workout in a ParkKnow that you can still burn – sunscreen will not protect you from tans or sunburn. Although tans look healthy they can cause the skin to age prematurely as well as increase the risk of skin cancer. The risk is greatly increased with sunburn. Limit sun exposure to reduce your risk.

If nothing else, remember this – the best ways to protect yourself when exercising outdoors are to: apply sunscreen with complete coverage every time. Use broad spectrum products with an SPF of at least 30. Avoid exercising during the hottest part of the day and limit extensive sun exposure. Observe sunscreen rules for your health. After all, why work to improve your health with exercise if you are going to put it at risk with overexposure to the sun?