Spending time outdoors benefits your overall health and well-being. Research on outdoor recreation states that interacting with nature can improve overall mood and increase happiness while reducing negative feelings. This is because experiencing nature can invoke feelings of awe and wonder, making you feel relaxed. The outdoors is also where you can engage in physical activities like walking, biking, and yoga that benefit physical fitness and health.

Yet while all these activities are enjoyable and good for your body, you may also be putting yourself at risk of sun damage when you’re outside. Fortunately, you can revel in the outdoors without compromising your sun protection. Here’s how:

Wear Sunglasses

Photo by Serg Alesenko:

Spending time outdoors can expose your eyes to ultraviolet (UV) rays and glare–harmful light reflected by surfaces like water, which can cause vision problems like cataracts. You can avoid these risks by wearing a pair of sunglasses designed to block excess UV rays and glare. When buying a pair, look for a “UV400” to ensure legitimate protection. You can also have polarized coatings added to the lenses for improved visual clarity in bright conditions.

If you wear eyeglasses for vision correction, you may find this tip a bit challenging due to the inconveniences of bringing and wearing additional non-prescription eyewear. And if you use transition lenses, these usually don’t suffice because not all of them are polarized, and some may take time to darken. Fortunately, you can still get the protection you need with prescription sunglasses. These provide the convenience of wearing only one set of glasses that you can customize based on your preferences. All you have to do is choose a frame and lens style you prefer, meaning you can ask your retailer or eye doctor to add prescription lenses to popular models like the Ray-Ban Round Metal or Clubmaster Classic. That way, you don’t need to skimp on sun protection.

Hydrate frequently

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio:

Spending time outdoors can cause you to sweat excessively due to the heat. When you don’t drink enough water to replace the fluids that you lose, you are at a risk of dehydration. You can even get sunstroke if your body overheats due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures. Avoid this by bringing water you can drink frequently while you’re outdoors. Try a stainless steel insulated water bottle that is durable, leakproof, easy to bring, and keeps your water cold for long periods of time. The Hydro Flask Standard Mouth is a great portable option for this: it’s both comfortable to carry and fits in most car and bike cup holders.

Wear a hat

Photo by Kamaji Ogino:

Our previous article on walking cites its health benefits, including burning calories, improved balance, and strengthened bones. But when you walk outside, your hair is exposed to the sun, which can weaken its protein structure and make it dry, brittle, and frizzy. You can avoid this dilemma by wearing a hat to cover your hair. Be sure to choose a wide-brimmed model that covers your whole head and provides extensive protection to areas around your face. You can try the Patagonia Baggies Brimmer, which comes with an adjustable chin strap that lets it stay in place during a windy day.

Use sunscreen

Photo by Kampus Production:

Spending too much time outdoors, may it be swimming on the beach or biking, can overexpose your skin to UV rays, which can cause premature skin aging, sunburn, and even increased risks of skin cancer. Wearing sunscreen reduces these risks by utilizing mineral and chemical ingredients that block, scatter, and absorb UV rays before they can penetrate and damage your skin. Research shows that daily use of sunscreen with a sun protector factor (SPF) of at least 15 can lower your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma, a common form of skin cancer, by about 40%.

When choosing which sunscreen to use, make sure to check for broad-spectrum protection from both UVA (which causes tanning and premature aging) and UVB (causes sunburn) rays, is at least SPF 30 for outdoor activities, and is water-resistant to prevent sweat and water from washing it off. If you have eczema or dry skin, there are also milder versions available that are lightweight and non-greasy, so you don’t need to worry about sunscreen exacerbating your condition. A couple of options you can start with are Cetaphil’s SPF 50+ sunscreen and Supergoop’s Glow Stick Sunscreen SPF 50, which are both broad-spectrum sunscreens that are easy to blend and are not too heavy on the skin.

Doing fun activities outdoors is good for your health.

Make sure you don’t compromise sun protection with these helpful tips that let you have a better experience outside.

Article written by Sophia Emma

Exclusively for Lifestyle Magazine

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