Woman running outdoors

A Runner's Reference For Sun Protection

You’re serious about your running routine.You’re at it every day. And you want to see some serious results. You want to look in the mirror and see those biceps bulging. You want to see those glutes flexing and those quads defined. What don’t you want to see? Sun damage.

Running is a great way to stay in shape, but if the terrain is your domain, you have to deal with the elements, and the sun is a large element. All those miles in the sun increases the risk of malignant melanoma and associated abnormalities. If you’re skipping the sun screen, here are some things your dermatologist may want to tell you.

Don’t Skimp on Protection
According to Amy Mc Clung, MD, sweating in the sun increases the risk of skin cancer. Even if you are starting in the dark hours of the morning or in cloudy weather, there is no reason to throw caution to the wind. The darkest days can always give way to sun, and you can also burn on an overcast day. McClung recommends a generous application of sunscreen, a hat, and a pair of sunglasses, regardless of how the weather looks when you set out.

Apply Sunscreen with a Heavy Hand
Before you start patting yourself on the back for applying the sunscreen, make sure you have plenty on. Brooke Jackson, MD, and once dermatologist for the Chicago Marathon, says that if you are using a cream or lotion formula, aim to apply enough of the stuff to fill a shot glass. That translates to about an ounce and a half, which means you should go through an eight ounce bottle in about two days.

Woman applying sunscreen

Don’t Get A Base Tan
If you’re thinking gradual exposure will protect you from sun burn or damage, Jackson would like you to think again. She warns that tans and burns are not buffers, but rather the body’s built in way of telling you you’ve had enough sun. “As a dermatologist,” she says, “when I see tanned skin, I see damaged skin. It doesn’t at all look healthy to me.”

Don’t Run Shirtless
Or in a very small top, sports bra, or similarly sized contraction. While it is tempting to disrobe in the heat, doing so will increase the surface area of skin exposed to the sun. Look for the “UPF” label on clothes, which indicates that the item has sun protection built in. Even if there is no label, Jackson says that even regular tanks and shorts can provide an SPF of about 8.

Don’t Omit Your Head and Lips
Scalps with thinning hair are very vulnerable to sun damage and are known to be the first area on which cancerous growths first appear. As Jackson points out, the spot can be particularly dangerous, because remaining hairs can conceal the appearance of cancers, making them easy to overlook.

Apply sunscreen to the top of your head, and, if you have a full head of hair, remember that your part is also a target for sun damage, and should be protected appropriately. A hat will provide even better protection than lotion, and can also help to shade your forehead and spare you from the possibility of getting irritating sunscreen in your eyes.

Don’t forget about your lips, which are also subject to burn. Give them a coating of sunscreen or use a lip balm with SPF and wear your shades to protect your eyes from cataracts and cancer.

So take special care if you are running and let us know what you do to keep your skin from burning. We wish you good luck and great skin.

Woman exercising on elliptical

Kickstart Your Heart With These Cardio Staples

There is such a variety of exercise tapes available today, it is sometimes difficult to determine which ones are meant to be taken seriously. Since Joanna Rohrback created a sensation with her much spoofed “Prancercise” video, the health conscious public has been confused by an assortment of bizarre aerobic tapes ranging from the “Dixie Carter Country Hiphop Workout” to the “Japanese Poodle Workout” to the “Exorcise” video. With all this insanity, it is sometimes hard to define what is meant by cardiovascular exercise.

Cardiovascular exercises are so called because they improve the function of the heart, build muscle mass, and enhance consumption and transportation of oxygen. They also strengthen bones, increase joint support and improve cholesterol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a weekly exercise routine consisting of 2 and a half hours of moderate cardiovascular activity or 75 minutes of more vigorous cardio per week. Here are some tried and true examples of cardiovascular staples to help kickstart your health.

In the Gym
The elliptical trainer, which features footpads that require a pedaling motion to operate. is one of the most comprehensive pieces of gym equipment for cardiovascular activity. This, along with the stairclimber and the treadmill, provide their users with opportunities to build endurance and lung capacity while toning the lower body and burning fat.
If instructed gym classes are more your speed, spinning, exercise dancing, and water aerobics are all challenging options. Looking for something more traditional? Step aerobics are an age old way to work the lower body, while jumping rope provides for full body workout, sharpening coordination and boosting lateral movement.

Couple running

Walking and Running
You can burn 180 calories by speed walking at moderate intensity for 30 minutes, while running can double that number. Although body weight can affect the number of calories burned while running, speed has little to do with cardiovascular benefits. Therefore, you can enjoy perks of lower blood pressure, decreased risk of heart attack, and increased lung capacity while still working at a relatively low intensity. However, more vigorous activity has the added benefits of greater calorie melts and metabolism boosts which can last for days after working out.

Sports
If you enjoy competitive sports, racquetball is considered the most heart healthy sport and can burn more than 400 calories in the course of a vigorous 30 minute game. Rowing, skiing and climbing follow hot on its heels, turning in similar figures. Swimming weighs in at a whopping 500 calorie burn in thirty minutes and is known to stimulate circulation, increase endurance and flexibility, and provide stress relief, while strengthening the heart.

Indoor and Outdoor Activities
Biking can be done outdoors or from the comfort of your home and can burn up to 500 calories in a period of 30 minutes. A hilly terrain can increase resistance outdoors for an even greater calorie burn and an increased test of stamina, while stationary bikes include manual intensity adjustments. Equipment free cardio options include unweighted squad, jumping jacks, lunges and squat jumps.

How do you like to kickstart your workout? Let us know how you get your 2 1/2 hours in. We love to hear it!