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Gear up for marathon season: Sun safety tips for runners

(BPT) - For many people, fall brings cooler temperatures and outdoor activities such as nature walks and trips to see the leaves change. But sports buffs across the nation are...

(BPT) - For many people, fall brings cooler temperatures and outdoor activities such as nature walks and trips to see the leaves change. But sports buffs across the nation are hitting the pavement in preparation for marathon season.

There is no slowing down fitness enthusiasts, who adhere to training regimens and participate in long-distance running events. However, rigorous outdoor activity, combined with heat, humidity and sweat, can make skin more vulnerable to the sun's rays. Even if you are not a marathon runner, it is important to help protect your skin while embracing the sun and the outdoors.

Although the majority of Americans (59 percent) consider putting on sunscreen important when preparing for outdoor activity, only 49 percent actually use sunscreen when exercising outdoors, according to a survey sponsored by the Coppertone Solar Research Center. Before lacing up your best running shoes, plan ahead with a sun safety strategy that best complements your routine.

“As a practicing dermatologist, I know how challenging it can be to help keep my skin protected from the elements, especially now that I am training for my fifth marathon,” says Dr. Elizabeth K. Hale, clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine and consultant to the makers of Coppertone. “Simple steps can help ensure that you are protecting yourself this marathon season and beyond.”

Dr. Hale offers some of her key sun safety tips for fellow runners:

* Shield with shades. UV radiation can damage the eyes and the skin around them, so it is important for runners to wear their sunglasses. To provide the best protection for your eyes, your shades should block out 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays. Choose wrap-around frames, which stay on better while you train.

* Replenish yourself. Drinking water can help keep your body and skin hydrated, especially if you are sweating. It is essential for runners to pay attention to how much water they are drinking before, during and after outdoor exercise. “I like to apply Coppertone Sport Pro Series with DuraFlex before stepping outside for training. This lightweight formula sprays on easily and helps keep my skin hydrated,” says Dr. Hale.

* Protect every inch. Runners and other outdoor athletes tend to forget to apply sunscreen on all areas of their face and body. The most commonly overlooked areas when applying sunscreen are the scalp, ears and backs of hands. Just remember to bring your sunscreen and reapply every two hours.

* Timing is everything. Schedule your outdoor training when the sun is less intense; avoid exposure between the peak hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If you do run during that time, choose a route that offers plenty of shade.

* Go safe with your style. Make sure to protect your skin during your run with the appropriate attire. Try wearing lightweight, sun-protective clothing. Also, stay cool with a baseball hat to help shield your face from the sun.

Before you head out for your next run, check out sun care tips from Dr. Hale on the Sunderstanding page of the Coppertone website to learn more about how to help keep your skin protected when you are training your hardest.

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