Sunguarding Sport campaign to highlight UV danger

by Trail Running staff |

The new set of resources includes these 11 tips for runners, given their increased exposure to the sun

As temperatures rise in the UK, those exercising outdoors have been warned of the dangers of high UV exposure as part of a new campaign backed by 60 sports governing bodies.

Sunguarding Sport, set up by the Melanoma Fund, is supported by England Athletics and raises awareness of sun protection in sport and outdoor recreation.

Those participating in sport receive substantially higher UV exposure, and routinely exceed the recommended exposure limits, increasing their risk of skin cancer. Sweating, water contact, reduced clothing, and lack of shade, make it even more important. However, a Cancer Research UK study in 2020 found only 50% sun-protect when exercising outdoors.

Since the early 1990s, rates of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) have risen by 170%, with more than 156,000 cases reported a year. This equates to a 430 people a day receiving a diagnosis that could have been mainly prevented with adequate sun protection.

Sunguarding Sport is a free resource for participants, spectators, and officials, featuring easy-to-follow guidelines and sport specific advice created in partnership with each relevant governing body. UK sports organisations will feature the campaign on their websites, encouraging their affiliated members to pass the message on.

The campaign is listing the following advice for runners:

  1. Apply a broad-spectrum product with an SPF 30 or higher, paying special attention to your ears, nose, and shoulders, as well as other areas which are prone to burning.

  2. Get into the habit of applying sunscreen 20 minutes before you start activity to ensure it sets.

  3. Once applied to the skin, reapply sunscreen every 2 hours to all exposed parts.

  4. Ideally, wear a top that covers your shoulders.

  5. If wearing a ‘racer back’ style top, ask for help to reach the tricky bits with sunscreen.

  6. Wraparound ‘running’ sunglasses will protect the eyes against the sun, as well as wind, dust, and insects so are worth the investment.

  7. A peaked cap is a great way to protect the head but not ears or neck, so ensure you protect these areas with sunscreen.

  8. Wearing a visor or a sweatband (on wrists as well as head) is a great way to avoid and remove sweat and prevent sunscreen running into eyes.

  9. Runners are highly susceptible to overheating. To avoid this, rest if too hot and keep a bottle of water on hand to remain fully hydrated.

  10. The sun is strongest between 11am and 3pm so, if possible, on clear sunny days, try to train outside of these hours.

  11. Whilst spectating or waiting to compete, do so in a shaded area, out of direct sunlight.

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