Smart Ways to Stay Safe When You’re Having Fun in the Sun

Spending time outdoors in South Texas can be a great way to bond with loved ones, get exercise and relieve stress. But it isn’t all good. The sun can also pose serious health risks.

One of those risks is ultraviolet (UV) rays, a form of electromagnetic radiation emitted by the sun. UV rays can also be generated by artificial sources, such as tanning beds and certain types of lights and lasers.

UV rays aren’t all bad. When they strike people’s skin, they spark the synthesis of vitamin D, which is important for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. Factors such as time of day, amount of skin exposed and skin tone can affect how much vitamin D a person creates.

But UV rays can be damaging, too, and lead to vision problems, a weakened immune system, premature aging and even skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society®.

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How can I protect myself?

There are lots of easy ways to protect your body from overexposure to UV rays. Taking the following steps can greatly reduce your health risks:

  • Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays tend to be the strongest.
  • Avoid tanning beds and opt instead for spray tanning or an at-home tanning lotion.
  • Try to stay in the shade whenever outdoors to reduce sun exposure as much as possible.
  • Wear clothing and accessories that allow for minimal skin exposure to the sun.
  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above to protect uncovered skin, and remember to reapply every two to three hours when you are active outdoors.

Understanding the risks of UV rays is key to keeping you and your loved ones safe and protected while enjoying all the fun of summer activities outdoors.

If you are concerned that minimizing your sun exposure might leave you short on vitamin D, know that it can also be obtained through certain foods, including egg yolks, fortified milk, liver, mushrooms and sardines. Supplements are also an option, though you should probably talk to your doctor first to be sure you have a vitamin D issue in the first place.

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