Trainers and clients alike enjoy taking advantage of the sunny summer months and taking their workouts outdoors. Before you grab your running shoes, and rubber tires, consider grabbing a few skin cancer preventing items as well.
What is skin cancer?
Before you lather up with sunscreen it’s important to know what skin cancer is and why it’s important to prevent it. Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of cells on the skin that can affect people of any skin color, though light-skinned individuals are at the highest risk.
Skin cancer develops when cells that make up your skin reproduce abnormally. As they grow and divide without stopping, they can spread to other places in your body through your lymphatic system making you very sick.
There are three different kinds of skin cancer:
Basal cell carcinoma makes up 80% of skin cancer diagnoses, is slow growing and rarely spreads, but begins in the deeper layers of the skin.
Squamous cell cancers occur in the middle and outer layer of skin, and is slightly more aggressive than basal cell.
Melanoma, the most deadly and well-known of the skin cancers occurs in the melanocytes—cells that control your skins pigment.
All skin cancer is believed to be a result of excessive UV exposure either from the sun or tanning beds.
Why should we be more concerned about skin cancer in the summer?
Summer weather usually means spending more time outside, shedding our winter layers, and exercising and recreating outdoors. When we step outside without protecting our skin, we put ourselves at risk for damaging our skin and developing skin cancer.
The increased daylight hours and stronger sun exposed the skin to more UV rays than the other seasons.
As a personal trainer, it’s your job to care for and promote the health of your clients, so advocating for skin health and cancer prevention is certainly not out of bounds.
How do I protect my and my clients’ skin from the sun?
Seek the shade: The sun is strongest between 11am and 2pm. If you plan to take your training session outside, consider doing it before or after these times of the day. If you are outside during these hours, seek shaded areas like under trees, under park pavilions or in the shade of a large building. Staying in cooler, shaded areas during the hottest times of day will not only protect your skin from the sun, but it will make you and your clients more comfortable during exercise.
Cover up: When you venture outside, make sure to wear breathable clothes that cover up areas of skin that may get a lot of sun exposure like shoulders, head, arms, and legs. Make sure to wear hats to protect your face, chest, and scalp. Maybe even consider giving away ball caps with your brand or gym logo to clients who sign up for summer sessions with you.
Sunscreen: The American Cancer Society suggests that everyone wear a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every single day. It has been proven that using a daily sunscreen lowers your risk of skin cancer.
Make sure you are choosing a sunscreen that doesn’t include chemicals like oxybenzone and homosalate which can disrupt hormone levels, fluid retention, and thyroid function. Non-chemical barrier sunblocks like non-nano zinc oxide are a great choice not only for preventing burns, but for preventing ocean pollution. Just be prepared by the “whiteness” they will lend to the skin!
If you plan to take your training session outside throughout the summer, buy a few bottles of sunscreen to keep on hand for you and your clients to use or encourage your clients to bring a bottle of their favorite sunscreen before they show up for their session. Don’t forget to put sunscreen on easy-to-forget places like the tops of your ears, the backs of your hands, hair parts and lips.
Fake it, don’t bake it: A summer glow looks great on everyone, especially when they’ve been working hard with a personal trainer, but you can enjoy that glow without baking under the sun or tanning beds. Choose to use tinted moisturizer, sunless tanning lotions and mousses instead. Some of these lotions even have an SPF of 30 or higher and can protect you when you step outside.
Don’t feel overwhelmed protecting yourself and your clients from the sun. Healthy skin never goes out of style and it’s as easy as seeking the shade, covering up, and wearing sunscreen. If you take steps to prevent skin cancer now, you and your clients can enjoy beautiful, healthy skin for years to come.