FACT: Tennis players are often exposed to sunshine. Unless you (1) have access to an indoor court and (2) enjoy the substantial bank account needed for club membership and court fees, it is likely you will be playing tennis outdoors at some point. Even indoor-court aficionados sometimes need a little good, old-fashioned fresh air.
Besides the obvious enjoyment of a rousing game of tennis, there are wonderful benefits to playing outdoors on a sunny day. Sunshine boosts the spirits and instills a sense of well-being, and it helps to keep bones strong by stimulating the production of Vitamin D in the body.
Apart from those who live under rocks, most people are aware of the downside to sun exposure. Sunlight contains invisible ultraviolet radiation (UV-R), and overexposure to UV-R has been linked to accelerated aging of the skin, sunburn and skin cancer.
There are three types of UV rays:
UVA Rays: Penetrating the skin more deeply than UVB rays, these may cause premature aging of the skin, wrinkles and possible skin cancer. Detrimental at any daylight hour, UVA rays can also penetrate clouds and glass.
UVB Rays: UVB rays can cause sunburn and play a part in premature aging of the skin with potential skin cancer. These rays, which can penetrate clouds but not glass, are most powerful between 10 AM and 4 PM.
UVC Rays: Luckily, these rays are absorbed by gases in the earth’s atmosphere before they reach the surface, because otherwise, they would be deadly.
According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U. S., and 90% of these are related to sun exposure.
Here are a few tips for on-court protection from the sun
- Loose-fitting shirts and shorts or sweatpants in tightly woven fabrics provide the most protection from UV rays. Also, clothing with darker colors may offer more protection than that made of light colors.
- Sunscreens are given a sun-protection factor (SPF) number indicating their level of defense from UV rays – the higher, the better. To protect bare skin, use sunscreen containing an SPF of at least 15 that offers both UVA and UVB protection. Make sure to reapply if you are exposed to the sun for more than two hours.
- Try a hat with a brim to protect the head, face and the eyes.
- Wrap-around sunglasses can also guard the eyes from dangerous UVA and UVB rays.
- Avoid midday matches if possible, and try to play in the mornings or early evenings.
Many sports enthusiasts are conflicted about sunscreen. On the one hand, sunscreen protects the body from dangerous UV rays, but some of these lotions are chock full of chemicals which may also be detrimental to the body. We have the perfect solution! Check out the Elemental Herbs Organic Sun Care Kit, available from our friends at Abe’s Market.
This is a wonderful goodie bag full of all-natural, organic products to protect and sooth your skin. Included are a couple of high-SPF, zinc-based sunscreens (one with a touch of tint), the All Good Goop Healing Balm to soothe sunburn (which also relieves scrapes, blisters, chapped lips and dry, calloused hands) and three SPF 12 lip balm sticks to protect and sooth dry or cracked lips.