Fun in the Sun: Walking Sun-Safely on Long Island

May 22, 2024

Fun in the Sun: Walking Sun-Safely on Long Island

Hello, May! Warmer weather, we’ve missed you. With more sunny days right around the corner, we can enjoy Long Island’s great outdoors more often. That can mean different things for different people, from biking to swimming, kayaking and rock climbing… the options for outdoor physical activity are endless!

How ever you choose to enjoy the outdoors this spring and summer, be sure to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, but exposure to UV rays poses a threat to our health year-round. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. According to the New York State Department of Health, more than 4,000 NYS residents are diagnosed with melanoma annually.

The good news is that skin cancer is highly treatable, and even preventable. Wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen every day, even on cloudy or chilly days, should be part of your daily skincare routine— dermatologists recommend SPF 30 or higher. Sunscreen should also be applied every two hours or after swimming, sweating, or using a towel.

Here are some more sun safety tips from the CDC:

  • Stay in the shade, look for trees to sit under, bring umbrellas, or head inside to limit direct sun exposure
  •  Look for more protective clothing options, long sleeves and pants are ideal but in the heat a t-shirt made of tightly woven fabric will do! Darker colors protect best and some clothing comes with a certification of UV protection under international standards of sun safety.
  • Wearing a hat will protect your scalp, which is not the easiest thing to put sunscreen on, as well as protecting your ears, eyes, and back of your neck
  • Wearing sunglasses helps lower your risk of cataracts, as well as protecting the sensitive skin around your eyes

Walking on Sunshine

Looking for a good excuse to get outside and safely enjoy some sun? One accessible, low-impact option for outdoor physical activity that almost everyone can partake in is walking. Going for a walk around your neighborhood alone is a simple way to get in some aerobic exercise and get some natural vitamin D from the sun’s rays. Not to mention, walking is an excellent way to prevent and manage most chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, anxiety, and more.

The LIHC has its own Walk with a Doc chapter here on Long Island. The Long Island Health Collaborative has partnered with Stony Brook Cancer Center’s (SBCC) Cancer Prevention in Action Program (CPiA) to implement  a Sun Safety Policy at all of our community walks, encouraging all attendees to be sun safe by employing tried and true strategies, like wearing the free sunscreen available to all walkers, generously provided by SBCC’s CPiA team.

The next Walk With a Doc will take place June 15th at Belmont Lake State Park in Babylon. Find registration details and more walk dates on our website here.

It is a wonderful thing to enjoy the outdoors, especially when walking alongside a trained medical professional, but we must do so safely! Sun safety and outdoor exercise go hand in hand, so when gearing up to hit the trails, or for some laps in the pool, or even just a car ride to get groceries, wear sun protection and be safe.