Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Now that summer's here!

The longest day passed a few weeks ago and we are now well into summer. Having said that, I sit here in the north of the UK and wonder if summer will ever actually arrive!

On the occasional sunny day we have here I am reminded of the risks to which we put ourselves by lengthy and unprotected exposure to the sun. We may frown at those who lie out for extended periods but we think nothing about going out for an hour’s Nordic Walk in blazing conditions. Of course, if you live in part of the world which has continuous hot summers you will probably have developed your own coping strategies. It’s interesting to note how one of the members of the eCommunity (nordicwalkingecommunity) who lives in Macedonia has to try all sorts of tricks to defeat the sun in order to get her “daily fix with the poles”.

Of course, there is a serious issue here and the risks associated with exposure to the sun are becoming better known. Here in the UK a leading cancer charity (Cancer Research UK) is running a campaign called “Stay safe” which, amongst other things, offers guidance about the risks of skin cancer brought about by exposure to sunlight and how to protect yourself from such risks. They give five “SunSmart” messages and I would like to share these with you:-

Spend time in the shade between 11.00 and 3.00
Make sure you never burn
Aim to cover up with a hat, t-shirt and sunglasses
Remember to take extra care with children
Then use factor 15+ sunscreen or higher

Protection afforded by clothing is becoming increasingly important and in recent years some clothing has been given “protection ratings”. These garments tend to fall into the outdoor activity or travel categories so are well suited to the needs of Nordic Walkers. However, whilst there does not appear to be an internationally agreed standard, those used in Australia and the UK have become well respected. The following table shows the UK “Clothing Protection Factor” or CPF:

CPF rating and description
less than 10 is low (inadequate for summer use in the UK)
10 is medium
20 is high
30 is very high

So, even though it’s hot (well, warm anyway) make sure you protect yourself at all times, but especially when out Nordic Walking.

Malcolm Jarvis - Nordic Walker Leeds UK

Nice post Malcolm and most appropriate at this time of year. We all know the potential dangers but it's so easy to forget / ignore them and sadly for many people, deal with the consequences further down the line.

Just wanted to mention 'sun umbrella's'. If like me you are fortunate enough to be able to stretch out on the beach after a good Nordic Walk and soak up the sun under an umbrella (when we eventually get some real sunshine here in the UK!); do remember you can still burn under an umbrella and you do still need to protect your skin! The sun rays do go through the material so you most definately are still at risk of burning or worse...

I have recently returned from the sun drenched beaches of the Mediteranean and for two weeks I lay on the beach 'under an umbrella', wearing 'factor 20'!! I am now a deep shade of brown (to the envy of my friends) and importantly I didn't burn. So you really do not need to lay under direct sunlight to go brown!

Just one more point with regards to 'skin coverage', in a recent television report a so called 'expert' showed, using special photo technology, how easy it is to 'miss' (and leave exposed) areas of skin when applying sun cream. So do thoroughly cover your exposed areas...

Also they showed how much sun cream you should apply if you are actually out sunbathing and how often you should re-apply it (every two hours). If you do this correctly one bottle of sun cream will only last two people 'one day'! So in theory you will need 14 bottles for a fortnights holiday if you are a couple of beach / sun worshippers!

Ok, that's enough about actually laying in the sun but (back to Nordic Walking), I do endorse what Malcolm says - Basically, do cover up your exposed parts (don't forget your ears and back of the neck) with sun cream when you are Nordic Walking!

... And remember, even if you have achieved that desired sun tan you still need to keep wearing the sun cream (even when Nordic Walking) to afford yourself some level of protection from those harmful rays.
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