Exercise has its obvious perks — helping to improve cardiovascular strength, build and maintain a lean, mean body and provide natural energy. But did you know exercise can also cause damage to the body, inside and out? It’s true…but only if you let it be.
As professional triathletes, our workplace is the outdoors, so we are constantly exposed to the sun. Unfortunately, this increases our risk of permanent skin damage, which can lead to wrinkling, discoloring or worse! And it doesn’t take much time outside for damage to be done. That’s why we suggest to any athlete who spends time training al fresco to use caution and follow our “directions” to protect your skin from UV rays.
Lather on. Protect yourself by applying sunscreen all over — including your lips — every time you are going to be exposed to sun. While training outdoors, be sure to reapply sunscreen every few hours since it does wash off with excess sweating. Try to also avoid running or cycling during peak hours — 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. — when the sun’s rays are strongest.
Keep the flakes off. Dry, flaky skin is neither attractive nor healthy. Lack of moisture can make skin more prone to wrinkles. Using antioxidant-rich creams daily can help restore moisture and protect you from skin-damaging free radicals.
Cover up. Whether fashionable or not, wearing a hat or visor while exercising outside can offer protection from the sun. It may not shade your entire face and neck, but every little bit helps! That’s why we also recommend wearing sunglasses at all times. Your eyes and the skin around them are very sensitive and certainly not exempt from excess sun exposure.
Drink it down. As athletes, we make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to help nourish our muscles and replenish the water lost during our workouts. But dehydration can also lead to that dry, flaky skin we talked about. An easy way to check your hydration levels is by the color of your urine. If it’s more yellow than clear, you may not be getting enough water and downing a few more ounces will help.
Amy Marsh is a four-time Ironman champion, two-time IronDistance champion, and was named the 2010 USAT Long Distance Triathlete of the Year. Brandon Marsh has been competing in triathlons since 1988, and can be counted on to be a top-10 contender in every event he enters. Got a question about swim-bike-run or sports nutrition for Team Marsh? Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. ‘Like’ them on Facebook or follow on Twitter: Brandon @BrandonMarshTX and Amy @AmyCMarsh.