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Tips for Keeping Outdoor PE Classes Sun-Safe

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Physical education is an integral part of promoting health and wellness for children. Through PE, kids exercise and develop their motor skills while having fun with their classmates. The World Health Organization has even suggested that kids and adolescents aged 5-17 should spend an average of one hour per day doing physical activities with moderate-to-vigorous intensity to improve overall health.

However, while PE offers many benefits, it can also increase the risks of injuries. Our previous article highlights some important things to remember to avoid injuries during PE classes, such as having a warm-up routine, ensuring activities are age-appropriate, and incorporating rest breaks. Apart from injuries, protecting children from the sun is also vital, especially during outdoor PE sessions. Below, we look at why sun safety is important in PE and how you can make your classes sun-safe.

Why Sun Safety Matters

Outdoor PE classes can expose children to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, which are harmful to the skin and eyes. Research published by the National Institutes of Health cited excessive sun exposure as the main risk factor for the development of skin cancer. Moreover, exposure to high amounts of UV rays during daytime can cause serious vision problems like cataracts and macular degeneration over time. Kids are especially at risk because according to the NIH, children’s natural defense mechanisms are not yet fully developed, making them more susceptible to sun damage like sunburn and photokeratitis which can affect school performance and compromise long-term health. Here’s what you can do to protect children from these risks:

Avoid Activities During the Hottest Hours

Doing outdoor PE activities when the sun is at its strongest can be too uncomfortable for kids, increasing their chances of sun damage. A study published in Springer Link mentioned how prolonged sun exposure at peak hours can lead to sunburn and increase the risks of skin cancer, which is why it’s important to schedule outdoor PE sessions at appropriate times. The US Environmental Protection Agency says that the sun is at its strongest between 10 am and 4 pm, so try to avoid these hours when possible. If scheduling PE classes at other times is difficult, then educators need to ensure that proper sun safety measures are taken. 

Encourage Wearing Sunglasses

Quality sunglasses are important for eye protection, and recommending a good pair to your students’ parents can help lower the risks of vision damage for kids. Sunglasses are a viable option, especially since frames like the BiSphaera and Flak 2.0 offer 100% UV protection and are equipped with the Prizm lens technology that helps reduce glare to improve contrast and overall visibility for kids outdoors. These frames are also often used by professional athletes, so they’re guaranteed to be good for sports and children who want to become athletes in the future. Remind your students and their parents what to look for in sunglasses, like UV protection and glare reduction, so that they can find the best pair for outdoor activities like running and cycling.

Teach Them about the Importance of Sunscreen 

Aside from sunglasses, it’s also important to highlight to kids the importance of sunscreen to provide better protection during outdoor PE sessions. Sunscreens are a great choice that you can recommend to students and parents, as they come in various forms and sun protection factor (SPF) levels, like the Original SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion and the Original SPF 70 Sunscreen Spray. The texture of these sunscreens is also smooth and not sticky, making them comfortable to apply and wear during the school day. Plus, these sunscreens exceed the American Academy of Dermatology’s recommended SPF level of 30, ensuring maximum protection. Remind your kids to bring sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and teach them to apply it to their exposed skin regularly before heading outside.

PE is a great way for kids to learn and develop healthy bodies, but make sure they’re completely protected from injuries and sun damage. Follow these tips to ensure sun protection during outdoor physical activities.

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