Walkers Urged to Take Care in the Spring Sunshine
14/04/2014With the spring sunshine encouraging not only snowdrops and daffodils, but also local walking groups to come out in force, the Public Health Agency (PHA) and Cancer Focus Northern Ireland are reminding ramblers to take care in the sun when out and about. Dr Miriam McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the PHA, said: “Being active outdoors is good for our health, but despite our unpredictable weather, we are still exposed to significant levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, even on cloudy or breezy days. The majority of our population has fair skin, which provides little protection against the sun, so even a small amount of sun can cause serious skin damage over time and may lead to skin cancer.”
Colette Brolly, Health & Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager at the PHA, added: “Walking not only helps to keep you fit, but it can also boost your energy levels and improve your mood, and as it’s such an easily accessible form of exercise it’s easy to do, either on your own or with others.
“Our Walking for Health programme aims to encourage people to increase their level of physical activity by participating in local health walks led by trained Walk Leaders. The route and length of the walks are designed to suit the ability of the walkers, and all walkers are supported and encouraged to walk at their own pace. As walkers may be out in the sun for a prolonged period of time, our Walk Leaders reinforce the importance of wearing the correct clothing and applying sun cream.”
Marbeth Ferguson, Skin Cancer Prevention Coordinator, Cancer Focus said: “It is vitally important that people who spend a lot of time outdoors take the necessary steps to protect their skin from harmful UV rays and actively reduce the risks of skin cancer. If you are out walking this spring and summer, there are a number of simple steps you can take to protect against harmful UV rays and by following these simple tips, we can all enjoy the benefits of healthier, more active and happier lifestyles in a safe way.”
Tips on how to stay safe in the sun:
• Seek shade when the sun is at its strongest – generally 11am to 3pm
• Cover up in the sun with a long sleeved T-shirt, sunglasses and a hat
• Use sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 for UVB protection and 4 star for UVA protection. Apply liberally 30 minutes before going out in the sun and re-apply at least every two hours
• Be sure to cover areas which are sometimes missed, such as the lips, ears, around the eyes, neck, scalp and backs of hands
For further information on how to enjoy the sun safely visit www.careinthesun.org .
If you are concerned about skin cancer call the Cancer Focus free information and support helpline on 0800 783 3339 or email one of the charity’s nurses on firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out more about how to get involved in the Walking for Health programme in the Southern Trust contact:
Promoting Wellbeing Team
Tel 028 3831 1525