Design: Best Running Shorts
Running Shorts and Sun Protection: Do They Offer Any?
Published: July 5, 2023
Discover the level of sun protection offered by running shorts and how they can help shield your skin during outdoor workouts. Explore the benefits of UPF-rated materials and their role in reducing the risk of sunburn and skin damage.
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The sunshine, the fresh air, the open trail – there’s nothing quite like an outdoor run. But as with any outdoor activity, it’s essential to consider sun protection. As a runner, you might ponder, “Do running shorts offer any sun protection?” To answer this question and provide a comprehensive understanding, let’s delve into the topic further.
Understanding UV Protection in Clothing
Clothing acts as our first line of defense against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. The extent of protection offered by a garment is determined by various factors such as fabric type, color, and weave. The UV Protection Factor (UPF) rating system measures a fabric’s effectiveness in blocking UV radiation.
For instance, a UPF rating of 50 means that only 1/50th (or 2%) of the UV radiation can penetrate the fabric, indicating excellent protection. It’s crucial to note that not all clothing is UPF-rated, and regular clothing might not offer significant sun protection.
Do Running Shorts Offer Sun Protection?
The straightforward answer is, it depends. Not all running shorts offer the same degree of sun protection. As mentioned, the protection level depends largely on the fabric type, color, and weave. Here are some factors that determine whether your running shorts protect you from the sun:
- Fabric Type: Certain materials, such as nylon and polyester, are more effective at blocking UV rays than others, like cotton or bamboo.
- Color: Dark or bright colors absorb more UV radiation than lighter shades. Therefore, black, dark blue, or red running shorts might offer more protection than white or pastel ones.
- Weave: Tighter weaves or knits typically block more UV radiation than loose ones.
- UPF Rating: Some running shorts are specifically designed with sun protection in mind and come with a UPF rating.
Remember that running shorts only protect the area of skin they cover. Regardless of your shorts’ UV protection, other exposed parts of your body are still vulnerable to the sun’s harmful rays.
Boosting Your Sun Protection While Running
Given the limited coverage of running shorts, runners need to adopt additional sun protection measures. Here’s how you can boost your sun protection while running:
Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher on all exposed skin, even on cloudy days.
Choose Protective Clothing
Look for running gear with a UPF rating for greater protection. This might include running shirts, caps, and arm sleeves.
Protect Your Eyes
Wear UV-protective sunglasses to shield your eyes from harmful rays.
Run During Cooler Hours
The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If possible, run in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid peak UV levels.
Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your run to replenish lost fluids and help maintain your skin’s health.
The Bottom Line
While some running shorts can offer a degree of sun protection, they should be part of a more comprehensive sun protection strategy. Prioritizing sun safety during your runs can ensure your skin stays healthy and you can enjoy your run without the worry of sun damage.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is UPF-rated clothing?
UPF-rated clothing has been specifically tested and rated for its effectiveness at blocking UV radiation. A higher UPF rating indicates better protection.
Can I wash UPF-rated running shorts normally?
Yes, you can wash UPF-rated shorts as you would other activewear. The sun protective properties are due to the fabric’s structure, not a finish that will wash off.
Do running shorts with built-in underwear offer more sun protection?
The built-in underwear in running shorts does not necessarily offer more sun protection unless it’s made from a sun-protective fabric or is UPF-rated.
Can I get sunburned through my running shorts?
It’s possible, especially if the fabric is lightweight, light-colored, or loosely woven. However, UPF-rated shorts significantly reduce this risk.
What else can I do to protect my legs from the sun while running?
If you’re running during peak sun hours, consider wearing longer running tights with a high UPF rating or applying sunscreen to your legs.