Now that it is July in the Santa Clarita Valley, we are outdoors and in the warm weather — swimming at the pool, picnicking in the parks, riding bikes on the paseos, and hiking the nature trails.
Living in the Santa Clarita Valley means we get great weather much of the year and can almost always enjoy being outside. But it does not come without its risks.
The sun emits UV light which is a form of radiation. UV light not only causes short-term damage, such as sunburn and wrinkles, but it can also cause serious harm, leading to skin cancer, cataracts, cornea damage, and even vision loss.
The Paseo Club is a social club in the Santa Clarita Valley. We offer several fitness options, including group classes, private training, pickleball and tennis courts for games, and a junior Olympic pool.
Like all Santa Clarita residents, our staff and members love to spend time outside. To help you be safer this summer, we wrote this article in observance of National UV Awareness Month.
In this article, you will learn about UV light, the risks of exposure, cofactors that increase your chance of cancer, and how best to be sun safe.
What is UV light from the sun?
The sun sends out radiation in the form of Ultraviolet, or UV, light. There are three types of UV light: UVA, UVB, and UVC.
UVC: The ozone blocks UVC light from entering the earth’s atmosphere, so it is not considered a risk factor.
UVB: The UVB rays are what cause sunburn when we are out in the sun for too long and/or are unprotected. Over time, excess exposure to UVB rays can cause skin cancer.
UVA: Although UVA rays are the weakest, they are associated with some skin cancers and the development of wrinkles.
When are people most exposed to UV light?
Although you are at the highest risk for damage from UV light during the summer when the sun is closest and you are outdoors more, UV exposure is a year-round issue.
UV light penetrates through cloud coverage, so people often do not use sun protection on cloudy days, making them more vulnerable to sun damage than they realize.
Living closer to the equator or at high altitudes puts people more at risk for UV damage. These locations receive more UV light than being away from the equator or at lower level elevation.
In the Santa Clarita Valley, and for much of the United States, you are most at risk for excess UV exposure between 10 am-4 pm during the summer months.
UV light reflectsfrom surfaces such as cement, sand, and snow. That is why people sunburn while skiing — even when they are in the middle of winter in freezing temperatures. (Keep this information about reflection in mind the next time you are on the tennis or pickleball courts!)
Skin damage — liver spots, sunburn, wrinkles, actinic keratosis, and solar elastosis
Eye damage — burned corneas, cataracts, growths on the eye (pterygium) leading to vision loss
Some studies have also shown potential links to other cancers, including Merkel cell carcinoma (a less common type of skin cancer) and melanoma of the eye.
UV light is such a concern that The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is a part of the World Health Organization (WHO), has determined that solar and UV radiation is carcinogenic to humans.
Cofactors that affect your sun safety
As a Santa Clarita Valley resident, you probably love the valley's wonderful weather and natural beauty. But living in the SCV comes with responsibilities.
Research has shown that the most common skin cancers, squamous and basal cell, are associated with these cofactors.
Spending time in the sun for recreation
Living in an area that gets a lot of sunlight
Spending a lot of time in the sun in a swimsuit
Having a history of serious sunburns (the more sunburns, the higher the risk)
Having signs of sun damage to the skin — liver spots, actinic keratoses, and solar elastosis
If you have any of these cofactors, then the chance of developing skin cancer increases.
7 steps to help you be sun safe in the Santa Clarita Valley
You can take many steps to protect yourself from UV’s harmful rays.
Wear a hat with an adequately-sized brim.
Choose the shade when hanging out outdoors.
Wear wraparound glasses with UV-blocking lenses.
Minimize going out between 10 am-4 pm during the summer.
Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen on all uncovered areas of the body, especially the face and shoulders.
Wear lightweight clothing. UV-protective clothes are ideal but they are expensive to buy. Regular attire made from cotton still offers protection.
Lastly, avoid using tanning beds. Contrary to popular belief, they are not safe. They emit radiation that increases your UV exposure, putting you at risk.
Final thoughts on protecting yourself from UV light
Spending time outdoors is very healthy for your mind and body. But you do need to create a sun-protection regimen that you can stick to throughout the year — but especially during the summer months.
You may want to keep a bag in your car or by your front door of sunscreen, a long sleeve shirt, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. Make a sun protection bag for your kids too! They are also at risk and need to practice good sun-safe habits.
Members come to the club not only to workout, but also to eat, visit with friends, get a massage, or attend one of our many social events.
If you think a fitness center that emphasizes social connections and building community is a good fit for you, then the Paseo Club may be your type of place. Schedule a tour of the club today, and meet members, staff, and instructors.
To learn more about health and wellness, read these three articles.
Jen Azevedo is a person of many talents. She is a tennis professional, pickleball professional, personal trainer, group exercise instructor, and the general manager of the Paseo Club. She loves the community at the Paseo Club and that it is also a safe and fun place for her daughter. Jen’s favorite activities are joining her tribe for trail races or her partners for tennis matches. Occasionally Jen slows down to relax with a book — she reads over 100 a year!