El Sol

We are more than half way through the dry season, and I think it only appropriate to do an article on "The Sun".  I love the sun,   and as a kid and a young adult I worshipped the sun.  Get me to the beach anywhere, or out in the sun in the winter or summer, and I had my face pointed to the sun.   Sometimes I would burn first, and other times I wouldn't.  I used sunscreen but I was not always diligent in reapplying after I swam or ever time I went out.  About 5 years ago a very unattractive sun spot appeared on the side of my face.  This woke me up to the effects sun has on our skin on a long term basis.  Right about the same time, a friend of mine at the age of 33 was diagnosed with skin cancer.  She was not a sun worshiper and in fact she didn't like the sun.  She had 3 spots removed from her back and for now she is all clear.

Here are some facts that I think we all need to review and/or realize about the sun:

Sunlight has a profound effect on the skin causing premature skin aging, skin cancer and a host of skin changes.  Exposure to ultraviolet light, UVA or UVB from sunlight accounts for 90% of the symptoms of premature skin aging.  In fact many skin changes that were commonly believed to be due to aging, such as easy bruising are actually a result of prolonged exposure to UV radiation.

It is important for our well-being to have regular exposure to sunlight.  Sun produces vitamin E and vitamin D which are vital to good health.  Vitamin D is important in keeping bones from becoming brittle.  It can be found in food, but can be produced much faster by as little as 15 minutes in the sun.

I currently have a tan. I am outdoors a significant amount of my day,  so it is inevitable that I have some colour.  When I‘m out golfing or outside for long periods of time I wear a 50 SPF or greater and a hat.  Even with this protection I still get tanned, but it has been a long time since I have been burnt to the point of pain.  I drink plenty of water to replenish the dehydration the sun causes and most of the time I feel good.

About 3 years ago, after a 6km race on July 1st (Canada Day), in Toronto I suffered from heat exhaustion.   Nausea, a headache that felt like my head was going to explode and dizziness were among the symptoms I felt that afternoon beginning about 3 hours after I finished my race.  I remember laying in the fetal position for over 2 hours feeling absolutely terrible.  That was the first time I had ever suffered from heat exhaustion but it was not my last.  Since that day, my tolerance of the heat and the sun have decreased.  It now doesn't take much for me to get a headache or feel nauseous when I’m not guzzling water and doing the things I need to do to protect myself from the heat and sun.  If not arrested in time, this can turn into heat stroke which could have me hospitalized and which can be fatal.

People die every year due to overexposure to the sun.  Sure we all feel healthier when we have some colour.  To obtain that colour doesn’t mean we need to bake ourselves everyday.  I have not laid on a lounge chair in the sun for over a year.  Walking my dog, going outside in the morning to water my plants, or even the short walk from my car into Reys gives me enough sunlight to keep me feeling and looking healthy.

If you don't have sunscreen, invest in a bottle.  Make it part of your morning routine, to apply some to your face and exposed areas.  It is never too late to start protecting yourself from the sun.  My Grandfather was 84 before he found out he had skin cancer on his nose.  It’s hard to believe this blazing star that is approximately 149.6 million kilometers from the earth can do so much damage, but it does.  Take the time to take care of your skin, and your body, and enjoy the rest of your Summer Aqui en Panama!



Karyn Saunders is a Life Coach who lives in Hacienda Pacifica with her
partner; Allan,  their 2 cats and Nina their Panamanian Puppy.  Karyn has
been on the road to Health and Wellness after she made some crucial life
changes over 12 years ago.  Karyn admits: "I was 50lb overweight, a daily
smoker and I knew something had to change".   Karyn quickly became active.
She has completed a marathon many triathlons, and you will often find her
out on the golf course, tennis courts, running on the beach with  the 6:30am
boot camp crew, or battling the surf with Allan at Playa Serena.  Her
passion to living a an active lifestyle has taken her on some fabulous
adventures.  "My goal is to help our society see the forest through the
trees when it comes to "Health and Wellness",  physically and emotionally. I
have a quality of life that is second to none, and my goal is to help those
that want it too"