Sun exposure is a risk factor for skin cancer. Knowledge and behaviors around sun exposure protective measures are poorly described in athletes including runners. Our primary objective was to describe sun exposure behaviors and knowledge in a population of runners. A cross-sectional online survey was administered to 697 runners to measure the frequency of seven sun protective behaviors: sunscreen use on the face or body; wearing a hat, sunglasses, or long sleeves; running in shade; and avoidance of midday running. Between 54% and 84% of runners reported that they engaged in these behaviors at least sometimes, but only 7% to 45% reported frequent use. Of 525 runners who gave a primary reason for not using sunscreen regularly, 49.0% cited forgetfulness; 17.3% cited discomfort; and only a small percentage cited maintaining a tan (6.1%) or optimizing vitamin D (5.1%). Of 689 runners who responded to a question about what factor most influences their overall sun exposure habits, 39.2% cited fear of skin cancer, 28.7% cited comfort level, and 15.8% cited fear of skin aging. In addition to the seven individual behaviors, we also asked runners how frequently they took precautions to protect against the sun overall. We explored associations between participant characteristics and the overall use of sun protection using ordinal logistic regression. Overall, sun protection was used more frequently in runners who were female, older, or had a history of skin cancer. Runners appear to recognize the importance of sun protection and the potential consequences of not using it, but report forgetfulness and discomfort as the biggest barriers to consistent use. Interventions using habit-formation strategies and self-regulation training may prove to be most useful in closing this gap between knowledge and practice.
View details for DOI 10.3390/sports10010001
View details for PubMedID 35050966