Doctor checking the person's skin

Utah residents are some of the fittest in the nation. Obesity is lower than the national average; the state has some of the fewest instances of diabetes and heart disease. However, living elevated comes with its own risks — one of which is skin cancer.

Obesity, Diabetes, and Heart Disease

Forty percent of the nation is obese, and obesity raises the risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes and certain heart conditions. Utah is ranked sixth from the bottom when it comes to obesity and communities in Provo-Orem top the list when it comes to diabetes prevention.

Diabetes affects 10 percent of all U.S. residents, but only 7 percent of those in Provo-Orem. Utah counties vary when it comes to obesity. Summit County reports the lowest number of cases at 11 percent, while West Jordan has a state high of 35 percent. Though both these numbers fall below the national average, the local government is still taking steps to make sure the numbers continue to go down.

The lower incidence of obesity in Utah also reflects in the lower rate of heart disease. Utah’s culture of being active has brought many benefits when it comes to preventing obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases, but it also heightened the risk of skin cancer.

The Sun and Skin Cancer

Man in shades exposed to the sunWhen it comes to skin cancer, ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the most likely culprit. The elevation of Utah cities exposes residents to higher concentrations of UV radiation. Residents of Salt Lake City are bombarded with 28 percent more UV radiation, and Summit County residents are exposed to the highest levels — with 56 percent higher UV concentration. Elevation is the critical factor for increased UV exposure. However, the predominantly fair skin of Utah residents also contribute to their heightened risk of skin cancer. Certain activities like trekking and skiing can further increase risks of exposure, but every activity under the sun comes with the unavoidable risk of UV exposure.

Staying Fit While Staying Away from the Sun

You can easily avoid harmful UV radiation by applying a healthy dose of sunscreen before you go out. Just make sure to reapply as needed, especially when performing strenuous activities that would cause you to sweat.

Protective clothing further reduces your exposure to UV rays. A simple cap when running or a wide-brimmed hat when trekking can significantly reduce your direct exposure to the sun and its harmful UV rays. If you’re not into sunblock, consider scheduling your outdoor activities early in the morning or late in the afternoon. You can also consider taking your fitness activities indoors by spending it in the gym or any other indoor sports facility.

Have your car tinted with UV filtering film. Driving exposes you to enough UV rays to significantly raise the chance of developing skin cancer on the exposed left side of your body. So even if you plan your activities indoor, it would be for naught if you still get exposed to UV while driving.

Fitness and health are connected. However, you should always protect yourself from UV radiation whenever you take your fitness regimen outside.