Saturday, November 28, 2015 • 01:35

Another advantage of an active lifestyle

July 16, 2014
I'm not a professional dermatologist, but I'm starting to believe that an active lifestyle may be a defense against skin cancer.

One of my blonde childhood friends recently had a recurrence of skin cancer, and she blames her time tanning herself at the beach. Some of my other friends have also attributed their skin cancer situations to their beach sun days.

None of us used sunscreen in those days. But those of us who went to the playground instead of to the beach don't seem to be dealing with skin cancer. And since we played outdoors even when the weather wasn't warm, we probably spent more time in the sun than our friends who were lying on a beach towel.

Because I cover topics other than sports, I may be more of a utility writer than a pure sportswriter, but I've been writing about sports professionally since 1985. I was an intramurals referee in college, officiating both outdoor and indoor sports. My first job was as an assistant baseball instructor at the San Diego State University Summer Youth Fitness Program. I've thus been working in athletics in one capacity or another since I was 16. It's the next best thing to playing professionally. I've probably spent more time working outdoors than my friends who are suffering from their unpaid time at the beach; while some of my outdoor time included stationary situations for a specific role I was also moving around frequently.

Nowadays I pretty much go to the beach to have a bonfire and get rid of the wood from my yard. The bonfires are at night, so I tend to arrive at the beach around dusk. The actions involving maintaining a 15,000 square foot property with more than 20 trees, including stumped ones and neighbors' trees with branches overhanging onto my property, are done in daylight. Sometimes I'm in the yard for four to six hours taking care of trees, bushes, grass, weeds, and everything else which requires work. That time outside may match that of the recreational beachgoer's week.

I did spend time at the beach regularly before I purchased my house. I was in a group with weekly volleyball competition during the summer. I don't claim to be a professional volleyball player any more than I claim to be a professional dermatologist, but volleyball isn't a sport played when lying on a beach towel.

Most of my childhood time near the water involved the San Diego State University swimming pool, which was about four blocks from where I grew up as well as on the other side of the locker room during my days at San Diego State's Summer Youth Fitness Program. There's something to be said for rest, but there's no reason just to lie around when a usable swimming pool is available.

I'm not claiming that my outdoor activity won't someday catch up with me in the form of skin cancer. What I can say is that those potential consequences haven't developed in the time it took my beach-patronizing friends to develop the adverse results of their more sedentary outdoor lifestyle.

Staying active isn't a guarantee against skin cancer, but it seems to lessen the risk. I'm not planning to restrict my outdoor activities just because my friends who were stationary while sunning themselves have ended up with undesirable side effects. My bucket list still includes running a marathon and climbing Pike's Peak. That's a total of 64 miles outdoors. But for the most part, I'll keep moving.

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