There are many factors that contribute to making an athlete an incredible performer – muscular strength, fitness of body and mind, natural and acquired skills, their food habits and lifestyle, and training  go a long way in determining how strong and fast athletes are on the field and on the court. However, not everyone realizes that extraneous factors can hamper performance and that training, skills and fitness are diluted and compromised by something as common as sunlight. Yes, you read that right – the UV radiation in the atmosphere affects athletic performance adversely and prevents sportspersons from giving their best. Exposure to the sun puts your skin, which is the largest organ in your body, at risk. When the amount of UV radiation invading your skin reaches or goes above accepted levels, your stress levels go up. This leads to the increase of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Adrenaline boosts your reflexes and increases your blood flow, and while this is optimal when you need a quick escape from a threatening situation or when you need to make split second decisions, stress hormones are detrimental when it comes to athletic performance because:
  • They cause an inflammation of the digestive tract which leads to ulceration and other digestive problems.
  • They bring on asthma and other respiratory problems because your airways are inflamed and you have less stamina than usual.
  • Your skin becomes inflamed when exposed to UV radiation and this diverts more blood towards the skin and away from organs and muscles that are vital to athletic performance.
  • You find your stamina decreases and your fitness levels go down. This makes it hard to sustain performance levels throughout the duration of the competitive event.
These findings imply that athletes who perform outdoors in the sun must adequately protect their skin to ensure that their hormones function the right way to boost performance instead of hampering it. This could be done through the use of protective clothing and sunscreen lotions that will prevent release of stress hormones and improve levels of performance.