Is it better to suntan lying flat?

08 May 2011

Question

As we head in to spring, my wife and I have had a debate concerning the efficacy of tanning while lying down, as compared to walking about.  

My wife contends that lying stationary while tanning if more effective than walking about without one's shirt on.  I have contended that the same number of photons would strike the subject regardless of movement. Could you please settle this debate for us.  

Thank You,

An avid Yank listener.

Answer

Dave - I think it depends where you're living. If you're living on the equator, especially at midday, the Sun's going to be right above you at which point the only way you'll get the maximum amount of sun per square centimetre on your skin is to be at right angles to the Sun. If you're somewhere near the equator and lie flat that's probably going to be your best bet. If you're living somewhere a long way North, like Sweden or Finland, then the Sun is very low on the horizon and the best way to get yourself at right angles to the Sun is to stand upright, so I think often in Russia and Sweden you get people going out sunbathing standing up, next to a wall. I think the only advantage of not moving around is possibly that you fall half asleep and time passes more quickly!

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