Get outside and enjoy the health benefits of the beautiful sunshine! The summer is my favorite time of year because the days are long and the sun shines warm and bright. Did you know that direct exposure to the sun (brief or protected) is good for your health? Yes, it is a fact that prolonged, unprotected sun exposure is linked to skin cancer. However, recent research suggests that the benefits may outweigh the risks, particularly when we are mindful of skin type and time spent in direct exposure.
Here are a just a few benefits of beautiful Sunshine.
1. Boost Vitamin D levels and Bone Health. Vitamin D is crucial for our bone health, especially athletes. Please note that in order for the skin to make Vitamin D, the skin must be exposed to direct sunlight without sunblock. So, keep it short, then apply sunblock if you plan to stay out longer.
2. Happiness! Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a neurotransmitter called Serotonin – our bodies natural antidepressant. When combined with exercise, the mood boosting effects of sunlight are especially potent. I, for one, can totally vouch for this one!
3. Sleep better! Exposure to sunlight during the day helps keep circadian rhythms on track and boosts levels of serotonin, which in turn helps you fall asleep more easily, enjoy a better night’s sleep and wake up more refreshed.
4. Lose weight People often lose more weight in the summer for a number of reasons. First, the sun often brings people outdoors, which usually results in more physical activity. In addition, the increased serotonin helps control appetite.
5. Enhance your Immune System. Research suggests Vitamin D plays a vital role in immune health. Exposure to the sun’s rays ensures the vitamin is present in the body and can be used to benefit T cells, which are key to defending against infection and other autoimmune diseases.
6. Prevent Cancer – That’s right, I said, prevent cancer (possibly, more research is needed) with sun exposure. According to a scientific paper published in Environmental Health Perspectives, “Whereas skin cancer is associated with too much UVR exposure, other cancers could result from too little. Living at higher latitudes increases the risk of dying from Hodgkin lymphoma, as well as breast, ovarian, colon, pancreatic, prostate, and other cancers, as compared with living at lower latitudes.”
Bottom Line: As with everything in life, the solution lies in balance. The sun is good. The sun can be harmful. So be smart. Enjoy the sun, particularly early in the morning and later in the evening, and avoid the strongest,harmful UV rays between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm.