You look out the window after a long winter, see the sun shining, and receive a silent kick from your intuition to get off the couch or away from the desk and rejoin society in the sunlight. But then – you may know the feeling – you’re too comfortable; too busy; too lazy to stand up and make it happen.
It’s that time of year when we get that inexplicable urge to run outside and frolic in the overdue warmth of the new season; brought on by rising temperatures, parting clouds, and blooming buds. Winter clouds and summer skies are battling it out and the resulting weather can either inspire us to rendezvous with friends over a spontaneous picnic or send us back to bed with a cup of tea and book in hand.
That urge for sunshine is there for a reason – humans have an innate attraction – in fact, a downright dependency – on that burning hunk of cosmic fire. We depend on the sun for our survival – and it’s rays play a major role in the healthy functioning of our human bodies.
Studies have shown that moderate sunlight actually has multiple health benefits; take a look at the advantages below of getting more sun in your life:
Prevent Disease with Vitamin D
When our bodies are exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet wavelengths, the chemical and metabolic process of vitamin D creation is activated. Instead of getting this essential vitamin through food sources alone, our bodies are actually able to create it via a photosynthetic mechanism in the skin. How cool!
Many people suffer from low vitamin D levels, which have been linked to poor bone health, prostate cancer, and multiple sclerosis according to one Harvard publication. Meaning there is good evidence to suggest that filling up on vitamin D may help to prevent you from serious illnesses in the future.
Moderate sunlight exposure reduces the effects of SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder. We suffer from SAD when we experience low levels of serotonin and depression can result. High levels of serotonin, brought on by moderate exposure to sunlight, help to create positive moods and a more relaxed mental outlook. By getting outside in the sun for a mere 10-15 minutes without sunglasses on, one may be able to realize health benefits and enjoy more energy too.
Fight Insomnia & Relieve Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
If you have trouble sleeping or suffer from PMS, it turns out sunlight might be just what the doctor ordered. Our daily light intake is directly associated with our circadian rhythm, including the production of melatonin during dark hours and serotonin during light exposure. When we encounter bright light early in the morning, our melatonin production phase is initiated earlier in the day and can, therefore, induce sleep earlier in the night. Advancing the melatonin rhythm phase was also shown to have positive effects in countering the PMS symptoms from which many women suffer.
More Physical Activity
When you go outside to get catch some rays, you often end up getting physical exercise as result. Whether it’s a walk, swim, bike ride, hike, or run, you are sure to be more active outdoors than you are sitting in your home or office.
Protect Against Sun Damage
Although too much exposure to the sun can be dangerous, and cause sunburn or sun poisoning, avoiding the sun altogether can be harmful too. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that regular moderate sun exposure can actually protect your skin from cases of extreme sun damage. However, it is still recommended for people with fair skin to use a sunscreen of at least 15 SPF when you do go outside for extended periods of time.
So what are you waiting for? Get out of that dark cave and soak up some sun! Your body and mind will thank you.
Works Cited:Mead, M. Nathaniel. “Benefits of Sunlight: A Bright Spot for Human Health.” Environmental Health Perspectives. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Apr. 2008. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.
Publications, Harvard Health. “Benefits of Moderate Sun Exposure.” Harvard Health Publications. Harvard University, n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.