8 Benefits of Getting Your Daily Dose of Sunshine
Who hasn’t felt better after being outside on a bright, sunny day? The warm skin, slower heart rate, and overall feeling of wellness is the most familiar result of sun exposure, but the sun also has numerous benefits for your health.
One of the best benefits of sunshine is that it causes the body to produce Vitamin D, which we now know is a hormone and not an actual vitamin. Over the past decade, there has been an increase in the number of people with Vitamin D deficiency, especially in the northeast. While some experts have said adults should get between 600-800 IUs of D per day, recent research suggests getting 1500-2000 IUs per day provides the most benefits for your health. Depending on your weight, skin color, and where you live, being out in the sun for even 20 minutes a few times a week allows the body to produce all the Vitamin D it needs. Since most people only get 10-20% of their Vitamin D from their diet, it’s easy to see how important it is to get outside and move on sunny days.
In addition to the Vitamin D boost, here are 7 additional benefits of sunshine:
- Sun exposure increases production of nitric oxide, which lowers blood pressure.
- Sunlight lowers cholesterol by converting high cholesterol in the blood into steroids and reproductive hormones.
- Sunlight increases oxygen content in the blood, allowing more oxygen to reach tissues. This increases energy levels and muscle fitness.
- White blood cell production increases in the sun. This supports and strengthens the immune system’s function and performance.
- Sunlight boosts production of serotonin, a chemical known to ease depression and anxiety. It also eases the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder and allows you to feel happier and better about yourself emotionally.
- Sunshine improves skin disorders such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
- Exposure to early morning sunshine helps maintain your circadian rhythm and improves sleep.
As with all things, moderation is important when you are out in the sun. While there are numerous benefits of sunshine, too much of a good thing can undermine those benefits. The sun’s ultraviolet rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. If you are going to be outside for a long time, consider using sunscreen to protect yourself from burns and over-exposure, preferably natural zinc oxide sunscreen. Hats are also a good way to protect the sensitive skin on your head and face.
It has been a long, cold, snowy winter. Make sure to take time for yourself to get outside, exercise and enjoy the sun. And don’t forget to change your clocks March7th for Daylight Savings Time. It’s also a good time to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Next time we will talk about choosing foods that are not genetically modified, and about reading labels to help you choose the healthiest foods. After all, we want each of you to continue to heal on your path to health and wellness. Please feel free to contact the Simple Health Team with any questions or to clarify topics that we have blogged on. Enjoy the entry into spring weather. Being outside will be so wonderful for all of us!