We hate to say it, but summer is on its way out. The start of a new school year is upon us and soon the humidity will turn into a cool breeze and the beautiful flowers to fallen leaves. Hopefully, you've spent the summer soaking up the sun and enjoying all it has to offer because believe it or not, sunshine provides many health and wellness benefits.
So, before it’s too late, take a couple of minutes to read the many health benefits of sunshine below and then get outside to enjoy the last little bit of sun and warm weather. Sure, fall and winter have sun too, but it is minuscule compared to spring and summer.
Although sunshine has many health benefits, it does pose serious risks as well. This is why it's essential to wear proper protection when outdoors to minimize your risk of skin cancer and exposure to harmful UV radiation. We recommend wearing a hat, preferably a sun hat with a 360-degree brim as well as a sunscreen of the appropriate strength. Sunshine can be beneficial, but only when consumed safely.
The Benefits of Sun Exposure
Increases Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D is a significant contributor to the growth of healthy bones and sunshine is one of the primary ways our bodies receive this vitamin. Vitamin D builds up in our intestines and then helps our bodies absorb calcium as well as control the flow of calcium in and out of our bones. In most vitamin D deficiency cases, a lack of exposure to sunlight is to blame.
Protects Against Cancer and Heart Disease as Well as Lowers Blood Pressure
It’s commonly known that too much sunshine and harmful UV rays can cause skin cancer. But did you know that there are also many cancers that could be caused by a lack of exposure to sunlight? It's true. People who don't receive adequate exposure to the sun have a higher chance of being diagnosed with breast, ovarian, colon, pancreatic and prostate cancer to name a few. But don’t worry, by simply doubling your daily recommended vitamin D intake, you can cut your chances of being diagnosed with cancer by 50-70%*.
But that’s not all sunshine can help protect against. Sunshine has been known to also help protect your body against heart disease and even lower your blood pressure. Studies have found that people living in sunny areas (think Mediterranean Coast) have shown lower rates of heart disease and lower blood pressure levels. No wonder we seem to feel better and more relaxed when on vacation.
There’s nothing else that improves your mood and combats depression quite like sunshine does. This is because exposure to sunlight increases a person’s serotonin levels. This neurotransmitter is known for improving moods and helping people calm down and focus.
Aside from its effect on your Serotonin levels, the vitamin D that sunshine provides our bodies is said to be the most significant contributor to reducing a person's chance of depression. In fact, people who suffer from clinical depression are found to have vitamin D levels that are 14% lower than average.
Improves Brain Function
Have you ever stepped outside and instantly felt more alert? Well, you're not wrong. There's a direct link between a person's exposure to sunlight and their alertness and brainpower. Think of when you wake up each morning. For most of us, we feel groggy and end up tripping over or dropping things. And now, think of when you arrive at work, school or wherever else you go in the morning. You feel more alert, right? Sure, everything from your morning coffee to exercise can contribute to this alertness, but the main contributor is sunshine— specifically, the wavelengths associated with sunlight. These wavelengths are absorbed by our brains and increase the activity levels in a part of our brain called the Thalamus.
Helps Treat Arthritis
Sunshine and sunlight have also been known to help treat Arthritis. In specific cases, increased exposure to sunlight and vitamin D levels reduces knee cartilage loss in patients who have Arthritis.
The positive effects of sunshine on our bodies goes on and on. And besides the benefits listed above, sunlight can also:
- Help improve dental health
- Reduce the impact of diabetes
- Act as a natural painkiller
- Fight acne
- And more!
Now that you know just how beneficial an appropriate amount of sunlight is to our bodies, we’ll keep this part of the article short and sweet so that you can get outside and soak up the last of the summertime sunshine. If you have any questions regarding content discussed in this article, other health-related topics or would like to schedule an appointment to meet with one of our highly-trained team members, we encourage you to get in touch with us by phone or email. We hope this article has helped shine some light (pun intended) on the positive effects of sunshine and remember, sunlight should be consumed in healthy doses and with the appropriate protection as to not cause harm to the body or increase the chances of skin cancer.