Health Benefits of the Sun

10 Reasons To Go Outside and Soak up the Sun

Let’s face it; these days the sun is taking a lot of “heat.” (Pun intended.) Overexposure to the sun has been linked to causing everything from wrinkles, to sunspots, to sunburns, to skin cancer. But this doesn’t mean we should hide from the sun entirely. Studies have shown that safe sun exposure is just as important to our health. Here are 10 reasons you should spend a little more time in the sun as a way to nurture your mind, body and spirit.
  1. Sunlight Helps You Sleep Better. Spending time outside in daylight is imperative to maintaining a normal circadian rhythm, which is a critical component of overall health. Exposure to sunlight helps to sync your body’s internal clock with nature so that it is more willing to sleep when you need it to. The body’s master clock also controls the production of melatonin in the body, a hormone that makes people sleepy.
  2. Sunlight Builds the Immune System. The white blood cells, which increase with sun exposure, are called lymphocytes, and these play a major role in defending the body against infections.
  3. Sunlight Combats SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). The Mayo Clinic found that decreased sun exposure is associated with a drop in serotonin that can lead to minor depression and SAD, which is more common in the winter when the days are shorter and the nights are longer.
  4. Sunlight Lowers Blood Pressure. A study at the University of Edinburgh found that exposing skin to sunlight helps to reduce blood pressure and can cut the risk of stroke and heart attack.
  5. Exposure to the Sun Increases Happiness. Research has found that sunshine increases serotonin, which can help alter moods in the brain. Increased sun exposure can help with minor depression and also prevent seasonal depression in the winter.
  6. Sunlight Lowers Risk for Alzheimer’s and MS. Many studies have shown that an increase in exposure to sunlight results in a decrease of certain diseases. For example, a normal circadian rhythm can help improve the aspects of Alzheimer’s. And research has found that early sunlight exposure in life can reduce a persons’ risk of MS.
  7. Sunlight Decreases Anxiety and Panic Attacks. Both anxiety and panic attacks have been linked to changing seasons and reduced exposure to sunlight. Sunlight cues special areas in the retina of the eye, which triggers the release of serotonin.
  8. Exposure to the Sun Optimizes Body Systems. Sun exposure increases oxygen content in the blood, similar to the effects of exercise. Studies conducted in Europe show that sun exposure also helps cleanse the blood and blood vessels, helping body systems work optimally.
  9. Sunlight Improves Stamina, Fitness and Muscular Development. Sunlight also enhances the body’s capacity to deliver oxygen to the tissues, greatly improving the body’s physical fitness ability.
  10. Sunlight Improves Skin Disorders. Sunlight has a beneficial effect on skin disorders including psoriasis, acne, eczema and fungal infections of the skin.
While balanced sun exposure can greatly increase your mental and physical health, overexposure to the sun can harm it. When out in the sun for increased amounts of time, be sure to properly protect your skin.
  • Get your sun exposure during non-peak hours. A person is more likely to get sunburned going outside when the sun’s rays are more direct. This usually takes place around 10 am – 4 pm.
  • If you are going to be outside for more than a 15-minute period, protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays by applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more. Be sure to choose a natural sunscreen that utilizes titanium dioxide or zinc, sans harsh chemicals such as oxybenzone
  • Exposure to the sun should be done slowly! If you are not used to the sun, or are more sensitive to it, build up your tolerance by starting out with small blocks of sun exposure, gradually building up to longer time periods.
Have you been out in the sun today? What are you waiting for? Go outside and experience all the great benefits the sun has to offer your mind, body and spirit! Sources: The Active Times, Health Line, Mind Body Green