Many studies have shown the health benefits of sunlight, yet many adults spend their majority of their time indoors, either at work or at home. Even popular forms of recreation—going to the gym, for example—take place indoors. To stay healthy, everyone should make an effort to get out into the sun.
Boost Your Mental Health
The connection between lack of sunlight and depression is well documented. In the winter months, some people experience symptoms of depression Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) due to the lack of sunlight. The lack of sun may also be linked to anxiety, panic disorders, and sleep problems.
Exposure to sunlight creates several positive reactions in the brain. The sun causes the hypothalamus, which links together the nervous system and endocrine system. As a result, your body produces feel-good hormones like serotonin. Increased levels of serotonin boost your mood and help you get a good night’s sleep.
When the ultraviolet B (UVB) rays of the sun hit your skin, your body responds by producing Vitamin D, which regulates your levels of calcium and phosphate. These minerals are vital for strong bones and muscles. Vitamin D is also a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
For maximum benefit, try to get about 15-30 minutes of sun exposure per day, preferably at midday. Wearing sunscreen is necessary for long times in the sun, but it can interfere with UVB rays. Another way to get Vitamin D is to drink milk and eat other dairy products. Vitamin D is also available in supplement form.
It’s well known that prolonged sun exposure can cause skin damage and lead to the development of skin cancers. Yet, moderate time in the sun can also help with certain skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Many people with atopic dermatitis have observed that their flare-ups are milder in the summer, when they get more sun.
Many chronic skin conditions like these are related to inflammation, and the UVB rays of sunlight act as an anti-inflammatory. Many dermatologists recommend light therapy for skin problems, with appropriate cautions.
The positive effects of the sun are needed all year round, not just in the summer. It’s a good idea to make time every day for a little sun exposure, even if it’s just going for a short walk. No matter the season, getting out into the sun can be beneficial for your physical and mental health.
Looking to escape the winter blues? Check out this article on 3 places to visit in Mexico!