Discover the health benefits of soaking up the sun.
Have you ever stepped outside on a sunny day after a week of gloomy weather and just felt better? It’s not in your imagination — there are numerous health benefits of sunlight, from mental to physical! (Of course, the caveat is that you have to enjoy it safely; we’ll cover that in this article too.)
Here are five health benefits of sunlight:
- Strengthening bones
- Improving mood
- Sharpening cognition
- Boosting immunity
- Preventing some chronic diseases
Let’s take a peek at these health benefits of sunlight and how you can enjoy them safely!
Bone health relies on essential nutrients like calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D is known as “the sunshine vitamin” because sunlight helps our bodies synthesize more of it! In addition to sun exposure, it may be a good idea to take a multivitamin with a combination of vitamin D, vitamin K, and calcium since these all work synergistically. As always, check with your doctor first before starting on any new supplements.
You may have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder, abbreviated as SAD, which is known to cause depressive symptoms during times of the year with low sunlight. There are theories on why this happens, including lower vitamin D levels, less serotonin production, and a disrupted biological clock. No matter what factors are at play, the connection is clear that sunlight makes us happier and can improve your overall mood!
In addition to improving our mental health, sunlight can also improve our cognitive functioning. Studies looking at the connection between sunlight and brain activity have shown that sun exposure enhances learning and memory.
Small doses of sunlight can be helpful in boosting our immunity against viruses and infections — and the reason circles back to vitamin D. This is likely part of the reason why flu infections are more common in the fall and winter months when there’s less sunlight, so taking a supplement could be more important and beneficial at this time of year.
Preventing some chronic diseases
Sunlight and vitamin D don’t just protect us against short-term seasonal diseases. Associations have also been drawn to longer-term, chronic issues like heart disease, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, and even MS. Not having enough vitamin D has also been linked to an increased risk of tumors. It’s important, however, to weigh the risks of skin cancer from unshielded sun exposure. Taking dietary vitamin D supplements is a great way to avoid sun damage and still get the benefits of vitamin D.
Even with all these health benefits of sunlight, it’s important to be careful about how much time you spend in the sun. Too much sun exposure can result in sunburn, sunstroke, dehydration, faster skin aging, and skin cancer.
That’s why a healthy balance is key! Try to plan your outside time for the morning and evening, when the sun isn’t as strong. Wear breathable clothing and a wide-brimmed hat, and apply sunscreen anytime you expect to be in the sun for more than 10 minutes.