It’s time once again to set our clocks forward for Daylight Savings, which means we lose an hour today. But, instead of focusing on the hour lost, lets revel in the daylight we are gaining! So rise and shine, the forecast is looking sunny with a 100% chance of positive attitude.
Coming out of hibernation is not just for the bears. Our body may be more inactive during darker cold months, so our need for sunshine grows as we enter the time change in Spring. Similar to how we work on our fitness and nutrition intake to keep a healthy metabolism, the process of hormone harmony can be optimized with a (moderate!) daily dose of rays.
Here are some benefits of sunshine on the body:
1. It’s a source of natural vitamin D
Getting your daily essential vitamins does not necessarily translate into taking a handful of pills. Vitamin deficiency is common, and health professionals may advise getting your daily allowance of essentials from whole foods or supplements. Vitamin D is unique because you do not have to look any further than your internal pharmaceutical anatomy, since it is stimulated to produce when our skin is exposed to sunshine. We need D in our system to help absorb calcium for a strong body, so its vital to get the dose correct for healthy bones.
2. It can prevent depression
You’ve likely heard of SAD (aka Seasonal Affective Disorder) — the acronym alone makes me boo hoo. This disorder may be harder to combat if you live in a part of the country that lacks light and there are ways around that with a thing called a lightbox. However, one of your solutions, if you are fortunate to be graced with sunshine is to get outside and be one with the sun.
3. It helps combat anxiety
Serotonin, our brains natural antidepressant is a hormone created when exposed to sunlight. Anxiety and depression go hand and hand. It is a bummer. I have battled with both of these, unfortunately, and part of the process is to get out of isolation. What better way to multitask then to get some gentle exercise by going for a walk in the sun? Let the feel-good happy chemicals do their thang.
4. It improves sleep patterns
There is so much going on inside the human body; it’s a synthesizing machine! Another wondrous chemical just waiting to be released into our body is melatonin, which is the compound that makes us sleepy. Regulated routine sun exposure can help produce melatonin, which optimizes bedtime snoozes.
5. It strengthens your immune system
Sunshine can help strengthen your immune system, so you can fight off disease and recover quicker. Cells and tissues gain increased stamina and regenerate with ease when exposed to the sun. After my spinal fusion in 2015, part of my prescription for rehab was walking in the California sunshine.
The Importance of Safe Sunning
But, just like making sensible portion choices when eating a meal can a make or break nutrition solution, the same goes for sun exposure — too much of a good thing is not necessarily a good thing.
Voices of reason get very quiet when lounging on a beach towel listening to the waves. Don’t let the soothing warmth of the sun lull you into a false sense of security. A skin burn is neither cute or comfortable. Wear sunscreen and sunglasses for protection from the UVA and UVB rays and shade with an umbrella if you plan to enjoy more then 15 minutes basking in the shine.
Protection from the rays means making smart choices as well as some basic factors. Take to heart that balance and moderation are not just reserved for the food and fitness families.
Consider this: the time of day and duration you are in the sun, your skins natural pigment, body fat, and even the type of clothing material you wear. Also as our bodies change over the years, we may need to pivot to allow for modifications when it comes to exposure.
photo credit: Jared Rice