Guys just gotta have sun
What a joy it has been, especially after a such a long dreary summer, to see the sun in September. It not only lifted the mood of many, including me, there are some serious health benefits too.
For instance, the power of the sun’s rays is scientifically proven to lower blood pressure and improve your mood, bones, muscles, and immune system.
Here are five great reasons to get outside and soak in the sun, when you can, as we enter autumn:
1. Reduces stress
Being outside will help your body naturally regulate melatonin, which can also help to reduce your stress levels. Also, because you are likely to be active when outside, for instance walking, running or playing golf, the extra exercise helps to lower stress too.
2. Strengthens your immune system
Vitamin D is critical for your immune system, and with consistent exposure to sunlight, you can help strengthen it. A healthy immune system can help reduce the risk of illness and infections, such as colds and flu, and even some cancers.
3. It fights depression
The sunshine improves your mood, as it boosts your body’s level of serotonin, which is a chemical that improves your mood and helps you stay calm and focused. Increased exposure to natural light may help ease the symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
SAD affects some people greatly in the winter months, when there is less daylight. If you suffer you can buy special anti-SAD lights for your house, which should help. I have two at my desk.
4. Maintains strong bones
We all need vitamin D and one of the best ways to get it is by being outside, as our bodies produce Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D helps your body maintain calcium and therefore strengthens the bones.
The amount of time outside depends on skin colour — about 15 minutes in the sun a day is adequate if you’re fair skinned. If you are darker skinned you will need longer, 30 minutes or more.
It is worth noting that while the sun is a natural way to increase the body’s source of Vitamin D, too much sun can be harmful, see our previous article ‘Rays of Light’. Other sources of Vitamin D are: fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel. You may also want to consider taking Vitamin D supplements.
5. Improves your sleep
Your body creates a hormone called melatonin that is critical to helping you sleep. Because your body starts producing it when it’s dark, you usually start to feel sleepy two hours after the sun sets, this is one of the reasons our bodies naturally stay up later in the summer.
Sunshine in the day will give you energy, but the melatonin production will start again when the sun goes down. This makes us feel sleepy and ready for a good, restful night.
There are many health benefits to be derived from daylight, both physical and mental, so get out there when you can during the winter, particularly in the middle of the day when the light is strongest. This will not only help you feel good and give you more energy, it will boost your immune system too.
I love the sunshine, and despite spending much of my life working in an office, I think I was born to be outside in the fresh air; I always feel happier, calmer and have more energy. It was great to discover when writing this Blog that not only does the sun make me feel better, it is good for my health too.
There's nothing better than seeing a clear blue sky, especially in the winter as it's a welcome break from the usual cold and wet. The seasons never used to affect me, with my preference for the warm, sunny, clear days of Summer. As I get older, I'm starting to dread the change of seasons, until the clear, blue sky pops out every so often, to suggest it's not all that bad.
I too like being outside, especially with nature - mountains and beaches definitely my favourite places, although always happy walking in the countryside with my dog, Duke.