With the long, sunny summer days officially here many of us may turn to outdoor activities to get some extra rays. While we all know that getting outside is a great way to increase your daily activity, did you know that getting regular sun exposure has some serious health-promoting benefits?
That’s right – soaking in some sunshine isn't just enjoyable. It’s actually good for you!
Here are just a couple of the fantastic health benefits that come from the sun:
1. Sunshine Is a Natural Mood-Booster
Ever notice how you feel happier after being in the sun? There’s a reason for that!
Both sunlight and darkness trigger different hormones to be released in your brain. When it comes to sunlight exposure, your brain releases higher levels of serotonin, the hormone that’s responsible for better moods, happiness, and feelings of calm or focus.
Have you ever felt bummed out after several days of no sun? That may be because without that sun exposure, naturally occurring serotonin levels can decrease. In fact, this is believed to be a contributor to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a condition where people experience lower moods during colder seasons of the year.
2. Sunlight Builds Stronger Bones
When your skin soaks up that delicious sunshine, something incredible happens. Your body turns the ultraviolet-B radiation from the sun into vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential component for healthy bones, connective tissue, and your immune system. Even just 30 minutes out in the sun is enough to boost your vitamin D levels.
Low levels of vitamin D have been connected to conditions such as osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, and spontaneous bone fractures. While many people take supplements to prevent deficiencies, the best way to increase your vitamin D levels naturally is to increase your sun exposure.
Interesting fact: Did you know that 40% of Americans are vitamin D deficient? Just another reason to soak in some sun this summer.
3. Sun Exposure Improves Sleep
After a long day in the sun, a good night’s sleep often seems to be easier to come by. And that’s because of the impact of sunlight on your sleep hormone, melatonin.
The release of this powerful hormone is regulated your circadian rhythm, the driving force behind your sleep cycle. When it becomes dark, melatonin is released from the brain, signaling your body that it’s time to sleep. So, increased exposure to sunlight during the day helps create a strong contrast between the two, causing a more dramatic shift when dusk sets in and the sunlight starts to go away. This allows you to drift more easily into a deep, restorative sleep.
A Quick Note About Moderation
While there are so many clear benefits to enjoying the summer sun, it’s also crucial to practice moderation and protect yourself from getting burned. Moderation is essential.
Too much of a good thing is possible when it comes to sunlight. Without adequate calcium, fatty acids and other important nutrients, prolonged periods of sun exposure can lead to skin burns, discomfort, and other more serious skin conditions. If you have a history of skin cancer, you’ll want to be extra cautious when it comes to sun exposure.
Enjoy Extra Sunshine This Season
The summer sun is more than just an enjoyable temperature change – it also packs a powerful punch of health benefits. Be sure to get out this summer and reap the benefits of safe sun exposure.
Just make sure not to overdo it!