Balance—it’s essential to most things in life. With the sun, it’s not any different. Studies galore have revealed negative—and positive— effects of spending time directly in those warming rays. So while skin cancer is thought to develop after excessive exposure, there are a lot of important reasons to get outside on a sunny day, largely because it helps the body produce vitamin D. Important to note—different skin types have different exposure limits. But overall, the sun deserves more health credit than it gets, and here’s why.
1. It Can Prevent Some Types of Cancer
Our bodies are able to produce Vitamin D via doses of sunshine on the skin, and vitamin D deficiency has been noted to be a possible predisposing factor to an unruly list of disease like periodontitis and tuberculosis vulnerabilities. An astounding 17 types of cancers are linked to deficiencies, including but not limited to Hodgkin lymphoma, breast, ovarian, colon, pancreatic and prostate cancer. A combination of vitamin D and calcium may prevent some of these daunting illnesses. It’s hard to comprehend that the right amount of sun can prevent cancer, while too much might cause it.
2. Heart Health Can Improve
Nitric oxide is activated within our body when we bask in the sun. This substance is a vasodilator, meaning it widens the vessels that house the blood circulating within us. Blood can flow more freely, and this improved circulation keeps our heart and other tissues healthy. This could be helpful for those with a predisposition to circulation issues, such as diabetics. Secondly, dilated vessels mean a drop in blood pressure, which is also an important part of protecting the heart.
3. Safeguards the Brain
Information suggests that a little sunlight can boost protective components in the brain. So by getting outside, you might be lowering your risk for dementia or other degenerative disease. Even patients with Alzheimer’s can see cognitive benefit when soaking in a few rays daily. Some cool things happen within our minds when we are engaging in activities outside.
4. Pushes Back Against Depression
When our retinas are indirectly exposed to the sun(please don’t stare at the sun), serotonin is released. Serotonin is responsible for boosting our mood, ultimately warding off depression. Many people suffer with a seasonal form of depression when the winter rolls around, because there’s less sunlight and we tend to stay inside more, away from the cold. But if you brave the elements by skiing, walking or playing with the kids, it’s likely the serotonin boosts will be noticeable.
5. Strengthens Bones
Drinking milk and consuming other calcium rich foods can only do so much good without the power of the sun, because vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption. While you can get some of the vitamin via foods like fish and eggs, the sun helps your body create its own sources. So spending time taking a walk around the neighborhood is an investment in a strong skeletal system.
6. Helps Attain Healthier Skin
Too much sun can result in melanoma, but small doses, which would be about five to fifteen minutes, can enhance skin’s appearance and overall health. Those who struggle from itchy excess and painful psoriasis can sometimes find relief with sun therapy. Vitiligo is another condition that could possibly benefit from treatment.
7. Boosts the Immune System
Not only does vitamin D help the immune system function at its best, a secondary factor also comes into play. The sun charges up T cells, a major player in our immune defense, so that they can attack invading illnesses. Being outside while sick even, can be a therapeutic way to speed up recovery.
8. Type 2 Diabetes Prevention or Therapy
While it’s not said that vitamin D deficiency causes diabetes, it has been an interesting finding that many folks with the disease aren’t getting enough of the nutrient. Regardless, it’s intriguing. Being out in the sun has shown promise in reducing resistance to insulin, as resistance is a major factor of type 2 diabetes. Insulin production can also ramp up. The sun may also boost metabolism, as its been suspected that morning light in particular can help shrink fat cells. So with weight loss and improved insulin absorption, type 2 diabetics may really benefit from sunshine.
9. Fights inflammation
UVB rays can reduce inflammation, and basically, inflammation is the root of disease. So this is a secondary note to our other points on this list. Whether fighting skin conditions or taming insulin resistance, more studies are being put into motion to strengthen the argument. Just a reminder, too much sun is not good. Keep sessions under 15 minutes, and rub on some sunblock if staying out longer. But it seems we have a lot of inspiration to spend a little more time playing in the yard, garden, or even simply go out for a picnic with the family.