3 benefits of sunshine you might not know about...
With the BBQ tongs at the ready I’m sure we’re all waiting for the weather to improve so we can start to enjoy summer. We’ve spoken a lot recently about the importance of getting outside and how connecting with nature is great for our mental health. A key feature of the great outdoors and one we haven’t spoken about in great detail is what part the sunshine plays. A sunny day can be a big motivator to get out and enjoy some outdoor activities, but does the sun play a bigger role in making it a nicer experience? Turns out the big burning fireball in the sky has some benefits to our health and mental health we might not have known about!
Vitamin D is important for growth and development, it helps with the absorption of things like calcium which keep our bones strong and healthy. It also contributes to cell growth and reducing inflammation in the body. It is difficult to get the levels of Vitamin D we need just from our food alone however, when skin is exposed to sunlight it naturally produces Vitamin D in the body. The body only needs a short amount of exposure to sunlight to benefit, research recommends no more than 15 mins of unprotected exposure before slapping on the sunscreen.
It seems strange but being out in the sunshine can actually help to improve sleep. It’s down to a thing called the circadian rhythm, which is a natural cycle we have inside of us that makes us want to be awake when the sun is up and sleep when it is down. Exposure to sunshine releases a hormone called melatonin which builds up and makes us sleepy later in the day which helps for a more restful night’s sleep.
Ever wondered why your mood seems to naturally lift when it’s a lovely summer's day? Other than the fact a warm day makes almost everything that little bit more enjoyable, the sun actually holds mood boosting benefits. Exposure to the sun increases serotonin levels in the body, which then improves mood and reduces feelings of stress. This is why many of us get a touch of the winter blues when the longer nights creep in, if you find that there are clear changes to your mood between summer and winter you might be experiencing SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which is where you have lower levels of serotonin due to the lack of sunlight.
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF THE SUN
Try to get out everyday, even if it’s for a short walk or a cuppa in the garden. You don’t need a lot to get the benefits of sunshine, little and often can be just as effective.
Follow recommended guidance. Very small amounts of unprotected (without sunscreen) exposure to the sun can be beneficial to you, but you should still make sure you’re using a good protector for the rest of the day.
Remember if you’re working out or exercising in the sunshine (especially in the midday sun) keep yourself hydrated. In warm weather your body will sweat more so it’s important to replace that fluid to avoid dehydration.
We hope you have a fantastic summer wherever you are.. stay safe, stay protected.