In our society, the “expectation” is to work 8 hours in the middle of the day, five days a week. With that schedule, we are not spending much time outside. During the week, most people spend all day inside, and when the workday is over, the sun is either setting or close to setting. Not to mention the fact that traffic usually has to be dealt with on the way home and dinner needs to be made. By the time that is all accomplished, the chance to be in the sun is long gone. On the weekend, there is more time to spend outside, but most people want to spend their free time decompressing from the week.
Our country tends to be sedentary, meaning a lot of people like to spend their free time watching tv or movies, playing video games, reading, or scrolling on their phones. So how do we get more sunlight and what are the benefits of seeing the sun every day?
One easy way to get more sunlight is going for a walk during the day. This can be accomplished during a break at work, walking after lunch, or planning a morning walk before work. Many people have the benefit of working from home post-pandemic, which could make it much easier to go for a stroll midday. Spending as few as 10-15 minutes in the sun can provide health benefits.
So, what are these health benefits?
Starting with the benefits to the immune system, getting sunlight exposure provides our body with a natural source of vitamin D. What does vitamin D do for the body?
Vitamin D helps by boosting the immune system. The sun stimulates and allows infection-fighting cells to move faster which allows them to fight infections more efficiently.
More than that, vitamin D helps to absorb calcium, which is crucial for the health and longevity of your bones. Deficiency in vitamin D can cause a softening of the bones and/or a loss of bone density.
Vitamin D can also reduce inflammation in the body and support glucose metabolism, which researchers have noted as a link to protect people from type 1 diabetes. There is also a link to lowering blood pressure by making arteries dilate.
Sunlight is also a natural antidepressant! The sun can boost serotonin levels and can help reduce the symptoms of seasonal depression which usually occurs in the fall and winter when there are fewer hours of daylight.
Finally, spending time in the sun can help your wake/sleep cycle. Sunlight helps to regulate the circadian rhythm by regulating the amount of melatonin in the body. When you spend more time in the daylight, your body will be more prepared to supply the proper level of melatonin.
Have you had an experience where you noticed that when you spent more time outside, your life improved? We’d love to hear about it! Send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org