Tuesday, March 8, 2011
I think the sun has gotten a bad rap due to concerns over sunburn and skin cancer. I've seen several commercials on TV reminding people of the damage that the sun can do to their skin, but I have never seen commercials that highlight the benefits of sunlight. Life would end pretty quick without it.
Sunlight triggers the production of vitamin D. Usually 10-15 minutes of direct sunlight can generate a days worth of vitamin D. The amount of time in the sun needed may vary depending on the clothing worn, skin type, your latitude, altitude, and the weather conditions. Sunlight can also be beneficial in treating psoriasis and other skin disorders. It can play a role in the immune system, and the production of hormones, neuropeptides, and endorphins.
There is also a psychological boost that comes from sunlight. Some people experience seasonal depression when they don't get enough sunlight during the winter months. I have never been diagnosed with this problem, but I can feel a huge difference when it's bright and alive outside versus how I feel during the dark and dreary months. Sometimes I feel like a solar panel and I seem to have more energy when there is more sunlight. People who consistently use sunscreen and get little sun exposure, may have to resort to vitamin D supplements compensate for the lack of sunlight.
It's important to respect the power of the sun. Especially for those who exercise outside in the heat of the day. Sunburn, sunstroke, heat stroke and skin cancer are legitimate concerns. You need to protect yourself against these and use good judgement especially in the late morning and early afternoon hours. I'm excited for this time of year when it starts to warm up and we get more sunshine. It's a beautiful thing to see people enjoying the outdoors and becoming more physically active as spring approaches.