#1 – Increased Vitamin D ProductionThe biggest benefit of getting outside on a sunny day is the stimulation of vitamin D production. Vitamin D plays a critical role in a variety of functions, including bone health, mood and even weight loss. More people today face lower levels of vitamin D, most likely because adults don’t get enough time outdoors. Lower levels of vitamin D may lead to increased risks of developing certain types of cancer. Spending just 15 minutes in the sun can kickstart vitamin D production. One study found that people with adequate vitamin D levels were more likely to be successful with weight loss, especially when it came to shedding body fat.
#2 – Mental Health Boost
People who suffer from seasonal affective disorder or SAD have used heliotherapy, which is the official name for sun-based therapy, to treat symptoms. Even if you don’t suffer from the winter blues, you can still benefit from regular sun exposure. Sunlight stimulates the production of endorphins and serotonin. These hormones make you feel happy and calm, and they decrease symptoms of depression as well. You may notice that you feel better when you’re outside on a warm, sunny day, whether it’s gardening in your private garden or playing frisbee with friends. Warm, sunny weather tends to bring people together and encourage us to try new things, two benefits that enhance mental health.
#3 – Better Sleep and Lower Blood Pressure
It’s no secret that kids who run around outside all day sleep better. That works for adults, too. Being outside in the sun helps to balance your circadian rhythm. When sunlight hits your retina, serotonin production begins. After a day of better serotonin production, your body also produces better levels of melatonin, which helps you sleep. Sunlight also triggers other chemical reactions when it touches your skin. Nitric oxide gets released, which travels through the blood vessels and lowers your blood pressure. You’ll feel calmer and less stressed as a result. Lower blood pressure reduces the risk of having a stroke or a heart attack.
Before you head out for a day in the sun, pack a bottle of full spectrum sunblock, a hat and some sunglasses. Aim for 10 to 20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure. After that, you’ll need to cover up to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer and premature wrinkles. It’s okay to get more sun – in fact, you should – but limit total exposure to protect your skin.