Anyone who grew up in my generation can remember going outside to play everyday. That’s what we did when we were kids, it’s what we did during breaks at school.
Nowadays, thanks to the modern digital gadgets going out and playing outside isn’t something kids do anymore.
Instead we find our kids cooped up in their rooms playing video games, talking on the phone and texting their friends or sitting in front of their laptops.
One of the many advantages of going outside is receiving the health benefits of the sun.
Though staying outside for too long in the sunshine isn’t good because of the risks of skin cancer, getting regular sunlight has been shown to be very beneficial to our health.
Healing Benefits of the Sun and Getting Enough Sunlight
1. Natural Source of Vitamin D
Sunlight is one of the few great natural sources of Vitamin D.
And while many people argue that you can get Vitamin D in supplement form, the effects of the D vitamin coming from natural sunlight is different and has been shown to have extra health benefits including lowering heart disease risk, make you happier and reduce stress.
These are some things that Vitamin D supplements don’t offer.
The biggest benefit of getting sufficient Vitamin D is to help strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis.
As we go past the age of 30, our bones stop getting stronger and start getting weaker with each passing year. This is why getting enough calcium and vitamin D, along with resistance training is important as we get older.
Vitamin D, which should be taken with sufficient calcium, helps prevent bone loss and builds up bone to prevent fractures. It’s the vitamin D that allows our body to absorb the calcium.
2. Sunlight Increases Our Serotonin Levels
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that the brain produces.
Apart from this, serotonin also regulates our behavior, helps us sleep, is needed for us to learn and remember things as well as control our appetites.
A study has shown that people who get regular sunlight have higher levels of serotonin compared to those who don’t get much sun. The amounts of serotonin also changes between winter and summer months with the levels being higher during the summertime.
Getting enough, good quality sleep helps revitalize, giving us more energy to work and do physical activity.
3. Getting Some Sun Enhances our Mood and Gives Us More Energy
Aside from increasing the amount of Serotonin released by the brain, sun exposure also produces endorphins.
Endorphins are also neurotransmitters, like serotonin, that help improve our moods and give us energy. This is why they are often called ‘feel-good’ hormones.
Endorphins help the body fight stress and help relieve pain. They also help the body fight off depression and boost our self esteem.
One of the well known ways of increasing the release of endorphins is through exercise.
It’s one reason we feel much better, more energetic after exercise. Also why we are able to feel that release anxiety and stress whenever we workout.
It has also been noted that during the long winter periods where there isn’t much sunshine, the some people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
SAD manifests itself in the form of feeling down, having low levels of energy and sometimes even as far as being mildly depressed.
4. The Sun’s Ultraviolet Rays Kills Bacteria and Germs
One of the reasons that clothes are hung out to dry in the sunlight is not only to help let them dry quicker but also to help kill any remaining bacteria and germs.
The sun’s ultraviolet rays (UV rays) is capable of killing 99% of germs.
If you’re an outdoorsman, you’ve probably used water filter bottles that use ultraviolet rays to make unsafe drinking water safe to drink.
The sun’s rays and exposure to it use the same sanitizing concept.
Getting enough exposure from the sun’s rays have been shown to disinfect as well as heal wounds. Its germ killing power also helps get rid of body odor.
Go Out, Get Some Sun and Enjoy Moderately
There are many positive benefits of sun exposure for humans.
People, including kids should embrace the outdoors and sunlight like the generations before them as it is one of the natural things that we as humans were meant to do, not sit down indoors all day.
As much as there are health benefits of being in the sun, we should remember to do this in moderation.
Staying way too long under the sun without proper sun protection like sunscreen or sunblock may cause sunburn or increase the risk of skin cancer.
The good news is very little regularly goes a long way, and getting a few minutes of sun daily (10 to 20 minutes) is enough for the body to receive its healing benefits.