From promoting the growth of our food and plants to spreading warmth around the world, sunlight is extremely important for sustaining our lives. In addition, most people enjoy the warm feelings of sunlight, with increasing evidence to support all the related health benefits.
There is an apparent widespread awareness about the fact that extreme exposure to UV radiation from the sun can lead to skin cancer, prompting people to be extra cautious when it comes to spending time in the sun.
However, just as important it is for people to protect themselves from sun exposure, they should also ensure they are able to receive enough sunlight to enjoy the various health benefits of sunlight. Finding the right amount of balance can help people maintain optimal Vitamin D levels and enjoy the mental health benefits of a sunny day without placing oneself at risk.
Keep reading to learn daily health and fitness tips when it comes to sunlight, one of the most integral aspects of our lives.
Benefits Of Sunlight
Of all the various daily health and fitness tips we see across multiple sources and websites, sunlight is perhaps the most integral in our lives. It initiates the process of producing Vitamin D in our bodies. It is the number one reason why sunlight is so essential. When the sun’s UVB rays hit the human skin, they interact with the 7-DHC protein to produce Vitamin D3.
People following various daily health and fitness tips easily accessible through the internet today also know that Vitamin D can help us in the same way as sunlight. Vitamin D, however, can be consumed through diet and supplements. However, sunlight is still a significant source of Vitamin D, an essential nutrient that helps sustain life. Vitamin D is essential for various biological functions to happen inside our bodies. Its benefits include:
- Supporting healthy bones
- Managing one’s calcium levels
- Reducing any inflammation
- Supporting our immune system
- Supporting glucose metabolism
Researchers have also found a link between sun exposure and our lower blood pressure levels, with a reduction in death rates due to cardiovascular diseases. According to researchers, exposure to sunlight can trigger our skin to release various stores of nitrogen oxides that can cause arteries to dilate, lower our blood pressure and reduce the overall impact of the metabolic syndrome.
According to other researchers, an increase in sun exposure for humans can also protect them from various diseases of the like:
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Several forms of cancer, including breast, colon, and prostate cancer.
Sunlight can also help us support our sleeping cycles, set our circadian rhythms right by helping us regulate the levels of melatonin and serotonin. Being in the sun can generally make people feel good; plenty of studies back these daily health and fitness tips up related to sunlight.
One of such studies also states that exposure to UVB rays can cause our skin to produce beta-endorphins, which are nothing but hormones that help reduce the pain we feel. The other benefits associated with sunlight, as per the best daily health and fitness tips, include:
- Promotion of a sensation of well-being and improved mood
- Boosting our immune system
- Relieves pain
- Promotes relaxation
- Helps heal wounds
- Helps people feel alert and attentive
- Increases a person’s job satisfaction if sunlight is available in one’s workplace too
- Reduces depression
Why is a lack of sunlight hard?
Days without sunshine can be extremely tough for some people. But many people find going without sunlight more challenging than others due to all the mental health benefits sunlight brings in for us.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the following characteristics can put people at a higher risk when it comes to developing Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD and Depression.
- Having family members experiencing or experienced SAD
- History of depression and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), anxiety, and other mental disorders
- Living away from the equator
According to studies, four out of five people with SAD are female.
Depression and SAD
SAD, also called Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a specific type of depression. The symptoms of SAD can develop or worsen on days that are shorter and can improve automatically when days tend to be longer.
More people in the northern hemisphere experience SAD, in fact intensely, in January and February. Researchers also state that approximately 2-9% of people in the United States suffer from SAD from time to time.
While it is widespread for people to experience “winter blues” regularly, SAD can be diagnosed and significantly impact one’s mental health.
As with other types of depression, SAD can interfere with one’s ability to live and manage their daily life. It can also cause one to have a low mood, and this feeling can often be insurmountable. People can lose the ability to find pleasure in the activities that they enjoyed at a particular time in the past. They can experience difficulty in thinking and can feel worthless. They can also notice multiple changes in their sleeping and eating habits. Daily health and fitness tips, like sitting in sunlight for a few minutes every day, can help curb SAD, of course in regions where sunlight is always available. But what about those who do not receive sunlight regularly? What happens to the people in Alaska who have to live without sunlight for months? Let’s find out.
Alternatives to sunlight
Both depression and SAD are curable. Medication and therapy can prove to be effective, along with some interventions that harness the same health benefits of sunlight.
These interventions can help people find other ways to access various health benefits, which are particularly important for some people, who:
- Live in certain parts of the world where there is a significant difference in two different seasons and daylight availability. Like people living in Alaska.
- People who work in various jobs that have them stay indoors for hours at a stretch.
- People often limit themselves to getting exposure to natural sunlight for various reasons.
Light therapy is known as the standard treatment for SAD. It can prove to be an extremely effective alternative to sunlight. Light therapy regimes happen under the careful supervision of medical professionals, having people sit in front of the specially constructed, bright light boxes every day for a prescribed period of time. As per the reports by Mental Health America, light therapy can be helpful in more than 80% of the total diagnosed cases.
Antidepressant medicines are also beneficial for people suffering from SAD and other forms of depression. Research finds that increasing your intake of Vitamin D can help lower the SAD symptoms in various cases. People who diet and limit their lifestyle often limit their body’s ability to manufacture Vitamin D and need to take it in the form of supplements.
Adjusting light levels and Vitamin D intake are not just the only possible solutions, however. Studies also show that people with SAD can benefit equally from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy too.
Sunlight is essential for our daily health and well-being. The daily health and fitness tips, though limited to focusing on diet, lifestyle changes, and probiotic supplements, should also talk about the benefits of sunlight. Health benefits of sunlight can include:
- Generating the overall production of Vitamin D.
- Supporting our bone structures.
- Lowering the risk of high blood pressure.
- Preventing various harmful diseases.
- Promoting good mental health.
For most people, reduced sun exposure, mostly occurring during winters in the US, can lead to the development of significant mental health challenges like SAD, a specific form of depression.
SAD can be treated with light therapy, talk therapy, medication, and vitamin and nutrient intake.
Keep reading more of such daily health and fitness tips on Cured!
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