From promoting the growth of plants and crops to keeping people warm, sunlight is essential for life. In addition, many people enjoy the feeling of sunlight, and there is increasing evidence to support its many health benefits.
Of all the health benefits of sunlight, initiating the process of producing vitamin D in the body may be the best known. When UVB rays hit human skin, they interact with the 7-DHC protein there to produce vitamin D3.
Here are some great reasons to get outside and soak in the sun.
- Reduces stress
Melatonin lowers stress reactivity and being outside will help your body naturally regulate melatonin, which can help reduce your stress level. Additionally, because you’re often doing something active when you’re outside (walking, playing, etc.), that extra exercise also helps to lower stress.
- Helps keep the weight off
Getting outside for 30 minutes sometime between 8 a.m. and noon has been linked to weight loss. There, of course, could be other factors to this, but it seems there’s a connection between sunlight in the early morning and weight loss.
- Improves your sleep
Your body creates a hormone called melatonin that is critical to helping you sleep. Because your body starts producing it when it’s dark, you usually start to feel sleepy two hours after the sun sets, which is one of the reasons our bodies naturally stay up later in the summer.
Research indicates that an hour of natural light in the morning will help you sleep better. Sunshine regulates your circadian rhythm by telling your body when to increase and decrease your melatonin levels. So, the more daylight exposure you can get, the better your body will produce melatonin when it’s time to go to sleep.
- Maintains strong bones
One of the best (and easiest) ways to get vitamin D is by being outside. Our bodies produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight—about 15 minutes in the sun a day is adequate if you’re fair skinned. And since Vitamin D helps your body maintain calcium and prevents brittle, thin, or misshapen bones, soaking in sun may be just what the doctor ordered.
- Strengthens your immune system
Vitamin D is also critical for your immune system, and with consistent exposure to sunlight, you can help strengthen it. A healthy immune system can help reduce the risk of illness, infections, some cancers, and mortality after surgery.
- Can give you a longer life
A study has revealed that those who spent more time in the sun lived six months to two years longer than those with less sun exposure. More research needs to be done in this area, but it’s something scientists are continuing to study.