Living in the North you are coming out of hibernation about now, blinking your eyes to the glorious sunshine.  After many of us experiencing the second coldest April on record, the sunshine’s warmth is one way we are experiencing a difference in our lives.  However, with all the talk of skin cancer, aging and care of our skin, how does sunshine make a difference to you and to me, especially this time of year?

Here are five science-based ways to enjoy the sunshine and know they make healthy differences in your life:

1) Sunshine lifts your mood – joy all around.

After a long winter, everyone you meet reflects on how good the sunshine and warmth feels to them.  There are two reasons for that. The sunshine releases serotonin and endorphins,  uplifting brain chemicals into your system that helps you feel better.  Also seeing color –  green grass, flowers and experiencing the warm sunshine on your skin adds to this effect.  By feeling joy, you begin to project joy into other people and experiences around you.

2) Sunshine brings the needed Vitamin D to your body

After a long winter, if you’re not taking a Vitamin D supplement, your Vitamin D resources may be depleted.  Vitamin D supplies energy and allows your body to bond calcium to your bones.  Even fifteen minutes a day can make a significant difference in how your body absorbs Vitamin D.  Vitamin D may also impact the cancer risk of some cancers- prostrate, colorectal and breast cancer.

3) Sunshine lowers your blood pressure

In recent research, especially in northern climates, scientists believe that sunshine reduces your risk for strokes and heart disease by lowering your blood pressure.  Think about how relaxing it can be when sitting in the sun, even for 15 minutes.

Scientists at the UnIversity of Edinburgh in the UK suggest that the heart-health benefits of sun exposure may outweigh the risk of developing skin cancer.

In the landmark study, the researchers found that when sunlight touches our skin, a compound called nitric oxide that helps lower blood pressure, is released into our blood vessels.

4) Sunshine helps you sleep better

Hello, better circadian rhythm. When you get more sun exposure during the day, which produces more serotonin, you also put your body on track to produce more of the hormone, melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep.

Sunshine helps your body be more efficient at recognizing when evening arrives – part of your circadian rhythms input.  One way to amp up this information to your brain is to wait a few minutes before putting on your sunglasses.  This amps up the amount of sunlight that actually hits your retina.  By amping up the sunlight that hits your eyes, you amp up the serotonin production in your body – good for feel good mood as well as good for sleep.

 

5) Sunshine can be enjoyed safely

After all the skin cancer warnings and aging of the skin, this new research gives us a glimpse into the benefits of sunshine as well.  The research suggests that 15 minutes a day with sunscreen of at least 15, will give us the above benefits.  It’s not that you need to be in the sun for eight hours at a time with no protection.

Little doses daily give the maximum benefit, especially on the arms and legs.  The tender skin of the face can still be protected with a higher number of sunscreen.  You especially don’t want to burn your skin because of cell destruction.

The Take Away

What about you?  What benefits of sunshine surprised you?

How can you get more doses of daily sunshine into your life?

How do you feel about the coming of spring and the more common occurrences of sunshine and your ability to get outside?

What is your plan to access the benefits of sunshine?

I hope these ideas about sunshine will get you thinking about ways to get more sunshine into your life on a daily basis.  As you discover the “feel good” benefits of sunshine in the spring and summer, you’ll figure out ways to bring those practices into the more dreary days of fall and winter.

Your health depends upon your tiny steps toward the sun in your well-nourished life.

I would love to know what you decide to do first.  Please comment below and let me know how you plan to increase sunshine in your life!

Nancy Booth helps you discard chaos and get unstuck as you journey towards a well-nourished life after 50. She helps you embrace wellness, purpose and intentional relationships in your life. Her coaching process helps you design your own personal roadmap to help you build  a healthy, purposeful and peaceful mind, body and soul. She would love to walk your journey with you, the life you’ve always wanted.

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