We’ve all heard time and time again about the dangers of sun exposure. But, there are plenty of benefits of sun exposure as well–as long as it’s moderate exposure. Here are ten of those benefits.
10. Decreased Risk of Melanoma
We all know that sun exposure can cause melanoma, a.k.a. skin cancer. But, a study published in The Lancet journal showed that exposure to UVB rays is associated with a reduced risk of melanoma. According to the study, outdoor workers who were exposed to sunlight on a regular basis had a lower risk of developing melanoma compared to those who work indoors.
What’s more is that another study, which was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, showed that adequate sun exposure was also linked to a decreased risk of developing colon, prostate, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers.
9. Strong Immune System
Studies have found that Vitamin D is important for our immune systems. Thus, it makes sense that moderate exposure to sunlight–a primary source of Vitamin D–decreases our risk for developing melanoma, as we just mentioned. But, that’s not all. It also lowers blood pressure. A study conducted by researchers at the Edinburgh University found that moderate sunlight exposure can significantly lower blood pressure levels. And, there’s more. According to the World Health Organization, UV radiation has been used to successfully treat a number of diseases. These include eczema, psoriasis, lupus vulgaris, jaundice, vitiligo, and rickets. On the flip side, inadequate levels of Vitamin D have been associated with an increased rate of infection, cancer and even death following surgery.
8. Weight Loss
Have you been looking for an easy way to shed those extra pounds? Look no further than the morning sunshine! According to Forbes, several studies indicate that exposure to early morning sunlight can help you lower your Body Mass Index (BMI) and trim your waistline. One reason is that exposure to early morning sunlight influences the body’s level of appetite regulating hormones. Another reason is that exposure to sunlight improves sleep, which is known to influence weight regulation. So, just how much time do you need to spend in the morning sunshine to lose weight? A mere 20 to 30 minutes should do the trick.
7. Serotonin Boost
Perhaps you’ve heard of seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Perhaps you know someone who suffers from it. Perhaps you suffer from it and don’t even realize it. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, SAD is a mood disorder that occurs at certain times of the year, particularly in the fall and winter. While no one knows the exact causes of SAD, researchers have found a link to sunlight, or lack thereof. There’s less sunlight during fall and winter months, which leads to less production of serotonin–the chemical that regulates your mood. The result is depression, along with other symptoms such as fatigue, increased appetite, decreased energy, and trouble concentrating.
There are several treatments that doctors recommend for people with SAD, but one in particular is to get exposure to early morning sunlight. “The sun works through a number of receptors in the brain to affect our mental status and alertness,” Dr. Michael Roizen, Chief Wellness Officer at Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, said in an article published by Forbes. And, “sunlight decreases the risk of depression in those at risk of seasonal affective disorder,” he added.
6. Bone Growth
As we mentioned earlier, sunlight is a primary source of Vitamin D. It makes sense, then, that sunlight promotes bone growth. Here’s how: The Vitamin D in our bodies needs to be activated, and the sun helps activate those inactive Vitamin D levels. The World Health Organization says that 5 to 15 minutes of moderate sun exposure on your face, hands and arms two to three times a week during the summer should help keep your Vitamin D levels where they need to be. For those who live in areas where UV levels are high, near the equator, for example, the organization recommends shorter periods of sun exposure.
5. Increased Nutritional Quality of Pork
A study published a year ago in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, found that when pigs were exposed to the sun, it increased the Vitamin D nutritional quality of pork, specifically the loin tissue. As a result, pork may provide an additional source of dietary Vitamin D.
Meat, especially pork, is not usually considered a good source of dietary Vitamin D. That’s due in part to the fact that pigs are typically raised in confinement with limited exposure to sunlight. They do, however, have the ability to synthesize Vitamin D. So sun exposure, then, can increase the amount of Vitamin D found in pork.
4. Improved Test Scores
A 2017 study published in The Journal of Human Resources found that students who are exposed to more sunlight on a daily basis do better on tests. The study was conducted among Florida schools, which are split between two time zones. “We find that moving start times one hour later relative to sunrise increases test scores by 0.08 and 0.06 standard deviations for adolescents in math and reading, respectively. In math, the effect is larger for older children and co-varies with entry into an important pubertal stage. School districts can improve performance while maintaining the current distribution of start times by moving classes earlier for younger children and later for older children,” the study read.
A study of about 30,000 Swedish women found that those who spent more time in the sun lived longer and were less likely to die from certain causes. They only lived an extra 7 months to 2 years, but, hey, we’ll take it!
The researchers could not determine a reason for their findings, but it’s likely that the link between sun exposure and increased Vitamin D levels in the body had something to do with it. “More research is required to replicate this work, but if it’s a real effect, it’s very important,” Dr. Robyn Lucas, a professor at the Australian National University College of Health and Medicine, said in a Consumer Reports article.
2. Better Occupational Health
If you’re a CEO, manager or anyone else who wants productive workers, you’d better make sure they’re exposed to plenty of daylight. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, windowless work environments can lead to more workplace accidents and errors, as well as decreased productivity. That’s because a lack of daylight exposure affects office workers’ sleep quality and physical and mental well-being. And, evidence shows a link between insufficient sleep and/or reduced sleep quality and short-term impairments such as inattentiveness, slower psychomotor reflexes, and memory loss.
1. Lowered Dementia Risk
According to the blog Alzheimer’s & Dementia Weekly, a study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology suggests that sunlight exposure may help cut the risk of vascular dementia. That’s because exposure to sunlight may also help lower blood pressure. “Put simply, what’s good for the heart is good for the brain. Heart-health is about vascular health, which is to say, it is about blood vessels such as arteries and veins. When blood vessels pop or clog, they cause cardiovascular disease and vascular dementia. Sunlight, by helping to lower blood pressure, should help avoid these problems,” the blog read.
As you can see, the benefits of moderate sun exposure are plentiful. So, don’t be afraid to get out there and soak up some sun! Thanks for reading.