Summer Soltice is Here: Get Out in the Sun

by Maarten Van Nus & Barb Kelly

With Spring in full swing and summer approaching quickly, we thought we’d take a look at the benefits of getting out into the sunshine. Watch our BoomerBody.ca Chat | Get Out in the Sun

Variety of Activities

With the warmer temperatures and brighter skies, the number of activities from which one can choose increases considerably. Although snowshoeing, skiing, & snowboarding are now over, the opportunities to roll, pace, or smash your way through summer are numerous:

  • Cycling on bicycles, unicycles, tandem bicycles, and others.
  • Skating on roller skates, inline skates, skateboards, and others.
  • Pacing it with walking, hiking, running, trotting, playing tag and other running and walking activities.
  • Team sports like basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, bocce, lawn bowling, soccer, field hockey, rugby, football, cricket, croquet, and others
  • Water sports such as swimming, sailing, wind surfing, kite surfing, cliff or rope diving, water skiing, water tubing,
  • Tennis, paddle ball, Frisbee, building sand castles, bungee jumping, gardening, etc.

The list goes on and on. All these activities and more are possible in the sunshine and provide a nice break from the usual winter exercise routine or going to the gym.

Mental health

Sunlight raises the serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is the “feel-good” brain chemical and a lack of it often leads to depression and/or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Those affected with SAD become depressed in the winter months when there is less sunlight each day. The symptoms are those of chronic or acute depression: difficulty concentrating, fatigue, lack of interest in daily activities, moodiness, and excessive sleeping.

Research has found that – regardless of the season – serotonin levels are always higher on bright days than on overcast, cloudy, or rainy days. The rate of serotonin production was found to be DIRECTLY related to the duration of bright sunlight.[1]

Vitamin D

In Australia, where there has been a campaign for 20 years to “Slip, Slop, & Slap” their way to cancer-freedom, researchers are now finding there is an epidemic of diseases appearing that are the result of Vitamin D deficiency.[2]

Our body produces Vitamin D, which is critical to bone strength and health, through exposure to sun, enriched foods, and supplements. However, sunlight is the best and only natural source of Vitamin D. An excess of Vitamin D from eating an excess foods with added Vitamin D and/or taking supplements can cause the body to over-process Calcium, which leads to other health issues like osteoporosis. When we rely on the Vitamin D produced by our body through sun exposure, we produce and use the amount required by our body and our Calcium levels are not affected.

As well as protecting our bones, Vitamin D plays an important role in our immune system and cell health. In simple words, if it critical to the production of the proteins, enzymes, and hormones necessary for life.[3] Needless to say, Vitamin D is critical to our health.


[1] WebMD. (December 5, 2002). Unraveling the Sun’s Role in Depression. Retrieved on June 20, 2017 from http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20021205/unraveling-suns-role-in-depression
[2] Introduction. Importance of Sunshine: Health & the Human Body, Vitamin D Deficiency. Benefits of Cosmic Energy (Sun) for the Immune system, Cells, Bones. Retrieved on June 15 from http://www.spaceandmotion.com/health/importance-sunshine-cosmic-energy-human-body.htm
[3] Christensen, S. (June 9 2009). Vitamin D and Immunity: Is the Sunshine Vitamin a Therapeutic Agent? Retrieved on June 19, 20217 from http://www.spaceandmotion.com/health/importance-sunshine-cosmic-energy-human-body.htm
Maarten Van Nus
 

Maarten is a health & fitness specialist who has a particular interest in health for Baby Boomers. He has over 40 years of experience in the fitness industry and loves what he does.

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