You’ve heard it a million times – too much sun can cause any number of unsightly maladies – burns, wrinkles, skin cancer, (gasp) the leathery people at the beach (or wrinkly ones in Speedos)! It’s enough to make anyone draw the curtains and recede into a dimly lit dungeon. Well, you don’t have to be a vampire anymore! Did you know that if you spend 15 minutes three times a week catching rays, you can stave off stress and depression, lose weight, boost energy, fight disease and slow down the aging process, too?
Even more illuminating… doctors say to take your 15 minutes of solar time straight. That means no sunscreen or sun block! Simply let the sun shine on 70% of your body! But if you do plan to be out longer than recommended, the old sun protection warnings still stand.
How is this possible you ask? The object of this thrice weekly exposure is to soak up the rays necessary to get enough Vitamin D into our system to benefit body functions, especially calcium absorption. Plus that dose of direct sunshine sends healthy signals to our brains for optimal performance.
Here’s how it works:
Send stress running for cover!
The over-stimulation of today’s busy lifestyle ups our stress levels and zaps our energy, which can cause exhaustion, chronic fatigue and depression. Getting enough sunlight slows down this process, giving your body time to truly relax and repair itself.
Send depression into the shadows
If you’re feeling blue, getting out in the sun might be what you need to lighten up emotionally. The sun stimulates serotonin production – a necessary component of mental health and well-being. Although it may take a few sessions for you to feel those benefits, the sun packs an immediate feel-good response by stimulating endorphin production – the same feel-good hormones that are released after you work out. Best of all, it’s cheaper than Prozac!
Drink in some rays for weight loss
Serotonin, in addition to lifting your mood, is the chemical that signals your brain to stop eating when you are full. When your brain is making enough serotonin you will feel less hungry. Increased calcium intake has proven weight loss benefits, but cannot be properly used by the body without adequate amounts of Vitamin D (like the kind you get from the sun). So instead of Jenny Craig, just go catch some rays in your backyard.
Amp up your energy!
Getting sun in the morning hours instantly wakes you up and sets you on the path of increased energy all day, especially if you can incorporate a brief walk or yoga into your morning sun routine. Those first rays of daylight send a message to your brain to begin it’s circadian rhythms. Spending time under the morning sun fires off a chain reaction that will encourage higher energy during the day and a slow down in the evening, without the afternoon slump and extra cups of coffee.
Fight disease and slow the aging process
Calcium regulates the growth and repair of bones and strengthens your immune system. It can protect against osteoporosis and fight inflammation, which is a key component of stress-related aging. The sun has natural antibacterial properties as well, which are used to treat skin disorders such as acne, eczema and athlete’s foot. And there is scientific evidence to suggest that the Vitamin D produced by sun exposure can help your body’s ability to heal and maybe even prevent certain types of cancer.
That being said, putting yourself on a weekly sun exposure program, besides being a relaxing time-out, may be the key to enjoying the benefits of increased vitality, health and well-being. So get out there and use the sun – it’s the gift that keeps on giving!
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