Top reasons to soak up the sun
An increasing prevalence of sun-related skin cancer and the aging effects that sunbathing has on our skin, we have become conditioned to thinking that the sun is nothing but bad for us.
But no-one can deny that a little time spent in the sunshine warms our bodies and lifts our mood, providing relaxation and encouraging us to spend time being active outdoors instead of hibernating under the duvet.
So while the risks of over-exposure to the sun should always be remembered, it’s good to know that there are also plenty of benefits to safe sun exposure.
As well as making us feel good, the sun is our main source of vitamin D, which is important in building strong bones and a strong immune system. It has also been suggested that vitamin D may be useful in reducing the risk of developing many common and serious illnesses such as type 1 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer, though the evidence for these effects is still inconclusive.
Other benefits of natural sunlight have been suggested (though not all have yet been proven), including positive effects on seasonal affective disorder (SAD), fertility, sleep problems, skin conditions, inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, and possible effects on the liver, kidneys, thyroid gland and nervous system.
It is still important to wear sunscreen and to limit your exposure to sunlight, especially through the middle of the day when the sun is highest in the sky, meaning its harmful rays hit us at a more direct angle.
Experts agree that little and often is best when it comes to sun exposure. A consensus statement from Cancer Research UK (in conjunction with several other UK health bodies) gives the following advice:
“The time required to make sufficient vitamin D is typically short and less than the amount of time needed for skin to redden and burn. Regularly going outside for a matter of minutes around the middle of the day without sunscreen should be enough.”
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