Sunny skies and rising temperatures do more than make our environment a pleasant place. They also provide some very significant benefits to our health and well-being. Sunlight helps to regulate almost all our bodily processes, as well as acting as psychological encouragement to improve our lifestyle.
10 reasons why the summer is just what the doctor ordered:
1. It cheers you up
Sunshine boosts levels of serotonin – the body’s natural happy hormone.
2. Helps you lose weight
Higher levels of serotonin in our bodies not only make you feel happy but it also suppresses the appetite, so you’ll eat less in warmer weather.
3. Reduces heart disease
Research indicates that you are less likely to die of a heart attack in the summer than in the winter. Ultraviolet light converts cholesterol to Vitamin D. Therefore, getting out in the sun is a good way to lower cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
4. Relieves aches and pains
Being out in the sun helps to warm the body’s muscles and eases stiffness, reducing the pain caused by inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.
5. People eat more fruit and make better food choices
Rising temperatures and increased availability of summer fruits make it easier to fulfill the recommended quota of eating five to eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Calorie intake in general is lower in the summer because increased body temperature makes us less likely to reach for the sugary and fatty comfort food we use in the winter to stave off the cold.
6. Relieves skin complaints
Controlled exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can have a therapeutic effect on skin complaints such as acne, psoriasis and dermatitis.
7. Increases the desire to exercise
The summer is an excellent time to begin an exercise programme. Not only do summer clothes provide an incentive to get the body in shape, but the feel-good factor created by sunlight boosts our enthusiasm to begin a fitness regime.
Exercise is not only the most effective way to burn up excess calories, but also improves the vital flow of oxygen to the brain, lowering stress levels and improving powers of concentration.
8. Gives you more energy
The sun reduces levels of the hormone melatonin, melatonin regulates sleep, so having lower levels of this hormone in your body gives you more get up and go. This is why you need less sleep in the summer but still feel livelier. Also being woken by natural light rather than an alarm clock helps you feel more positive.
9. Boosts your immune system
Sunlight encourages the production of white blood cells, which help boost your immune system and fight infection.
10. Vitamin D
We get about 90 to 95 per cent of our vitamin D from the sun. It is essential for absorbing calcium, keeping our bones healthy, and for protecting against serious chronic diseases later in life such as osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and many common cancers.
The general advice is that we should go out in the sun without sunblock for between 5 and 15 minutes a day, at least three times a week in spring and summer, to boost our vitamin D levels.
So there we have it. Now get out there and start feeling amazing!