Sun Exposure as a Health Habit

Back to basics will continue to focus on teaching basic things that can improve your health. The best way to create lasting change in your life is to create better habits. One health habit that can pay excellent dividends in your life is to get daily sun exposure. This sounds silly to promote simply going outside, but many modern humans aren’t getting enough outdoor time. We can become products of our environment and locked into an unhealthy routine. To break out of these patterns we can start to implement simple strategies that will create long-lasting habits. One health habit that can bring us back to basics is an outdoor walk. Walking outside in the morning is an excellent practice humans can create for many reasons. Here is why!

UV rays from the sun stimulate synthesisation of Vitamin D. Meaning when we get direct sunlight exposure we create our own production of Vitamin D. Why is this important? Let me MANSPLAIN it. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Your body has to have vitamin D to absorb calcium. Calcium as we know helps our bones grow and become stronger. Vitamin D levels, or the lack thereof, haven’t been causally related, but extensive research points to people with low vitamin D levels having worse health outcomes with chronic diseases. Lack of vitamin D can also lead to osteoporosis. All of these outcomes are multifaceted, but if we can control what we can then why wouldn’t we? 

Ways to get vitamin D: You can get vitamin D from sunlight. Foods like grass-fed beef, cage-free/free-range eggs, wild caught salmon, cows milk, particularly whole milk that is grass-fed (the distinction between sources is important), are good sources of Vitamin D. Lastly, you can supplement vitamin D… especially if you live in a climate that has dark cold winters. Check with your doctor about supplementation.

Vitamin D insufficiency affects almost 50% of the population worldwide. This can be attributed to changing work environments, people are working less outdoors and more inside. Especially with the adoption of work from home, people aren’t walking or commuting to different places. It is all too possible to stay inside your house for the entirety of the day. One way to mitigate this issue is to get an outdoor walk during the morning. Walking is a great exercise that is low impact and when done with intention can be a form of mindfulness. Leave the phone at home for 10-15 minutes and get in touch with nature and if that isn’t possible then get in touch with yourself (no not touch yourself).  

On the flip side, too much sun can be detrimental. Burning from the sun is not ideal and can be mitigated through a quality sunscreen product (no parabens etc). That being said, one should expose themselves to the sun without sunscreen for a limited amount of time to get the full absorption of the rays. Particularly at night, you want to eliminate as many lights as possible. Many of the new aged light bulbs are LED which is a form of blue light. Turn off as many lights as you can in preparation for sleep and avoid blue light like the plague. I personally use blue light glasses when the sun goes down. These glasses are tinted red and block up to 99% of blue light whereas the typical clear tinted glasses block less than 40%. Avoiding blue light when the sun is down is a great idea because blue light can suppress the secretion of melatonin. Lack of melatonin is detrimental for sleep (chronic supplementation of melatonin can lead to dependency on the supplement, and your body won’t produce it as efficiently) so be cognizant of that. 

I currently get a minimum of 15 minutes of direct sunlight exposure daily as well as supplementing with vitamin D. Check with your doctor about supplementation. Short dosages of sun exposure without sunscreen is a fantastic idea. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356951/ (Vitamin D deficiency) 

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/ (what is vitamin d)

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