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Hardly has the summer finally started (!) than the usual dire warnings about the dangers of spending too much time in the sun have begun. And, each year, they seem to become louder and more insistent. It’s one of those annual traditions – if that’s the right word – we could well do without. And, dare we say it, be better replaced with a little common sense… 
 
As with so many things in life, it isn’t the sun that’s inherently dangerous BUT our approach to it which can be fraught with danger. This is particularly the case for those who spend the majority of their year indoors, except for their annual fortnight in the sun, when they bake themselves to a crisp in search of that elusive golden tan. It’s a topic we’ve covered before and, to avoid us repeating ourselves, can be found here
 
 
So, this week, let’s have a dose of common sense and celebrate all the good things about the sun has to offer. The joys of spending time outside in the sunshine and enjoying everything the summer has to offer. 
 
On the most basic level, as we all know, it feels good to spend time outside in the sunshine. There’s nothing to beat the feeling of the warmth of the sun on our face or body. The instant raising of our spirits and feel good factor. It’s little wonder that the gloomier days of the winter have long been linked with increased rates of Depression and SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder – along with many other low mood states. 
 
Sunshine boosts the production of melanin by skin cells, which produces that sought after tan, as well as protecting the skin from damage from the sun. 
 
Equally well known is the link between natural light – it doesn’t even have to be bright sunshine – and Vitamin D production. It only takes a short time outside and a little bare skin – even just the face and arms are sufficient (!) – for production to start. With it being an essential vitamin in its own right, as well as being needed for the absorption / activation of Calcium and Magnesium, low levels can be felt across the whole body. 
 
As an aside, this is why the traditional solution for Jaundice was to take the patient outside into the sunshine – and this included very small babies – provided they were well wrapped up and did not become chilled. 
 
Sunlight can also help to improve skin problems by reducing sebum production – the oiliness – which makes Acne worse. In addition, UVB rays have been found to slow down the growth of skin cells, so reducing the scaling and inflammation associated with Eczema and Psoriasis. 
 
It has also been found to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol – so called “bad cholesterol” – although researchers do not yet know why. 
And another unexpected finding, which again defies explanation, is that sunshine increases fertility rates in women. 
 
Interestingly, time in the sun increases the level of oxygen in the blood, which brings a huge range of benefits across the body as whole. This includes a reduced risk of blood clots as well as improved energy levels and a more efficiently functioning Immune System. 
 
Given this, it’s not surprising that sunlight can also help reduce blood pressure. While this is in part due to its “feel good” factor, sunshine has been found to improve cellular and heart efficiency. And this isn’t just on a temporary basis. Spending time outside in the sunshine each day can reduce blood pressure on an ongoing basis. 
 
Time in the sunshine reduces the need for pain reduction medication, as well as reducing levels of anxiety and stress in hospital patients. Those who spent several hours outside in the sunshine tended to be more alert in the evenings. 
 
Other less obvious benefits include protection from developing Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, Osteoporosis and, ironically, Melanoma – skin cancer. 
 
And our Mothers were right, however much we may hate to admit it (!). Children who get plenty of time outside in the sunshine and fresh air each day grow more quickly than their more sedentary counterparts. 
 
Let’s finish with one you may not have heard before. Sunlight is a natural bacterial and fungal killer. Simply airing blankets and mattresses outside in the sunshine reduces the levels of both. 
 
So isn’t it time for a new – and, dare we say, common sense (!) – approach to enjoying this summer’s sunshine? 
 
Spending time outside every day, whatever the weather, not just when you’re on holiday. That way, your skin is given time to acclimatise before you even leave home. Then, when you do go off on your travels, your skin is used to the sunshine. 
 
While you’re away, cover up and sit in the shade during the hottest part of the day. Perhaps even have a siesta. Go for a slow, gentle tan rather than the beetroot look (!). Keep hydrated. Use a plant based, natural sunscreen to protect your skin without all the added chemicals AND allow you to gradually build up a tan. 
 
Holidays – and the summer in general – are about so much more than getting a tan. And one that will fade within a few days. They are about taking time to relax and recharge your batteries, away from the stresses and strains of everyday life. And this applies equally whether you’re having time away or enjoying a relaxing weekend at home. 
 
As always, the choice is yours. 
 
Tagged as: Health, New perspectives
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