Sunlight is every bit as central to our health and well-being as proper nutrition,clean water, and exercise. Naturopathic Doctors often recommend that we spend at least 30 minutes a day outdoors. Here are a few reasons why:
Our bodies make Vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight. 4-10 minutes in the noon day sun in the southern US, for example, produces the equivalent of 10,000 to 25,000 IU of oral Vitamin D. (MIlk, for example, contains 400 IU Vitamin D per quart.) There is strong evidence for a protective effect of Vitamin D on healthy bone density, muscle weakness, more than a dozen types of internal cancers, multiple sclerosis and Type 1 Diabetes. You do not need to get a sunburn to get adequate vitamin D and suncreens that block UVB diminish our bodies ability to make Vitamin D.
Sunlight affects moods positively and is a natural antidepressant.
Exposure to sunlight stimulates the pineal gland to produce melatonin which plays a role in proper sleep and has been shown to fight cancer.
When we are outdoors we tend to be more active by walking, hiking, and enjoying other physical activities. Also, being outdoors puts us in touch with nature and allows us to see and experience the rhythms and cycles of the natural world, reducing stress and increasing our sense of connectedness.
If you live in a new house or work in a modern office building, you may be exposed to high levels of indoor air pollution. New buildings are well insulated, trapping gases from carpets, pesticide and cleaner residues, smoke, dust and other respiratory irritants. Being outdoors part of the day allows us to get fresh oxygen and reduces our exposure to indoor irritants.
Finally, by doing a brisk walk for 30 minutes outdoors every day you can accomplish several simple healthy tips at once!