This summer we took a vacation and we made sure we stocked up on sunscreen. We vacationed in beautiful Orlando, Florida where the temperatures were always in the 90’s. While it was hot we still had lots of fun. Summer means lot of sunshine but do you know how you can make the most of your summer sun and do it safely?
When you think of summertime, you might think of swimming, sprinklers, popsicles, shorts, and sandals, all enjoyed in the warm rays of the sun. However, as you have grown older you have spent more time indoors as jobs, errands, and other responsibilities have kept you busy. While there are limits to the amount of time you should be spending in the sunlight, there are many benefits derived from being outside.
Here are some reasons you should catch some rays this summer and how to do so safely:
Benefits of the Sun
One of the greatest benefits of sunlight is its role in helping to produce Vitamin D in our bodies. Vitamin D contributes to bone health, supports the immune system, protects against dementia and brain aging, strengthens teeth, and may help prevent cancer, along with other great physical advantages.
Sunlight is also great for killing bad bacteria. This was discovered in World War II and was used to disinfect wounds. In the body, it also helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and increases oxygen content in our blood. Sunlight also contributes to a healthy immune system.
Beyond the physical benefits, sunshine is good for your emotional and mental health. It can improve your mood, ease mild depression, decrease stress, and even improve sleep quality.
Best Ways to Use Sunlight to Maximize Benefits
Just ten to fifteen minutes per day is needed to reap all the above mentioned benefits. This can easily be done by going for a walk during your work break or taking your exercise outside. There are many great outdoor activities to take part in during the summer, giving you ample opportunities to utilize sunlight.
However, you may not always want to go outside. The good news is you can benefit from sunlight inside as well! Especially during the summer months when daylight hours are nice and long, open your windows and take advantage of natural sunlight. About ten percent of household electricity usage goes toward lighting, so you may be able to decrease your energy bill by using more natural sunlight. Plus you can still get some sunlight exposure by taking naps by the window.
How to Avoid Negative Effects of the Sun
Even with as wonderful as sunlight is, there are negative effects to be aware of as the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun can cause skin damage, bringing with it premature skin aging, and increase the risk of skin cancer. In fact, more than 90% of skin cancers are caused by sun exposure. So as you set out to spend time with family and friends in the sun, here are some tips for getting the most of the sunlight, while still protecting yourself and your loved ones:
- Avoid the sun from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. when UV rays are strongest. This means most of your activities should be saved for the morning or evening.
- Wear protective clothing. Dark colors absorb rays better than light colors, giving you more protection. Avoid wearing clothing that reduces coverage and therefore reduces protection.
- Protect your eyes with UV filtering sunglasses whenever you are outside.
- Wear sunscreen everyday. Select a sunscreen that has an SPF rating of 15 or 30. However, be careful not to be fooled into a false sense of security with the higher number. If you are in the sunlight for extended periods of time, remember to reapply the sunscreen every two hours, especially if you have been in water or you are sweating a lot.
- Wear wide brimmed hats to shield your face and eyes.
- Use an umbrella or sun shade when possible.
- Use multiple types of sun protection together. Don’t rely just on sunscreen.
Summer is a great time to spend time outside, enjoying the warm weather and especially the sunlight. Take advantage of this time of year to stock up on vitamin D, increase your emotional health and get a great tan at the same time. As many activities require long term sun exposure, be sure to follow these guidelines for safe intake of UV rays. This will protect you and your family not only from uncomfortable burns this summer, but from damage and a possibly serious illness in years to come.
So let’s discuss: How do make the most of your summer sun?