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10 Surprising Health Benefits Of Sunshine That Make You Love The Sun More

10 Surprising Health Benefits Of Sunshine That Make You Love The Sun More

Maybe you are worried that too much sunlight can cause cancer? It is just one of the multiple causes so there is no need to get hung up about it. We are bombarded by messages to use sunblock all the time, even in winter. But sunblock may contain potential carcinogens, so you begin to wonder who is telling the truth. The answer is that there are no black and white answers but in the midst of all the hype, there are surprising benefits from staying in the sun, provided you do not overdo it!

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, praised sunlight’s great benefits. It is no surprise that the word for light therapy is heliotherapy which comes from the Greek god Helios, god of the sun.

Here are 10 great health benefits which should make you treasure your time in the sun.

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1. Sunlight may actually help to prevent cancer

Drs. Frank and Cedric Garland discovered that the lack of sunlight might be one explanation for the high rate of colon cancer in the New York area, compared to that in New Mexico. Sunlight helps us to produce vitamin D which can help to prevent certain cancers.

2. Sunshine can prevent health problems

We should remember that we produce most of our own Vitamin D, at no extra cost. It is done by a complex process in which our skin reacts to sunlight. If you have enough Vitamin D, you can avoid all sorts of health problems.

Vitamin D deficiency can result in dementia, tooth decay, compromised immune system, and osteoporosis. As 77 percent of Americans have a vitamin D deficiency, this is becoming an urgent health problem. The best way to stock up on this is to eat certain food rich in vitamin D (fish and fortified milk) and also to get at least one and a half hours of direct sunlight each week.

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3. Sunshine can help with depression

Another chemical (serotonin) which affects your mood is produced when sunlight reaches the retina. This process sends a signal through the optic nerve which helps to increase levels of serotonin and boosts your mood. It is well known that most anti-depressants (SSRIs) work on the principle of artificially making sure that serotonin levels are high, thus warding off depression. Now, isn’t a good dose of sunshine better than Prozac?

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” – Helen Keller

4. Sunshine can help to kill bacteria

To understand what happens here, we have to go way back to the work of Niels Finsen which won him a Nobel Prize in 1903.  He discovered that treatment of certain diseases (such as lupus) with light therapy was perfectly feasible. He showed that light rays, rather than heat, had a powerful antibacterial effect.

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5. Sunshine may help you live longer

The University of Graz in Austria followed several thousand heart patients for a number of years. They found that there was a correlation between earlier death and low levels of vitamin D. The study suggests that longevity may well be affected by maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D. The best and cheapest way is to get more sunshine.

6. It helps to curb your appetite

Keeping up your levels of Vitamin D, either through supplements or by getting more sunshine, can actually help you keep that appetite under control. These were the conclusions reached by the University of Aberdeen after they had studied 3,000 women for a two year period. Guess what?  Those who had more problems with obesity also had low levels of Vitamin D.

7. Sunshine helps you sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep seems unrelated because the sun has long gone down. But your normal sleep-wake cycle has to be maintained. Researchers now say that one essential element to favor the production of melatonin (sleep hormone produced at night) is to get sunshine at the same time every day.

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8. Sunshine and vitamin D may improve lung function

Most smokers compromise the health and function of their lungs, if the habit lasts for years. One study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Crucial Care Medicine found that once vitamin D levels were maintained, then the actual decline in lung health was arrested.

9. Sunshine can help with blood pressure

It is no surprise to learn that the Danes do not get much sunshine in the winter months. In fact, studies have shown that in the month of February, 80 percent of Danes have very low levels of vitamin D. Some studies show that women who are suffering from vitamin D deficiency are more likely to suffer from hypertension fifteen years later. This was one of the take home messages from a recent conference hosted by the European Society of Hypertension.

10. Do it yourself health benefits

Sunshine is still free and as we produce almost all of our own vitamin D, then the whole process becomes so easy. I cannot think of a better way of looking after our health. We just need to remember to take adequate protection and to do everything in moderation.

“Everything in moderation, including moderation.”- Oscar Wilde

Featured photo credit: Couple in sunshine/Pavlina Jane via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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